To walk down the streets of Lima, Peru's capital city, is to experience a nation re-engineering itself. The fall of the Iron Curtain was not only a sea change for U.S. geopolitical realities, but it has also had a ripple effect on developing nations like this Latin American country. Everything-currency, jobs, gender roles, social habits, spirituality-seems up for grabs.
In this context, Peru's evangelical church is growing at a phenomenal rate of 12 percent. But even as Peruvian evangelicals are in the midst of revolutionizing the country's spiritual landscape, the first wave of converts (from Baptist, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Assemblies of God denominations) is being challenged by independent charismatics and Pentecostals to throw out their old wineskins.
"This is a time of great definition for Peru's evangelicals," says Oscar Amat, a Peruvian evangelical sociologist. "The evangelical church is trying to find its way in a society in flux. It's as if we're caught between three major forces -the economic revolution, the Catholic church, and the charismatic/Pentecostal movements."
The evangelicos are operating in an arena dominated by two major agents of change in Peru-President Alberto Fujimori and the Peruvian street vendors, both of which are directly connected with evangelical life. First, evangelical Christians helped elect dark-horse presidential candidate Alberto Fujimori to his first term in 1990. It was the first time that evangelicals played a key role in a Peruvian election. And though some evangelicos have since felt snubbed by the Fujimori presidency, it did not hinder Fujimori from handily winning a second term in April. Second, the bulk of evangelical growth is happening among the poor who almost all ...1
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