We get some questions about this.
Why can't the teacher just volunteer?
Why not just use gringo missionaries?
Some Peruvians even say that the teachers are "bloodsuckers."
We decided to go over our reasons. We found that Some of them may surprise you.
1. Empowering Peruvians to teach is what our ministry is all about.
This actually was a surprise to us. When we started thinking about it, we realized this:
Our teachers are not just a step on the way to getting Peruvians who are reliable men competent to teach others.
They ARE reliable Peruvians competent to teach others.
They are the example, the first wave.
What we are doing is empowering them to use their gifts and schooling so that others look at them and say, "That's how I wanna be."
They send the message to the notoriously low self-esteemed Peruvians that YES YOU CAN DO THIS in a way that we never can.
Peruvians have a legendary and stubborn low self-esteem. Journalist Abelardo Sanchez Leon puts it like this:
It’s commonplace to say that Peruvians lack self-esteem. In my time, they called this feeling an inferiority complex. It seems to have recently turned into a stubborn mark of our identity. (1)
They don't believe that Peruvians have what it takes to succeed at anything. Most of them start seminary with the dismal expectation that they are too stupid to finish the program, let alone teach.
Peruvians look at us teaching and say, "Sure, a gringo can do that." But when they see Zosimo or Walter teaching, they say, "Yeah, I can do that too, and maybe even better."
As one put it, "Cayo can be the academic director now, but when we have our degrees he'll have some competition."
So an essential part of our ministry is encouraging these men to use their gifts and training.
2. They have to live in the city.
Many times people take away from our presentations in churches the idea that $80 is the average income in the Apurimac area of Peru without understanding that this is not a living wage even in Peru.
The people with this income usually are living exclusively by what they can grow and trade; even weaving their own cloth. They get along as long as they don't need to buy anything from the outside world.
Our teachers have got to live in the city. If they lived in the country they would not be able to prepare classes and would not be accessible for planning and teaching opportunities.
And life in the city carries higher costs. An average income in Peru in the city is $379. Average rent is $300 for an apartment with two bedrooms, so you can see why many families are squeezing into one room apartments. (2)
Food costs money, unlike in the country. This is a fact many country people don't understand. We have lived in Andahuaylas during some major paros, or paralizations, where a mob shuts down all of the businesses until their demands for fairer prices or a change in the laws is met.
The country people never understand why the city people, mainly mom-and-pop business owners who are living day to day, don't support the paro, even when they agree with its demands. They don't understand that the city people can't eat if they don't have money.
Teachers need money to meet these higher costs.
3. They are putting in more time than you think.
Our seminary classes are typically block classes that run a month at a time for five hours on Saturdays.
That is to say that if a teacher was teaching say, New Testament Survey, he would teach every Saturday for five hours.
If his preparation and grading only take him two hours for every hour of class (an extremely conservative estimate) he is spending 15 hours a week to teach one class.
If he teaches two classes,that's a minimum of 30 hours a week, making it hard for him to work another full-time job. This would create a significant financial hardship if he received no pay from the seminary.
4. They could be making more money.
These are men with degrees. They are qualified to teach classes in secular universities, where they would be paid more than the $100 per class that we're paying at the seminary.
A grade school or high school teacher in a state school receives $500 per month. (3) These men are qualified to teach in those positions.
Those that are pastors are usually farming on weekends to eke out their low salaries. Teaching makes that impossible.
Those that own businesses are losing business or having to take on help. One of our teachers, Zosimo, has an oil change business. Saturdays are his biggest day, but he has decided to keep teaching because he feels God is calling him to teach.
Teaching at the seminary is no gravy train. These men are doing it for the love of God and his church.
5. American teachers really cost more.
At first it doesn't seem that way, because an American missionary doesn't usually cost the seminary a dime.
But when you consider that many missions require $10K support per month for a family of four and compare that to the $400 we'd pay for four classes, the real cost of using American missionaries becomes apparent.
It also cost in terms of Peruvian ownership. The missionaries of the 1950s established great works in the area, but during the time of terrorism there were not sufficient Peruvian leaders to carry these works forward. They were too used to missionaries doing it all.
And there is the cost in morale. It has the opposite effect from reason #1. It shows that you may study away, but you'll never know as much as those gringos. Just the opposite of what we're trying to say.
6. Our students need good teachers.
Our students come from an inadequate educational background. They haven't been to Sunday school. They don't know who Julius Caesar was or when he lived. They need good teachers who can bring them up the level they need to be.
In the four years that the seminary has been functioning, only one entering student was able to name all of the books of the Bible, and that one was a graduate of Mobile Bible Institutes.
The Peruvian Law of Religious Equality stipulates that for a pastor to have the same rights as a Catholic priest he has to have an equivalent amount of education.
These students don't need adult Sunday school. They need innovative educational approaches that will bring them up to Bible college level.
7. If the teacher isn't paid, his family suffers.
You live and learn. We used to have volunteer teachers. They were willing to teach and lose the income.
But with the low incomes they were already receiving the loss caused the family to suffer. The kids outgrew their shoes and couldn't get new ones. Someone got sick and couldn't go to the Doctor.
Even now, one of our teachers is facing the possible loss of his home if he teaches instead of taking another job.
What can you do?
We're looking for individuals or small groups that could commit to giving $100 per month for teacher support.
Just think, for $100 a month you can inspire and educate church leaders in Peru by giving them an inspired, educated teacher.
The easiest way to do this is to click on the donation button on this page. Send us an email letting us know your donation is for teacher support.
Or send your donation to :
World Outreach Ministries
P. O. Box B
Marietta, Georgia 30061. Be sure to mark it #400 MIKE & TAMMY RIGGS- TEACHERS
(1) Sanchez Leon, Abelardo. "Paolo Guerrero and Peruvian Self-Esteem." Peru this Week. 13 June 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.
(2) np. "Cost of Living in Peru." Numbeo.com. Apr. 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.
(3) Rodriguez, Sabrina. "Sabes como es trabajar de profesor en el Peru?" Publimetro.pe. 3 July 2014. Web. 25 apr. 2015.