Inside EMI web feature by Gary MacPhee / EMI USA / Peru

Cusco, Peru

Christian schools. The phrase – even the idea – brings to mind different things for different people. Former EMIUK electrical engineering intern, Abby Kern, credits Christian schooling as having a lasting impact on her. Though she was a “selfish girl”, her mom worked sacrificially to keep Abby enrolled. Three-time EMI team veteran and Civil Engineer Greg Gearhart has taught junior-high Sunday school in his local church for twenty years. He knows that if you share the genuine love of Christ with a child, it’s likely they will follow Him their whole lives.

To people in Cusco, Peru, the Christian school that Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) created represents hope: Hope for the Quechua-speaking people who are near the bottom of the educational system. Hope for future godly national leaders who are instilled with faith and integrity. Hope for children from difficult, broken, or even abusive family situations. EMM has been establishing local churches across the greater Cusco region of Peru for nearly 30 years. Our team’s second Civil Engineer, Bryan Geib, felt compelled to join our team since his family has been deeply impacted by EMM’s ministry in eastern Pennsylvania, USA. In addition, his sister Bethany has served as a school teacher in Cusco for the last six years.

Current School Promesa School Kids

Promesa has run out of space at the quarter-acre church site in urban Cusco Photos: Abby Kern, Greg Gearhart

So when we arrived in Cusco with these and other EMI team members, Bethany was there to testify to the fruit of PROMESA. As a bilingual Christian school, the mission of Promesa (which means ‘promise’) is to be the ‘third cord to the net’ that securely holds students: family, church, and school. When the school started in 2005, there were just 11 students. As the school year begins in 2015, Promesa will be ‘complete’ by Peruvian standards, with classes from preschool through high school. However, all of this has been happening in the San Jeronimo Mennonite church, a four story building in the city. Right now, Promesa’s over 300 students & faculty are squeezed into a quarter-acre property and many potential students are being turned away due to lack of space.

But the pastors of the local churches and the EMM leaders have been watchful stewards of this growth. New land for Promesa was purchased this year and EMI recruited a team of design professionals to travel to Peru and step right into this story. Chris Raber, the EMM missionary representing Promesa and the pastors, told EMI, “We've got a lot of vision and thoughts on how to develop the land, but we’re really looking forward to partnering with you to see what can work…” Chris had learned about EMI over ten years earlier and was eager to take advantage of our network of Christian design professionals for Promesa.

Final Render of the Site

Rendering of the new school proposed on Promesa’s mountainside land.

My wife and I have prayed for many years, “Lord, make us the answer to other people’s prayers today,” but I must confess, as our team hiked the mountainous site the day we arrived, I was wondering how this could work! The property is 35 acres of a mountainside just outside the city with just a few acres of ‘flatter’ land which could be developed for the new school. But within two days, our team of architects, engineers, surveyors, and construction managers had done enough field work to identify the usable land and begin the design proposal. By the end of the week, we were able to present a plausible solution that will one day allow PROMESA to fulfill their purpose as the ‘third cord’ for the next generation in Cusco.

Inside Peru, Project #5629, October 2014