Over spring break Stephen Gilstrap and I traveled to Leticia, Colombia to work with a few tribes on the Amazon River. We had the privilege of working alongside Mr. B as he led us on a trip down the river. God is using Mr. B in mighty ways among the communities on the Amazon and his ministry is bearing incredible fruit.
Our four days on the river were comprised of fishing, meeting with families in the communities, and telling stories from the Bible. We got to share about the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the community members and tell them of the hope that is in Christ Jesus. It was amazing to see the effectiveness of sharing Bible stories. We received a great deal of feedback and fielded several questions each time we shared a story. The few believers that are in the communities display a genuine desire for the Word of God. They are joyful listeners and welcome any opportunity to learn more about God and His word. Storytelling is a powerful tool in this context. Stories hold an important place in their culture and most of their learning comes through storytelling. Throughout our time in Colombia we witnessed the power of stories in the Bible. It was a gracious reminder of the great narratives of Scripture and how Jesus used stories to explain the kingdom of God.
One of the most interesting aspects of ministry in Colombia is addressing and approaching the animistic worldview. The spirit world played an integral role in the lives of each person we met on the river. Every good or bad event in one’s life is attributed to a spirit of some kind. As Westerners this was a definite challenge for Stephen and me. It challenged our Western mindset and allowed us an opportunity to examine the Scriptures for the truth and not our cultural assumptions. The strong emphasis on the spirit world creates a very complex situation for ministry among these peoples. It is beneficial in their understanding of the gospel as the Bible deals with the spiritual realm constantly. On the other hand it is difficult to navigate spiritual beliefs and to ensure that they understand that Jesus is Lord of the spirits and that His gospel is a gospel of salvation by grace. Despite these difficulties it is clear that God’s actions will not be thwarted among this people group. We saw evidence of the Lord’s redemption in several people’s lives. We heard several testimonies of God using supernatural means to open people’s eyes to the truth of the gospel.
One day as we were reclining with some believers from two different tribes they began to discuss a need for unity among the Christians in the two communities. They proceeded to develop a plan to gather the people of the two villages together to hear the gospel message. This was a monumental moment that we trust the Lord will use to bring about redemption in the communities. Pray that God will unite the few believers that exist in the communities. Pray for Travis as he seeks to disciple the young believers and bring them into a mature faith. Pray that the Lord will send laborers into the harvest and will provide opportunities to share the gospel story.
God has given UBC a unique opportunity to support His mission in Colombia. What a privilege! Let’s use the gifts and resources He’s given us to play our part in God’s global redemption. Let’s pray for the gospel to go forth and eagerly await the day when we can worship our Lord together with every tongue, tribe, and nation.
Written by Fee Kennedy