Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Planting 55 Reservation Churches in 10 Days

We have the opportunity of a lifetime - to start 55 churches on a
large reservation in Amazon area of Brazil -- the "Fox Land of the
Sun" reservation "Raposa Serra do Sol".

Now please don't think that we are super-evangelists or have some
brand new strategy -- it was the FLOOD that did it. You see, earlier
this year, they had the "flood of the century" in this area, wiping
out most of the roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Even the
capital city of Boa Vista had up to 2 feet of water!

The reservation has a Catholic portion "the lower third" and the non-
Catholic area. I am part of the non-Catholic leadership for the
reservation so we were very unprepared for what happened next.

The governor of the state asked the leader of the Catholic Indians
and our leader to go tour 55 villages on the lower half of the
reservation. 40 of the villages are Catholic (Jesuit). When the
needs were surveyed and reported back to the governer, all 55
villages requested that they have church fellowship started. The
Catholic leader said "our job is not to build churches, but if your
organization wants to build churches in our villages, you will have
our support." This gesture is highly unusual and it a 180 degree
turn from the confrontational relations of the past.

So we are getting ready for a training congress of 300 reservation
native Christians to help them immediately establish 55 fellowships
in their villages. Buildings are very inexpensive to put up so our
emphasis is in leadership training. There is no time for Bible
college or seminary. We are going by the book of Acts -- just
sharing the Good News, the apostle's teachings, breaking (manioc)
bread from hose to house, sharing as people have need (Acts 2:38).
We are grateful that no Bible college was required during the time
Acts was written. We are, however, providing training for
leadership. Our last large session was in January, and now we will
meet again November 5 through 12.

Lots of follow up will be required, but these brothers and sisters
are very excited about following Jesus in their different tribal
groups, including Macuxi, Ingarico, WayWay, Taurepang, and Yanomami.

In case you are wondering why I am involved, I spent time as a young
Christian in Brazil and was the primary interpreter for all the
training in January and have been asked to come help teach in
November, which I will be doing thanks to a generous couple who
bought my ticket. I have also been named to the tribal council there
and am helping in developing commercial ventures such as coffee
growing, bananas, cattle and chickens, and hopefully some eco-
tourism. North American believers have helped pay for the arts and
crafts school which will put 20 young people to work and provide
income for their families. So if you want to purchase native crafts
from our relatives in the Amazon, why yes, they have FEDEX! (well in
the capital city at least).

I have been letting individuals and churches know about this
opportunity for a few months now and hope that you will consider
supporting us financially. Now we are also planning for groups to
come and visit with us there, for work crews, tourism, worshipping
together, maybe some hunting, waterfall swimming and crafting too.
They are hoping for many visitors from the North, but we do have to
make preparations to host people so we are working on that now.

You can support this church planting effort of the 55 churches, and
you can support me and Liz to keep this and other new gatherings
moving ahead. We have always supported ourselves with outside work,
no denominational or missionary money has come our way. So if you
like what we do, we could sure use your help.

Tell us how you want the money to be used and we will get it to the
right place. If you want to give on a monthly basis and get tax-
deductible receipts in the US or Canada, just contact me to set it
up for you.

I hope that you are as inspired by their story as we are. We look
forward to partnering with you in prayer, in finances, in visits,
and last but not least, some great baskets!

Ray & Liz Levesque

Director, New Gatherings