“Words are just words here in the jungle,” says Joel McGee. Face to face relations are the key to working together successfully in this culture…and “even those sometimes mean nothing.” This was the reason that Joel took his family and another missionary upriver to visit the cofraternity of pastors soon after his return to Peru last month.
|Meeting with the pastors in the village of Atenas|
When Joel assumed the role of JungleMaster’s Interim Director following the sudden passing of Tom Clark last fall, he called the cofraternity of jungle pastors to let them know that nothing would be changing with the ministry. At that time, he also encouraged the pastors to attend the seminary classes that would be held in Nauta, beginning in January. But upon his return to Nauta last month, Joel discovered that none of the pastors had come. Joel knew that a face to face visit was needed in order to determine the reason.
Why hadn't they come? It seems that Joel’s words of reassurance to them on the phone in November had not fully erased the apprehension the pastors felt over the future of JungleMaster. In the culture of the Amazon, it’s expected that a person will lie in order to save face. Because of this, there is a general spirit of distrust. This naturally carries over into their relationships with foreign missionaries. Was JungleMaster REALLY going to continue to sponsor seminary classes, as they had said they would? It takes at least one day of travel to get themselves (and their families) to the school in Nauta and then one day to get back, so the pastors were hesitant to make the trip. After all, with Joel being out of the country, they didn't want to risk arriving in Nauta after their long journey only to discover that JungleMaster was no longer planning to sponsor their training.
After their face to face meetings, the pastors committed to coming to the next seminary training session in Nauta, to be held in March. But, as Joel says, “You never really know until it happens.” Please pray that these pastors will feel reassured of JungleMaster’s continued commitment to them and that they will follow through on their promise!
|At the farm of Francisco, the head of the cofraternity|
|Meeting with a member of the cofraternity in the village San Juan|