Because it is costly to transport bricks to the rural areas, the church members at San ValentÃn, Chincha, made the bricks themselves. (SIM photo)
Peru (MNN) ― On August 15, 2007, coastal Peru suffered a powerful earthquake that destroyed many churches in the region. Ten churches have now received funds to help them rebuild from SIM International's Peru Earthquake Relief project.
SIM Peru director Helen Heron recently visited four churches that are in the process of rebuilding. Two churches have completed reconstruction, one church lacks only a roof, and five still face significant rebuilding.
"Everyone was very thankful for the donations they received," Heron reported. "They send their thanks and prayers and ask to be remembered as the need is still great. Some churches have worked very hard, and their organization is impressive."
An elderly man who helped rebuild a church in Central Pisco said it was the third building he had helped to build for his congregation. The first he helped build in 1945. It took ten years to build the second building with bricks, but the earthquake destroyed it in two minutes.
New regulations require the churches to use more iron rods to reinforce the walls, making construction more expensive. However, the increased reinforcements do make the buildings safer.
All of the churches are members of the Iglesia Evangélica Peruana (IEP), or Peruvian Evangelical Church. The denomination developed from the ministries of Brethren Assemblies, Regions Beyond Missionary Union, Evangelical Union of South America, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance in the beginning of the 20th century. SIM partners with the IEP, working across denominational lines in Peru.
The IEP Executive Committee is re-evaluating funds for church rebuilding during the month of July. A church in Northern Ireland has decided to give part of its missionary offering for the year to SIM's earthquake relief.
Centuries ago, the Roman Catholic church established Peru as the focal point of its ministry in South America. Roman Catholicism became the state religion in 1845 and is taught to children in the public schools.
In recent years, the youth have been attracted to secularism and cult religions. However, many of the lower- and middle-class mestizos and Quechuas tend to be open to the Gospel. SIM focuses its ministry in Peru on strengthening and partnering with the national church.
Click here if you would like to help Peruvian churches rebuild.