Rainy day in the village of Santa Rosa, viewed from the house where we stayed.
Our last 5-day river trip was completed on June 9 and, as usual we did our dicipleship classes with the believers and then coordinated with them when our next 3-day Bible training would take place. We were very pleased to hear that there is strong interest among the villages for the training and so we planned it for August after they would have prepared their fields and planted their crops during the months of June and July.
Why Your Prayers Mean So Much To Us
This trip, like every other, was very important in bringing the Word of God and prayer to people who would otherwise not receive it. Every time we go out it is with the intention of planting more viable seeds of the Word into their hearts so that the harvest is 100 percent not just 30 or 60. We are looking for full growth and bountiful return on these souls so that they can be the advocates of the Gospel in their area. Our goal is to bring the people to a clear understanding of how much God loves them by what He did for them, who they are in Christ and how much they can do for Him when they are yeilded to His will.
The cost of completing this work however, is not without it’s challenges and dangers which is why I would like to share with you what happened on this trip so that you may know what you are praying for more specifically when I ask for protection as we travel.
The gas tank of our 13 horse-power motor holds one and half gallons of gas and allows us to travel about two hours before filling up again. Our two boat drivers, Tedy, who is Maria’s nephew (Maria is the Shawi YWAM missionary that has been working with me for about 5 years) and Edinson, who is a new believer that Maria led to the Lord filled the tank as usual by stopping the motor, filling up the tank and then starting the motor again. However, when we were about three hours from Yurimaguas, the town that I live in, they decided not to stop the motor this time and filled the tank while it was still running. I had seen them do this a couple of times before on prior trips but didn’t say anything thinking they knew better (I know, I know…big mistake!) so when I happened to glance back at them doing it again I thought I should say something this time but before I could a spark in the motor ignited the gas and in a second the whole tank burst into flames! It quickly spread to the rest of the motor engulfing the whole thing in a ball of fire. As the plastic parts of the motor burned it only fed the fire making it bigger and stronger. Instantly Maria and I jumped in the river on either side of the boat and prayed ernestly that the gas wouldn’t explode. Florentina, who has been traveling with us for about three years, stayed in the boat but moved toward the front farther away from danger.
The impact of the fire burst caused Tedy and Edinson to jump back and I was yelling to them from the water to jump in the river fearing the worst that the motor would explode. Maria urged them to move the the gas tank reserve used to fill the motor out of the way so that it wouldn’t ignite as well. The men did as she said and when they could see that the flames were getting higher and bigger until it reached the plastic roof covering of the boat, which was now on fire, they moved closer to the motor to try to put the fire out. The whole boat is wood and everything in the boat was highly flamable so time was of the essence in controlling the fire.
By God’s incredible providence there just “happened” to be two or three other boats nearby that saw the whole thing and instantly rushed over to us to help put the fire out. We also just “happened” to be fairly close to shore when the fire started so that the men were able to get the boat to the river bank in order to unload the cargo.
Then, with four or five men working feverishly to put water and mud on the motor the fire was brought under control and finally put out. Just then a big passenger boat who also saw what happened slowly approached us and as they did the boat driver called out to me. “Sister Sharon, Sister Sharon…!” I couldn’t imagine who would possibly know me on this big river. I’ve traveled so many times on this river over the last eight years and I don’t ever remember anyone knowing me by name but sure enough this man did. He continued to call out to me until I could respond to him and he said, “You could use my motor to get back to Yurimaguas and I’ll pick it up from there when I get back!” Really?! I could not believe what I was hearing! For the life of me I could not remember who this man was but I was so incredibly grateful to him for his offer. Maria later reminded me that three or four years earlier we rented this man’s motor to do a river trip (it died on the way but that’s beside the point). Now here he was driving a big passenger boat traveling on same the river at the same time as we were to arrive at this exact moment to see what happened. More than that, he “just happened” to have this same motor with him in his boat so that he could lend it us (it didn’t die on the way this time)! Oh the mercy and providence of God.
The story ends with us getting back to Yurimaguas and everyone save and sound. Edinson suffered three burns on his leg that were much better by the time we got in. I treated it with antibiotic cream and then put a cold, wet cloth on top them to stop the burning. The rest of us recovered from the shock of what happened and were much calmer by the time we reached Yurimaguas.
I tell you this so that you know the power of your prayers. If we had been in the middle of the river when this happened I honestly don’t know if we would have made it through this. This is a very wide river and so it is not unusal to travel for quite a long time without ever seeing another boat near you and so for us to have been near the river bank when this happened and then to have other boats within reach of us was clearly the hand of God. Not to mention the incredible meeting of the man who lent us his motor.
The last great thing that happened was that when we got back to Yurimaguas Maria and the guys brought the motor to the store where we bought it (Maria and I went in on it) and it was covered under the warranty! How incredible is that?! We only had to pay a small portion for parts and labor but the majority was covered.
This is only one example of God’s protection through your prayers. Others include protection from being severly injured or crushed by fallen trees or branches of low lying limbs when the water is low or by the boat itself as we had to manouver it to dislodge it from the sand bottom on the Shishinahua river, which is where our villages live. Snakes, small stingrays and other water animals are also an issue as we travel since we are in the water quite a bit to move the boat when the water is low.
I have learned that I cannot take any trip for granted and that each time we go out I must ask for prayer. I did not send out a prayer letter for this trip but after what happened I will not fail to do so in the future.
I know that there are many of you that committed to pray on a regular basis for this work and I am so very grateful to you. Please don’t stop! My sister Sue Malcolm, who has served in ministry in various ways for over 25 years, five of which as a missionary with YWAM, has offered to coorindate specific times of prayer and prayer focuses for this ministry. If you would like to be a part of this intercession you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will however, continue to send prayer letters to you in the same way I have in the past so that you will be receiving the prayer notices as before but now you have the option of joining with others in collective prayer. If you would like to be on the prayer list please email me at email@example.com and I will gladly include you.
I want to thank you all so very much for your strength and commitment in prayer as we join together in this work to bring the Gospel to those who are learning and to those who have yet to hear. May God richly bless and keep you in all that you are doing for the Kingdom.
Together With You in the Harvest,
Financial support can be given by making checks payable to Go To Nations and sent to: Go To Nations; P.O. Box 10305; Jacksonville, FL 32247-0305 (please do not write my name on the memo line only my missionary number #281) or by giving online at www.gotonations.org.