By Julie Bourdon
Nicaragua (MNN) – Fifteen years ago, missionary Steve Bakos entered a region of the world shrouded in spiritual darkness. The people group he encountered had very little access to Scripture and among them were those practicing witchcraft.
Steve Bakos has been a missionary for 27 years, starting in Mexico for the first 12 and serving in Nicaragua to the present time. He has been distributing booklets from World Missionary Press for over two decades.
While Nicaragua is mostly a Spanish-speaking nation, there are minority language groups. Bakos says, “Up in the [Northeastern] part of the country, there is an indigenous people group, the Miskito Indians which have their own dialect and the vast majority of them speak no Spanish. So when the Lord led us there 15 years ago—it is a very remote region, a lot of poverty. But having worked in Mexico amongst poverty, what impacted me the most was not the poverty of the people but [a] region void of the Word of God.”
When he encountered the Miskito people, he partnered with World Missionary Press to begin translating their Scripture booklets into the Miskito language. Twenty-four months later, the project was completed.
“For about 96% of the entire population in that region, it was the first time they had ever seen the Word of God in their own written language. And since that time the impact that the Word of God has brought to that region is unbelievable. There’s story after story.”
Local witch turns to freedom in Christ
One of Bakos’ favorite stories, for example, is about a man named General from one of the Miskito villages.
He says, “General was the most feared witch on the entire Río Coco river—over 50 years practicing witchcraft. And it was a very, very, dark, dark region. Very active spiritually in the witchcraft. But as we began to come in there with the Gospel and again leaving the literature, explaining the literature, it began to transform that region.
“And one particular trip we made, General came up to me and basically said, you know ‘I never knew about this, but will you tell me how I can accept Jesus?’ and that day he received Jesus, burned all of his tools, if you will, of the trade and has never looked back. And he’s been living for the Lord ever since and that was over 12 years ago.”
Meeting the Provider
Not only were hearts transformed by the bringing of the Gospel, but those who accepted Jesus began to see their circumstances in a new light. The Miskito people, Bakos says, live a simple life in a remote part of the world. So remote, in fact, that the different villages are most easily accessed along the river in dugout canoes. These people farm for their food. They have no electricity, and everything is done by hand.
For many years, their efforts to produce a strong crop to feed their communities has been thwarted by a number of difficulties.
“Year after year they were cursed with plagues. The rice wouldn’t produce or the river would flood and they would lose their crops and they went years without food. And as the Gospel came in, I’d tell them … , ‘God is the provider. Look to the Lord, not to man to meet your needs.’” And as they began to understand more and more about God through his Word, they came to trust in him. And then God provided them with vitamin enriched rice to eat. Now, their children are no longer dying from hunger but are healthy and growing.
“They’re giving God the glory for his provision because, not only does he save and forgive, but they’re understanding that he is the source, that he is the provider of all they need even when the things of this life throw you a curve, so to speak.”
Bakos says through this event, God illustrated his love and care for the Miskito people.“Just as God has brought his Word here, he has confirmed his Word in that he does provide.”Today, the Word of God continues to transform thousands of lives among the Miskito people.
Even so, there are still a variety of challenges the ministry faces on a logistic level. Because there are no roads, transporting people and Scripture booklets and other supplies has been difficult. Mud and rain mean traversing over land is trying, and so much of the transportation has to be done by the river.
“It’s a challenge in a good way … because one of the other fruits that has happened since the booklets have come there and the Word of God, is now many of the people who have come to the Lord and God has birthed churches –we are sending out native missionaries, born-again, Christian Miskitos to share the Gospel with their fellow Miskito Indians.”
Right now, Bakos and his ministry are sending out 50 native missionaries a month to share the Gospel using Scripture booklets and a study of John from World Missionary Press.
Will you ask God to guide their paths as they continue this outreach? Pray for the necessary resources to be provided and for hearts to be open to the Gospel.
And if you are a missionary or just a believer wanting to reach out to your community, consider ordering Scripture booklets, free of cost, to hand out.
Katey Hearth (MNN) — Iquitos, Peru, is known as a global hub for so-called “spiritual tourism”. Thousands flock to the jungle village each year seeking spiritual encounters and a dangerous drink called ayahuasca.
But, the dark magic that’s so common here is no match for the power of Christ.
“It’s a tremendous testimony to the power of the Word and the faithfulness of those who continue to give it and preach in the face of the enemy,” states Helen Williams of World Missionary Press.
“Our partner just sent us an email that said… a man almost ran to the front of the church to give his heart to Jesus,” Williams shares.
“He belonged to a cult of Satanists…. They’d been sent out to destroy the largest churches that were preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and this man had been assigned to this church in Iquitos. But, he could not resist the power of God, and ended up receiving Jesus Christ as his Savior.”
Because the man couldn’t return to the group of Satanists, he took shelter in the church’s safe house. Once the group had left, the man moved on to start a new life and learn more about the God who saved him.
Iquitos: spiritual tourism and ayahuascaIquitos is Peru’s largest jungle city.
In 2014, AmusingPlanet.com dubbed Iquitos “the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road.” Surrounded by thick rainforest on one side and the Amazon River on the other, Peru’s largest jungle city may be difficult to access. But, that doesn’t stop the tourists.
Ayahuasca – a plant-based brew that produces hallucinogenic effects when consumed – is traditionally used by Peruvian shamans to access the spiritual world. Over the past decade, the drink has attracted growing numbers of people who want to “experience the sacred.”
“I went into the experience a devout atheist,” an Australian woman told News.com.au.“Now I am very open minded to the fact that something may exist beyond what we consciously see, the same way that we know infra-red and UV light exists even though we physically can’t see it.”
According to a June report by The Guardian, “Every year thousands descend on the city, where centres offering ayahuasca have sprung up in the surrounding forest, while lodges offering ‘jungle tours’ or ‘nature tours’ include ayahuasca as well.”
While ayahuasca is a relatively “new” discovery to mainstream culture, the witchcraft associated with it goes way back. In fact, according to this 2013 blog by Christian missionary Scott Doherty, “Whether poor or rich, uneducated or educated, young or old, almost everyone has used witchcraft at some point…The reality is that witchcraft and the occult is greatly manifested in Peru.”
World Missionary Press sends Scripture booklets so believers can fight darkness with the light of Christ. For $5, you can help WMP print and send 125 Scripture booklets to the church in Iquitos. Click here to get involved.
“Their ministry has been most effective when they’ve dealt with healing, helping people heal (from past traumas) and being open doors to those who are struggling,” says Williams, “whether it’s women who’ve been abused, or orphans, or young people with no place else to go except to wander the streets.”
She says the Iquitos church they partner with takes hurting people in and offers them the hope of the Gospel.
“That’s what’s worked there, and what works around the world, because people are needy and Christ is the answer for that need.”
He heard the sound of crying. It could only be his wife. For two years their marriage had been childless and unhappy. they'd fought and shouted. If she'd cried before, it was only from anger or frustration.
But the sound he now heard was different. His wife sounded not angry, but broken. He went to her and found her, her body shaking with sobs, her eyes red with tears. At first she said little but held out to him a small booklet. It was a Christian booklet with verses from the Bible.
Then between her sobs, his wife confessed a terrible secret. She'd been trying to kill him by witchcraft. The witch doctor in their African village had given her power, she said, even to handle snakes without being harmed. But the Christian booklet showed her that power belonged to God alone. Only He had the power of life and death. Only He had the power to hear her sins and forgive them.
All that night the two of them prayed to the Christian God. Even when the sun rose in the sky once more, still they prayed and confessed their sins. They asked Jesus to be their Savior.
The evil of witchcraft was broken. And in the Love of God they were able to love each other.
Taken with permission from Page 14 of 'The Word Works' (A compilation of WMP literature testimonies), by Mark Ward, Sr.
“Firstly I would like to thank you and . . . everyone who helped in the printing of booklets you send me. 'Let’s Praise the Lord' booklets make a lot of people turn to see what we are doing on stages throughout Zimbabwe, when everyone was invited to 'His Praise Choir'. A lot of people just fell on the spot and start crying, tearing their clothes because of evil spirits, . . . when we were reading through the booklet with them, because the power of God was working in them and the demons were driven away. A lot of people decided to join us and pray with us. We appeared in the most sinful place in Zimbabwe (Mbare) and preached the Word of God. One woman came [out of] the crowd and climbed on the stage and repented of her witchcraft. She said she had killed many people but now she needed to let Jesus forgive her and she said she needed to be baptized. In Mbare we have a very big shortage of booklets because a lot of people there showed so much interest in reading and obeying God and stopped their bad deeds. So many people were much excited and almost in tears by the booklets, 'Who Am I That A King Would Die in My Place?' and 'The Way to God'. I don't know how I can thank you for the parcels you send me. Only God knows how pleased and happy I am. The most exciting is that the parcels you send me are almost finished during distribution of the Word of God and they are in demand now. So may you please help me again with hundreds or thousands of booklets. . . containing the Word of our holy God. Please teach me how to be a professional distributor, leader, or anything you need to teach me about God so that I can . . . be a missionary or any good man on earth. Yours, a fifteen-year-old boy in need.” -Simbarashe M., Zimbabwe, Africa
Report of phone call: “Maria called exuding joy and excitement. She was talking so fast to try to share the few stories she relayed! She says one of her favorite places to witness is aboard cruise ships. She meets so many people from all over the world. She says she gets more joy out of talking to people about Jesus than the actual cruise itself! That’s the main reason she goes on cruises! On one of her port stops, Maria visited a jewelry shop and asked if anyone needed prayer. The owner said her leg was hurting and she couldn’t move it. She prayed, and the woman said it still hurt and she still couldn’t move it very well. Maria said, ‘Well, that’s not good enough! Let’s pray again.’ The leg was healed! She could move it! While praying for this woman, six more people were lined up to be prayed for. The owner then brought a man with a tumor in his mouth, and they saw it shrink! Maria called asking for booklets. She said, ‘I saw so many things happen and had run out of booklets! I need booklets! People get saved and healed, and I like to leave them with material to help them know God and grow.’ She told of another lady who was practicing witchcraft. She led her to Jesus and then some of her family members. Maria is excited about Jesus and couldn’t stop talking about Him! She thanked us for all that we do and is so grateful for our materials. She loves sharing with others about WMP. She even told a Christian newspaper in her area about WMP!”
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