Leaving Chile, we flew north to Lima, Peru, and then east over the Andes Mountains to Tarapoto, gateway to the Upper Amazon Basin. At the Bible Institute of the Amazon Jungle in Tarapoto, Peru, nine students from Shawi villages in the Peruvian jungle gathered for bi-monthly, week- long theological instruction. This session was taught by Rev. Ronal Rivas, director of the extension seminary program, Prof. Jaime Cortez of the Lima Seminary, and Rev. Tom Heyn, representative of the ELS Board for World Outreach. Their subjects: baptism, public ministry and justification.
The students return to their thatch-roof villages and share what they have learned among their small rainforest congregations and in other villages in the evangelism circuits several of the men make regularly.
Several of the students are enrolled in Christo Rey, the Amazon Lutheran High School, and may pursue further theological education upon graduation.
Pray for safe journeys (on foot and by river in the jungle) for the students. They are not familiar with motorized transportation and the jungle bus ride travels over twisting, hilly roads, so they usually become nauseous on the trips to and from Tarapoto. Weak stomachs, but strong hearts for Gospel ministry!
From Tarapoto we flew to Lima, heart of ELS mission work in Peru for over 40 years.
In addition to the two schools in the rainforest, and the high school there, two elementary school and a small high school program are operated in Lima by the Peruvian church. Martin Lutero school serves 195 students in grades P-6 with 15 teachers/aides on staff in Reynoso. At Jesus Redentor in Año Nuevo, 85 students are enrolled in grades K-6. The schools are basically self-supporting, charging tuition of about $40 per month.
Rev. Segundo Gutierrez is president of the Lima seminary, following in that post Missionary David Haeuser, who remains a member of the faculty. Currently 5 students are enrolled in Lima, plus 4 more in the mountain extension program and the group in the jungle extension program in Tarapoto. Two of the Lima students will graduate next month and begin their vicarage soon.
In recent years, the junta directiva (board of directors) has taken increased responsibility for the management of the Peruvian church. Elected for two-year terms, the junta is comprised of clergy and lay-members. Our recent visit included discussions regarding finances, personnel, management and legal issues, and educational programs. David Haeuser and his wife Ruth continue to serve as ELS representatives in Peru, having been on the field for over 25 years.
Visits to ELS foreign fields are always inspiring. We are privileged to see first-hand the work of missionaries and those they serve in national churches. What a blessing to know that, although language may separate us, our hearts are united in our common Lutheran faith! Thanks for reading these blogs about the missions in Chile and Peru, for your prayers and your support for ELS World Outreach.
Steve Petersen, Administrator
ELS Board for World Outreach