Brazilian Christian missionary paddles across a river in a wooden boat

Brazilians Desperate for Gospel Despite Dangers

Fellow villagers traveling on the river while drunk had fallen into the water and disappeared, but the soused chief of a tribal village in Brazil got into his canoe anyway.

Visiting a town downstream years ago, he had sold many of his goods and spent the earnings on alcohol. Though drunk, he was heading out in his small canoe to the tribal village he had founded.

“Unable to paddle, he was swept away by the current of the river,” the leader of a native ministry said. “He lay on the hull of the canoe, and he was taken downstream far from his village. He was swept away by the wind and the river.”

“He said it was out of God’s care that he did not fall into the river, as it had happened with many drunk tribal people and his relatives."

When he woke from his stupor, the now aging village chief recently told a ministry worker, he took the paddle and began the long row home. The worker told him about God’s love in Christ’s saving death and resurrection; forlorn, the chief said he had wasted so much of his life not knowing the gospel.

“Many of their relatives had drowned after falling into the water,” the ministry leader said. “He said it was out of God’s care that he did not fall into the river, as it had happened with many drunk tribal people and his relatives. The chief and his ailing wife, aged 82, opened their hearts and put themselves at the feet of Jesus Christ, giving their lives to God.”

Two weeks later, his wife died, the leader said.

“It was a joy, though, because she died with Christ in her heart,” he said.

Ritual Drinking

Native workers find alcoholism is a common problem among remote peoples whose tribal festivities call for drinking binges. The chief of another ethnic group’s village was a slave to alcohol who led his relatives in ritual drinking and prostitution every weekend, the ministry leader said.

“Children, young people, and adolescents were the victims of such practices – until his eldest son, being under alcohol, committed a crime by killing a man of another village, so his son was taken to prison,” the leader said. “This greatly saddened the chief’s heart, and he began always thinking about how to solve this problem of alcoholism since he did not want his grandchildren to live the same life they were living.”

A native missionary couple visited the village at that time, the leader said.

“They shared about God’s love, and that God could transform their lives and deliver them from the bondage of sin,” he said. “It was at this moment that the chief with his sons and grandchildren embraced the gospel. He made a very serious decision that he would no longer practice alcohol consumption. Currently the chief and his children are learning a lot about the Bible.”

Dangers and Opposition

Many native Christian workers carry out such ministry amid dangers from disease and organized crime. Criminal rings operating illegal gold mining operations attack anyone standing in their way, and shoot-outs with police and environmental groups raise risks of stray gunfire.

“Though COVID has come to us, though the illegal gold diggers attack us, though intense malaria disease slaughters the region, and despite the wars around us, God has kept us safe,” the leader of another native ministry said. “No one has died; we are staying here, and we continue to worship. The local community is hearing more of God’s Word, and this is amazing – only God can do that.”

The opposition that commonly arises against gospel proclamation also surfaces. An ethnic woman from one jungle village tried many ways to stop a native worker from talking about Christ, including spreading lies about him.

“One day she was having severe health issues, and she came to visit our missionary,” the leader said. “Our missionary then shared with her the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that day she surrendered her life to Jesus.”

The local congregation prayed for her, and the Lord restored her health, he said.

“Now she is a living testimony in the village of how the Lord can transform a life,” the leader said. “She was discipled and baptized. She is now a local leader for the women’s ministry.”

In another village, a worker had the opportunity to share Christ with a couple visiting from another area. They accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and invited the worker to bring the gospel to their village – a six-hour river trip by canoe.

Such workers are sharing the message of God’s love throughout Brazil. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them.

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