Reaching the Guarani People
by Pat Humes
The Guarani people (pronounced "Warani") originated from what are now Paraguay and the provinces of Corrientes and Entre Rios of Argentina.
This missionary traveled by motorcycle to conduct a Bible study in a rural village.
It was among these people that Osvaldo Simari began ministry work as a child. At the age of 10 he helped his father in a small church in Argentina. When he was 16, he became a Sunday school teacher. After that he began preaching, and later became very involved in missionary work. In 1984 he and his family relocated to Paraguay, where New Life in Jesus (NLIJ) was first established.
The Guarani have always been a spiritual people. There was no written record of the Guarani history, religion, or culture until modern times, so everything was passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth.
While religious beliefs varied from one locale to the next, several core beliefs predominate throughout them all. Remarkably, these legends contain some familiar themes: Tupa is a supreme god over all creation and he created land, ocean, forests, animals and all else that is found upon the earth and in the sky. This done, he then formed two statues from clay and breathed life into them. They became the first man (named Rupave, meaning "father of the people") and the first woman (named Sypave, the "mother of the people"). He gave them the spirits of good and evil and then departed. (See Genesis 1-2:9).
Leader Simari with two native missionaries serving with NLIJ.
The good news of the gospel is finally being revealed to those who only knew fragments of the truth according to scripture. As eyes are being opened, house churches are growing in number and new believers are ministering to the rest of the townspeople.
As NLIJ missionaries reach outlying areas, they are able to establish relationships. Through Christian Aid donations medical supplies are freely distributed, a well is built, and other practical help is given to those in need, in an effort to show Christian love. Men and women of all ages, and even children, learn about the God who came into this world to save us from our helplessness and to give us eternal life.
Simari emphasizes that his outreach is not only an evangelistic movement, but also seeks to train new believers as leaders. His vision is to strengthen the brethren, so they are better able to share and defend the faith and win many more souls to Christ.
Poor people receive medical help and medicines provided as part of an outreach.
But because most NLIJ workers need to maintain some kind of secular employment, they are unable to attend a Bible school. To accommodate this lack, NLIJ holds annual seminars, where training is given by seminary professors. Participants receive an intense four-day training. Christian Aid subsidizes these annual training courses through gifts from caring donors.
Once a worker has received training, he is sent into the field. Sometimes he must travel long distances. Regular support not only enables his travel, but also provides for the needs of the family while he is away for extended periods of time. They live sacrificially, and by God's grace have accomplished much.
There are many continual needs with this kind of ministry – both for the missionaries and for those they are trying to reach. Bibles, motorcycles, seminars, church buildings, wells, monthly support, and medical supplies are a part of these on-going necessities.
A member of the New Life team tests a new well drilled to provide clean water.
But Simari and the ministry workers want to reach even more remote regions. There is an ancient subculture of Guarani people known as the Kaiwa (also known as the Pai Tavytera or the Cayua) living in small reservations in more isolated areas of Paraguay and southern Brazil. Language is not a barrier, as nearly all Paraguayans speak Guarani. As contributions are sent through Christian Aid, evangelistic crusades are being held in the area where these people reside.
As more and more of this people group are being reached, the need for discipleship training has arisen. Simari recently teamed up with a Bible college, which went into the area and conducted a nine-month training course.
Recently, Christian Aid was able to supply NLIJ with five motorcycles that will greatly improve their ability to enlarge the work among the Kaiwa people.
In these days, when the harvest is ripe but the workers are few, help is even more urgent. The leader wrote to Christian Aid, "On behalf of our brothers and sisters in Paraguay, God bless you and thank you for the difference you have made."