This last week I was blessed to go on a 6 day boat trip of evangelism and discipleship.
Here is a quick history of the river community we visited: One night a young man decided to follow Jesus. His name was Washington. Soon after, God laid it on his heart to return to the river communities where he grew up and he began spreading the gospel as there were no evangelical churches there. He began visiting and talking to multiple families along the river. One of these was the family of Francisco. Francisco has 3 sons and 5 daughters (some of which are married with children). There were no immediate visible responses to this gospel message in Francisco’s family, but according to his son, Frank, they began watching the life of Washington. After many months of watching this young man labor for the Lord, reading the Word, treating his wife differently, and being full of joy, Frank decided to start reading this Book that Washington thought was so valuable. Soon his life was changing and one night, while visiting a church in the city, he decided to begin following Jesus. Nothing was the same afterwords. He went home full of joy to tell his wife, brothers and parents. His wife was very willing to follow, his brother-in-law Ocivaldo, had also been reading the Bible and converted, but his dad, Francisco, was not impressed. Although there was not a church close by, he had heard enough about religion that he didn’t think much of it. Photo: Ocivaldo, a son-in-law.
However, Frank’s life showed a difference. His values were different. He was happier and more obedient. Five months later, in the summer of 2013, Francisco and his wife also decided to follow Jesus. By this time his children and in-laws were all believers.
Frank’s dream was to build a “nice” house, catch fish and sell them and get enough money to get a herd of cows. By the time he became a believer, this young man had a herd of 12 cows. Francisco’s family is large and they are believing for more people in their community to come to the Lord. However when they have services in their house, it is already overflowing. So they decided to build a church next to their house. Frank (whose dream was to have a herd of cows) sold 9 of his 12 to purchase the first wood for the church (I should have showed him in the Bible where God asks us to give 10%….not 75%). He made this decision less than a year after becoming a believer. What were you doing a year after you got saved?
He told me, “that was my dream, but after I came to Christ, I don’t really care about that stuff anymore. I just want to win this whole river for Christ”. There are about 45 communities in this area.
Francisco has a large family and usually they are all at his house together for the weekend along with other random people. Photo: Francisco- the father
This is the story of one of those “random” people– except nothing is “random” with God. One day Francisco took his boatload of fish to Santarém. While parked he met a young man, Daniel, working in the boat parked next to him. They took a liking to each other and a few weeks later, Daniel showed up at his house (about 12 hours by boat from Santarém). He stayed with them and over the next year or so would spend his days off and holidays with Francisco’s family. Daniel watched this family come to the Lord and saw their lives transformed.
The first morning I was there we had a Bible study. I noticed this young man, Daniel, “hanging in the shadows”. After the service I went to meet him. I made a little small talk and then asked one of the few spiritual questions I know: “Você é um crente?”. Are you a believer? He hung his head quickly and said, No. he told me that it is very difficult working on the boat. The men drink alot and there were lots of women available. He told me he also sold drugs for 3 years in Manaus (where he grew up and where his family lives). I told him I would pray for him and encouraged him with my limited portuguese.
That night we had another church service and Ubirajara (a young man on the boat with us) gave his testimony. He went to church when he was a teenager, but quickly lost interest. Life took over. He got married, got a job cutting wood and was living a sinful life. He like to drink. Normally when he would go on a binge he would leave the house for 5 days at a time. Seven months ago he was on a binge. He was on the 3rd day and he stumbled past an Igreja da Paz church. As he was “walking” by, a pastor put his arm around his shoulders, invited him in, steered him into a pew. Ubirajara heard about the loving grace of Jesus Christ again, but this time he made a decision to follow Christ and his life has never been the same. Seven months ago he was trying to figure out how to get his next drink. Last week he took the whole week off work to travel to a river he’d never heard of to take the gospel to people he had never met. As Daniel heard this testimony, God touched his heart. That night, Daniel, also was forgiven. Praise the Lord I got to be part of his journey.
The next day we did some house visits.
In the US, I remember walking or driving to knock on doors. Here, we take a boat!
Every day we would spend hours around the Word. I asked them if I could go fishing with them. “Not when the pastor is here. We’ve got more important things to do than that– we want to learn”. They reminded me of hungry birds.
Janelle and I thought about taking the whole family. They would have loved playing with the other kids.
However, they might have starved. For supper, you grabbed a fish off the fire. Broke it open. Scraped out whatever meat you could find, mixed it with farinha (coarse flour), and eat up!
Although I love this type of work, saying Goodbye really stinks. Photo: Franciso and his wife.
They wanted to know why an American would come visit their village. I told them when I visited 10 years ago I wanted to help. The Brazilians can preach, evangelize, and disciple. As you can see, they are “on fire” to reach their people. I wanted to do something that was difficult for them to accomplish yet also brought value. I told them I realized that for a Brazilian living in a community on the Amazon River fishing for a living, becoming a pilot was almost impossible. However, that is something I could do! Get my license and fly the pastors to various communities to spread the gospel— much quicker than by boat. We spent 26 hours on the boat this trip. I could have gotten there and back in less than 2 hours by airplane. Right now we are waiting on 2 parts to arrive from the US to get the planes flying. Thanks for your prayers. To Him be the Glory.