Evangelizing the Deep Jungle
By Ryan Lawless
To start with, let me ask for prayers. Last week, a man named Cesar and his family, wife America and 5 kids, lost their home to a fire. We must offer praises to our Lord because not a single person was injured. They lost everything. When this man showed up at our mission house last week, Padre Jose asked Matt and I if we could help him. We were able to give him three bags full of clothes and other necessities. The clothes came directly from the missionaries who came to Ecuador from Florida on short term mission in July. “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise” (Luke 3:11). ¡Gracias a ellos por su generosidad! Literally, the clothes off their back went to a family in desperate need, for just one pair of pants.
I gifted him a Bible that was given to me. We encouraged him to read the Scriptures and to continue to praise God, especially, during this suffering, so that they may persevere. We were able to give him a good bit of money to help with buying food, as well. As we continued to shower him with more and more, he became overwhelmed and just started crying. This was the first time that I have consoled an older man by just hugging him tight. It was an incredibly liberating experience, no shame, not an ounce of embarrassment. Matt and I prayed with him, for protection, strength and perseverance. We three men prayed with our arms around one another, giving glory to God! If you feel called to give extra for this family, to help them rebuild, please note that when you send your donation to FMC. God bless you!
On Sunday, we began the week by heading to the community La Florida, where we stayed for 4 days. La Florida is about a two hour drive from Ahuano, deeper into the jungle. The community was doing their Rosary novena to La Virgen de El Cisne. We participated every night with their rosary. After the rosary Matt and I would give a talk or read Scripture and offer a reflection. The last night, Wednesday, each family came up to the front, and we prayed over them for God’s blessing to be upon them and for those who needed healing. Afterwards, we shared some bread and coffee. We stayed with a family in a small house that they are still building. The walls of our room were open to the outside; which allowed for it to be much cooler during the nights, it was a huge blessing to have a roof over our heads.
During the days we would visit the families in La Florida, and in another community, Selva Amazonica, another hour and a half walk into the jungle. We never know what is going to happen, but God always provides us with food, and the necessities, and of course the opportunity to share the Gospel. We met a family of kids in a house. They were at home while their mom was washing clothes in the river. We played with them and sang ¡Feliz Cumpleaños!(Happy Birthday) to Ronni, who’s birthday was that day. When their mom, Elsa, arrived she happily welcomed us. We talked, drank some Chicha and shared some Scripture. We even helped to machete some of their land while she prepared Guayusa, a hot tea made from the leaves of the Guayusa plant. It’s really good for you.
The highlight of our experience happened when we stopped at a house to share the Word. We only expected to see the mom at home, but instead, her husband was home, their daughter and her husband, and a friend. More people to share with! Plus, when we walked up, they already had two bowls of food set out on the table, as if they were expecting us. Twice blessed food! The best part was when we asked to read the Bible with them. We all gathered around, and the mom went to get a neighbor. The neighbor and her two kids came over. We opened up a reading and reflected on it. Immediately, they wanted to read another, then another and another. They were hungry for it. The next thing I know, they are giving reflections. I didn’t want it to end. Praise you Lord Jesus, let our food always be “to do the will of the one who sent [you]” (Jn. 4:34).
One thing I am really excited about, is the Bible study we started last Saturday night. We started reading Matthew’s Gospel. We have not had a very big showing, but even if just one person comes, that is enough. Last night, one older woman came and then Marcia’s kids showed up. They had their Bible ready to go! I can’t help but smile thinking about how intense their focus was as we read. I can’t wait to see this group grow and grow. Pray for this ministry, that it may be fruitful, with the community coming together in Christ to share Scripture, and that the Holy Spirit may be our guide and speak His words through me.
I feel there is so much more to tell you. I gave you the highlights, and those were mere morsels. Thank you for the awesome boost of prayers that we have been receiving. I feel a renewed sense of zeal and love for the people here. God is answering my prayers! God bless each of you and you’re families. May He fill you with joy and peace, but first, you be changed, deep, to the marrow, allowing His Word to cut out from you that which is not of Him. We often think that others need to change, and even worse, that God needs to change… I must change myself. You must change yourself. Let’s stop pointing the finger at others, and accept that it is I and it is you, who are what is wrong with this world. We are sinners. Instead, let us light up the world with our humility and our fear of the Lord, forsaking the things of the world which enslave us.
Give them HEAVEN!
By Ryan Lawless