– by Harvesters Ministries
After 27 hours of travelling, I arrived in Manaus meeting up with Harvesters’ staff. The hot humid air couldn’t stop the excitement as we headed out early morning on a private flight to Santo Antônio do Içá – an important indigenous community that will launch the church planting in the Amazon. The trip itself was adventurous enough in a small 8-seater and gave us yet again a bird’s eye view of how huge and lush the Amazon really is. Parts of the Amazon are so vast and wide that you can’t even capture them from above.
Safely on the ground
We were greeted at the airport by an eagerly awaiting crowd from the church. Due to our short 3 days on this remote outpost in the Amazon, we rushed into our training to meet all our goals and objectives. This was against protocol, and the way of the Amazon people! We had to eat first and like every day after that, fish was on the menu! Well fish, and a very awkward drink that tasted like 12 volt battery water with a strong acidity. We ate and swallowed fast! With no time to waste, we headed into evangelism, discipleship, and multiplication. Many pastors, elders, and church members attended our first training in scorching heat.
Amazon: Three degrees from the planet Mercury
The ten fans that ran in the church didn’t cool us down at all, but brought a sense of comfort knowing that our hosts felt sorry for us as we overheated during presentations. The enthusiastic gasps echoed through the small church as pastors started understanding the Harvesters’ strategy and way of thinking. We pushed through the evangelism model until we noticed that there might be people there that needed Christ and didn’t know Him personally – even though they were pastors. We made an invitation after explaining ‘regeneration’. People were on their knees praying – seven beautiful souls gave their lives to Jesus Christ.
The next step
It was great to see them engage in learning and going out to evangelise their own community. “Is this even possible?”, a pastor echoed as many souls were won for Christ. It was the mapping methodology that continued to wow the indigenous people as we helped them to reach difficult areas to plant churches by boat. 4000 villages in the area are without any church. We spent an hour mapping their part of the 7000 km Amazon river. Deep conversations continued as everyone in the Santo Antônio village realised the importance of what we were trying to teach and facilitate. There was a seriousness about our task, as we were the first church planters to ever visit the area.
Training bears fruit
A lively pastor, Sadia, was full of fire. She made sure she understood the ‘mechanics’ of how to plant a church and off she went, and planted a church – before we even left. Our dedication service was a special event on our last evening as we trained until late in the night. Would the pastors buy into the church planting plan we shared? Would they become our Hub-leaders?
Finding dedicated pastors
Our ultimate aim after every training is to find dedicated pastors that will commit for three to five years to be trained and ready to train others that will plant churches. 23 pastors dedicated their lives and ministries to plant churches with Harvesters.
Accept one another
The whole church was ready to celebrate a new vision in their village and community. The celebration ended as it begun – by eating fish! This was ‘badhu’, a type of mud eating, hard-headed, blackish, thick-lipped, skew-eyed, slippery catfish! We were served fish soup, fish eggs, and fish meat to end off the ceremony. They watched us carefully as we ate the fish – as brave culturally sensitive missionaries do. They proudly announced: “Now you are part of us – truly Amazonian”. We faked a smile, as one last fish egg found its way down our throats. To culturally submerge in a new setting where you plant churches always ensures that you connect on a personal level. People need to see you care, love, and accept them – although we are different.
Leaving the Amazon
Leaving Santo Antônio was very difficult. Despite the drenching heat and the overweight mosquitoes – God was here too. God knows every tribe and every tongue in every village on every continent. God has allowed Harvesters to play an integral part in many parts of the world and we understand the seriousness of the task at hand!
How can you get involved?
Sponsor a pastor’s training in the Amazon for R150 per month and reach the unreached in this vast wilderness. Your contribution can give people access to the Gospel and ultimately – Eternal Life. Our work is not done!
Article source: JOY! Magazine