What traveling “at the speed of Acts” really looks like: trying to sleep on all forms of transportation, such as the railing of a speedboat heading down the Amazon. (This particular attempt was not successful— too much wind.)
Life at the Speed of Acts
How long does it take you to read Acts — a month at most? BOOM, the gospel explodes from an upper room in Jerusalem to Caesar’s own household in Rome in a journey that only took you a few weeks. You close the book, energized at the power (and the speed!) of the Holy Spirit.
There’s a reason why the apostles didn’t live Acts as quickly as you can read it: while fast-paced travel and ministry build great momentum for readers, actually living at the speed of light is exhausting.
Last time, I asked you to pray that I would go “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84) this summer. I was taking on a full chapter of Acts in two months’ time! We hosted a team of young women for an eight-week trip as they considered whether God was leading them to Amazon missions, so we packed those weeks with ministry, jungle travel, and training. After we said goodbye at the end of the summer, I collapsed, exhausted and in need of refreshment. What do I mean by God’s strength? Sometimes, your body is weak, sick and tired, but your peace and energy aren’t spent yet.
But every day of those eight weeks, I was held up by the wings of God’s own strength.
Oventeni: Mountain Ministry
Pioneers has a team starting a new ministry among the Asheninka people of Oventeni, so three girls and I took a small flight followed by a truck ride over an Endless Stretch of Reckless Mud Pits (or was it a road…?) to check out what God is doing in the jungle hills.
We all grew during our time in Oventeni. I oriented the girls to their first experience in a village while also catching up with my dear friends on the mission team. We joined them in telling Bible stories to Asheninka women, encouraging a family of believers who are the only Christians in their village, and participating in the indigenous lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the trip ended with my stomach having a strong reaction to a bacteria. Three kind nurses rehydrated me with IVs until I traveled home. But even in sickness, heart growth happened in all directions through some key conversations with teammates!
God can work even when the thorn in the flesh starts to pinch.
Breu: jungle apprenticeship
Unlike most of my jungle runs, this one wasn’t a vision trip. Instead, a missionary family invited us to come shadow under them for a week, showing us everything from their solar-powered home setup to their approach to learning an indigenous language.
While in Breu, we visited many indigenous homes, meeting local families and learning from them how to weave a fan out of palm branches. We also ran the weekly VBS program to bring fresh energy to the kids and let the missionaries rest. I was amazed by the kids’ depth of understanding; after we told a Bible story just once, they acted it out perfectly, moment by moment, and then answered all our questions with their heads and hearts fully engaged! While I haven’t been planning an emphasis on children’s ministry, the kids in Breu reminded me that children are a vital part of holistic community ministry. Their hearts are often eager to know Jesus!
Independence Day in the USA
At the beginning of the summer, doctors told my family that my Grandpa Haas only had two months to live, so I visited him during my team’s gap between jungle trips.
I was nervous about culture shock as I came back to the States and then re-entered Peru, but I discovered that I am starting to feel comfortable with a multi-cultural life. I hung out with my grandparents almost every day and loved it!!! I also squeezed in time with family, friends, and my sending church. And yes, my grandpa is still with us! 🙂
When I got back to Peru, I had just enough time to pack a bag before we sailed up the Amazon to the area where Peru, Colombia, and Brazil all meet. The Yagua people, whom I visited several times when I was in college, are nearby, so I was interested in scoping out the region.
Our schedule was packed with ministry, as we gathered around a pastor to jump-start a new church plant. The team led a week of VBS, evening church services, and house visits to pray with neighbors and invite them to the church. With my Spanish, I did a lot of translation and emcee speaking to keep events running smoothly. Instead of taking over, we did ministry alongside the local pastor and his wife, who have a clear gifting from God. I loved adding momentum to a work God is already doing at the tri-border!
Team Time in Pucallpa
After Brazil, I had plans to help lead a discipleship workshop in a remote village. But after stomach troubles in Brazil, my team and I decided I wasn’t healthy enough to go off the grid. Instead, my teammate, Abi, headed up to the Napo while I stayed with our summer girls during their last week in Pucallpa.
The Lord knew where each of us needed to be!! Abi led my lessons in the discipleship workshop and came away feeling more empowered, while I was present when our summer girls were hit with really heavy situations. Since I’d spent my free time all summer investing in the girls, I could help my team respond to our girls’ needs, and we saw major breakthroughs and growth. Now we’re praying that some of them come back long-term… 😉
After the girls left, I took a few days to rest and receive care and encouragement from sweet local families. Then our team entered into a rapid-fire season of turnover, so I put personal ministry on hold for a few weeks to help the team get through. We hosted a one-week team from the States, and half the members of our team either left for furlough in the US or flew in to Peru as new team members. It’s been all hands on deck getting everyone in and out and loved along the way!
Ministering to villagers feels more spiritual than ministering to missionaries. But much of missions work has to be investing in the next generation of missionaries (or who will come join us on the field?) and caring for our co-laborers here in Peru (or how will any of us prevent burnout?). I’d launch to the jungle much faster if I just focused on my own process, but we try to live by the proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It takes a team to make it for long in jungle ministry!
Up Next: Rest!
I don’t have any vision trips planned for the immediate future because I took my first seven months in Peru at twice the recommended speed… as usual, eh? It’s time to prevent my own burnout before I rush into the next stage of jungle ministry.
Major goals for this (indeterminate) season in Pucallpa:
- Visit doctors & specialists to do stomach tests and figure out why I have unusally severe reactions to bacteria.
- Spend time reading and talking with veteran missionaries to gain wisdom and focus in which ministry direction I’m going.
- Conduct interviews and write a major research project for recruiting missionaries to the Amazon (more on that later).
- And finally… rest, paint, hang out with friends, and write poems. After a season of 24/7 relational ministry, I need to prioritize deliberate rest.
Will you PRAY ONE A DAY with me???
I’ve been convicted that the only way to take on the spiritual strongholds of the jungle is through extreme prayer.
So I’m committing to pray one hour every day this season, focusing on:
- God’s guidance for the tribe / team / ministry I join
- The Spirit to stir up a discipleship and church-planting movement throughout the jungle healing for my stomach so I can keep going remote
- Unity, love, spiritual maturity, and a devotion to Scripture/prayer within the Church (specifically Peruvian churches, the missionary community here, and American churches)
Will you commit to pray one minute every day for the prayer requests listed above? Alone, I could go fast… but if I want to go far, I need you going to the Lord together with me.
If you commit to praying one minute a day for jungle ministry and direction, would you reply and let me know? And as you pray, I would love to hear from you if the Lord speaks; let’s discern next steps together, in community.
Thanks, team! I love you guys!
My Email Address: SarahAnnHaas@gmail.com.