The River People of Brazil
After a five-hour boat ride, we arrived in the community Campinas do Norte, in the heart of the Amazon jungle, with our load of lumber, five Elevate students, and three adults from Calvary Church. We only had a few short hours to unload the boat before the sun would disappear and a legion of hungry mosquitoes would emerge from the jungle. Thankfully, it did not take long for children, men, and women from the village to begin to arrive and help us with our heavy load, and about two hours later, everything was on dry land. The team was grateful to be getting off to a good start!
A mix of tiredness and enthusiasm filled us the next morning when we arrived at the work site. One of the older villagers graciously donated a vacant lot on which the new church was to be built, and while part of the property was currently flooded due to the rainy season, we were able to start work building on a back corner of the lot that was dry. After a morning of hard work the community leader paid us a visit and told us that we could not continue building on the lot as it was reserved for a future jail. Our property, he told us, lay several meters below and was completely covered by the water.
The hours that would follow were quite dramatic. After the local leader informed us “it would be impossible to find another piece of property in the community for the church,” we thought would have to pack our belongings, load up the boat, and head home. But God was at work – and we began to pray. A man who lived across the street, after consulting his wife and his 19 children, decided to sell us part of his property for ¼ of its value! That Sunday night we gathered in the open air, in front of what would be the future church, and we held a worship service to God, singing and thanking Him for hearing and answering our prayers.
Five days later we were celebrating God again, this time, within the Church we had built.
Life in a remote jungle village is not easy . . . and while life follows the slow rhythms of the rivers that rise and fall the hard reality is that basic health care is not available, addiction to alcohol and drugs is prevalent, and more than half of young girls suffer sexual violence before they turn 12 years old – all leaving little hope of a better life. Out of the 35,000 villages located along the rivers in the Amazon region of Brazil 10,000 of them do not have the presence of an evangelical church.
But in the village of Campinas do Norte there is now an incredible place to call home – full of life, colors, smiles and celebration – a place that promotes life. In the following weeks, the transforming Word of God was preached by the young Brazilian missionaries serving that village and new believers were baptized. And just a month after our team departed, another Calvary team, in partnership with a Brazilian church, took doctors, dentists, nurses, and evangelists back to that place, turning the small chapel into an impromptu hospital bringing hope and salvation to that community.
God is moving and advancing His Gospel among the river people of Brazil. And there is a role for you to play in helping plant healthy churches that bring salvation, peace, and hope to communities. Join us on an upcoming trip and experience God move in ways you could never imagine!
By: Wallace Costa