"For God so loved the world"

By Lynn Turner

It was a hot, sultry day in the Amazon jungle.  Russ had finished teaching the morning seminar sessions and lunch was over.  He decided to walk down to the river to bathe and wash his clothes before the next sessions began.  Other students meandered down as well and began discussing the morning sessions and asking questions.


One of the students, Lolo, began, "You know this morning we were studying about the Second-Coming of Christ and my people upriver have never heard about the first coming of Christ."  "Upriver" means miles and miles of river and tributaries with many, many villages along the way. It is considered remote because fewer people travel there.


That thought pierced Russ' heart. He began praying for the opportunity to reach into those villages. Time and time again, Russ asked about going into that region. Each time the different pastors would discourage him saying, "No, you can't go as a white man.  There are drug cartels working in that region. It is too dangerous." Others told him that the Indians would spear him if he tried to go.


Russ continued to pray. In the meantime, God began working in Lolo's heart and gave him a burden to begin reaching out to evangelize other villages. Lolo stayed in communication with us, and each time he would mention the desire to go to a new village, we provided funds for gas for his boat. He started by going to nearby villages and had great success winning souls and later teaching them discipleship. 


Last year, Lolo made his first trip upriver to the region for which Russ had been praying - to the Yagua tribe - a tribe that is still quite primitive. Lolo made contact in 2-3 villages and led several people to the Lord. One family in particular became our contact for this region. Needless to say, Lolo was overjoyed with the response and couldn't wait for Russ to accompany him on his next trip.


In December, Russ and Lolo made the long, arduous, 7-hour trip by boat. The hot sun beamed down, but their anticipation was growing. When they arrived, their host, Felipe, (name changed) greeted them with joy. However, they had arrived following the celebration of a grammar school graduation and a big party. Most of the men were hung-over, and needed time to recuperate. Therefore, Felipe, their guide and host in this village, advised them to travel to another village while the men in this village recovered. He insisted on accompanying them because he said that strangers are not welcomed in this region.


He explained, "It would be unsafe for you to go alone. The people know me, so they will receive us and there will be less danger from the drug runners." He went on the explain that the Indians and the drug runners know him because he previously worked in the coca trade and had been one of their best coca pickers.


As they arrived at Village #2, a group of people began quietly gathering in the community center.  Russ sang with the children and then shared the gospel with the group. They responded to the message and many prayed and accepted the Lord as Savior.


Before nightfall, Russ, Lolo and Felipe returned to Felipe's village and home.  The village was quiet but children were still running around and curious to see the strangers, especially the white man with white hair and hair on his arms. ( a curiosity as few have hair on their bodies) One child asked, "Do you paint your hair?" Russ laughed and handed out some candy and treats. Slowly, one by one, they left for their homes.


Mrs. Felipe prepared a simple meal of fish (piranha), and afterwards they gladly hung their hammocks to rest. It had been a very long day.


The following morning Russ gathered some people together, gave the gospel and once again many prayed and accepted the Lord as Savior. Russ and Lolo left the village rejoicing in the Lord and looking forward with plans for future trips to continue to evangelize and disciple the new believers.


What victory!  God is answering our prayers and using another indigenous evangelist to reach, not only his own Cocama tribe, but other tribes as well. To God be the glory.