A recent inauguration of a new Seventh-day Adventist school in Peru highlighted the power of education to strengthen and support the church’s mission of sharing the gospel with everyone.
The celebration in Ica on December 11, 2022, also emphasized the potential that church leaders, supporting ministries, lay members, and generous donors have when they work together with a common goal.
Leaders of the Adventist Church in Peru, leaders of Maranatha Volunteers International, local church members, parents, and neighbors attended the inauguration of the new facilities of the new Ica Adventist School in Ica, a city located a four-hour-drive south of the capital city of Lima. The ceremony included messages of gratitude and personal testimonies; singing, band, and orchestra music; a dramatization; prayers; and a baptism.
The new facilities, which could welcome as many as 180 students on the first day of the current school year on March 1, are one of the latest iterations of the Adventist supporting ministry Maranatha Volunteers International. The new 120-by-88-foot (approximately 36-by-27-meter) school building follows a blueprint Maranatha has implemented in other countries. It usually includes 10 classrooms and school offices opening to a central meeting hall that, in some cases, can double as a church on weekends. Ministry leaders estimate Maranatha has helped build at least 120 of these structures.
Challenges and Opportunities
New facilities in Ica involved the support of Adventist leaders in Peru, Maranatha’s lay volunteers, and generous donors, some of whom are not even Adventist church members. Despite the broad support, the construction process was not without challenges, however.
For one, pandemic-related lockdowns delayed the project and prevented volunteers from spending time supporting the construction in person.
“It was our goal to come here and work with the team of volunteers,” Keith Jacobson, pastor of the Carmichael Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California, United States, told those attending the ceremony in Ica. The church where he ministers “adopted” the Ica school project and raised funds for the building. “Even though we were not able to come here physically, we were here in our hearts and our support,” he noted, adding, “My church back home shares the joy of today with you.”
Maranatha president Don Noble shared his gratitude to God and all those who supported this new educational mission center. “When I see this building, I can just say, ‘Praise God!’ ” Noble said. “This project has its foundations in our faith in Jesus Christ. It started with faith from all of you…. You had to believe that this would happen.”
He also emphasized that when they launched the projects, Maranatha didn’t have all the funds to build the school. “[It was] a next step in faith, about how God would provide the funds to finish the project. But as usual, God was ahead of us,” Noble said, explaining the support that came from various sources, including from some people who are not church members but value the contribution of Maranatha.
The construction process also required local church members to tear down their old church building to make space for the new facilities. Members met in a makeshift shed in a corner of the property for three years. Their sacrifice paid off, as they can now meet at the school’s meeting hall, which includes a baptismal pool. On Saturdays (Sabbaths), classrooms will double as children’s Sabbath School rooms.
Other challenges were even harder to anticipate. Political unrest in Peru in December 2022 included roadblocks at various points on major roads. Church leaders discussed the convenience of moving forward with the ceremony. The day before, Maranatha and church leaders driving to Ica had to stop and wait for real-time police updates. Finally, leaders decided to go on, and by the end of the day, the Maranatha team met with local builders and their families to thank God for His protection. A day later, the ceremony proceeded without a hitch.
Building, Education, and Mission
Church leaders explained to parents, students, and neighbors who attended the inauguration ceremony that the school would follow the Bible model and the example of Jesus, who grew up and developed in a wholesome way. “By God’s grace, this is what we would like every student to enjoy at this place,” they said. “Some of us have been blessed with a Christian home. But we know that for some students, this will be their church and their home.”
For church leaders, the school will become their new missionary field. “We’ll have the opportunity of introducing Jesus not only to those 180 students but also to their families and friends,” they said. “This school has been established to preach a message of salvation in Christ.”
The December 11 ceremony included the baptism of four people, including three sisters. Leaders hope this first baptism won’t be the last, as the school becomes a mission center and a blessing in the area.
One of the prospective new students, whose parents are not yet church members, shared her testimony and her hopes for the new institution. “I know [this school] will be a blessing for every student,” she said. “And I know it will also bless my family and friends.”