Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day Two - Total Dependence...

Yesterday I described the hike into the Amazon jungle and my arrival at the Huaorani Indian village of Kakatarro. I felt as though I had stepped back in time because there was no running water, no electricity, no technology or modern conveniences. The Indians exist by daily hunting and fishing for food. Other than Yucca (pronounced you-ka) and a small amount of corn, they grow very few crops. The jungle provides certain green vegetables and fruit, but for the most part they eat what they catch or kill.

On Tuesday we arose at 6:00 to start the day. After breakfast – which consisted of some fried plantain and a very soft fried egg – our first order of business was to paint the church in Kakatarro. The pictures you see here are the men at work and the finished product of the painted church. Yes, you are right, most would not choose to paint their church blue and white but for some reason it seemed to fit this community very well.

After lunch of chicken – killed, plucked, and cleaned that day – deer, rice and of course yucca, we finished the paint job on the church and went for a swim in the river. If you have ever been to New Braunfels and seen the Comal River that is what the Kakatarro village river reminded me of. It is a beautiful, clear flowing body of water; cold and refreshing.

That afternoon I taught the first time on the characteristics of a believer in Christ. Their worship was genuine and their love for Christ so evident. That evening after supper I taught on the perseverance of the believer in Christ and God truly blessed. My illustrations had to be changed because these sweet Christians have never seen a television or microwave. They have never had a refrigerator or stove. They didn’t understand much of what we take for granted. After explaining the biblical text, it proved quite a challenge to illustrate it in a manner they can understand. However, one area to which every culture can relate are the difficulties and trials of life. When I shared some of the events that have tried my faith most, the connection was made and they related wonderfully. I will forever treasure teaching the Word of God to a distant and exotic people as we gathered in an open-air church by candlelight.

Spiritual applications thus far on the mission trip –
First, when I was trudging forward on the trail to get to the village, I could not help but make the connection between the similarities of my walk up the trail and my Christian walk through life. As the Amazon trail grew increasingly more difficult and exhausting, I ceased worrying about the next hill or obstacle and just began taking them one-by-one. I had overcome everything the trail had thrown at me thus far and as I walked further my confidence grew and I reasoned that I could overcome whatever unknown obstacle lay ahead. God had strengthened me and was continuing to do so. What a picture of the Christian life. As a believer in Jesus Christ I am on a trail headed towards a sure destination - Heaven. I am not sure when I will arrive, only God knows. As I walk with God I need not worry about the next trial I may face as a Christian, I simply need to rely on His strength to see me through. There is no going back or quitting. Every trial I face and overcome leaves me stronger in my faith than before. All I am required to do is move forward in daily dependence on Jesus Christ. What sweet beauty in living there is when we do not have to fret over what we cannot see, we simply place our trust in the God who sees all and we know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Life is better that way!

Second, as I walked through the jungle and for the entire time I was with the Huaorani’s, I was keenly aware of my total dependence upon God. There are no emergency rooms or hospitals close by. If a major medical issue arose or a bone was broken or a snake bite occurred, you are on your own. No EMT trained response team is coming. When you are in this situation you are totally dependent upon God for your protection and safety. I found this very liberating. Far too often we worry about that which we should not when all God wants us to do is place our total dependence on Him. Life is better that way!

Finally, and I will give more tomorrow, I was reminded of the healing power of forgiveness. In 1956 Jim Elliot and four other men were murdered by the Huaorani Indians. They were mislabeled as Auca’s at that time but it was the Huaorani’s who speared these five missionaries to death on the banks of the Curaray River just a short distance from where we were staying. I met a nephew of one of the men involved in the murders. He is a devout believer and has been used by God to open the door for the Gospel among his people. The picture you see here is with Pei, a man who has received God’s forgiveness as have I and who longs greatly to see the Gospel advanced among the Huaorani. Life is better when we embrace the healing that comes through forgiveness!

God bless and stay tuned for more tomorrow. I will tell you about the pastor, chief and eating monkey then.