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.”