I'm Not Sleeping in the Jungle Tonight

We knew the trip to Mt. Olivos was going to be difficult. Most of our team had either been there multiple times before or had at least been warned about the 16 mile hike, the “boat ride” back, and the possibility of rain and mud. As much as we had prepared though, we had no idea what lay ahead of us.

On the hike up to Olivos, one of our team members was injured.  The rest of the team continued on to the village and all of our packs somehow ended up going with them as well. And so, our 8-12 hour hike turned into an 18.5 hour hike through the jungle, at night, with no lights, food, or water filtration systems. Talk about a test of our faith!

As we hiked, we recalled scriptures that reminded us that our God is for us not against us, that He is a Way Maker and can speak to the storm and it must obey. We trekked on and on, but as the night stretched out before us our bodies became weak and thirsty and we  simply wanted to sleep in the jungle and give our bodies rest.

Not sure that was a good plan without any supplies of any kind, I spoke out what I heard in my mind: “We are not sleeping in the jungle tonight!” A few yards away, our beloved Peruvian translator, Daniel Richtor, replied back with, “At least not here. Maybe over there!” In spite of ourselves and our situation, we all started to laugh, and in the midst of that laughter we felt God’s reassurance that He was indeed with us and preparing the way before us. We took courage in this, and forced our tired bodies to keep moving through the dark jungle, reminding ourselves that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. With only a small pen light to guide us, over and over again we declared the truth of God’s Word and pressed forward.

When we felt like our bodies could go no longer without water, we bent down near a stream and decided we would just take our chances drinking without a filter because we so desperately needed water. At that very moment, we saw a small flashlight and slowly realized it was one of our Peruvian friends . . .  who had brought us a water filter!  We had nothing to store the water in, but we sat and took turns drinking in the life-giving water, knowing that God had once again provided for us.

Finally, around 2:00a.m., we stumbled into the village where the rest of our team was and were able to get the rest that our bodies were craving. We were tired, thirsty, mentally and physically exhausted, but we also knew we were well cared for. God provided for every need we had on our journey, and He didn’t leave us alone in the jungle that night, nor did He ever intend to. We pushed through, trusting in Him to make a way where there seemed to be no way, and He did not falter. He lit our path, He filled us with His power, and He gave us living water.

Please continue to pray for our safety and for open doors as we travel to places like Mt. Olivos, Peru in the future.

Walk as Jesus Walked

Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). This begs the question: how did Jesus walk? Of course the answer is found all throughout the gospels. He walked with people. Real people. People who weren’t perfect and didn’t have all the answers. People who were sinners, who were poor, who were sick. People who were in need of a Savior.

This past May, after an arduous hike up the mountainside and through the jungle of Peru, we sent team members out into a community in small groups with no agenda other than to simply talk to people. To really listen. Just to walk among them. And so we stumbled upon Hugo in the jungle village of Los Olivos in desperate need of hope. Hugo revealed that he was struggling with a very difficult family situation and that he was at the end of his rope. He didn’t know what to do or where to turn to. This opened a door for a team member, Caleb Stinson, to share his own testimony about how God loved him through a difficult situation in his own family. In the middle of a hurtful and broken time, God not only restored Caleb’s family relationships but also made him a better father. He took broken pieces of broken lives and redeemed them, not recreating the same picture as before, but a wonderful new masterpiece. Hugo listened intently to this powerful testimony, and as a result of this team asking, listening, and sharing (essentially just spending time with him), Hugo surrendered his brokenness to the Lord. What else happened? Hugo’s brother accepted Christ as well!

Our team had nothing that could “fix” Hugo’s problems, but we had time to listen and we had time to love. Now, Hugo has the assurance and hope of a Savior who loves his family even more than he does. There are so many others in this remote village of Los Olivos who need to hear the message of a Savior who can redeem any seemingly impossible situation. Would you please pray for us as we continue to make this arduous 16 hour hike up to Los Olivos? We want continue to learn to walk as Jesus did, spending time with people, and allowing God to use our broken lives and willing hearts to minister to others who need to hear the good news that Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)

Was it worth it?

Was it worth it? This is what I asked Johnny, a member of a recent team to a remote village in the jungles of Peru. Before you hear his answer, there are few things you need to know about this trip.

Johnny Cobb got injured on the way to Mt. Olivos, so what should have been an 8-12 hour hike for him turned into an 18.5 hour hike through the jungle, at night, with no lights or water filtration systems. On top of that, the one thing you don’t want to happen when you’re getting ready to hike out of the jungle, happened: it rained. Rain means mud, which means more time and physical exertion, and Johnny was already injured. Rain also means strong currents when you have to cross the river, so strong, in fact, that they ripped our makeshift boats apart. So, was it worth it?

When Johnny answered this question he wasn’t thinking about his injury, the difficult journey into the jungle, or any of these other struggles. He was thinking about a young Peruvian boy. You see, once we got to Mt. Olivos, Johnny was able to work alongside a doctor to see and care for patients who otherwise would’ve had no medical care of any kind. One of the patients they saw was a little boy who had been bitten by a spider and, upon examination, it became clear that with no treatment this boy would not survive. The doctor was able to treat the boy, who now has every hope to completely recover. So, when I asked Johnny, “Was it worth it?” He answered exuberantly, “Yes it was worth it! That little boy was worth it!”

 James reminds us that “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised those who love him” (1:12).  Would you pray for us as we continue to persevere and take the Good News to those in remote villages like Mt. Olivos, so that all might know the length and width, height and depth of God’s love?