André is an indigenous leader in a community in Northern Brazil. Though his tribal family does not live very far from the city of Manaus, they have done all they can to protect their culture against modern influences. The government of Brazil also places a high priority on preserving indigenous land, language, and culture. Living in close contact with nature, André had many opportunities to experience the divine in the world around him. However, he felt like something was missing in his life. He saw God in nature but didn’t have the language to describe what he was experiencing.
Then he was invited to an event sponsored by IPM (the Presbyterian Church of Manaus) where he heard the words of the Gospel for the first time. He began reading the Bible, he felt his heart coming alive! He connected with other Christian teachers and pastors to learn all he could about the Christ. Now he is a missionary to his family and to other indigenous peoples in the Amazon.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 says “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” This “living and active” Word (Hebrews 4), though it was shared with Andres by regular men and women, had a greater purpose from God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Words of scripture, when they go out, do not come back empty (Isaiah 55)!
Logistically, it is very difficult to do outreach in the Amazon. As you might expect, it can take hours to go by boat between villages. Language and customs can also be barriers. Also, in the name of preserving local culture, the government has fairly tight restrictions on who can and cannot go into the indigenous communities.
André now takes these words of life to areas where others can’t go. He helps indigenous peoples see that the word of God does not threaten or destroy their centuries-old culture, rather it restores and perfects it. He spoke of a revival happening in the Amazon, that he sees so many people hungry for Words to put with their feelings of wonder, and that there are so few to go out to preach.
IPM is one of relatively few organizations focused on community-restoring ways of sharing the Gospel. We are so blessed to be involved with them (even for such a short period of time), and are looking forward to see how God will continue to bless them in this work.