Amazon Adventures Continue…

Today’s share is from December 2001, my first year as a married missionary:


I am walking around and gazing with curiosity at the shiny Christmas garlands hung on the paint-chipped shop fronts. I am definitely far away from Macy’s. All around me passers-by stroll casually about their business in tank tops and short shorts. I wipe the sweat off my forehead and shake my head—it’s just hard to feel like Christmas when my family is far away, the weather is hot and tropical, and the people have no money to buy presents! Maybe there is something for me to learn this year about the real meaning of Christmas…

That true meaning of Jesus’ birth, I suspect, has a lot to do with what I have seen unfolding in some young people’s lives this last month. A number of them in our youth ministry have learned that He came to give them life and have surrendered their hearts to Him. We praise Jesus because He allowed us to start this last month out with a baptism. We stuffed 196 Peruvians, most of them youth, into a long bus and took them on an outing to a lake forty minutes outside the city. We baptized thirteen of them, many of whom received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when we prayed over them afterwards.

Before we had headed down to the water, Israel gave an evangelistic message. There were a number of young people who had come for the volleyball, soccer and swimming that were to follow the baptism, and were among us for the first time. As a result of the gospel, the fellowship, and the presence of the Spirit, several of them “stuck,” and have committed themselves to the Lord and the church. One of these young men, unsaved before the outing, came up to Israel and exclaimed, “I don’t know what’s going on— when I was listening to you talk, something strange started happening inside of me. It’s pulling on my heart; I don’t know what it is!” Israel was happy to explain to him that that was the Lord wanting to come into his heart.

We continued our discipleship program with the youth throughout November, and culminated our first set of classes with a spiritual retreat called “the Encounter” at the end of the month. As I type this, I am freshly re- turned from this event, and deeply affected by it. The weekend started with an altar call of thirty–five youth huddled in a circle, clinging to each other and weeping. They were crying from the depths of their souls as the Holy Spirit started to touch deep wounds in their hearts related to childhood rejections and fatherlessness.

They spent two and a half days learning about the importance of forgiving their parents, realizing that their lives have a purpose, confessing their secret sins, and getting filled up with the Holy Spirit. We took them back to the church building afterwards, and they were met with the surprise that we had invited their parents to a reception to welcome them back. I wish you could have been there to see the way they held onto their moms and dads and cried. I think we must have all gotten dehydrated from the amount of crying we did in those two and a half days. Deep healing took place in their hearts, and they are declaring that they will never be the same…What a Merry Christmas after all!

12 thoughts on “Amazon Adventures Continue…

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