We went to Peru in April to distribute school supplies to schools along the Amazon and Napo Rivers who are in a program whereby people can sponsor a village and their donation helps cover the cost of supplies and participation in the program. While we were there, we met with pastors and conducted children's services in a couple of churches and prayed for God's direction.
Mike and I had just been to the village of Nuevo Esperanza to deliver their school supplies, but because the Amazon was experiencing record high water levels, their village was flooded, and they had to come out to the large boat we were on to get their supplies. While they were on the boat, we took pictures of the people from the village to send to our friends who were their sponsors.
When we got back to the city after the school supply distribution in the jungle, we went to Belen, an area of Iquitos, to visit some pastors and tell them about the vision God was giving us to train pastors in the villages.
The first church we went to, we sat down and began telling the pastor our story. We told him that God was calling us to begin training pastors in the jungle, and he listened intently, without saying a word.
When we had laid out our mission, he said, "It is no accident that you are here. One week ago, a man came to my church from the jungle. He had traveled many hours by boat to get here. He asked me to teach him the Bible and train him to be a pastor to his people. I told him I would train him, but he is many hours away, and does not have money for gas to get to the city very often."
I said, "Really? Do you know the name of the village he was from?" The Pastor replied, "Yes. He was from a village called Nuevo Esperanza on the Napo River."
This was the first time the name of the village had been spoken there. He had no idea of any of the history you have just read. I'm sure Mike and Manuel and I were all sitting there with our mouths open in awe, because we DID know the history.
Mike took out the camera and opened a picture of the men from Nuevo Esperanza and showed it to him. "Is the man who came here in this photo?", He asked.
"Yes. This is the man right here.", He said, pointing to one of the men in the picture.
We then shared with him the story of Nuevo Esperanza, including the fact that Manuel had Bibles sitting in his home destined for that village!
If anyone ever tells me that we do not have a personal God - one who cares about the details of our lives, I would beg to differ with them. I serve a God who heard the prayers of a man in the jungle, hours from the nearest city. God called this man to ministry, and led him to take a journey, seeking help. He also led him to the very church, we would be sitting in one week later.
THE REST OF THE STORY...
In June, Pachita and our friends arrived in the village of Nuevo Esperanza. They went into the school and were greeting the people of the village and began passing out Bibles. They asked, "Where is the pastor?" and they were told, "We have no pastor."
This generated some confusion, as we had shared this story with them and had even pointed out in the pictures which man had gone to Belen. Someone told them the man in the picture wasn't from their village, so they weren't sure what to think.
Outside in the village, a friend of ours who was the guide and translator for the group, was talking to the man in the picture. Mike had also sent the picture to him and told him the story. He recognized the man and started talking to him. When they had asked "Where is the pastor?", he didn't respond. He said he was not confident in that role yet, until he had training to be a pastor. He hadn't even told the people in the village that he felt called to do this. He told our friend that he was hoping to get back to the city for training, but he didn't have money for gas yet to make the trip. Our friend gave him some money to help him. We asked Manuel to take a study Bible to the church in Belen to give to him when he returns.
We are hoping on this next trip to organize a network of pastors to begin providing pastor training near his village so he and others can receive training and materials. One goal for this trip is to spend 4 days on the Napo River beginning this work. We would love to be there when God writes the next chapter in this man's life! Please pray for him and his village.