Back in 2013 Esperanza, a small Scottish charity was working to support some pastors & small churches on the Momón river. In time, one of these pastors messed up (ran off with woman younger than his children…..) and left a church with 6 young believers. With Esperanza’s help these three couples (most in their 20’s) came to the training centre and in 2015 I (Neil) had the pleasure in helping baptise them and support ongoing discipleship for them.
Fast forward to 2019 and one of that group of 6, Llino (Gino) is now the church leader and all of them are involved in the church and in the community (one as the municipality’s representative in the village). They have seen the church more than double the number of families involved and become a thriving church of all ages.
And so we were invited to go and visit the community at Santo Tomás and take part in three more baptisms, one of whom was the teenage daughter of a couple I’d baptised in 2015.
The river levels are high at the moment so it only took 2.5 hours by boat to get from Iquitos, but what a contrast. Santo Tomás is different to most communities which are a group of houses arranged together, because it is spread out with each house having a patch of land. Llino’s house, where we stayed, is in the middle of a field with pigs, cattle and chickens. It has no toilet (none of the houses do and people retreat to the bush……) and the water comes from the creek next to the house (which we shared with the animals). Llino has a small generator so we were able to have some lights in the evening.
We hosted a small bible study the first evening and the following day there was a baptism service in the morning (in church followed by a gathering by the river) and a worship service in the evening. It was great to be part of such a vibrant community for a few days, even if the days were far too hot. We also had a chance to spend some time in the small primary school there (there isn’t secondary education) and share in one of the lessons.
Do pray for this church community and for Llino as he leads it. This is a culture where pastors often rule the church as if they were king, but while Llino has grown to be an effective pastor and leader it is lovely to see how the team ethos has been maintained. We would love to see them continue to grow and to help support churches in some of the other local communities. Although all of the ‘original’ six are doing OK financially, life there is hard. Farming is tough work, the houses are basic, and as their children are getting older they are sending them to Iquitos to live with extended family in order to get education. And pray for Rosalbina (Llino’s wife) who is expecting their next child in May….in an area with no health provision!
Of course for us it has been a great encouragement to see how the training course has played a role in helping the development of the church and community. Llino is currently doing the new course with one of his leaders as well to help him continue to develop. It is also good to see how they have accessed some other ‘one off’ training events to help them grow as a church.
So if you have ever been a supporter of Esperanza, BMS, or of us, you too have played a small part in this story and helped enable kingdom growth in the jungle.
We were also asked if we could help them to give a Bible to every school child in the village, which we are doing. If you would like to contribute to this or other ongoing discipleship resources please let us know ASAP.