(Part 2 of 3 articles about the ongoing ELS work in Peru, as seen through the eyes of visiting North American pastors.)
The contrasts between regions in Peru are stark. They are easily seen flying from the lush green of the jungle area to the dry desert coastal region. The contrasts in the type of church work going on in Peru can also easily be seen by traveling between the Amazonas region and the capital city of Lima. Work in the jungle areas is largely reaching out to native villages with the Gospel. Work in Lima focuses on established churches and schools with the seminary at the center.
New outreach work is happening at Jesús Redentor School in Año Nuevo. Pastor Giovanny Rivas gathers a group of members and visitors weekly, using the roof of the school as a meeting place. The former church building across the street was damaged in an earthquake and has been condemned. It is hoped that the building can be demolished and a new church constructed. Pastor Rivas reaches out to the unchurched parents of students in the school with God’s Word and the work is bearing fruit. The school itself provides education for students while also teaching the faith. The Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, and other materials are used at every grade level. Martín Lutero School in Reynoso also provides the same quality education along with spiritual instruction.
Work also continues at the seminary. The seminary building has recently undergone some interior remodeling with two guest rooms being added. These rooms provide accommodations for visiting pastors as new efforts are being taken to provide opportunities for continuing education. In addition to continuing education for pastors, the national leaders are making plans to implement synod-wide Bible studies at local congregations. The topics planned range from Bible history accounts to Christian doctrine. The seminary also serves as meeting space for the Junta (national leaders). The leaders are looking to the future. Who will replace the pastors nearing retirement? What are the best options to not only continue the work, but spread the Gospel further?
One new development is a website for the synod. The website will host information on the teachings of the Lutheran Church and contact information for the various congregations. You can watch the development of the website at www.selp.pe!
As the national leaders wrestle with similar problems faced by churches in the United States, we pray that God will provide seminary students and pastors for the future and that God will bless the efforts to share His message of forgiveness and salvation!
-Rev. Paul Fries & Rev. Matt Behmer