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Shipibo Learning Community Day Two

by | Jun 12, 2012 | Missions Articles

The Wissmanns second update from Pucallpa

Vision. Without it, we perish. We start out on our journey, excited, anticipating the pastures to come. Yet, without direction, slowly we are picked off one by one. We starve. We die off. Our children forget the purpose of the journey. We become wild. Eventually, we cease to exist.

According to the leaders we are working with that is what was slowly happening to the Shipibo church communities throughout the Amazon. A slow death. However yesterday, for 25 leaders, that changed.

Mark taught two sessions on vision. What it is. What it looks like. How they can have it.

The response of these leaders were breathtaking. We thought they would be overwhelmed, and instead they were bright eyed. They have never had anyone come to them to tell them that a church community requires direction. So they were excited. Now they know what they can do. Before, they just “did stuff.” [Their explanation of their services.]

“We know we are supposed to pray, so let’s do a service.”

“We know we are supposed to worship, so let’s have a service.”

“We know we are supposed to have church, so let’s have a service.”

“We know young people are important, so let’s have a service.”

So that’s what they did. They have a bunch of services, and through their own admission they are not seeing any breakthrough, and church is a struggle. In their own words: “Our model is broken. We need something different. We need something that is different from what we are doing now.”

So, as Mark taught, and then we broke out into groups we saw the hope, and we honored those radical missionaries that planted these churches in the name of Jesus.

Why did we have hope? Let me give you an example of the community Junin Pablo, which is a 24 hour boat ride outside of Pucallpa. [The picture is of three leaders from Junin Pablo, one leader that lives an hour further up the river, and one of our leaders in the Oikos network].

30 adults.
30 young adults.
100 children.

Which equals 160 Christians.

There are approximately 950 people in their community and there is only one church family.

Can you scream “OPPORTUNITY” with me?

Their next door neighbors are ready to know Jesus, even if they don’t know it yet.

When we shared with the leaders that they could reach their people with the Gospel, it breathed new life into them. The church was planted 54 years ago, and it is slowly dying as it gets older.

Yet now with new vision, it looks like this church may have a new heart, and a new body.

And that is just one group; we have two more.

Although this is largely breathtaking, it is not without obstacles. It’s hard to live in vision, when you have been nearly starving for so long. They can’t jump right into the rich meals, and beautiful pastures to enjoy a nice frolic. They have to ease their way into it so they don’t become sick and weak.

They are ready to go back because they are fired up. However, too many changes too quick can cause major problems.

So we have tried to affirm personal worship first. Knowing God personally, is something they really struggle with. So part of their vision is to have a daily plan of devotion to know God personally.

After worshiping, learning, and laughing together they now know they are the perfect people that God has called to reach their culture. They are part of God’s plan, and now they actually know that!

As always I could write more, but those are my first thoughts, so I will leave it there for now.

Ok, maybe not. One quick testimony:

The Shipibo learning process is very similar to the action of disrespect in Western culture. [The picture shows a typical teaching time.] They don’t look at you often. They looked bored. They seem tired. To be honest, if you struggle with your identity in teaching, you will be in for some discouraging times based on their appearance alone.

Until now.

Yesterday, one of the female leaders talked with us [not pictured]. She was one of the women that looked the least interested. She was staring off into “space” nearly the entire time I was working with them in the group.

She explained that yesterday she had decided to take the challenge. [She was staring off into space because she couldn’t stop thinking about things.] She couldn’t live her life the way she was before. She was completely sold out for Jesus. She said, “until I die, I will do this for the rest of my life.” She realized that God was calling her to reach out to her people. It took her a while to wrap her mind around that. And when she got it, she made the decision to never look back.

After days like yesterday, how can we look back?

Thank you God for what you are doing, and how we get to be a part of it!

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