This was our second day on the river, and we had left Mr. D’s home that morning to visit the people of a small village in Peru. One of the believers had graciously invited us into her home for lunch and had prepared for us fish, rice, and plantains. Mr. D had been our host and guide for the past two days, and we had been getting to know him as we traveled and spent time in the villages.
During lunch that day, he began sharing about his journey to Christ. Years ago, he was working as a hit man for the cocaine traffickers in Colombia. His work involved torturing and killing many people. But after a plane crash and injuries that almost cost him his life, Diego was able to get out of trafficking.
Through a series of events, God brought ‘T’ into Mr. D’s life, and Mr. D began to hear and see the gospel as ‘T’ told him stories from the bible and lived life with him. Last year, Mr. D accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and has since begun to share with other believers in his village.
“But in my village, there are few believers,” Mr. D continued. “I share about God, but they make fun of me. They say, ‘We know what you used to do, and now…you are trying to tell us about God?’ But I continue to share. When you come, I gain strength. I do not feel alone.”
And clearly, in spite of feeling alone and being mocked, Mr. D has remained steadfast and even joyful. Even as he spoke, I noticed how the creases at the corners of his eyes were deepened by the big smile that spread across his face. And his demeanor reminded me of the words written to encourage us in James 1 to count it all joy when we meet challenges.
During lunch, another woman there also began to share about her life with us. She explained that many of her children began to have serious illnesses, and through this she started to cru out to God and trust him. She brought her daughter to us and asked for us to pray for her. as she stood by her momma, the small girl frowned at the ground and guarded her cheek. We could tell she was in much pain from what appeared to be a dental abscess. We gave her Tylenol to make her more comfortable and prayed that Jesus would heal her abscess. The mother thanked us and shared that Jesus had healed her children times before.
After lunch, we gathered the children together outside. It was a windy afternoon, and Stephen began to tell the story of the disciples in the boat. Right as he began to tell how the storm came and frightened the disciples, thick clouds and a torrent of rain rolled in from the direction of the river. We ran inside and finished sharing how Jesus came and calmed the storm.
After the children left for their homes, we waited out the rain inside. We sat around, peeling guama and enjoying the sweetness of the fruit, and talked until evening. That time reminded me of words Travis had shared earlier that week. He said that if you looked at Jesus’ life, he did four things often. He taught through stories, healed the sick, cast out demons, and ate with people. As I reflected in this, I was challenged to learn how to follow his example in my daily life.
As we hosted back to Mr. D’s home to rest that night, the rain began to pour down again. Lightening lit the sky. The river was rough and beautiful that night. It reminded me of the stories I had heard that day, stories of rough pasts and present difficulties. But in the middle of the storms, how sweet to see Jesus come and bring peace, encouragement, and joy.
Written by Susanna Gilstrap