Fiorella A changed life story from Peru

FIORELLA SITS AT a cafe in the heart of San Marcos. The campus is busy. The cafe is not well lit, but the hallways surrounding it are, as many students walk to their night classes. She orders a coffee.

“I felt like my life was completely unstable. I felt very confused,” Fiorella says. She scoops five teaspoons of sugar into her cup and stirs. She’s excited and talking quickly in Spanish, her words melding together as she recalls what her life was like three years ago.

Because she hated law, her university major, she lacked motivation and under-performed in all her classes in her first year. “Doubts were present from the first day of school and kept getting bigger as the year progressed,” she notes.

“Once the year ended, I felt guilty seeing so much sloppiness reflected in my average. It bore in me a feeling of doom and remorse that had me uneasy. I had many doubts about what I wanted to do in my future. I felt like I didn’t have the direction I needed. I didn’t have any concrete counsel to follow.”

And as her studies suffered, so too did her family relationships.

"So I had this tension in university and tension in my home."

“Growing up, I didn’t have a father figure. When I was 12 years old, my parents got back together, but my father felt like a stranger because he hadn’t been with me for so long,” she says. “I felt that he didn’t have the right to judge my decisions because he wasn’t there for the forming of my character.”

But even though there were problems, he was still her dad and Fiorella wanted to have a good relationship with him. “I couldn’t ignore the feeling of resentment I had towards him,” she says. “I knew it was bad but I couldn’t let it go. So I had this tension in university and tension in my home.”

But one day in 2013 changed all of that.

TWO CANADIAN STUDENTS, Becky and Katelyn, were on a missions trip sharing the gospel with students at the University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru. That day they decided to go to the park inside the university to find people to talk with. It was a popular spot for students to study, eat and hang out.

As it turned out, Becky and Katelyn, approached Fiorella who was with a friend and asked if they had time to talk about Jesus. “We gave them some time,” Fiorella recalls, “and still today, I think it is one of the best decisions I ever made.”

“My first reaction was astonishment. I had never heard this before!” Fiorella exclaimed. Though from a Catholic background, it was the first time Fiorella and her friend had ever heard the gospel. And after Becky finished sharing, Fiorella made the decision, right then, to follow Jesus. “That day, Christ came into my life and even today accompanies me in every step I take,” says Fiorella. “This was no accident. God knew I needed him.”

Soon after, Becky connected Fiorella with Nathaly who works with Power to Change, known in Lima as Vida Estudiantil. Fiorella started going to the weekly meetings, and Nathaly began discipling her one-on-one.

(left to right) Nathaly, Fiorella and Becky
“This was no accident. God knew I needed him.”

IT WASN’T LONG before Nathaly learned about Fiorella’s struggles with her father. Coming from a difficult family background herself, Nathaly shared how forgiveness had made a significant difference in her life.

As she wrestled with the idea of forgiving her father, Fiorella was deeply impacted by the passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13. “I understood that to love my father, I couldn’t continue dragging up things from the past,” she says. “And one day I decided to forgive him. I prayed with Nathaly and I decided to forgive everything that had happened. This has brought me a lot of peace.”

Fiorella's Bible opened to 1 Corinthians 13, a passage that brought her peace

Besides experiencing peace, one of the biggest lessons Fiorella has been currently learning is how to be patient, no matter the circumstances. University is stressful and sometimes she’s overwhelmed with assignments. As a feelings-oriented person, her emotions can run high. “But I've come to understand that all these things, my studies, English lessons, working as a teacher’s assistant, the church - they’re all blessings from God.”

And amidst all the questions and struggles she’s facing in university and at home, Fiorella is learning to trust God. “I know that God is like a potter. He knows how to mold my character in the middle of all of this. He will shape my life so that I can learn patience.”

As a result, Fiorella’s attitude has shifted from being an angry, explosive, turbulent person to being a person with a lot of joy. And she’s constantly smiling.

“It’s also really exciting, to see Fiorella sharing her faith with her family and friends,” Nathaly says. “They see she has a genuine relationship with God.” She further notes, “Fiorella always wants to do the right thing. She is constantly thinking about how other people are meeting God.”

“I know that God is like a potter. He knows how to mould my character in the middle of all of this. He will shape my life so that I can learn patience.”

Becky was quick to agree. “We were just walking down the street to get some water for me,” Becky said, “and Fiorella bumped into two Law friends. She’s like, ‘You have to meet my friend Becky; she is from Canada and she shared her faith with me and now I’m a Christian. We’re having a meeting right now; you should totally come!’”

“Afterwards I asked her: ‘Are they Christians?’ And she replied, ‘No, they’re not.’“

“Fiorella is just really open about her faith. It is so cool seeing that,” Becky adds.

Recognizing that having other Christians around her has helped her continue to grow in her faith, Fiorella makes a point of discipling others in her church. This has brought her purpose and joy. She can hardly keep up with her words as she passionately expresses what she shares with others. “One thing I always say to those I disciple is we have a God of love, who is always going to forgive our imperfections, our sins. We might make mistakes, but he will always be there for us.”

“You never know what can change the life of a person, or a community’s life.” Fiorella says, “When someone sees how Christ has changed a life, it inspires them.”

STILL IN UNIVERSITY, Fiorella regularly shares her faith on campus. For instance, there is Bianca, a student from her class with whom she met and talked about Jesus. “Bianca told me that she went to the Catholic church, and that like me before, she felt that Christ was far from her.” Fiorella says. “So she asked me about my relationship with Christ, and I told her my testimony.” And last August, Bianca made the decision to follow Christ, because of what Fiorella shared with her.

But not only is Fiorella sharing the gospel on campus, she’s also witnessing at home. And now, her entire family has now become Christians and are attending church - most recently, her grandfather.

“When I was baptized, my grandfather didn’t want me to be baptized in an evangelical church so he didn’t come to my baptism. As it turned out, that day he got very sick and ended up in the hospital. So we began to pray for him,” she explains.

“He’d had a stroke, but afterwards his condition improved rapidly and he was soon walking, able to eat and feeling like normal. He heard we had been praying for him at church and decided he wanted to know this Christ whom we were talking about,” Fiorella says. “Though he hadn’t at that point met Christ, once he did, he decided to give his life to him. And two months ago, he was baptized. All the family was there. We were so happy.”

Fiorella shares a photo from her grandfather's baptism

“You never know what can change the life of a person, or a community’s life.” Fiorella says, “When someone sees how Christ has changed a life, it inspires them.”

“Me, for example. Becky and Katelyn changed my life. It started with me, and from there, the lives of ten other people in my family have changed. And now, a group from the church meets at my house, and my neighbours come, so it’s still spreading. You never know when, with a small action, you can change history for a community or a country.”

“This is why Christ calls us to preach his Word, because he knows the impact it can have on people.”

“One action can change a life.”

For more on Power to Change - Students, Peru, and our other international partnerships please visit:

Journalists & Writers: Aubri Black, Allison Hidinger

Editor: Roger Melnychuk

Photography by: J Watt

Designer: Deborah W

© 2016 Power to Change Ministries. All rights reserved.

Credits:

© Power to Change Ministries

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