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.

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).

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.

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.

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."