3 September 2021
‘With Christ in the boat, all is well!’
Armed with a message of hope to share and a ‘catraia’, a regional wooden boat, the Evangelical Mission for Assistance to Fishermen (EMAF) missionary team began their journey to the town of Afuá. Travelling along the Puras, a tributary of the Amazon river in Brazil, they were soon caught in a strong tide. The waves rocked the boat so much they feared they would sink. The missionaries took turns steering and keeping the boat dry (bailing out the water that was in the boat with an improvised bowl), all the while declaring; "With Christ in the boat, all is well!"
And it did go well! The team arrived safely - all praise to God, and they were able to deliver their message of hope.
These kinds of journeys are a regular part of EMAF’s ministry. For over 35 years they have been reaching out to remote fishing communities along the Amazon River and coastal waters of the Atlantic ocean. Areas left isolated from adequate medical care, education, employment opportunities and the Gospel.
Doing ministry work in the Amazon is beyond challenging and teams need to be prepared to face all kinds of conditions. Travelling on rivers and coastal waters presents many obstacles that risk the lives of the EMAF missionaries. They frequently face strong winds, destructive waves and rough seas which often damage their boats. They can spend days travelling on small boats navigating up rivers and creeks to reach the scattered fishing communities. Each journey is a journey of faith, and a living example of God standing in the storms of life with them:
“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.” - Luke 8:24b
EMAF missionaries, Oscar and Mariles, give just one testimony of God’s protection as they journeyed along the Tapauá River to share the Gospel:
"We got in the boat which by God’s grace did not sink after many accidents with stones and tree trunks. Three days later, the bottom of our boat was full of water. We were there, in the middle of the jungle about to hang our hammocks to spend the night when a native out of nowhere touched my shoulder. He said he was there to guide us. We went with him to his little boat and he took us through the river to a very dark place.
We could barely see anything. Suddenly, a couple of lights started to blink and we could see bonﬁres by the riverside. I asked what the place was. He said we were coming to an indigenous reserve and that they were indigenous patrols guarding the area. Instead of being afraid, Mariles and I felt overjoyed to see how God was protecting us. When we arrived at midnight, we were received by 15 indigenous people. We sat on the ﬂoor with them and ate ﬁsh soup."
We cannot find words to describe how we felt that night! We wanted to laugh and cry at the same time… We could see God’s hand caring for us.
Sharing God’s love
The EMAF team regularly traverse these treacherous waterways to support communities in need. They run children’s groups; sharing fun activities and stories of Jesus, provide floating medical clinics; offering free medical check-ups and care, help build livelihoods; through equipping people with the skills to sustainably use the region’s natural resources to earn an income, and plant churches; taking time to train leaders and disciple believers.
At the heart of all this, and what keeps them going journey after journey, is the command which comes after Jesus calms the storm and steps onto shore to care for a man whose life is in tatters:
“Tell how much God has done for you.” - Luke 8:39
They are passionate about demonstrating God’s love and goodness, no matter how far, or perilous, the journey is ahead.
Praise God for the unwavering faith of the EMAF team and his continued protection. Pray for the team too as they survey a new area in the Amazon River region, where there are many more unreached communities, and plan how to expand their ministry.
Interested in learning more about EMAF’s ministry? Find out here how they are also helping communities to care for the beautiful Amazon region they live in.