The flight was expected to be routine: take five Southern Baptist missionaries and their guide to a village on the other side of Tefé. Manaus, with its million and a quarter people, is the only large city in Amazonia. Tefé is next, with about 60,000. Uarini is further and smaller yet, about 2 hours 15 minutes by air from Manaus.
On Sunday afternoon, a young couple arrived in a boat carrying their comotose daughter, Miriam, about 9 months old. The baby was dressed in her best lacy finery, but she lay limp in her father's arms, unnaturally white faced, not even opening her eyes.
The couple and the wife's mother had come for medical help, but the local nurse could do nothing but make an appointment with the doctor who would come to the village on Monday that afternoon. Miriam had suffered dysentery for four days before lapsing into a coma. She might be dead by the next afternoon.
The anxious parents and grandmother brought her to the church service that night. The parents were believers from the mission of the Uariní church, some three hours away by motor boat. The grandmother was not Christian. After the service, they brought the baby forward to the pastor and visiting missionaries and asked for prayer for her healing. They kneeled at the altar, and the missionaries placed their hands lightly on the baby as they prayed for her life.
Miriam's eyelids fluttered. She stirred. The hope of life was there!
The next morning, the parents brought her to where the missionaries were staying to show how well she was. The baby was taking food, moving about, and appeared quite normal.
On Tuesday morning, as the group loaded back into the airplane to return to Manaus, the relieved parents brought her to the bank to wave bye-bye.
Praise God for the restoration of Miriam's life!
And the grandmother, her heart filled with gratitude, accepted also the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Church planter Ken Fredrickson, center front, was host to Richie Boyd (red cap), Mark Neal and Bill Livingston (back row). Lynn Olmstead translated, and Marcos (left front) was guide and number one assistant everything.
First Baptist Church of Uarini. The pastor's home is to the right.
Another residence in Uarini.
First, let me tell you about the angry man. Darrel was standing in the middle of the main street of Uarini with the video camera, turning slowly in a circle to capture it all. A man working in a shop nearby saw this, and came storming out at him.
"This isn't the United States. You can't just film people without their permission. You have no right to film me," he hollered in Portuguese, with fists ready to pummel Darrel or knock the camera into the dusty street.
Darrel begged his pardon, apoligized and promised not to take any more footage there, hoping that neither he nor the camera would be injured by the very large, angry man.
"You're NOT pardoned. You can't do this!"
Darrel took the verbal abuse and repeated his promise to not resume filming. Eventually the angry villager stomped off without violence.
No one realized at the time that the mayor of the town was silently watching as he sat in a "barzinho" (small bar/coffee house) on the main street.
In church later that day, the mayor approached Darrel and apologized for the incident. "You may take all the pictures you wish," he said. "That man is not from our village. He moved up here from São Paulo a few months ago, and he's always causing trouble."
The mayor told the local constabulary about the incident, and he decided to act on it. A few hours later, he reported to the group, "Please feel free to photograph anything you wish. I've put that man in jail until your group returns to Manaus."
There was a certain resistance from the church of the town's other faith, established in Brazil since the earliest of colonial times. The missionaries were asked to agree not to do any preaching or hold meetings on the main street, which ran in front of their church. The group needed a large outdoor area to show the "Jesus" video, produced true to the New Testament book of Luke, but the main street stopped at the plaza, the perfect place for the film. As the Lord would have it, the mayor offered the plaza as the venue for the showing of the video. So they set up there. The villagers turned off the street lights for better viewing, and were helpful in the process of setting up.
It then became evident to us just why the Lord allowed this confrontation between the villager and Darrel to happen. By the next evening, when the grapevine had telegraphed the dramatic incident throughout the town, much local interest was keenly aroused about our missionary group, the planned screening of the Jesus video, and the mayor's invitation to our group to use the plaza for the showing -- there could have been no more effective publicity for the Jesus video event!
As the film began, about 300 were in attendance. But gradually, as it got darker, people began to stream from the side streets, until about 1500 people were watching the film. An invitation to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior was given at the end, and over a dozen people professed their faith in Him.
During the visit, the baptism of earlier converts was held at water's edge.
Postscript: Darrel was back in Uariní a month later, and recognized Miriam's father in town. He said that she is in good health, and had no further problems. Darrel asked if they ever got the doctor's prescription filled, and the father said they hadn't been able to.