Resources and programs for children and youth in rural communities in Peru have historically been lacking. While there may be opportunities for adults, children are often neglected. Runa Simi has incorporated a thriving children’s and youth ministry into their ministry because they believe that children are to be cherished and valued. Children and youth are the future of the church and Christianity, which is why it is essential to focus on them.
Runa Simi partners with One Hope, an international child evangelism organization. Through One Hope they get children’s materials such as the Book of Hope, a small, colorful, picture book explaining the gospel story. These Books of Hope are regularly distributed to pastors, churches, and schools throughout different community in the mountains and jungles. They are one of the only children’s resources available in Quechua and other jungle languages. Because of this they are extremely valued by the communities.
Runa Simi also has a Sunday school teacher training program using the “Learning that Lasts” technique. Sunday school teachers are taught how to create lessons and use materials that are available to them. The materials they have may be limited to nature around them such as rocks, leaves, and water. Yet through training they become capable of teaching in an engaging way that will reach the children. Some of the Sunday school teachers are young teens themselves, yet they are capable and dedicated to their ministry.
Another area of children’s ministry is a Puppet Ministry. Throughout the year the Puppet Team, usually consisting of leader from Runa Simi and teens from the local church, travel throughout Peru to do child evangelism. The team shares the gospel with hundreds of children, using puppets, songs, games and stories as an effective way to engage the children. The Puppet Team is continually invited to different locations. They are even invited to secular schools and other locations.
Runa Simi also hosts a yearly youth conference. Dozens of dedicated youth from different communities are invited to attend each year. They often come from remote locations in the mountains and jungles, travelling for several days to attend the retreat at the center in Chosica. The week-long retreat is full of theological training and discipleship, mixed with games and fun throughout the day. The youth are encouraged in their faith and are equipped to take back their knowledge to their communities.
Throughout the year Runa Simi teams also do youth trainings in various communities, depending on the needs. Sometimes these trainings accompany adult pastoral and leadership trainings. Other times they are independent.
Runa Simi also works with CEFMA (Centro de Formacion Misiologica Andina/ Andian Center for Missions Formation). It trains those who feel called by God to be missionaries to other areas of Peru and the world. At the training center in Huanuco the student take missions and theology classes, becoming equipped to take their faith to all areas.