Dear Praying Friends,
God has given us yet another extraordinary time in Peru, our eighth time ministering in this nation since first coming in 1999. This time, our target group was the Candoshi tribe, a distant people group of around 2,500 persons, who live far up into the Amazon toward Ecuador, primarily along the Chapuri River, which is off of the Pastaza River, which is off of the Maranon River…….each of which is of interest only to those who are cartographically obsessed as I have been since childhood.
God gave us great breakthrough with these people. They are extremely poor, neglected, and were almost decimated in 2009 by a Hepatits outbreak. They are largely ignored by the government, with their children lacking even the most basic medical care. Many had severely distended bellies and suffered malnutrition. But Jesus has not forgotten the Candoshi people, and He had a special outpouring of His Spirit reserved for our time of outreach with them.
Twenty three different chiefs came to the gathering, along with 450 people. It seemed that every woman there over 12 years old was pregnant, and in fact one lady gave birth our first night camping among them. We never heard a sound. It is amazing how 450 Amazon Indians and 6 North American gringos can sleep in absolute silence, with only the sounds of jungle frogs, insects, and owls. It was surreal and the presence of God hovering over these people was palpable.
One chief stood up to announce: “I have come with 30 members of my village. We all want you to explain to us clearly what it means to follow Jesus, because we have decided to believe in Him”. Wow – such community conversion does not exist in our North American context. It was thrilling to see the hunger of these people for God.
Another chief interrupted one session with tears in his eyes, and shared these words: “No one in my village has ever accepted Jesus….but last night I decided to follow Jesus. Now today I will be baptized, and I want to go home and teach my people to also follow Jesus. Can you tell me how to become a Pastor? Can someone come and build a church so we can worship”. Two hours later we baptized this man, along with 40 others who had purposed to pursue Jesus as Savior of their souls. The night before, when they accepted Jesus, I had taught them that “Jesus came to this world, and He wants to cut through the “jungle of sin” that hides your heart. His love is like a sharp machete, (Hebrews 4 – the Word of God is like a two edged sword) and no “trees” (or sin) can resist Him. He wants to find you and save you with His Words of life”.
We are not smart enough to come up with such analogies. The Holy Spirit inspires such in the moment. This is the way with tribal missions. You really can’t go in with pre-prepared 3 point messages. Only the Spirit of God knows the language of a man’s heart.
In another service, we taught the people on how to walk with God, and the importance of the person of the Holy Spirit communicating with them and filling them with joy. We taught on the importance of speaking in all their conversation the Words of God, which are Words of life. Then we challenged them to come forward and pray for Holy Spirit infilling. It was an extraordinary moment, where all present could feel the tangible reality of God as He descended in comfort and love upon these neglected people. They knew when all was said and done that God loved them, and this in fact was our goal – to awaken them to the reality of a living and present Savior.
The success of this trip was not without some obstacles. We experienced our first ever vehicle accident while traveling between two cities. Thankfully no one was injured. We navigated around damaged highways where mudslides had poured down after heavy rains. We pleaded and argued with the small aircraft company that had been contracted with to fly us into a small jungle city where we would catch our hired speedboat – – the flight outfitter told us: “your reservation is only good if the plane is here….the plane is not here….it is across the jungle! If you want to fly out, you have to pay to bring it here! There are a lot of things that must be done with gritted teeth if one is purposed to preach the gospel in the remotest corners of the earth. And along with human hindrances, we fought the usual complement of mosquitoes, chiggers, jungle rats scurrying outside our tents, and stomach maladies from questionable cuisine. BUT in all these things, we were more than conquerors, and our mission was accomplished by God’s good and mighty hand!
As always, the prayers of faith filled people made the difference from beginning to end.
Please continue to pray for the Candoshi people if God ever brings them to mind, that the seeds planted will produce much fruit, and that the follow up teams that go in over the coming months and years will be able to build upon the foundations that have been laid. Even now there are 2 teams of North Americans constructing church buildings in 7 Candoshi villages! To Jesus be all the glory, for “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end!”