Porto Velho, Rondônia, Brazil, is the site of YWAM’s primary training and support center for our work among the tribes of the Amazon region. The Frontier Missions international leadership team gathered there for its annual meeting. One of the highlights of the agenda was to spend time with many of the workers who have been laboring faithfully in the Amazon for decades and to hear stories of their miraculous encounters with God. Here are just two:
On one occasion, in the Sanumá tribe, a three-year-old boy wandered off into the jungle in pursuit of his mother, who had gone to the river to fish. No one missed the boy until that evening when his mother returned. The community immediately fanned out into the rain forest, searching for the child, only to return late at night, unsuccessful. The boy’s father carried on the search alone. Our worker kept up a prayer vigil, and at about 2:00 a.m., he was alerted by shouts from the villagers. The father had returned, with his son riding naked on his shoulders! The boy was completely unharmed; he had not even been bitten by insects while spending a day in the jungle. His father had found him under an old lean-to shelter, along with a frog that had been properly prepared for eating. When asked whether he had been frightened to be all alone in the jungle, he said, “I wasn’t alone; there were many Sanumá people with me. But when Daddy arrived, they all disappeared. Where did they go?”
In another tribe, the Jarawara, two shamans held sway over the people. After a time of fasting and prayer, an American worker asked some of the tribal believers to go with him to present the Gospel to the more powerful of the two, named Kará. They were very pleased when Kará gave his life to the Lord. The other shaman chided Kará, saying, “You know that you will still walk the path of the spirits of our ancestors when you die.” But Kará responded, “No, I won’t; I’m going to walk on Jesus’ path.” Only after he had died did our workers understand the full meaning of his words. Kará’s daughter told them how, before hearing the Gospel, Kará had gone into the jungle one day to hunt. There he encountered two men in white robes. They spoke to him: “You think that the foreigner is lying, but he is telling the truth. Look at Jesus’ path.” They showed him a shining path that led up to heaven, then they walked up that path and disappeared. This prepared Kará to hear and receive the gospel from the American worker. Kará abandoned shamanism and followed Jesus the rest of his life.
The meetings of the FM leadership team led into a four-day Conference on Frontier Missions to focus attention on and recruit more workers for unreached people groups, both in Brazil and around the world. Participants came from far (other countries in South America) and near (representatives from many of the Amazonian tribes that have already turned to Christ). At the culmination of the event, the tribal church leaders pledged to send missionaries from their tribes to all 100 of the remaining unengaged unreached people groups of the Brazilian Amazon basin.