I just returned from our annual Justice & Mercy International Pastor’s Conference in the Amazon! Wow! What an incredible time with pastors from all over the Amazon. All glory to our great God!
We had 88 pastors and their wives (plus, many more of their young adult children who serve with them in ministry) for a week of training, worship, prayer, and fellowship. The first time this conference was held was five years ago with 18 pastors. The goal is to help train as well as refresh these amazing servants of Christ. The entire week was filled with God’s Presence, and I believe it will impact generations.
Every year, I am spellbound by the stories of these faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. As Mike Minter, Pastor of Reston Bible Church just outside of Washington D.C. (and who has taught at all 5 of these conferences) says, “We go to teach them the Bible, and they teach us about Jesus.”
Pastor Diogo travels 7 days by canoe to be at the conference. Another pastor and his wife drove 3,300 km from Venezuela. They are hungry to grow deeper in the Word of God and to learn how to better serve their churches & villages. They sacrifice everything for the call of Christ.
When asked “What was your most encouraging time in ministry last year?” Pastor Cosme responded, “Everything was great! So many people came to know Jesus. My house was washed away by the floods, but we are staying with friends and the work is flourishing.” “Wait!” We responded, “Your house was washed away by the flood, but everything is great?” “Yes,” Pastor Cosme replied, “We were able to help so many people in the name of Jesus, and many people gave their lives to Christ. And, I have a much better home in heaven anyway.”
Pastor Nome was excited because a few years ago he found a job in Manaus cleaning toilets. This gave him enough money to buy fuel for the motor on his canoe. He could then go to other villages and share the Gospel. This year, we had men join us who had been led to Christ by Pastor Nome. God is using him to make an enormous difference in this region.
On Thursday, an 89-year-old Pastor from Manaus came to see what was happening. I was told that he had helped to plant over half the churches in Manaus. As he walked into the John Pac Center, he began to weep. He said, “I have prayed for the Amazon region all my life. There is so much spiritual darkness and so many lost people in this area. And, now, to come in and see all of these pastors gathered in worship and training to take the Gospel to the people of the Amazon, it overwhelms me.” Then he added, “I just wish I was in my 70’s again, so I could be more involved.” I love this!
Last year, Rosimar and Valdenor came for the first time. Their marriage was on the brink of divorce. They have 4 kids, and it’s a struggle to do ministry, raise children and provide food, especially the Amazon. Yet, through their time, they were encouraged and renewed their commitment to Christ and to one another. This year when they arrived, they came bounding up to the Center holding hands and sharing the miracles God had done in their marriage, family, and ministry over the past year. They couldn’t wait to see us and share His story! I love these fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
On the last day, a group called Mission Aviation shared the results of a three-year study where they flew throughout the Amazon region and discovered over 1,000,000 unreached people. As they showed maps and revealed locations of distant villages, the pastors at the conference became passionate about reaching the entire region for Christ. They began to pray, committing to reaching other villages and to invest in raising up others in their churches to go.
These people inspire me. They jumped up and down when receiving a new Bible. They worshipped with sincere love in their hearts for God even in tough situations. They serve the people of their villages tirelessly and passionately. They know their eternity is secure, and they live every moment for Christ!
Thank you for your prayers and your investment in JMI and Rolling Hills as we endeavor to bless, train and encourage these incredible men and women of Christ. Let’s continue to invest in this region and help to reach every person with the love of Christ. My these faithful men and women inspire us to everything we have for Christ and His Kingdom. May we not just study the Bible, but may we also live it!