Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is home of the ancient Inca Empire and culture. It is also a land of great physical beauty and diversity. Fifty rivers cross the dry, narrow coastal plain to drain the western slopes of the central mountain plateau. The eastern portion of the country is tropical, forming the upper reaches of the vast Amazon River drainage system.
Relatively stable government in the ’90s meant a time of great progress for the country of Peru. Improvements in the infrastructure have turned the major cities into more modern progressive centers, while water, electricity, and modern communications have been taken to many rural areas. Despite this growth, a high percentage of the people still live in poverty, and the shanty towns surrounding the major cities are growing every day as people leave the countryside to seek better education and opportunities for the younger generation.
Spanish and Quechua are the official languages of Peru. Roman Catholicism is the state religion and is taught in all schools. Peruvians are largely Christo-pagan. Secularism and cults attract the young people. There are large areas of the country, especially in the highlands and the jungle, where the message of the Gospel has not yet reached.
Following the demise of the Inca Empire, Roman Catholicism was introduced. In 1536 the Diocese of Cuzco was formed and in 1541, the Diocese of Lima. Peru became the focal point for Catholicism in South America, and Lima was made the Metropolitan See for the area from Chile to Nicaragua. Catholicism became the official state religion in 1845.
The first Protestant missionaries were agents of the Bible Societies who began efforts in 1877. They were followed by the Brethren Assemblies (1896), Regions Beyond Missionary Union (1897), Evangelical Union of South America (1911), and Christian and Missionary Alliance (1933). SAM first sent missionaries to Peru in 1926.
The land reforms of 1968-1977 have brought great change in gospel receptivity among the Quechuas. Many were lifted from literal serfdom to a position of land ownership. This status change has caused many to consider the gospel for the first time. Much work remains to be done among the peoples of the remote interior. Many Spanish-speaking mestizos come from lower and middle class backgrounds but are pursuing upward mobility through education. These people are aware of the evangelical presence and are not resistant to the Gospel.