Meridian Members Help Peruvian Kids

When 12 students from the Adventist-run Jerusalen Elementary School in Iquitos, Peru, were baptized Aug. 22, retired Pacific Press Publishing Association employee Chuck Bobst felt God was affirming the difficult decision he had made seven years before.

After an initial mission trip to Iquitos with the People of Peru Project in 2006 to establish a crisis center there, Bobst had chosen to shift his focus to helping children and their families in less-affluent areas of the jungle-surrounded community. He subsequently founded Bridge the Gap Inc., a nonprofit mission organization. Meridian Church members and others have since supported his endeavors. This year, Aug. 18–Sept. 1, Bobst and six Meridian Church members made the annual trek to Iquitos — with its population of more than 400,000 and the largest city in the world that can’t be reached by road — to again offer their support to struggling families.

“I wanted to work on the grassroots level and help kids and families in real need, so we partnered with the Jerusalen school, established for children living in high-poverty areas,” Bobst says. “It’s housed in a local Adventist church.”

Meridian members and others from Pacific Press and local businesses help pay school expenses for 27 of the approximately 90 students in grades one through six and sponsor a feeding program.

“Children need to go to school with a full stomach or else they can’t learn,” says team member Calvin Carroll.

The school has a principal and six full-time and two part-time teachers, all Adventists. About half the student body is Adventist.

“It’s a true mission field,” Bobst says.

Unfortunately, the school’s future is precarious because the church in which it’s housed is available to them only short-term.

“We’re not sure where the money to build or purchase a new school will come from,” Bobst notes, “but we’re trusting the Lord will provide.”

Each year the Meridian Church also selects new families in Iquitos to sponsor. They provide them with basic necessities such as mattresses, propane “camp” stoves, clothes, and rice and beans. For some they pay to bring water or electricity to the homes.

With a poverty rate of 30 percent in Peruvian urban areas and more than 60 percent in rural regions, finding families in need isn’t difficult. The team, however, feels their efforts don’t go unnoticed.

The mom of one family “just hugged and clung to us, she was so overwhelmed by everything we did for her,” says team member Elaine Bookter.

“We’re building friendships for eternity,” adds team member Beverly Logan. “That’s worth everything.”

The other team members this year were Sherman Bookter, Mary Carroll and Hudson Logan.

To learn more about the Meridian Church Peru project, contact Chuck Bobst at chuckbtg@gmail.com.

November 11, 2014 / Idaho Conference
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