The goal of Scalpel At The Cross is to support and amplify on-going Christian ministries within the country of Peru. The addition of this orthopaedic medical ministry offers much needed aid to an area with a long history of poverty, medical neglect, and suffering.
Peru has a distinct and colorful history; a history which has not always been kind to its inhabitants. The intensity of its past combined with the highly rugged and diverse Peruvian landscape has made it a place of not only great intrigue and interest, but also, great turmoil and despair.
Peru boasts of an astonishing variety of natural landscapes. There are the barren desert conditions of the Pacific coastline, the mountainous highland region of the Peruvian Andes and the tropical selva baja (low-lying jungle) in the Amazon Basin. Peruvians of various backgrounds and cultures have developed techniques to sustain themselves and their families in these harsh and often inhospitable ecosystems.
Peru's history is as varied and intense as its nature. Ancient indigenous groups, including the Amerindians and the Incas, thrived throughout this region of South America in highly developed and orderly societies. In 1533, the Spanish conquistadors arrived in search of gold. This began a bloody and broken period that lasted until the Peruvians declared their independence in 1821. Since that time, years of military rule and corrupt democracies have left the present day citizens struggling to rise above an environment of scarcity and suffrage. Most recently, the periods of frequent fiscal and political crises have continued to impede the growth and modernization of Peru's society.
Over 80% of the country's 28 million people live in poverty still today. Basic human needs of food, clothing, clean water and medical care are inaccessible to many, especially those outside of the capital city of Lima.
Peru's capital city was founded on January 18, 1535, by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, and has played a prominent role in the history of Spanish South America. It is still known today as La Cuidad de los Reyes or City of the Kings.
Several pre-Columbian funeral mounds, such as Huaca Pucllana, still survive today within the city limits as proof that the area was populated by indigenous people groups prior to the Spanish conquest. Other important historical sites include the Monasterio de San Francisco. This colonial church is home to a 17th century library of 25,000 books and 6,000 parchments as well as the catacombs that were used as Lima's cemetery until 1810.
Today Lima has population of 10 million people. They are a mixture of thriving middle-class who visit the modern shopping centers as well as struggling poor who migrated from the highland and jungle areas to escape poverty and past threats of terrorism from the Sendero Luminiso, or Shining Path.
The specific location of the Scalpel At The Cross medical ministry is the city of Pucallpa, which lies in the Department of Ucayali near the western border of Brazil. This burgeoning town is now home to nearly 300,000 Peruvians. In contrast to Lima, which does have modern, colonial areas, this jungle town is a continuous maze of cramped, subsistence housing and dusty, open-air markets. Mototaxis are the main method of transportation and these motorized carriages bump and wind through the unpaved and pot-holed streets along with a few cars and large freight-type trucks.
The climate of the area is also a challenge to the Pucallpan residents. During the summer months, or dry season, the ground turns to rock-hard, red brick which is nearly impenetrable. However, the rainy season brings so much water that the levels of the lakes and rivers rise by nearly 30 feet. These floodwaters swallow up 60% of the land mass in the Amazon River Basin.
In addition, very little substantial industry exists in Pucallpa today. Most people are laboring to earn a living by subsistence farming, artisan craftwork or as small shop owners or mototaxi drivers.
For these reasons, many medical needs are currently not being met. By offering much needed orthopaedic consultation and surgical care, Scalpel At The Cross hopes to improve the lives of these individuals and touch their hearts for Christ.
Pucallpa is also home to several Christian based missions including an Indian Center and Bible Institute, the South American Mission Academy, mil Palmeras Motocross Ministry, the Pioneers and many others. Due to its location on the border of the Amazon Jungle, Pucallpa has been established as a base camp from which these ministries work to access the jungle tribes and minister to these additional 300+ indigenous village groups along the Rio Ucayali.
Scalpel At The Cross also serves these missionaries and their families, who have given so much of themselves and sacrificed many aspects of modern day lifestyles to live and work in this area. By providing a medical ministry to these individuals, we hope to lift and strengthen them in their important work of spreading the gospel.
Mission Camp: "Jungle Bunks"
The Scalpel At The Cross campus is on a plot of land off of Lake Cashibococha, which is a 5 mile jaunt down a dirt road, off the main road to the town of Pucallpa 20 miles away. The facilities currently include a guest lodge which sleeps 14, affectionately known as Jungle Bunks. Jungle Bunks is connected via a 300 meter boardwalk through the dense canopy to a guest apartment, fellowship hall, and warehouse. The camp is adjacent to the South America Mission (SAM) Aviation mission-camp and airstrip, so we enjoy sharing resources and security to keep our facility maintained and functioning to livable standards year round.
Team Member Questionnaire
If you are interested in joining a future mission team, please fill out our Team Member Questionnaire and email to the attention of Esteban Cardona.