It was our very great pleasure to welcome back to the Amazon our close friends and partners, Dr. Barry and Susan Jenkins. Barry is the pastor of First Presbyterian, Florence, SC, and has been coming to the Amazonia of Perú for the past 17 years!
This trip was extra special because their son, Barry, Jr., a physician, joined them this year and was a med student the last time he was with us here, so there was much to catch up on.
We were able to take this team of twenty into four new villages, which had never been visited by either a medical team or North Americans prior to this visit. On the first day we visited the village of Paiche Huahua. Huahua, pronounced ‘Wa Wa, and means the babies of the Paiche fish, so famous here in the jungle.
We found out a little history of this village and they all assured us that there had never been a missionary or preacher who had ever visited their pueblo. Imagine, not one witness of Jeshua had ever been spoken there in the 96 years that village had existed!
Since the Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, and how can they hear without a preacher, it is little wonder that we found not one single believer in that village!!
We also boated the people of a another close-by village, Tigrillo, into that village for this campaign and a precious few of those souls claimed the name of Jesus as Lord. We gave them the gospel message in the church service that we always start with and a few of those believers came forward at the altar call for reconciliation.
We had a prayer and bible station and prayed for the family’s needs and gave each family a bible with instructions on how to read it as a family and where to find the story of creation that we had just presented in the Old Testament and in the New Testament where to find the writings of the life of Jesus and suggested the Book of John to begin their readings.
These 4 pueblos flood every year during the rainy season and they have to spend those months in another, higher-ground pueblo or go back into the jungle a couple of hours where there gardens are and live in the huts they throw up that are much worse than their homes and their homes consist of a leaky, thatched roof and a floor, but not one single wall! Since they have just planted their crops after the rainy season, it will take a minimum of three months for their crops to produce the harvest, so this 3 1/2 tons of food was truly sent from God to them in their time of need.
The people were given large bags filled with oatmeal, milk, salt, sugar, cooking oil, a kg of rice and a kg of beans for each family member, matches, laundry soap and a bar of body soap for each person. What a sight that made!
“Then he said unto them, Go thy way, eat the fat and drink the sweet and send portions to those for whom nothing has been prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord. Neither be ye grieved; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. ” Nehemiah 8:10 KJV
As we entered each of the villages, we found some ladies there who were willing to cook the noon meal for the entire village, with this church supplying the chickens, rice, plantains, beans and drinks.
They were able to enjoy the aroma of this meal cooking and nothing like this had ever happened in their village before. When the people had had their family picture taken, received their consult with a doctor, had their feet lovingly washed and fit for new sandals, received their machetes, sewing kits, fishing kits, mosquito nets, new glasses if needed and medicine they enjoyed this delicious meal which had been prepared for them.
After the meal, we rested some and then began the VBS portion of the Children’s Ministry program.
On Tuesday, we visited the village of 7th of Julio and repeated the same as the day before. Again we found that no white person had ever visited their village, but some evangelist had come and given them the gospel. Some were confessing believers in Christ, but at the altar call, no others responded.
We all knew that this was basically a new thing we were introducing and some people would need time to think on these things before committing themselves to the Christian faith. We were hoping for a harvest of souls, even though we know we have to plow the fields, prepare the rows for planting, plant the seed, water the seed and then reap the harvest. So we contented ourselves that where we had sown others might one day reap!
Now on the third day, we found ourselves in the village of Nueva Esperanza. This means New Hope in English and this was a community that had been established 26 years ago by this native tribe of Yagua Indians. These delightful people were friendly, responsive and grateful for our visitation and communicated that all through our initial encounter with them.
Several of us were feeling the Spirit move there and while standing in front of the village before he began his presentation of the gospel, Pastor Barry confirmed what we were feeling as he felt the urging of the Holy Spirit two distinctive times to announce to his team that this village was special and that something unusual was going to happen there that morning in that service. He felt like we were on holy ground! There is something about that third day!
When the presentation of the large picture cards corresponding with the gospel message was finished and the altar call to accept Jesus as their personal Savior was given, everyone started making their way to the front in waves! We were humbled by the sight of every single person in that village moving to the front!
If we had felt the harvest few before in the other villages, the Lord showed out in this one! Just counting the adults and children over fifteen, forty-nine were counted in that crowd that had surged forward to receive Christ, not counting many of the children, who also doubtlessly gave their lives to the Lord! The people were serious about what they were doing and realized that this was Eternal Business!
Nueva Esperanza village will never be the same! Nor will anybody who was present in that service! I am believing God that that image will remain strong in our memory as long as we live because that was our Lord, plowing, preparing, planting, watering, growing and harvesting by His Holy Spirit all in a moment of time!
Hosea 6:3 KJV tells us “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord; his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
While the natural rain that came this year and caused the flooding that caused these people many untold hardships, this latter and former rain that brings in the harvest came to us all at once and anytime that the spring and fall rains come together that would be a flood for sure, but this was a flood of a different kind; one that brought life eternal to an entire community!
“ And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.“ Matthew 16:18 KJV
We would ask you to pray for the well-being and spiritual growth of these who made a public profession of Jesus as Lord of their lives.
We gave all the gifts and medicine, fed the village and did the VBS like in the other villages, but a great after glow remained with us the rest of the time we spent with them.
On our last day, Thursday, we worked in the pueblo of Atun Cocha and we repeated everything we did in the other three days and just when we thought we had just a little taste of Heaven on Earth with what happened with the altar call the day before, God gave us a repeat of the altar service in Atun Cocha!
Everyone came forward except the teacher and after the service she went to our Peruvian pastor and told him she wanted to be saved! What a mighty God we serve! There were 50 people in that altar 16 and older. We didn’t count the children, but surely some of those accepted Jesus, too, just like in Nueva Esperanza. I, myself, began to have dreams of God and Heaven when I was but 6 years old and received Christ when I was 10. I know my encounter with the King of Kings was real and I believe some of those children had a real experience with the Lord, as well.
Around noon we started our 14-hour return trip to our homeport with a very contented crew and I am sure the people of the villages who were attended felt the same!
We are grateful to First Presbyterian Church, Florence, SC, for the contribution of the gifts, food, shoes and everything that they made possible and for the team that came and all that they provided and said and did this week that made it such an outstanding and memorable mission. Many thanks to our home church, Free Chapel, Gainesville, GA for keeping us on the river and making it possible for us to host a team such as this one.
For those of you who may have given support to any of the people on this team, may you all receive a “Well done!” when you look into the eyes of the One we love the best and He thanks you personally for the labor of love that you have helped to provide this week! Work in the villages is demanding, hot and tiring, but…we as David said, will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord of that which doth cost us nothing.
Pastor Barry taught that there is such a thing as a Ministry of Presence. Just the fact that we showed up in a village to be with the people that day, our presence was significant. Just like His presence is all-powerful in our lives, we need to be aware that we have a presence that we can either share with those around us or keep to ourselves. If your presence is precious to someone, be mindful that they are waiting on you to show up! Don’t disappoint their expectations if you can help it!
Villages Served and Fed: 5
Medical and Dental Attentions: 455
Families Served: 126
Food given: 3.5 tons
Gifts: Bibles, Glasses, Machetes, Sewing Kits, Fishing Kits, Mosquito Nets, Sandals Candies, Toys, Crafts and Medicine
Miles Navigated: 160
Hours Navigated: 28