We asked and received permission to enter the village. As we walked slowly through the village a small crowd was soon following. We stopped and – through our translator – we shared the gospel. I watched as my son shared the gospel with a few villagers who had never heard the name of Jesus Christ. I watched as the villagers asked to put shirts on before they prayed to receive Christ, then as they prayed. That moment is indelible in my heart and mind.
The Lord moved in my heart during the flight home. At that time, Southern Baptists had been working in Brazil for over 100 years. Although much work had been done in the east Amazon basin (in part due to easier access), little had been done in the west basin. But God spoke unmistakably – penetrate the west basin with the gospel. We began asking ourselves critical questions: how could we take teams in safely, provide well for them, develop meaningful relationships, and leave a deep imprint of Christ in the villages?
Joe Fincher shared my vision. So did Derek George, a retired naval officer and friend who would become AVM’s first Director of Operations. We saw the need for sharing the gospel and training leaders, as well as for medical, dental, and optical care. The Lord soon made it clear that we would need a boat to take our teams into these remote and isolated places to make direct contact with the villagers. We set to work with a heavy learning curve to set the details in place.
The storyline since has been one of unending grace. The challenges have been relentless and serious, but the opportunities endless.
When God gave me the vision for the west Amazon basin He soon thereafter gave me a verse of scripture. In my Bible the verse is highlighted, underlined, and dated 2002. I believed then, and still now, this was His promise to me and for AVM:
“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18).
Now, years after the birth of this ministry, there are thousands of people within the basin who “praise the Lord”. All of this can be contributed to the Father in His grace who chose to bring them to Himself through His word and the ministry of His Spirit, and to those who left home to make the gospel available.
And the story continues to be written. Many have heard, yet many, many more await the opportunity. I will not forget the villager who said to me after hearing the gospel and receiving Christ, “Why did you wait so long to come?" and another who canoed for three days to a village where we were to ask, “When will you come to my people?" These individuals are hungry for the gospel, and we are eager to bring them the hope of Christ.
This is the legacy of Amazon Vision Ministries!
THANK YOU so much for your interest, prayer, support, and participation!!