Who sent you?
Long before we could see them we could hear the drone of the outboard motors coming up the river. The outboard motors were laboring, the canoes had to be heavy. Must be a freight boat, I thought. As the canoes rounded the bend in the river passing by our house we looked down and saw that they was filled with Wayana Indians heading up river to participate in the puberty rites which included dancing, heavy drinking, and putting of ants on the bodies of the young people that were being introduced into adulthood. Looking down on the canoes we could see the big pots filled with fermented drink and the feathered costumes of the dance. We had seen it all before. Our hearts ached for these dear people knowing what lay ahead for them.
Suddenly, I was taken by surprise to see the Wayanas from the village where we lived begin making their way toward their canoes. They were also going up to the puberty rites, and the drinking, and the dancing. This village was where the church was. These were believers. The village emptied out leaving just one couple and Margaret and me. I was stunned.
I could understand the other Indians being involved in these practices. They did not know the Lord. They were trapped in their sin. This was their culture. This is what defined them. This was what deceived them. The one man that stayed behind told me, “Satan has deceived us. This is not how we receive our strength. This is not what protects us. God gives us our strength. God is our protector.”
I was not only stunned, I was angry. Is this the way they are going to respond to my teaching? 24/7 I’ve been available to them and this is what I get? I’ve help them with the birth of their children and the death of their loved ones and this is their response? I don’t need this. Others have asked me to come to their village and be their teacher. They want what I have to share. I don’t have to stay in this place! I’m going to call for the plane to fly in and take me out of here! I really took it personally.
As I stood there watching the canoes disappear up the river, confident that my “pity party” was justified, the Lord clearly spoke to my heart. I did not see anything. I did not hear any audible voice, but He was there! It was as if he took me by the nape of my neck, pull me up straight on my feet, and communicated very clearly to me.
“Did you receive a letter from the Wayanas asking you to come and be their teacher?”, He said. “No Sir”, I said. “Did you receive a phone call from the Wayanas asking you to be their teacher?”, He said. No Sir”, I said. “Who sent you to these people?”, He said. “You did”, I said. “Then you will stay here until I tell you to go”, He said. “Yes Sir”, I said.
That was thirty-six years ago. We have not heard Him say, “Go!” so we continue to live with the Wayana and Trio Indians in the jungles of Suriname encouraging them in their walk with the Lord. The church is established, leaders have taken their place, believers are reaching out to their own people and other unreached tribes in Brazil and French Guiana.
Margaret and I now minister to the tribes in a Watch Care setting basically leadership training and preparation of training and study materials. We acknowledge God’s grace and mercy in our lives and the privilege that He has given to us of serving Him among the tribes in the jungles of Suriname.
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