Peru: Mission Leader Requests Prayer in Face of Terrorism

Friday, August 1, 2003

August 1, 2003 (Missions Insider) -- Terrorists now pose a serious threat in Peru, and one Peruvian mission leader is asking that Christians everywhere band together in prayer to protect God's people from violence.

The mission leader, whose ministry sends missionaries frequently among the Yanesha and Ashaninka tribes of Central Peru, has learned with grave concern about an increase of terrorist activity in that region since March. He said that armed terrorist youths visit isolated villages to give political talks, ask for donations of food, steal medicines from the health post, and forcefully recruit young people and children. On several occasions they threatened a local pastor with death and once beat him up badly because his church members refused to attend indoctrination classes in a nearby village.

Up until early June the Peruvian government had apparently done nothing overtly to respond. Then on June 10th a heavily armed group of terrorists temporarily took over a camp of the Techint gas-line company in the jungles of Ayacucho, stole a large amount of dynamite, and took 71 people hostage. They released the hostages several hours later when the company agreed to pay a ransom.

Reacting quickly, Peruvian armed forces flew commandos into the area to intercept the terrorist band as it fled to its base many miles away. Not long afterwards, other armed forces flew into the jungle areas where the Ashaninkas live, with the aim of eliminating other terrorist camps hidden in the jungle. Military leaders say that they sent over 2,000 men of Special Forces to combat the "small" numbers of terrorists. However, the band that stole the dynamite avoided capture, the dynamite was not recovered, and nothing significant happened to the other terrorist groups.

Besides being targets of terrorism, the Ashaninkas now say the soldiers, also, mistreated them. Fearful of further mistreatment from one and retaliation from the other, many are now leaving their villages in the areas affected by terrorism. This will hinder evangelism and church growth, and adversely affect the well-being of the Ashaninka community.

The mission leader went on to say that Gen. Marco Miyashiro, Head of Peruvian Intelligence, warned publicly that Shining Path terrorists are using not only violence but also are infiltrating labor unions of teachers, truckers, bus drivers, etc., to gain control of the country. He said the nation-wide violent protests that occurred in May were a sampling of what the leftist elements can do through the unions.

Also, according to reports, a top judge has warned that some Shining Path people are working through judicial channels to gain release of many of its members that are still serving jail sentences. Some of them have also moved into neighborhood organizations to introduce leftist ideas in government programs for the poor.

Newspapers have also published growing evidence the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is helping the Shining Path. Evidence shows that they are providing training videos, weapons, and instructors. Peru's army and FARC guerrillas have already clashed at the Putumayo River (Peru's border with Colombia).

"And what the newspapers do not report, but we have learned from traveling native workers, is that terrorists have moved into other jungle regions along with drug dealers," the mission leader said.

"Fifteen years ago, when terrorism was bad in Peru, the united prayers of God's people brought an end to the violence. Now we call upon God's people once more to beseech God to put an end to the rapidly spreading violence in Peru, before we have another bloodbath."