Linda Draper was fortunate enough to live in Parintins for six months in 2006 under the supervision of the First Baptist Church as a missionary from her church in Indianapolis. With the team from Trinity Christian Academy from Dallas, TX she visited 2 villages that were part of an ongoing river ministry. One of the villages was Boa Vista whose inhabitants used to live in Sabina. Those who wanted to study the Bible were forced to leave Sabina and hack another community out of the jungle. Here is her story:
I have to share with you how much this visit meant to me personally, as on my first trip to the Amazon in 1999 I was with a small group that first went to Sabina, and this was my first return to this area.
We were invited to Sabina because the President of the village was away taking his son that had been bitten by a snake to a clinic. The President had been turning evangelicals away for years and the community was spiritually dying. One of the team members began sharing the gospel in someone’s front yard when a woman named Carmosa came out to find out what was happening. When she realized we were Christians she began to yell and cry and praise God. She told us she had prayed the night before because they were desperate, and she asked God to send help to their village. We came the next day and she said she knew we had been sent by God! It meant so much to me to know we were being used by God, that I’m not sure which of us was most grateful. Carmosa and her husband Joachim told us they would donate land of theirs outside of town to build a church.
The next part of the story I will never, ever forget. This year, as the boat pulled up to the shore at the new Boa Vista, we saw the small, sweet group of 20 or so faithful believers proudly standing, terraced on the hillside, dressed in their Sunday best, waiting for our arrival. We stood at the front of the boat and while the crew readied the gangplank they sang the sweetest song of thanksgiving that has ever landed on my ears (all 5 verses). It was one of the most moving things I have ever experienced! We got off the boat and every single person hugged and cried on every other person. We went into the newly built church, for they had outgrown the original one, and the kids sang a special dedication song for us. At dusk Pastor Chad and Pastor Elmer baptized about twenty people two by two off a little beach. The stars came out in a heavenly host, we sang songs and even though we were fighting off the mosquitoes, no one wanted to leave the beach…we just kept singing. Later we attended the first eighth grade graduation from the surrounding area, the highest grade available to them. The entire day was bitter sweet because the main leader in the village, Raimundo, Joachim and Carmosa’s son, died last year of hepatitis. He was the spiritual leader as well as the one responsible for furthering the education of the community. His death has left a huge hole in the ministry and the village. Raimundo’s brother, Francisco, is faithfully continuing the work. It has cost them a great deal to follow Jesus. Tears came to Carmosa’s eyes when I shared the scripture with her that God promised to return 100 fold to those who leave homes, farms or family for His namesake. They are living Bible characters and true heroes of the faith!