Introduction / History The Quechua are an indigenous people group in Peru, and typically inhabit the rural mountainous regions of the country. Some maintain their traditional way of life, while others have adapted to the mainstream society. Quechua traditions still have a strong influence on Peruvian culture.
Where are they located? This people group can be found near the city of Cusco and surrounding areas, including Ushpabamba, as far as Santo Tomás. There may be other areas.
What are their lives like? Many Quechua are farmers and shepherds, and live in remote areas with limited access to modern conveniences. Both men and women participate in agricultural activities. Some Quechua have immigrated to the towns and cities in search of jobs or education, and some may be bi-lingual in Spanish. They often maintain their distinct, traditional style of dress. Poverty, alcoholism, and family violence are widespread. There are cultural norms (such as marital faithfulness) that people are to live up to but do not. Quechua tend to focus on their daily lives and physical survival. It will likely be necessary to connect on these practical terms before being able to move to more spiritual topics.
What are their beliefs? Traditional Quechua beliefs have been impacted by modernization and the mingling of cultures. The influence of the Spanish has drastically changed the face of their belief system through the introduction of Catholicism. Syncretism is widespread; it is common for each town to have a patron saint, or to pay homage to the virgin. Some even have shrines or festivals to honor the Virgin or the saints. The Catholic teachings they have heard have become intermingled with their own animistic traditions.
The Quechua believe in a spiritual realm, and have an understanding of prayer and making sacrifices to appease spirits. Stories tend to be passed down orally. Their legends and traditions have 3 realms of existence: though they do not align exactly with a biblical understanding of heaven, hell, and earth, a worker might start to ask how one might go to live with God as an introduction to the gospel.
A true understanding of the gospel is virtually unknown. They do not have much of a concept of Jesus as being the Son of God or the Savior. If they have heard about the one true God, or even of Jesus Christ, a saving knowledge of Him and active Christ-followers are rare. There are few evangelical churches working among this group, and much work is needed, especially those who are willing to invest long-term to combat deeply rooted syncretism, animism, and a lack of solid biblical doctrine.
In the Quechua belief system, their stories and traditions are rarely written down, and they do not have a scripture text, which may make it difficult for them to see the Bible as useful and authoritative. Culturally, they do not hold large, formal religious meetings; therefore a Christian church service may be viewed as foreign or unnatural. Furthermore, since the Quechua language was not formerly written, many Quechua people have limited education and low literacy. Farming duties take up a good portion of the day, and may leave little time for discussing deeper, spiritual matters.
What are their needs? Building genuine relationships built on hospitality will be a key aspect of effective ministry to this population. In some areas, it may be culturally appropriate, or even necessary, to introduce oneself to and gain the favor of the community leader.
Effective outreach must provide detailed, biblical understanding of sin, salvation, forgiveness, and redemption through Christ to break down misconceptions due to syncretism. Showing that the root cause of many earthly issues, such as alcoholism or family issues, is sin could help prepare their hearts for the gospel.
Oral storytelling methods in small group or community settings may help build connections. It will take time to explain concepts like redemption and grace, as well as Christ's death and resurrection, since these terms may have been corrupted by previous religious influence or misconceptions, and workers should be diligent in ensuring understanding and adherence to biblical truth. Helping the Quechua speakers hear a Biblical version of the gospel will likely require a restructuring of their current belief system through comprehensive Bible study.
A native pastor working among this population states that reaching out to the youth, who may be more receptive due to cultural and educational influences, is an essential key to reaching this group. A Presbyterian church based out of Cusco has an outreach near Ushpabamba.
Prayer Points * Individuals and teams to be raised up to minister among this little-reached population.
* For the Quechua to sense a spiritual hunger that Christ alone will satisfy.
* For the true gospel to be shared with all regional groups of Quechua speakers, and that syncretism and animistic beliefs will be replaced with genuine faith in Christ.