Plying the river by night with Bridge to Grace
I continually ask the question, “Why is it so hard to see fruit that remains in our villages?” This is a story of encouragement. I hope you’ll understand.
We were just back from Costa Rica. Two trucks arrived in Waspam around ten in the evening after a hard 16 hour drive from Managua. Alex Semenyuk was determined to take his large Bridge to Grace team downriver the following day, but the Lord prevented him. There was no gasoline in town. They rested and worshipped with us in our home for a day and a night and then we went to the remote villages we have served for many years.
For eight days, we gave food, clothing, and shoes, played with children, preached the gospel, showed the Jesus film, and prayed with every family in fourteen communities, working long hours and eating sparsely. Hundreds of people prayed to receive Jesus. Hundreds of people told little lies in order to get more stuff (How many Christians in the United States are hoarding supplies?). We did not doubt we were making an impact.
Delivering food and clothing to villages on the river
I came across Renso Rivas in Sih. He was escaping from his employer in Honduras, a drug trafficker nicknamed José Tigre, who had allegedly tried to kill him. He looked tired and carried nothing but the clothes drying out on his back. It had rained. We spent an evening together, talking and watching the Jesus film.
Renso watches the Jesus Film with me in Sih
I’ve known Renso since he was a second grader abandoned by his mother in Sawa. He lived with his grandmother, who suffers from schizophrenia and has not been coherent for years. Renso was a bright child. He wanted to become a computer programer but he had never seen a real computer until I let him touch mine.
After graduating sixth grade, he went looking for work on the coast, started smoking pot, and got into petty thievery. Allegedly, he stole the solar panels that provided power to the water system in Urang. I ran into him from time to time and he always denied his latest exploits, saying he was a Christian now. He was a persona non grata in his village.
The full moon rises over the Jesus Film in Sih
On this particular evening in Sih, he denied nothing. He was scared. We talked for a long time as we watched the Jesus film and prayed together. He was heading to Puerto Cabezas, where his girlfriend told him she would take him back. He had a job waiting for him and was going to ask her to marry him. He begged me for a ride as far as Waspam on our batu named Hercules.
When the movie was ending I got up and gave a short message in Miskito, followed by an altar call. Some eighty people bowed their heads prayed with me to receive Jesus. When it was over I looked for Renso and he was gone.
Alex and the Author
Alex can be forgiven for proclaiming a year ago that his was the first ministry to visit these “unreached tribes.” Any first-time visitor would say the villagers look and act as though their Jesus isn’t the same one we know. Really, there is always a gap—a silence in heaven perhaps—between the time the gospel is first presented and the time it sinks in. Jesus came in the fullness of time, after the Romans conquered the known world, built roads, and literacy became widespread. Globalization is only now overtaking the river, bringing advancements and reaping havoc. We prayed for reinforcements, and God quickly sent us Bridge to Grace and other partners. We recognize that we all stand on the shoulders of everyone who has gone before us, from the Apostles till now. We take our places among those who plant, water, and harvest. Now is the fulness of time!
A child enjoys a sucker in Boom