Earlier this month myself, Mark Vann, and Nick Crawford were able to travel to the Benjamin and Javari area of the Amazon and work with two of our network church planters Richard and Ashley Whittemore as well as several local church planters that they are building partnerships with. Richard and his family have lived in Benjamin Constant, Amazonas Brazil for over two years working with local believers, fighting for justice in their city, and taking the gospel everywhere they go. I hope that I can share a bit of their story well ...
The Principles Are The Same
God is truly at work among the nations, and one thing is for sure, the principles are the same. Christ is and must be the centrality of all things. He is both our pursuit and or aim. He is the answer to all things broken. He holds everything together. Here in Birmingham, Al we are really passionate about some things:
- Knowing Christ deeply and intimately. Through prayer. The Holy Spirit’s counsel. The scriptures. And each other.
- Exalting Him and telling His story in every aspect of life
- Walking closely and vulnerably with co-laborers in intentional and incarnational community (both locationally and emotionally)
- Setting our hearts toward and fighting for the poor and the lost. The outcast and the marginalized. The unloved of society
- Letting our lives infiltrate culture and evil with the love of Jesus and the power of the gospel
These things are no different in the Amazon or any where else in the world for that matter. This is the good news of Jesus. He is changing the world through His people. Drawing all men to Himself, and preparing us for His possession to be passionate about good works.
Don’t forget this Common Thread missionaries, or any missionaries for that matter, we are not here to build a life for ourselves. This is not our home. We fight here the same as we would any where on this planet. So that when our Father calls us to go somewhere new, we are ready.
Benjamin is where the Whittemore’s have lived for over two years now. It is in northern Brazil and borders Brazil, Columbia, and Peru. Around 20,000 people currently live in Benjamin and it’s actually one of the largest cities in the surrounding areas. It is a city immersed in poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism, and injustice. The injustice runs deep with the children and especially the young girls in the city. There are many street children who have been left alone to care for themselves. It is an everyday occurrence to hear about a little girl being raped or a little boy being given drugs. The Lord has given Richard a clear call to fight for these children, show and teach them the way of Christ, and pray for generational change in years to come. They have begun a house we call, “Grace House”, that currently holds 3 children but is praying to move into a house that holds at least 20. Grace House is currently being run by an amazing Christ follower named Rosa. We are currently seeking ways to support Rosa and her work there, so please pray with us towards that end.
Jon Barrios is a Columbian missionary that we have partnered with, that many in our community help support. He has been working with the Ticuna tribe for 7 years. The Ticuna Bible was just published and it took 71 years to complete. It is an extremely complex language. There is a church building that is in the Ticuna village that is run by the witch doctor of that area. (A witch doctor in some tribes can just mean medical doctor but in most tribes this term means satanic worshipper.) Jon, Estella, and Martha’s goal is to continue to bring the kingdom to these people and show them the true gospel and not a fake gospel that is corrupted by some of the people there. Jon and his family have suffered greatly in this village but continue to persevere. Their dependence on the Lord increases my faith and we want to come along side them in prayer and any way possible.
After traveling the world for 11 years, Project Javari is one of the most strategic and powerful works I’ve seen to reach unengaged and uncontacted people. Marcos Mayoruna is a native to the Amazon region, a Christ follower, disciple maker, and church planter. He speaks 5 languages fluently, and has begun a school and invited locals from many of the unreached tribes in the Amazon to come and study. He is having great success, seeing brothers and sisters come into the kingdom that we otherwise could have never reached. Richard has connected Marcos to our network and now we are working on ways to support and build up the amazing work that he has going on there.
This is just a quick snapshot of what the Lord is doing in the Amazon, and just a small piece of all of His image bearers that He is using to carry His name. Even if it’s just this one time, stop right now if you’re reading this, and intercede for Richard, Ashley, their family, Marcos, Jon, Rosa, and all that is happening there. If you want to know more about any of these works, let us know. If you’d like to be a part of a trip next year, let us know. These are our partners, and we’re in this fight together.