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A Sons of Thunder team traveled three days up the Amazon River into deep, dense jungle. Our mission: to bring the glorious, happy gospel to more than 1,700 indigenous natives, representing over 60 individual tribes hidden away in one of the most far-flung corners of the world. Our journey began as the team of about 30 people landed in the largest city in the Peruvian rain forest – Iquitos – also the world’s biggest city unreachable by road. The Amazon is the only highway to Iquitos. From there, we launched out by barge, sleeping in hammocks and living onboard as we chugged upriver beyond the border of civilization. A number of missionary teams travel upriver. But rarely do they go more than three hours away from town. We ventured in for three full days. After the first two days on the barge, we could go no further in the large vessel. In the wee hours of morning we offloaded onto a smaller jungle boat – packing the tiny craft with people, backpacks and supplies. For another day, we found ourselves winding up a narrow tributary until we reached camp. There was no turning back! We had come to host the Congresso – the largest and only gathering of its kind i
n the deep jungle. Ordinarily, it would take a missionary an entire year of travel just to make one visit to all of the tribes represented. But at the Congresso, all these indigenous peoples traveled to us. By boat, canoe and foot – some traveled an entire week to reach our camp. They came because this is the only major corporate gathering of Christians in the jungle for the entire year.
For many, it’s their only exposure to the gospel. The teaching and spiritual deposit we were bringing them would sustain them for an entire year, until the next gathering. Most of the villages do not have a  pastor. As the boatloads of families began to arrive, we set to work, preaching and teaching for several days. Each day, we cooked and fed the masses, hosted children’s programs and mingled with the locals. We set up a medical clinic, bringing in a team of doctors. Others prayed for the sick. There were many physical healings both in the meetings and outside the medical tent. While missionaries have traveled these parts before, this was by far their first exposure to the finished work message, accompanied by wild, extravagant, supernatural joy! In our travels, we have found it very rare to find a non-legalistic missionary preaching the grace of the cross. Some of the visiting missionaries who escorted us were shocked and bewildered at such fun and freedom. Quite accustomed to a dreary, performance-oriented “work camp” style of ministry – our happy, love-drunk team caused not a few of them to pop their gaskets. But they had to endure us, because they were stuck with us for days in the jungle!
The love began to spread like a wildfire amongst the natives. At first, many of the tribal peoples were wary of expressing emotion. Many would not approach us for prayer, engage in demonstrative worship or dance. Culturally, many of these tribal people come from backgrounds of abuse and extreme isolation. Many are polygamist, with rampant incest in villages. Women would not look us in the eyes or touch
us. Many are less than a generation removed from outright human cannibalism and animistic paganism. While many seemed cold and stoic at the start, our team rolled in exploding with the joy of the Lord. Bypassing cultural mores, we spilled hugs, kisses and laughter over everyone – squeezing noses, nibbling cheeks and yanking people off their pews to dance!
By the second day, the place was erupting with celebration. Faces had melted into smiles – a joy invasion had come – and everywhere you walked around the camp, native Amazonians would approach us – on their own initiative – showering us with hugs and affection. The living quarters were quite rustic! Besides bathing in piranha-infested waters, we also got to tangle with massive tarantulas, mosquitoes and snakes. It was all part of the adventure. Throughout the Congresso, we baptized 150 new believers. Many were whacked in trances and experienced the supernatural
power of God like never before. As we bid our farewell, the team packed up and sailed back downman river toward Iquitos. With time to spare, everyone was still eager to give away the Glory. We crammed into rickshaws and made our way to the worst of the city’s slums. Possessed by love, the team had an amazing time of “candy evangelism” – playing with children, preaching in the streets and praying for anyone they could get their hands on. We would like to thank all our partners and supporters – your contribution to what the Lord is doing through Sons of Thunder is making an amazing impact on the nations, and on individual transformed lives. We also encourage you to join us on the mission field! There will be some amazing opportunities to reach the lost and the poorest of the poor in the coming year. You can find out more at: www.thenewmystics.com/missions
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