Next week we are excited to be joined by Marcio Garcia, the founder of the Evangelical Mission for Assistance to Fishermen. In preparation for his arrival we asked several members of the Canadian Christian community to share some of their experiences visiting Marcio and the church movement in Brazil. Our first story comes to us from Russ Wilson, the Canada West Superintendent for the Associated Gospel Churches of Canada who visited Brazil in 2013. You can follow Russ on Twitter at @rgwilson9!
About three years ago My wife and I had the great privilege of hosting Marcio and Damaris Garcia in our home in Saskatoon. They were on a church tour with Partners sharing about their incredible ministry to fishermen in Brazil and we were happy to open our home to them. Little did I know how much that decision would impact my life and what it would lead to in the months ahead.
As I sat and listened to Marcio that evening in our home I was captivated by his passion and vision to reach unreached groups in his home country. We videotaped an interview with him to share with our church family. I committed our church to help in whatever way we could.
The ministry to fisherman did have one significant need at this time as one of their major ministry boats was in need of a new diesel motor. Cornerstone Church decided to get involved by making this need part of our annual Advent giving campaign. The offerings helped get their Medical/dental/ophthalmology boat back on the water again. In the grand scheme of our church life it wasn’t a huge stretch for us to give to this need but it made a difference that I would one day see.
I was ultimately invited to join a small group of Partner’s supporters to go to Brazil and see first hand what this ministry was doing. I took one of my ministry leaders with me and we had no idea of the adventure we were embarking upon. As the ministry is to fishermen along the Atlantic coast of Brazil and along the Amazon River we were on boats every day of our trip. If you have a sensitive stomach or are prone to motion sickness this is not the place for you. If you love adventure and have a heart for the poor who have not heard about Jesus, then you would love this ministry.
Over a ten-day period, we visited some incredibly remote villages, saw some of the most beautiful water/landscapes and had our hearts touched by the need in the vast country of Brazil. I had the great privilege to speak in a church service and share in a mission outpost with men and women whose dedication to the cause of Christ made me rethink my own spiritual commitment.
One day stands out in my memory. It was hot and the sand was deep making walking to the village a challenge in the afternoon heat. When we arrived they served us cashew juice (which is delicious) and later we discovered that we were the first non-Brazilians to have ever walked in to that village. I will never forget sitting in that remote mission setting listening to our host share how she was taking the message of Christ inland to another village that had no gospel witness. She told us that she had been there three times so far and each time she had been stoned by the villagers when she shared about Christ. In my North American naiveté, I asked her if she was going back. She looked at me and said, “Russ I have to, no one has accepted Christ as their Saviour yet.”
Marcio had asked me to share a devotional with them that evening and after her words I was humbled to the point of wondering what could I possibly say to these outstanding missionaries. I felt led to share a few thoughts from John 3:16. As I shared about God’s love for us I said that sometimes we as Christian leaders need to be reminded about God’s love for us as individuals not because of what we do but rather because of who we are.
Our mission host began to weep and as I continued to share I was concerned that I had made some kind of cultural faux pas so I checked with Marcio afterward to see what I had said that had offended her to the point of tears. He chatted briefly with her then called me over. Thankfully she wasn’t offended but rather she was touched by God’s love. She told me through our interpreter that she cried at the realization that God loved her so much that he sent a pastor from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan traveling by airplane, car and boat all the way to her village to tell her how much He, as her heavenly Father, loved her. Wow!
We returned the next day to our mission headquarters. What a surprise the following morning when we awoke to see the ladies from the mission outpost that we had visited the day before sitting at the breakfast table with us. They had hiked in late in the evening for supplies and had brought me a gift. When they saw how much I liked cashew juice they harvested a bunch of cashew fruit, squeezed the juice and decided to bring it in for an early morning treat for me! I happily and yet humbly drank their gift.
Join with us and share in an evening with Marcio Garcia, founder of the Evangelical Mission for Assistance to Fisherman (EMAF) in Brazil, as he shares the incredible journey that God has taken him on from Brazil’s coast to now venturing into the interiors of the Amazon sharing the love of Jesus with the many tribes in the region. Click here for more details!