We just returned from the 2017 JMI Pastor's Conference in the Amazon and it was absolutely incredible. After spending a week with these jungle pastors, I left inspired, encouraged and more in love with Jesus. These amazing men and women do not have much by the world's standards, but they have such joy in the Lord. Have you ever noticed how people in our country have so much money, entertainment and material things, and yet very few are truly happy? There is so much worry, fear and even hate in our culture. But these godly men and women in Brazil's jungle have discovered the deep truth of life - that joy comes not in the things of this world, but in God.
When asked how they could be prayed for, one pastor and his wife at the conference replied, "We are doing great! How can we pray for you?" Or, another couple responded, "Just pray that we live longer so we can tell more people about Jesus." Both of these couples have small, planked houses, a little boat, and not much in the way of material things, but they love Jesus and they love the people around them.
Another pastor, Pastor Walter and his wife Simonia came to the Conference last year seeking help and hope. They were pastoring a church of only 15 people, but they knew God had called them to reach their community for Christ. After last year's conference, they went back to their village and applied what they had learned. They reached out to the people in their community and prayed for them. This year, they told us that their church now consists of 70 people! Praise God!
Pastor Arimar and his wife were at the Conference. They lost their 11-month old son about a year ago when he fell into the River. Their entire village searched for the child, and when they found his body they brought him back to their house. One of the men in their church began to tell them, "Your son will be a missionary. A herald of the Gospel." Pastor Arimar did not understand and actually were saddened by his prophecy as they held their dead son. At this year's Conference, we showed the video of their story (watch it below). We shared that we showed this video at the JMI Gala as well as many of Kelly Minter's "Cultivate" events across the country. Pastor Arimar said, "Now, I know this man's prophecy over my son is being fulfilled. He is truly being a missionary and a herald of the Gospel."
Then, there was pastor who could not read or write, but had served in his village with his wife faithfully for many years. He has seen God do miracles and many people come to Christ. On Valentine's Day, we handed out cards and asked the pastors to write a note to their wife. This particular pastor came to Sarah, our national director, and asked if she would write for him since he had never been able to write to his wife. His wife can read, and he asked Sarah to write on the card, "I love you. You are so special to me. I love serving God with you. You are my greatest gift." It was so awesome seeing their embrace and their love for each other and for serving God together.
In addition, there was the pastor and his wife who said they tore down the wall in their two-room home because the church that meets in their house was growing and they needed more room. They are filling up their home and teaching the Gospel. Lives are being transformed by Christ, and they were so excited!
What a week and what a God we serve! Our teaching team included 19 of us from 4 different countries and 5 different states, and yet we all left with more than we gave. We all left more in love with our God and more aware of what really matters in this world. As one of our team members shared, the Holy Spirit is presented in Scripture as both breath and wind. As breath He represents knowledge - what we speak and the Word poured out to us. As wind He represents what we can't control. The wind surprises us, moves us and inspires us. As a team, we all left blown away by God's work in the lives of these pastors and their wives. May the love of Christ inspire us all to be men and women after His heart and to invest our lives in what really matters.
Please pray with me for the work that is happening in the Amazon. Pray for the seeds of the Gospel that these pastors will spread throughout the region. Pray that these seeds yield a harvest 100, 60 or 30 fold. Also, pray as we, through JMI, begin hosting more Conferences. Maybe God will call you to go. If not to the Amazon, then just know that He has already called you to go to your family, your friends, your workplace and to share the love of Christ. Our world is searching for men and women who love Jesus and love others. Let's be those people in our community. Let's point people to Jesus and watch our God plant seeds of the Gospel in their heart. May our God transform the world - one life at a time. May we live for Christ in such a way that we inspire others.
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