14 Sep 2012

Nauta



The city of Iquitos sits in the Loreto region of Peru, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. It is the largest city in the world which is inaccessible by road - everyone and everything has to come in by either boat or plane. Our BMS colleagues Gill and Harland have been living and working in Iquitos for 3 years now, and are involved in a variety of development projects and helping local Baptist churches. You can see more about some of the work they're doing in the Amazonia video.




Not long after Gill and Harland arrived in Iquitos, they were approached by a group of local pastors who asked them for help in fulfilling their dream of a training centre in the nearby 'city' of Nauta. After several years of hard work and funding from UK churches, that centre is now a reality, with the aim of offering a range of holistic training courses to pastors and local leaders on theology, development, community living and more.


Since opening earlier this year the centre has run three courses for local pastors from the city and from various river communities, most of whom have no training at all and few of whom have more than a primary level of education. As part of the third course I (James), was invited to go and teach some sessions on 'integral mission'. Julia was also invited, but we decided that a mixture of insects, heat, humidity and pregnancy wasn't the best idea(!), so she spent the week seeing some of our old friends and our church in Arequipa.


Over the three days we worked our way through the biblical story, focusing on how we can see God working throughout history to redeem and restore all things to himself. We looked at Jesus' life and the comprehensive results of his death and resurrection, and finally the early church in the book of Acts. Most of the teaching they'd heard before (as is common in Latin America) had taught them that the kingdom of God will not come until Jesus returns, and that the focus of the Church's mission should therefore be on evangelism and 'saving souls' so that people would be ready for the judgement of God. In our study of mission, I wanted to affirm that what God has done for us in Jesus is absolutely fundamental to everything we believe and do as Christians, and that it is only through Christ that we can be reconciled with God. However I also wanted to introduce to them the biblical notion that what it means to be 'saved' has implications not only for life after death but for our lives here and now. Jesus clearly understood that in his life, death and resurrection the kingdom of God had already 'come' or 'drawn near'. Therefore whilst we cannot see the kingdom in its fullness yet, we are invited as the community of God's people to live our life together in anticipation of the coming kingdom.The Loreto region is one of the poorest in Peru, and corruption, injustice and oppression are widespread here. Therefore the churches have an important role to be playing in tackling these problems and helping people in their daily lives.


I had been slightly concerned before arriving in Nauta that my Spanish was not up to the job. However, the pastors were incredibly gracious and keen to learn, and subsequently were willing to put up with me maiming their mother tongue. On the last day, one of the older pastors revealed that he had understood absolutely nothing of the first session but that afternoon had prayed, after which everything became perfectly clear.

There are some times when we are reminded of what a privilege it is to be allowed to live and serve in another country, and for me the week in Nauta was one of those times. The humility and grace of every one of those present was in itself humbling. Please pray for the pastors, for the training centre and for Gill, Harland and Laura as they continue to work to see the kingdom of God come in Iquitos.




2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Inspiring. Praying for you guys and all that God has called you to.

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  2. That picture does capture the essence of all of our joint effortstatement in the Peruvian Amazon. Thanks for your invaluable contribution James, it has been greatly appreciated.

    Harland.

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