A father of five in the jungles of Brazil had always been a hard-working man who tried to do the right thing; how was it that he woke up with a hangover, his wife missing from their home?
Then Leonardo Oliveira* recalled that she had fled the previous night – he must have gotten violent – probably thinking she had better chances of survival among the wild animals in the jungle than with him when he was drunk. The 58-year-old Oliveira admitted to himself that he had hit her again, even as he rationalized that he probably hadn’t hurt her badly.
For years he had grown remorseful about one poor decision after another, leading to a tragic pattern of trying to drown his regrets in alcohol. The sense of well-being he sought in hard liquor instead drove him into conflict with others, and his arguments with villagers grew in number and intensity, a local ministry leader said.
Contrary to what Oliveira told himself, his drunken rages against his wife always turned violent. The more his life filled with sin, the more he resented the talk of repentance and salvation coming from the native Christian who had long visited him from a neighboring village. His contempt for Christians grew white-hot.
“Oliveira hated evangelicals, and whenever someone told him the gospel, he rejected it,” the ministry leader said.
One day his rage at others collided with anger at himself and his life choices, creating the inner equivalent of a collapsed star – a black hole in his soul that drove him to confront the evangelist.
“He was in a heavy depression and feeling empty,” the leader said. “He decided to find the missionary that for many years had shared the gospel with him.”
Determined to interrogate the native Christian about whether there was any truth in the gospel, Oliveira trekked to the other village to visit him.
“That day he was impacted by the power of the gospel, and he gave his life to Jesus Christ,” the ministry leader said. “Oliveira abandoned alcohol and asked the local missionary to establish a church in his village.”
Soon Oliveira’s wife also committed her life to the Lord. Recently the ministry leader, some team members and Christians from another village visited the village, he said.
“We stayed all day, held a service of praise and worship to God, and at the end of the service six people decided to give their lives to Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior,” the leader said. “It was a very special day, because for many years this village and the residents resisted receiving the gospel, but they were finally convinced by the power of God. Today in the village there is a new congregation, a new church.”
Tribal people in some villages in Brazil have resisted the gospel for decades before opening their hearts to Christ.
In a village at the head of a river, unidentified for security reasons, about 250 people had long opposed the message of God’s kingdom, the ministry leader said. But recently he and team members visited the jungle village to officiate Christian weddings for 12 couples and baptize 24 people.
“It was very gratifying, because it is now that we are seeing the fruit of the evangelization work in this village, whereas when it started it was not easy,” he said. “Later we returned to the village, this time to study the Word of God with the members and local leaders.”
Workers distributed 80 Bibles to villagers, and 60 people participated in the study, he said.
Other villages appear instantly ready for the gospel, such as one on the banks of another river where initially local missionaries found most villagers regularly getting drunk in their quest for peace and joy, the leader said. Not long after hearing the gospel, every one of the inhabitants unanimously decided to put their faith in Christ. A new congregation was eager to lead the village into making a new start in Christ, he said.
Many of these villages are so remote that COVID-19 has not reached them. The gospel reaches them only in processes that can take years to overcome daunting obstacles. To reach one ethnic group in a jungle village, native workers spent 15 years discipling young people from the tribe who had migrated to a city. People from outside this ethnicity, unidentified for security reasons, are forbidden by law from entering the jungle villages to proclaim Christ.
A member of the tribe who was trained in the city recently returned to his native village with the gospel.
“He is a Christian son of God who has love for his people, and he has taken the challenge of evangelizing his own people – because he is from there, no one can forbid him from preaching the gospel,” the ministry leader said. “With your support, a boat and motor have already been purchased, and our missionary has already returned to his ethnic village to tell them about the love of God.”
Such missionaries are bringing the message of eternal life in Christ throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them in the task.
*Name changed for security reasons