After 20 years, Dave Love and local pastors had evangelized villages along the 300-mile river from Brazil, through Colombia, up to the Peruvian border. Should they stop there? One pastor piped up, “I’m from here. That section of the rain forest is sealed off to outsiders because of what they manufacture; I wouldn’t even go there!” The four team members discussed it and agreed to proceed and trust God for their protection.
The boat sped along, passing the “Bienvenidos a Peru” sign, into the no-fly zone, where the law rested in the hands of extremely powerful and affluent men. A village came into view. What type of reception would they receive?
Dave wrote, “I climbed onto the bow of the boat and put my hands up in the air so they clearly saw that we were not armed. ‘We are evangelical missionaries coming in peace. We want to share with you about the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.’ ‘Come with us,’ one of the men ordered.
“As the villagers led us into the jungle, I thought, ‘This can go one of two ways.’ They took us to a large wooden structure, and the men gathered around us. I still couldn’t discern if this was going to be a friendly contact. We assured them that we traveled from the Colombian side in order to bring them Good News. The spokesman moved closer to me like he had something important to say. ‘I have lived here all my life and this is the first time that a Pastor has come to this area to visit us.’ I breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Wait here, Pastor. We are going to call the entire village so they can listen to what you have to say.’
“When the crowd gathered, I asked, ‘Has anyone heard the story of the Good Shepherd?’ A younger man answered, ‘No, we haven’t heard of the Good Shepherd.’ ‘Have you ever heard of Psalm 23?’ ‘No, we have never heard Psalm 23.’ With a smile I pulled out my Spanish Bible and thought to myself, ‘Today is the day you are going to hear all about the Good Shepherd!’
“I was able to speak to the village for a good while and answer some of their questions about God and the Bible. When I finished, the influential men in the village surprised us by requesting that we return and spend a few days in the area to teach them, and to also have activities with the children!”
(Dave & Denise Love, former missionaries to Colombia, now minister to Hispanic students in Texas. Photo of Dave talking with village men.)