Raul and his wife, Ayda, were tribal missionaries serving with MINAP in the Peruvian Amazon. Then the call came to help run the mission from its base near the jungle city of Pucallpa. One of the first things that Raul and Ayda did when they arrived was pray. They asked for outreach opportunities to get involved in evangelism and discipleship.
God answered their prayers with two opportunities. The first was to serve tribal students at a university. The second opportunity was to serve tribal patients and their families at a hospice. This is where the government flies sick people from tribal communities on the Purus River into Pucallpa for treatment. Patients are flown in for free with a companion and stay for free in a house across the street from the Pucallpa airport.
Unfortunately, the help ends there as patients and their families then live with great despair. The government does not provide medical care and patients have difficulty seeing a doctor at the Pucallpa General Hospital. There is also no provision for medicine or food. So the patients leave their home and go to an unknown place hoping to get better but find themselves in a new culture with language barriers, are hungry, discriminated against and go untreated.
The sick people at the hostel elect a coordinator to help run things. Coordination is rotated among residents as people come and go. Raul spoke to the coordinator. He offered to visit on a regular basis and share from the Bible and pray for those living there and to sing with them. Encouraged by Raul’s offer, he opened the door to Raul and Ayda. They started visiting on Sunday afternoons.
The first story from the Bible that Raul shared was Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man and Lazarus. God used this story powerfully to touch the hearts of the tribal people. They identified with Lazarus in the story. They experience extreme rejection in the city. They are treated as worthless. They have no money since in the jungle where they live people don’t use money. They farm and hunt and fish and build their own houses and boats. In the city, they see people all around them with resources and food that they have no access to. So right away they identified with the poor and sick and forgotten Lazarus. This story helped the residents in the hostel who felt so downtrodden and discouraged to gain faith in God.
Raul has encountered many people at the hostel who had walked with God for a time in their lives but had turned away from him. As Raul and Ayda have shared with them and cared for them in a personal way, many of them have decided to return to God.
God is moving in the hardest of places
Several of the men staying at the hospice were very violent drunks. A couple of them from the Sharanauhua tribe had served time in prison for murder. Raul, who is from the Huni Huin tribe, had been to their villages and seen them before. He had tried to befriend them on the Purus River where they are from but these men had no time for Raul. But, here at the house, they had nothing else to do. They spent most of the time in front of the house singing loudly and cussing.
One of them, who had done many terrible things in the past, had extreme pain and stomach problems. His stomach was huge! Some of the other patients who had been at the house longer told him about how God had answered Raul’s prayers and had healed sick people. This man finally accepted the words that were spoken and Raul prayed for him. Right away his belly shrank and the pain subsided. He gave God control of his life and began to follow him.
Another man suffered from terrible headaches. He made fun of Raul and everybody at the hospice. But, because his headaches became so unbearable he finally came to Raul and asked him to pray for him. God healed him and he became a follower of Christ and began to share his new-found faith with others.
Raul says that when he gets medicine, he gives most of it to the coordinator at the medical house. He explains that God is providing this blessing. Sometimes he indicates which patient it is for. Many people are blessed in different places because of Raul and Ayda’s commitment and love to those many forget.