Posted by: calloftheandes | September 13, 2010

Peruvians Learn Missions in “A Floating Missions Conference”

Written by R. Kurtenbach
Photos by A. Saavedra

Dr. Gabriela Jaramillo’s expectations of a trip on the Ucayali River in Peru were met in ways she didn’t expect.

Ecuadorian physician, Dr. Gabriela Jaramillo, with Peruvian patients.

A family practice resident at Hospital Vozandes in Quito, Ecuador, she’d expected to concentrate on just being a daughter of God. Jaramillo said she accepted an invitation to travel with Misión a Bordo (Mission On Board) “largely for the spiritual enrichment, not thinking that my (medical) profession would serve as an open door to reach out to the people.”

But the young Ecuadorian’s skill set didn’t go unnoticed. She later told Radio Station HCJB listeners: “I had the opportunity to help with my skills – to be a tool in treating people.”

“We came to realize that this is the benefit – not that we (in missions) carry forth all that is good,” Jaramillo told the radio host of Apuntes Pastorales (Tips for Pastors), “but that the exchange (with the local people) is mutual.”

Nearly 50 people traveled for five days on board the Evangelista. This riverboat is 90 feet by 24 feet and docks at Pucallpa, Peru, when not cruising the Ucayali with people learning via onboard lectures and on-shore practice how to share the Christian message in remote settings. [/caption]

A welcome by Shipibo children of the Ucayali River.

Jaramillo was invited to participate by HCJB Global’s Américo Saavedra, whose childhood was spent in Pucallpa. Another participant was former HCJB Global president, David Johnson, who aptly described time on the Evangelista as “a floating missions conference on a riverboat.” Johnson, who now serves with Development Associates International, found it particularly satisfying to know that HCJB Global’s Apoyo training of Peruvian pastors had “led to unexpected and wonderful ministries being birthed that are now touching thousands of people.”
Talks by missionaries Peter Hocking and Irma Espinoza from Peru, Pastor Eliezer González originally from Venezuela, and Nilsa Jurado from Puerto Rico explored themes, including the biblical basis for missions, missionary care (financial, emotional, prayer), ministry among Peru’s native populations, and strategies for working in tribal communities.

While visiting several villages along the river, cultural sensibilities were honored. Johnson described one tribal chief whose skepticism was evident while team leaders probed him about ministry possibilities. “The team I was on, made up mostly of Peruvians, discovered they were foreigners in their own country,” Johnson said. With master’s level work in cross-cultural entry issues, he found intriguing the differences existing just within Peru.

Most satisfying for Johnson however, was realizing that Apoyo’s involvement years earlier with Peruvian pastors had helped produce “men and women who saw beyond their own church, their own denomination, their own people, their own country.”

“They’ve learned how to build networks and teams to do things that any one of them could never have done on their own,” he said.

Among the 16 or more ethnic groups along the Ucayali, the ministry teams dealt primarily with the people near Dos Unidos, where two rivers join. Amid trip and ministry logistics during a shoreside stop, Saavedra arrived at the clinic where Jaramillo was treating patients. She was kept “very busy” he said. Altogether, she treated 50 patients in five villages during the trip.

David Johnson and Eliezer González.

Calling Mission On Board “a beautiful and inspiring experience,” Jaramillo believes God is preparing great things for the ministry participants. Johnson concluded about the small team he got involved in: “This team was a reflection of how God is mobilizing the Peruvian church in missions.”


  1. […] described. “Our leader will say, ‘OK, now it’s time to stop listening to the speakers. Now we’re going to serve. We’re going to practice what we […]

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