A pit viper bite, rather than a pandemic, was what concerned the parents of a snake-stricken girl in central Colombia.
The teenage daughter of local missionaries was bitten by the poisonous snake in a jungle village so remote that access to medical care would take days.
“Her parents prayed for her, and they had full confidence that God was almighty to stop and expel that poison from their daughter, and that she would not die,” the leader of the native ministry said.
Taking heart in the power of God as displayed in a snake bite doing no harm to the Apostle Paul in Acts 28:3-6, the parents prayed continuously, the leader said.
“Our missionary couple prayed fervently for her healing,” he said. “The Lord indeed restored the health of the girl, and many members of her community saw and believed in Jesus, since it was truly a miracle that she lived.”
The missionaries were no longer automatically rejected by certain villagers, and workers in other areas, co-laboring with God in less miraculous ways, have won the trust of tribal animists by following biblical commands to love the poor.
Pandemic Opens Hearts
Colombia managed to slow the spread of the coronavirus with a six-month lockdown, though it reached more than 1 million cases by Oct. 24, and more than 30,000 people have died.
Many people have been unable to work due to the large-scale quarantines to contain the pandemic, and their families are starving, the ministry leader said, adding that support from Christian Aid Mission donors has enabled workers to distribute food to more than 500 families nationwide.
The aid villagers have received from local missionaries amid the COVID-19 pandemic has softened many hearts. Unable to work due to restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus, many aid recipients have had a change of heart toward the local missionaries, with some asking forgiveness for hostile attitudes.
“These are people who rejected the message of salvation many times due to their hardness of heart and have now changed after receiving our donation of food to support their families,” the leader said. “They said that, even though they rejected our missionaries, our workers did not repay them with indifference. On the contrary, we showed much love and solidarity in these difficult moments.”
Workers took the opportunity to explain that the love of God motivates them to help the villagers, and they explained from the Bible the Lord’s plan of reconciliation and salvation in Christ, he said. Missionaries in various rural areas have traveled by motorcycle, horse, canoe and by foot to bring food packages and the gospel, he said. They then follow-up with personal visits.
The Word Works
Local missionaries reach people who live far from villages or towns where no Bible has ever appeared, he said. After explaining the gospel to them, workers leave them with Bibles and key texts for them to read. The Word of God does most of the work.
“When we return, they are happy and tell us what they studied, and they are convinced that what Jesus did is true,” the leader said. “Then we continue to encourage them to continue reading, and we are happy to clarify what they do not understand. In some cases they ask us to give them another Bible to donate to a neighbor or relative who is in another place or house.”
Due to the pandemic, most discipleship takes place through phone calls and biweekly or monthly visits. Local missionaries leave biblical materials for people to study and answer questions at the end of each lesson, he said.
“We thank our God who has given us the ability to use technological means and the internet to keep us in contact with different congregation members and families, encouraging them to remain firm in their faith in Jesus Christ,” the leader said. “In some places, through phone calls and in other places, where the signal is irregular, with caution and wisdom our missionaries make personal visits to different places and congregations, encouraging them more than ever to fully trust our God who is sovereign and has control of all things.”
As hard as they work, local missionaries said the Lord continues to work in miraculous ways. The ministry leader said a childless couple in the region of Villavicencio Meta had undergone various treatments and were told they could no longer hope to have children. The wife accepted an invitation to attend local missionaries’ special worship service and responded to a call for repentance by receiving Christ’s salvation, the leader said.
“The joy that God put in her was so special that her husband’s life was impacted, and together they went to church and spoke with the pastor,” he said. “Both gave their hearts and desires to Jesus Christ, and soon they were able to verify the greatness and supernaturality of God because they became pregnant. Now they are happy serving God and testifying that for Him nothing is impossible, and they share their own experience, affirming and encouraging others to believe in Jesus.”
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