As shared by Asas de Socorro’s partners in the rainforest, whose presence and ministry in this jungle village depend on the ministry of Asas people and planes:
Just two crisp pings on the school bell in the dark so as not to rouse those who may need their sleep. It’s almost cold at this predawn hour in the jungle and it’s just slightly less than pitch black out. A fog and heavy dew blanket the clearing around the school. Slowly figures begin to come through the door into the dim light of my solar charged garden lamp that we’ve been using as a lantern these mornings. It casts just enough light in one corner of the dirt floor schoolroom to read a Bible passage each day before we pray. Miguel* has materialized next to me. Then a jumbled up blanket with legs takes its place at the edge of the ring of light, must be Antonio. Otoniel’s tiger stripe blanket wanders by with his teenage face poking out the front and takes his seat. He’s been a regular lately. The two faithful elderly men who can hardly walk come coughing and sputtering in and take their spots. Pac-Man, a handful of others, and even Kenio from a mile down river are all here this morning.
These men have been starting the day at 5:15 in prayer. They have been praying for wisdom, direction, and spiritual protection for their neighboring village of Parati ever since we heard about the antagonistic political and spiritual fallout rippling out from there. An alarming incident several months ago – a clash between illegal outsiders and that community – has had a far reaching negative impact and we’ve heard mostly bad news. This morning is different, though. Tiago and Felipe also sit amidst our little glow. They are church leaders visiting from Parati who just arrived in the night. They begin to give their firsthand account. Many things we have heard were not completely true; some are worse, but quite a few things are much better.
The church is still meeting on Sunday mornings, men’s prayer meeting and women’s prayer meeting still run as scheduled and are well attended. Despite efforts to scare off the community from the location, the believers have not fled. They refuse to let the church building, school, or missionary houses be assimilated by other villagers or outsiders – legal or otherwise. Several of the older leaders accused of back sliding into witchcraft are, in fact, speaking out against going back to the old ways. Ivanir, also a believer, and a contracted healthcare assistant, in the absence of the full-time government healthcare workers, has continued to do what he can to combat malaria, and dispense nonprescription medicines. For more serious cases he is following instructions received during radio contact.
Though the material suffering and physical dangers have increased dramatically and unbelieving influences are actively trying to lead some astray, the body of believers continues to praise God with singing and thanksgiving for His protection. God’s hand of protection has been clearly seen by believers and unbelievers alike and is at work even now. As the dawn’s early light begins to overpower my little lantern my heart warms. The Church is still there! A brave group of believers still holds fast in the midst of the raging spiritual battle!
*All names changed for privacy