I recently spent a week on the Amazon River ministering in villages and towns in the Amazonas region of Brazil with a group of students and parents from Trinity Christian Academy. We lived aboard the Amore Esperance where we slept, ate, and fellowshipped while we journeyed down the Amazon River. The reflection below is from a blog post I wrote while on the trip for the parents and families at home. I thought I would share it with you.
Day Three – Divino
“Paraiso”, “Sol Nascente”, and now “Divino”. Allow me to translate our journey for you up to this point. Our first stop was “Paradise” (Paraiso). We left “Paradise” and traveled to “Rising Sun” (Sol Nascente). After “Rising Sun”, today, we entered “Divine” (Divino). Maybe it is just the Bible teacher in me but this trip is beginning to read like something out of the Bible. To recap: Monday we were in Paradise but had to leave (no, we didn’t eat the wrong tree). Having left Paradise, we spent Tuesday (the day that is “full of grace”) in the Rising Sun (Son?) which was the next step before we could enter Divine. (OH, and tomorrow…
we go to a new city…)
Divino is so named because of its incredible view. Though we are always trekking “up” from the boat into the villages, this was the steepest climb yet. The walk up to what I will call Mount Futebool (“foo-chi-ball”) was an extra 800 foot ascent to the Holy of Holies (a.k.a. the soccer field) at the highest point of the village, where we tied the Brazilians in “foo-chi-ball. (It was not quite Dagon falling down before the Ark of the Covenant, but close.)
What have I seen as a teacher, parent, and team member on this trip? I’ve witnessed faith and faithfulness, daring and patience, playfulness and earnestness, frivolity and weightiness, love and truth, joy and sorrow, light and life. In a word, Jesus.
I’ve see n him in the hundreds of hugs, piggy back rides, high fives, and fist pumps your kids (and mine) have bestowed upon village children. I’ve seen him in the heartfelt testimonies our students have shared. I’ve seen him in our evening times together sharing our day and sharing our reflections from reading together Timothy Keller’s, The Prodigal God. I’ve seen him as we’ve hugged each other, carried one another’s burdens, and as we’ve laughed at ourselves and each other in the way that people can when they are freed from self-regard and pretence by the awesome presence of redeeming, unconditional love.
Why now? Why here? Why is the reality of Jesus so present in the midst of such trips? Can I suggest something for you to think about as I’ve suggested to us here. The Christian God has eternally existed as a Tri-unity of co-equal Persons. But what does this have to do with seeing Jesus in the Amazon? Everything, actually! In The King’s Cross, Tim Keller puts it this way, “The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each centering on the others, adoring and serving them. And because the Father, Son, and Spirit are giving glorifying love to one another, God is infinitely, profoundly happy…The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are pouring love and joy and adoration into the other, each one serving the other. They are infinitely seeking one another’s glory, and so God is infinitely happy.” God is, in His essential Being, “other-centered”! And He is infinitely happy being so. He made us, not to gain from us, but to share with us the love He’s always known. He made us to spread the joy to us and He made us in His image. Being made in that image means we will most resemble Him, and therefore share most in His happiness, when we live life centered on Him and others and not ourselves. When we have a week like this in which we do live to degree greater than “normal” an other-centered existence, we “see” and “share” in what we were always meant to see and share.
In the biblical story, we were kicked out of Paradise because we thought it better to “be” god than to “see God” and to be served rather than serve. Hasn’t life been grand since then? The rising “SON” came after the dying Son who selflessly laid down his life to redeem us from the wreckage. The only way to the Divine is by going through the risen Son. Let us trust him and follow Him on the way to the new city!
If you are interested in taking the gospel to the Amazon then I encourage you to check out the ministry of Amazon Outreach.