Jeremiah did not choose to be a prophet. God thrust the role upon him as the fulfillment of who Jeremiah was called to be. Neither has the evangelical church in Peru chosen its present prophetic role. Rather, brutal political and military realities in the nation's Ayacucho region have compelled the church there to claim its birthright and to fulfill its own prophetic heritage.
The church's steps into the current maelstrom of life in Ayacucho were at first clumsy and even unintentional. But its more recent actions have been deliberate and bold.
In an area with 500,000 people, where more than 4,000 Quechua Indian peasants have been killed in the past two years and almost as many have been "disappeared," there also is a certain amount of self-preservation involved.
"If we don't stop this, tomorrow we may be the disappeared," evangelical leader Esteban Cuya explained in a recent Sojourners interview. Yet, when pressed, the 29-year-old Peruvian allowed that the very work he and others are doing to prevent further disappearances and deaths increases the likelihood of their own.
As a journalist who reports and writes a column for a major daily newspaper in Lima, Cuya is closer than most Christians to the horror that is enveloping his nation. And as a worker with the Peruvian and Latin American divisions of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, editor of a magazine for evangelical university students, journalism professor, and member of the evangelical Peace and Hope Commission and the Service for Peace and Justice, he works with Christians, development specialists, and human rights groups seeking a peaceful solution to the centuries-old problems in Ayacucho.
"We've opened our eyes to see Ayacucho as a world of poverty, misery, and injustice," Cuya remarked. "We must see with eyes of mercy. These problems originate from poverty and injustice."