Asheninka, Pichis in Peru

Asheninka, Pichis
Photo Source:  Jesus Is The Way Ministries 
Send Joshua Project a map of this people group.
People Name: Asheninka, Pichis
Country: Peru
10/40 Window: No
Population: 15,000
World Population: 16,000
Primary Language: Asheninka, Pichis
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 9.70 %
Evangelicals: 8.70 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: South American Indigenous
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Ashéninka Pichis are an indigenous people group living in the Peruvian Amazon. Historically, they have had tense interactions with outsiders, suffering enslavement and devastating epidemics during the 20th century rubber boom and defending themselves from terrorist groups in the early 1990s. In spite of great cultural changes, they have maintained their language and traditional dress to the present day.

The Ashéninka Pichis have had some exposure to the gospel since churches and mission agencies began working among them in the 1920s and 30s. Since then, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Modern Day have translated the Bible into the Ashéninka Pichis dialect. Currently various mission agencies continue Bible storying and leadership development. Seventh Day Adventists have also had a considerable influence in the region. However, fewer than ten Ashéninka Pichis villages have churches, which are in early stages of development. A few discipleship groups meet to hear chronological Bible stories, but the majority of participants are not believers.

Where Are they Located?

The Ashéninka Pichis live in the central jungle of Peru along the Pichis and Apurucayali Rivers.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The people live a daily subsistence lifestyle connected to the land, collecting enough food for 1-2 days and continually working hard to produce new food supplies. They typically work in manioc fields during the morning and rest during the afternoons. At night, the men will often go hunting or fishing. They prefer small family units to large communities and live in simple homes with a thatch roof, no walls, and a dirt floor. Their traditional clothing is a long cotton dress with vertical stripes for men and horizontal stripes for women, and red face paint is common.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Ashéninka Pichis hold to animistic views that seek to discover spiritual causes for life problems and resolve them through shamanistic rituals. Shamanism is particularly strong among the Ashéninka Pichis, where the people are accustomed to viewing the shaman as a helpful doctor and using plants not only for their medicinal qualities but also for their magical qualities. The Ashéninka Pichis fear the spirit world, as they believe all spirits are evil and intent on causing harm. Animism presents a strong challenge to church planting, as new believers often mix their previous worldview with Christianity and attempt to live out both realities.

What Are Their Needs?

The greatest need of the Ashéninka Pichis is for more gospel workers and further evangelism and Bible teaching in their own language. Since their culture is not oriented around academic ways of learning, the Ashéninka Pichis need more work with interactive, participatory Bible learning in order for the gospel to take root and bear fruit among the villages. While a few mission workers are training leaders and adults, no mission work has been done for children, so there is currently a need for additional work among all demographics and particularly children.

Alcoholism plays a major role in the culture and leads to a host of other problems. Asheninka Pichis believers need the power to change their lives and turn away from the control of alcohol.

Additionally, the Ashéninka Pichis need greater access to healthcare and education. Because of their remote location, their medicinal and educational resources are still very limited.

Prayer Points

* Please pray for the Ashéninka Pichis to receive more discipling and Christian teaching so
they can learn the truths of Scripture for themselves.
* Pray that God's Spirit would be drawing more of the Ashéninka Pichis to know Him personally.
* Pray that God would put in the hearts of the believers a passion to know the Lord more intimately and to reach their own people with the gospel.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to empower Asheninka Pichis believers to turn away from alcoholism and demonstrate a changed life.

Text Source:   Modern Day, Segadores, and Pioneers