When I was a boy growing up, my grandmother came to visit the remote reservation in eastern Washington where my family lived and worked for many years to bring the Gospel message to Native Americans.
After travelling all day, upon her arrival she said, “This is the end of the jumping-off place.”
For more than 40 years, Faith Comes By Hearing has been working in partnership to make God’s Word available to everyone everywhere. We are providing Audio Scriptures in the people’s heart language – the language they use to communicate with one another and the language they use to talk to God.
Even with all the existing technology, emerging new technology, and the modern methods of transportation, getting the Word to everyone everywhere presents extraordinary challenges.
In the past year alone, partners have helped bring Proclaimers to more than 40 people groups in all corners of the Amazon Basin. Most have limited access to the outside world and to modern technology; however, the best way to give them access to the Word of God, at the moment, is to provide solar-powered Proclaimers for listening groups.
The good news is that, with available technology and audio devices such as the Proclaimer, the Scriptures can be available to people who live at the end of the jumping-off place and beyond.
How and Who?
Defining what is needed for the most remote people groups is relatively easy; but working out the how and who is the huge challenge. Perhaps it would be easier to just focus on the largest and easiest-to-reach people groups . . .
. . . but we can’t forget that Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Limited infrastructure, vast distances, jungles, rivers, mountains, extreme climates, security challenges, local and national political restrictions, and a host of other scenarios often make it impossible for outsiders to get the Word to the end of the jumping-off place.
So, given the challenges, how does Faith Comes By Hearing collaborate to get God’s Word to the least-reached, the isolated, and the marginalized people of the vast Amazon Basin? The answer is you have to have Davids who are willing to give the little they have, to move forward, and to trust God to help them take on the giants.
Davids in the Amazon
Wycliffe Bible Translators started working in the Colombian Amazon in the 1960s and right away began looking for and equipping Davids. One of these Davids (whom we will refer to as Geraldo) helped translate the New Testament for the Desano people and has a vision that reaches and extends way beyond the “four walls” of his Jerusalem.
Geraldo, with only the bare necessities and his extraordinary resilience, harnessed together with faith and perseverance, has even gone way beyond the end of the jumping-off place.
The Tucano people live at the end of the jumping-off place and waited for their Proclaimers until 2008. The challenge was who would bring them to their villages – outsiders have not been able to go to the Tucano area since 1995.
But Geraldo rose to the challenge to make sure every Tucano village received a Proclaimer and were listening.
Nearly 7 years later, the Tucano people are still listening to the Word of God in every village.
Then Geraldo was there once again when the New Testament was recorded in his language. When the Desano Proclaimers arrived in Colombia in 2010, Geraldo was ready to tackle the giants and begin Proclaimer listening groups in all the villages where his family and friends live.
Now, some 5 years later, the Desano are still listening to the Word of God in all of their villages in some remote corners of Colombia near the end of the jumping-off place.
Another David comes from the Cacua people group. After his people received their Proclaimers, he showed a Siriano David (whom we will refer to as José) the device; José then wanted to know when his people would have their Scriptures on this black radio.
In fact, José was so excited that he found a way to make a phone call to the Wycliffe translator who worked with the Cacua, to find out how they could get their Bible on the Proclaimer.
The Siriano recording was completed in a few short months; and when the Proclaimers arrived in Colombia, who do you suppose was prepared to take them to the villages? Yes, it was Geraldo.
For the past several years, both the Siriano and Cacua have been listening to the Proclaimers in all of their villages.
Around 2011, the Guanano people who live very close to the end of the jumping-off place received their New Testament on Proclaimers. Their villages are way beyond the last stop light and the end of the road, but Geraldo knows where they live.
Once again, he tackled the giants, travelling through the jungles by boat and on foot to take Proclaimers to yet another people group – the Guanano.
Now the Guanano are listening to the Word of God in every village.
When Geraldo was on his way to the Guanano villages, he stopped at a Piratapuyo village and showed them the Proclaimer. They sort of liked it, but weren’t all that interested.
On the way back, though, he stopped at the same village . . . then the leader wanted to know how long it would take them to get their New Testament on the Proclaimer.
After the New Testament recording was completed in 2012, Proclaimers were shipped to Colombia to begin listening groups in the Piratapuyo villages. The people live real close to the end of the jumping-off place and getting there was just another challenge for Geraldo.
So, now the Piratapuyo have been listening to God’s Word on the Proclaimer in their villages for nearly 3 years.
The Macuna New Testament recording was completed in 2013, but the people live where it is impossible for most outside missionaries to get Proclaimers to them. This time some Colombian Davids stepped up to the plate and helped get Proclaimers beyond the rapids and up the river just past the end of the jumping-off place.
Besides that, Geraldo also helped take the Macuna Proclaimers to more villages so that every Macuna village can listen sooner to the Audio Scriptures in the language they talk to God in.
The Rest of the Story
This isn’t really the rest of the story because it’s not over yet – it’s still being written. In fact, many of the villages that Geraldo already visited near the end of the jumping-off place need their Proclaimers replaced and others need more Proclaimers. According to Geraldo, the people have listened so much that some of the Proclaimers are wearing out, and that’s a good thing.
So Geraldo is asking for more Proclaimers – not only for his people, but for the Siriano, the Guanano, the Piratapuyo, the Macuna, and now he is going beyond the end of the jumping-off place to the Carapana.
When we wondered who would go, some Davids stood up, just like Isaiah of old did when God spoke to him: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8).
Image 1: An obliging sheep demonstrates the theme of this blog post, as captured by one of our field coordinators.
Image 2: “Geraldo,” the hero of our story, on one of his many ministry trips.
Image 3: A Siriano village gathers as the people first receive God’s Word in their own language.
Image 4: The Colombian Davids, stepping up (and in) to get Proclaimers to the Macuna people.