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Casting Nets on the Rio Negro

There are two great rivers in my country that together make the mighty Amazon; the Rio Solimões and the Rio Negro. Within these waters are many fish, and it was in fact a group of fishermen from our MB churches that told me, “There are more fish to be caught along the river banks than within the waters.” 

Along the banks of the rivers are many small indiginous communities. The fishermen had made it a habit to moor their boats and replenish supplies in these places, sharing the Gospel. Over time, people came to faith and were baptized. They had been doing this for seven years; two years ago, I decided to join them. 

The River People welcomed us with generous hospitality despite having very little. We spent hours listening to their stories, and they in turn asked us to share stories from the Bible. Among those with whom trust had been built, we were asked for advice about depression, conflict, marriage, and evil spirits. Like many indigenous peoples, the River People are predominantly animists. Even those who come to faith in Jesus have a difficult time releasing those beliefs. This was especially apparent in the parents of Ana, age seven, who came to us saying that their daughter was possessed. Could we help?

Ana did not speak, except to scream, and was aggressive towards others. She was, we perceived, likely autistic. But the animist worldview has no place for psychological disorders, and when I brought up this possibility the parents were horrified. Why would this God of whom we preached do such a thing?

“You are a courageous man,” I told the father. “You care for your family and protect your children. I can pray for your daughter - and I will - but the most powerful prayers will come from you!” I explained that he needed Jesus in order to be the kind of father that Ana needed. 

My words found a place in the heart of that man, and he and his wife surrendered their lives to Jesus. On the following day we prepared for their baptisms, and the father came to us with wonder in his eyes. For the first time in her life, he shared, Ana had hugged him! It was  a true miracle, and their baptisms were the most beautiful ones that I have ever had the privilege to celebrate.

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