Fulfilling the Great Commission in the jungle of Ecuador

I recently returned from our trip to the jungle and am pleased to give a very good report. The trip was a great success in many ways even with the spiritual warfare that we encountered. Our goal in this first trip was to visit as many communities as possible and talk with the Christians there and invite them personally to the pastoral training program that we are planning on launching in April. Our goal also was to find a suitable location for the training program that would enable as many Shuar people to come from their respective communities whether some be deep in the jungle and others on the outskirts of the jungle. Our final goal was to get the opportunity to do some teaching and preaching along the way in order to minister to the Shuar and also give them a feel for what the training will be like once we begin.  Our team consisted of Justin and Shane from Trace Creek Baptist in Kentucky, myself, and our Ecuadorian contact Pato in Macas.

We accomplished those goals and even more. The Lord had some neat divine appointments for us along the way. One day, when we were visiting a community right on the Peruvian border, we were looking for the Christian leader, but he was not around. So, we were directed to a young man in the community who really loves the Lord and wants to know more of Him. After much conversation, I learned that he has known the Lord for three years, feels a strong desire to pastor, but had never been baptized. This was based on faulty teaching that he was given. So, after explaining to him what the Bible teaches about baptism and who may or may not get baptized, I told him that nothing should hinder him further in following through with this step of obedience. I told him that if he wanted to, we could find a river and I could baptize him in the presence of the many witnesses with us. And so that’s what we did. It was an amazing time to just teach this young man about biblical baptism and then get the opportunity to baptize him immediately after. Afterwards, he told me that this was such a great day for him. Of course, he was invited to the pastoral training program and told me that he has every intention of attending. Please pray for him. His name is Juan Paez.

Also, I was given the opportunity to preach on Sunday at a Shuar church where we decided we will launch the program. After preaching an evangelistic message, a woman stepped forward in front of the congregation and told us that she wanted to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. So, after giving a very thorough explanation of what that entails in order to make sure that she understood, I had the opportunity to lead her in a prayer to receive Christ. Please pray for her. Her name is Lucy. I asked the pastor’s wife to begin immediate follow up with her in order to begin teaching her the Bible and drawing her closer to the Lord. What an amazing privilege that the Lord gave us to see salvation come to this Shuar woman.

Our original plan was to visit two different areas in the jungle, but there was a political situation going on in one area and the tribal leaders were not letting anyone pass through, so we were not able to get as far into the jungle as we planned. But we did visit the other community which was just across the river and spent the night there. While there, we met with a handful of families in the community and share with them about the program. I was also given the privilege of preaching in the evening. While visiting families, we were offered strange fruit and strange drink. The drink is called Chicha and it is often made fermented by the saliva of those who make it. So, they make it by chewing up corn or yuca and then spitting it into a bowl and then mixing it with other fruits. It is a total offense to not receive it when it is offered to you, and they all drink from the same bowl as it is passed around the group. So, I know my Director will not be happy to read this, but I simply had to lip it to make it look like I was taking some as to not offend, but there was no way that stuff was passing through my lips. So, each time it was offered, I put it to my mouth so that it would form a big chicha mustache, but I did not sip it. Go figure then that I did end up eating some raw grubs a few hours later. Haha. I’d choose the raw grubs any day over Chicha. The grubs hardly had any taste to them.

Overall, it was a great trip. We are super excited to return in April to launch our first training module. We plan to get back into the jungle as well to share with other communities. The people are super excited to have this opportunity to receive biblical training and so it is worth the efforts that it takes to reach them. The church where we will hold the training is on the outskirts of the jungle just about 30 minutes from the city of Macas. So, although we may make frequent day or overnight trips into the jungle to minister the Gospel to people, training itself will be in a more accommodating area.

Thank you all for praying for me. There was certainly some spiritual warfare going on, but we give glory to God that He is all powerful and nothing can stop His plan from going forward.

The craziest, narrowest, flimsiest, noisiest steel bridge I have ever crossed
The craziest, narrowest, flimsiest, noisiest steel bridge I have ever crossed
Talking with the two leaders from the church in Shimpis about how to get them good biblical resources.
Talking with the two leaders from the church in Shimpis about how to get them good biblical resources.
First time preaching to the Shuar. Awesome that a Shuar woman came forward at the end and asked to receive Christ as Savior.
First time preaching to the Shuar. Awesome that a Shuar woman came forward at the end and asked to receive Christ as Savior.

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Justin teaching on how to effectively study the Bible
Justin teaching on how to effectively study the Bible
Me sharing with some of the leaders about the pastoral training program
Me sharing with some of the leaders about the pastoral training program

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Me preaching a Sunday morning evangelistic message at the church in Shimpis.
Me preaching a Sunday morning evangelistic message at the church in Shimpis.
Me with Pastor Clemente of the church in Shimpis where we will have our training center. He is so excited
Me with Pastor Clemente of the church in Shimpis where we will have our training center. He is so excited
Group photo after a few hours of good solid teaching about the importance of proper Bible study
Group photo after a few hours of good solid teaching about the importance of proper Bible study
Baptist Church in Shimpis where we preached and did some teaching.
Baptist Church in Shimpis where we preached and did some teaching.

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Sharing the message of baptism and salvation with Juan just before baptizing him
Sharing the message of baptism and salvation with Juan just before baptizing him
Baptizing Juan in a river in the Amazon region...buried with Christ in the likeness of His death...
Baptizing Juan in a river in the Amazon region…buried with Christ in the likeness of His death…

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Juan after being baptized...excited to return to his village and preach the Gospel with passion
Juan after being baptized…excited to return to his village and preach the Gospel with passion

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...Raised with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection!
…Raised with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection!

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Hiking down to the river on our way out of the jungle village of Kaputna where we stayed a few days
Hiking down to the river on our way out of the jungle village of Kaputna where we stayed a few days
Our canoe to take us across the river to the jungle
Our canoe to take us across the river to the jungle
Crossing the Rio Morona heading towards the jungle
Crossing the Rio Morona heading towards the jungle
Camote...tastes like a mix of melon and squash
Camote…tastes like a mix of melon and squash
Little home in the jungle
Little home in the jungle
Kids in the jungle following us around
Kids in the jungle following us around
Vincent cuts some fresh sugar cane. Every home we visited we were offered the fruit from their land.
Vincent cuts some fresh sugar cane. Every home we visited we were offered the fruit from their land.
I did not drink the Chicha, but I did eat some raw grubs that we found inside some spoiled fruit. Yum!
I did not drink the Chicha, but I did eat some raw grubs that we found inside some spoiled fruit. Yum!
Chicha in the jungle. It sure looks like I am drinking it...but I am not. I can't drink something that was made with other people's saliva.
Chicha in the jungle. It sure looks like I am drinking it…but I am not. I can’t drink something that was made with other people’s saliva.
I told Justin the trick of lipping it beforehand so that he would be prepared
I told Justin the trick of lipping it beforehand so that he would be prepared
Shane however wanted the full experience and actually swallowed it
Shane however wanted the full experience and actually swallowed it
Eating fresh nuts off of an old oil drum
Eating fresh nuts off of an old oil drum
Justin showing off his mad soccer skills
Justin showing off his mad soccer skills
Getting to know the people of the community
Getting to know the people of the community
Vincente, an Ecuadorian missionary trying to reach his own people for the Gospel. This is his tiny little church
Vincente, an Ecuadorian missionary trying to reach his own people for the Gospel. This is his tiny little church
Sangay Reserve on the drive towards Macas
Sangay Reserve on the drive towards Macas