Peru is the third largest South American country, encompassing the Andes Mountains and dry coastal plains to the west and the Amazon jungle to the east. The country overflows in natural resources, yet 50% of the population experiences great poverty. Heavily influenced by both the Incan Empire and Spanish colonization, Peru’s people and culture are as vibrant and diverse as their colorful folk art, which blends these two histories. Peru boasts a thriving church of four million evangelicals, but is also the world’s second largest producer of cocaine. War and poverty have multiplied the number of street children, who are often abused and exploited for labor. The trafficking of young girls, high rates of teen pregnancies and subsequent abortions, and homosexuality hold Peru captive to spiritual darkness.
Peru’s freedom from an oppressive military government, multiple dictatorships, and fifteen years of guerilla warfare by terrorists groups, such as the Shining Path, have ushered in strong economic growth in the fishing, coffee, and tourist industries. The prospect for economic development is great, but political corruption, a flawed tax structure, military spending, and enormous economic disparity keep the nation from progress. Peru still needs a stable government with just policies to rescue its people from poverty and from the exploitation of land and workers for cocaine and oil in the Amazon basin. Foreign companies threaten vulnerable people groups who live and work in the environments these companies destroy for profit. Foreign demand for cocaine leaves poor farmers little choice but to grow the crop for their livelihood.
Peru has a strong history of Catholicism, but many Catholics, as well as mountain Quechua and Aymara people, are bound by a syncretistic combination of Christianity and Andean paganism. A strong evangelical presence in Peru has sparked a Christian renaissance among Quechan and Amerindian peoples through recent Bible translations and the work of Christian missions. There is still much work to be done, however. Peru needs pastors and teachers rich in solid biblical theology to mentor the next generation of leaders and to help dissipate the superstitions of the tribal people. Broadcasts from Christian radio stations like HCJB and TWR must continue the work of preaching God’s holy Word over the airwaves. More teams are needed to translate the Bible into the lesser known languages of the Peruvian tribal groups. The needs of the poor and destitute must be at the forefront of the Church’s ministry to practically demonstrate the love of Christ to the lost. May God rain down manna for His hungry people of Peru to be both physically and spiritually fed.