Active in the Field: Reaching the tribes of the Amazon

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Ignacio Lauriano is a missionary of CONPLEI (Council of Indigenous & Evangelical Pastors & Leaders), an indigenous mission dedicated to the evangelization of the many tribes of the Yavari River Valley. Each month he hires a pecky-pecky canoe for a long trip up the Yavari River. The pecky-pecky, so named because of the loud, unmuffled sound coming from the one cylinder engine, moves many of the native people in the Amazon. For Ignacio, travelling ten days up to two weeks on this river is not unusual. The stifling heat, humidity of the jungle and very loud engine exhausts even the most seasoned traveller.

PB096941The river forms part of the border between Brazil, Peru and Colombia in the Upper Amazon basin. Severe restrictions on travel limit access to only indigenous Brazilians: those who are born into one of the dozens of tribes in the area.

To pay for his trip, Ignacio fishes from the side of the slow moving boat as it moves upriver. The fish are cooked on the boat as they travel, but excess catch is sold when they stop periodically at the tiny villages along the fast flowing tributary of the Amazon River. This allows him to eat and to buy the very expensive gasoline for the trip.

The tribal mission with whom he works, sensed God’s call to win the remote Matses tribe, far upriver. Many communities of believers are now meeting and the light of Jesus Christ radiates in areas that are totally inaccessible to outsiders, westerner or Brazilian.

This incredible tribal-initiated ministry is only possible with regular support so that Ignacio’s family can survive while he makes these dangerous treks. Local fellowships in the subsistence tribal areas provide something to sustain him on these visits, but his ‘parish’ stretches hundreds of miles up the river.

There is great power in this type of partnership:

  • Ignacio is free to minister without the deep concern of providing for his family,
  • He is part of a national team that not only provides financially but that encourages and trains him, and
  • He has tangible encouragement from members of the body of Christ worldwide and knows that he is not alone in his very difficult ministry

Those of us that have the privilege of traveling to these frontier places often experience the embarrassment of being thanked profusely for the help we provide. In our partnership with these dynamic, God inspired ministries, we represent those who give faithfully and often sacrificially to see this great work accomplished. As such, we are beneficiaries of their gratitude.

We witness firsthand the amazing power of the family of God sharing our resources with brothers and sisters. I have seen grown men cry learning of like-minded believers supporting them in prayer and financially. Fellowship is an overused word in North America but it is a rare and valued blessing to those working in the depths of the Amazon.

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