“Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Acts 14:17
Epiphytes hang from the trees, glistening with drops of rain from the recent downpour. Sunlight barely breaches the canopy, concealing a mysterious world below. The equatorial rainforests in the Amazonas State of Venezuela are some of the world’s least explored and most untouched. Much like the indigenous tribes in the rainforest, many of whom have been unreached by the Gospel.
Whilst God has revealed Himself through creation, the Good News of Jesus is carried on the feet of those willing to go and tell others about His redemptive work. People like Erika Suárez, representative for Haggai International in South America, who had long carried a burden to reach the communities in the Amazon. And Yalsy Heredia, leader of the Bahira ethnic group, who shared a similar dream of equipping leaders of different tribes within the rainforest to share the Gospel.
This dream became a reality in June of this year when these two leaders collaborated with other Haggai leaders to host the first Haggai National Seminar in Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela. Facilitators traveled along the Orinoco River to meet and equip 24 participants representing six indigenous groups within the Amazon Rainforest. In addition to the teaching, meetings were held with the leaders of each ethnic group to try to understand the difficulties faced sharing the Gospel. Practical challenges like the sheer distance between communities and the unavailability of the Bible in their own language, to deeper seated concerns like the lack of trust between different ethnic groups and the prevalence of discrimination against women were uncovered. Evenings were spent worshiping God in different languages and in intercession for unreached areas of the Amazon.
Feedback from the participants was incredibly positive, with one attendee saying that Haggai International was the first foreign organization in many years that they felt comfortable opening their hearts and territory to. Their wish was to see continuity and longevity in the mission and a request was made for more leaders to be trained and for translation of the material into their own language to be taken back to their communities. So great was the impact.
These newly equipped leaders, representing the Yhécuana, Curripaco, Baré, Jiwi, Puinave, and Huottoja tribes, will become change agents who can address the unique challenges their own people face. Their diversity reflects the richness of cultures and traditions within the Amazon Rainforest and they know best how to introduce the One who showers us with rain from heaven, provides for us, and fills our hearts with joy. Together, we are accelerating an end to Gospel poverty as the light of Christ is shared in one of the most remote places on earth.
Written by Carolyn Grant