From the Prairies to Peru: Donald and Faith Scarrow

The Alliance Canada
April 22, 2021 | 3 minute read

For the first 15 years of our missionary service, we lived in a provincial centre in the Peruvian Andes. Telephone communication over the nearly 200-mile single wire circuit to Lima was difficult and sometimes impossible. Radio played an essential part in our ability to have contact with our field headquarters in Lima and family in North America.

On August 30, 1963, Faith wrote, “Here we are in our little place which is going to be home for a few weeks. Until our boat freight arrives and our rental house is finished, we will be living in the guest room here on the grounds. It is a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Just right for the things we have at the moment.”

Writing my parents, I noted, “We live in a valley at the 6,000′ level with mountains up to 12,000′ all around. The hills are barren, and most of the year, nothing but the odd cactus grows on them. The nights are cool, the mornings bright, and the afternoons windy and dusty. The mission compound itself is beautiful, with flowers next to the walks and gardens along the walls. Our first meal was in the Bible Institute—yucca, soup, rice, mutton, and carrots. I’ll be seeing more local cooking after September 19, when we teach our first Rural Institute up at Jacas Grande, a day’s trip by truck and a half-day by mule from here. I am to teach two 11-hour series, one on the Life of Christ and the other on Colossians.”

In August 1963, we began our missionary work at Huánuco, a city in the Central Peruvian Andes. Faith, well into her second pregnancy and the second-year language program, taught several courses in the Alliance Bible Institute. Alongside a seasoned missionary, I was assigned to present a ten-day Rural Bible Institute program in villages within a hundred-mile radius of Huánuco.

After a year and a half travelling by truck and mule among the Alliance congregations in the high Andes, I arrived at a point of ministerial and emotional crisis. It seemed the work the missionaries performed at a considerable physical cost was mostly ineffectual. Most people remaining in these towns had little motivation for anything, including Christianity. Looking back, I see how a natural impatience to get things done quickly had clashed head-on with the Andean people’s laid-back culture.

With little apparent interest and limited results, this frustration led to a point in 1965 where I seriously re-examined the validity of serving as a missionary. But God is faithful. Into our lives came David James Morse, a Welsh missionary with the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. David had gone through an identical crisis three years before.

Thus, began a friendship spanning the decades. David’s Bible ministry and wise counsel were used by God to give me an entirely new perspective on the task at hand. No sooner had I affirmed my willingness to continue when God opened the way for ministries in the Alliance bookstore and the Alliance Bible Institute in Huánuco. This new balance made the village trips by truck and mule more palatable.

Twice during the first term, death loomed over our family. A doctor had prescribed a medication for Faith that contained sulfa, which she is severely allergic to. In the middle of the night, without adequate medical help, we threw ourselves on the Lord and pleaded for His healing power to save her life. Shortly after, she stabilized and was well the next day.

Sometime later, an epidemic of paratyphoid came to our mission station. Little Stephen was very sick and continued to get weaker. We laid hands on him and asked God to spare his life. Just as had been the case with Faith, by morning, Stephen was on his way to a full recovery. Praise God that His promises are true!


This is an excerpt from the book, On Mission. Download your free copy today.



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