Luke, Ben, Josh Pflederer, Chelsea Newton, Kevin Van Hulle and I will begin this week a month-long trip to the western Amazon Basin in Brazil. We will be in the state of Amazonas which is the size of Texas and has but two dirt "highways" on the eastern side of the state. The rest of the state is without roads but with a vast network of rivers. We will seek out our next location of ministry, looking to potentially move in the next two years. Why such a trip? We know little about the western part of this state and little can be gleaned from the internet and from government resources. We need to visit these areas personally and assess the need in various regions for 1) access to the good news of Jesus’ love and grace and, 2) physical needs (health care, clean water, etc) that we may be able to help address. Amazonas, Brazil is divided into municipalities, each of which contains one town or city and a large rural area that relates to it. We will visit 18 municipalities on two principal river systems.
The first two weeks (or so) will be spent visiting the northwest region of the Rio Negro (Negro River), or “Black River” which reportedly has a population about 90% indigenous people. The following two weeks (or so) will be spent visiting the Amazon River (Rio Salimoes) system in the western half of the state.
We will visit each town (18) and likely travel to the interior and try to assess the rural population, as well. Our goal is to be home for Christmas and it will be a challenge. The travel is slow on the rivers (five days to cross the state traveling 24 hrs/day) and this will give us much down time traveling (with hopefully much conversation with the local people) and a hurried time of collecting information when we stop. We will seek out people on the boats as we travel and people in the towns when we stop who can provide information about each region.
I will list the towns at the end of this post so you can check out the regions on Google Earth, if you would like. Google Earth has some pictures and information (though limited) about each place. Some basic statistics of these 18 municipalities are as follows:
Average population: 23,000
Average number of people living below the global poverty index: 54%
Average monthly wage (in U.S. currency) for those in the population that are working: $160.00
We have a notebook for each person traveling on which he/she will answer basic questions about each location, including the following:
What is your perspective on the economy of this region?
How would our families fare here?
What is your perspective on health care in this region?
What is your perspective on the Kingdom here (needs, hunger, opposition, religion)
What is your perspective on the remote population of this region?
What is unique about this region?
What is our Father’s perspective of this region (what is He saying to you?)
What are your personal thoughts and/or feelings about this region?
List your pros and cons as to a mission work in this region
Please pray for us. Where would our Father like to send us? We resist the temptation to look for the “best” location in our eyes, though we will evaluate each as best we can. We don’t want to be strategic; we desire to know where He would like us for the next few years. We don’t want to reach the greatest number of people; we wish to reach the people He wants us to reach. It may be a few or it may be many but we would rather reach a few prepared hearts than many without thirst for the Kingdom. We will need eyes to see His hand, and ears to hear His voice. We will need strength to resist the temptation to be strategic or to look for a place that will be comfortable for us. Please encourage our Father to lead us with a strong hand and to not give us slack. We are trusting His leading. I think our conversations and the decision-making process will be both fun and challenging. Please also pray that we can read our own thoughts well and communicate them humbly and honestly with the rest of the team.
The towns, in the order that we will visit them, are as follows:
São Gabriel da Cachoeira
Santa Isabel do Rio Negro
Atalaia do Norte
S. Paulo de Olivencia
S. Antonio do Ica
"The majority of us do not enthrone God, we enthrone common sense. We make our decisions and then ask the real God to bless our god’s decision." Oswald Chambers
We are not called to do something great in the Kingdom. We are called to abide with the King.
God doesn’t need missionaries to accomplish His work to the unreached just as Jesus demonstrated clearly that He doesn’t need physicians to heal. He also doesn’t need preachers to communicate truth or to lead someone to Him and He doesn’t need us to pray for Him to respond to a crisis. But He enjoys greatly allowing the people that He loves to participate in what He wants to accomplish.
Do you want to impact a lot of people and be used greatly by God? Pour yourself into a hungry few.
To not make a decision is a decision.
“How will I look back on (this choice) tomorrow (in a week, a year, ten years, a hundred years, etc)?” is a healthy tool in your pursuit of making wise decisions.
Kingdom living is "whatever" living. "Whatever you wish to do/say to/through me, Jesus…" "Whatever path (easy or difficult) you wish to put me on, Jesus, in order to create in me greater intimacy with you…”
In decisions and responses, what you think is more important than how you feel.
Today is greatly affected by yesterday and will significantly impact tomorrow. Focus on today.
Decisions made for short-term benefit will increase long-term liability. Decisions made for long-term benefit will require short-term cost.
Perhaps the greatest thing to fear is getting what you want and missing what God wants. E. Peterson