September 10th, the Pantavida sailed north on the Paraguay River, headed to Port Indio. Several stops along the way left school children with soccer balls, new toothbrushes, and stories from the Bible. Twenty of these children prayed to receive Jesus into their lives for the first time. Adults were left with a new pair of sunglasses, so necessary along the river, sweet little gifts like lotion or soap, and very importantly, medicines for what ails their families. And some along the way received a new tooth filling or a cleaning from the dentist.Ten of these adults made first time commitments.
As Pastor Arivaldo talked with each patient in the medical clinics, he asked how many would like to study the Bible further. Almost every one of them said yes. We met many of the adults who do not know how to read. We saw a lack of spiritual leadership in each place. Needs still tug at our hearts.
The Pantavida Riverboat Ministry, under the leadership of Pastor Carlos Alberto da Silva, will travel the river 8 times this year. We are excited that he will travel back north in just two weeks with a Brazilian team. We are encouraged that some of those who have made decisions will be contacted soon. Technology is also helping. Many who made decisions or who want Bible study, gave their cell phone numbers.
One of the strategies GEM hopes to put into place through the Mission Volunteer Center in a systematic training for leaders in these river communities.