Posted by: calloftheandes | September 29, 2011

Equal Emphasis Placed on Theory, Practice During Peruvian Missions Cruise

File photo of the Evangelista

Several days on a river in the Peruvian rainforest gave Latin Americans the opportunity to combine theory with practice while learning missions firsthand.

Nearly 70 people set out on the Ucayali River aboard the Evangelista, a 12-by30-meter (39-by-98-foot) riverboat. The craft serves as floating missions conference for the annual Misión a Bordo (Mission Aboard) outreach to river communities. It brought together missions students, local churches and missiologists on the Sept. 26-30 learning adventure.

“This is on-the-job experience,” said HCJB Global’s Américo Saavedra, a Peruvian missionary in Ecuador who directs a pastoral/leadership development program known as Apoyo (Spanish for “support”). He has coordinated the trip for the last three years and was on board the Evangelista this week.

“You’re listening all day long to these [seminar leaders], and then you get to a community,” Saavedra 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 heard.’”

File photo from Misión a Bordo trip

Many of the river communities are home to members of the indigenous Shipibo-Conibo people group in eastern Peru. As participants of the missions conference disembarked from the Evangelista, they truly crossed cultures.

Saavedra loves the model for its praxis, that is, the intermingling of theory with practice. While aboard, the participants learn about biblical principles and practices of missions. Then they interact with villagers by sharing Christ, providing healthcare and clothing, and encouraging local believers through teaching, preaching and worship. Some onboard study themes included the biblical basis of missions, knowing the heart of indigenous peoples, and conducting a study of a community.

The trip engaged all three ministry thrusts of HCJB Global: media, healthcare and leadership development. Verónica Tufiño and Gaby Saavedra (not related to Américo) of Radio Station HCJB are participating in the activities.

Providing medical help to shore-side communities are Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ) family medicine residents Dr. Edgardo Noriega and his wife, Andrea Cano (both Colombians), and Ecuadorians Dr. Eduardo González and his wife, Elena Benítez.

Dr. Eduardo González (left) and Dr. Edgardo Noriega were aboard the Evangelista

Saavedra says he aspires to see people afterwards “excited about missions in their churches, getting this fire burning in their churches and eventually, someday, we want those churches to be sending missionaries into any part of the world.”

Two years ago the floating missions conference on the Ucayali inspired Dr. Paola Vélez, then a third-year family medicine resident at HVQ. “When she came she was really open to the Lord—to what the Lord might have for her,” Saavedra said of Vélez, “And at the end she said, ‘I want to be in missions all the rest of my life.’”

“More than once my heart was broken, my eyes filled with tears because I felt God talk,” Vélez told Saavedra afterwards. From the conference speakers and medical consults she learned the importance evangelizing with people in culturally appropriate ways. “I think it’s important not to invade their environment, exporting my own customs to another culture but instead to carry the message of hope and peace of Jesus,” she said.

Dr. Paola Vélez with her husband, Dr. José Luis Vivanco and their daughter, María Paz

Vélez and her husband, Dr. José Luis Vivanco (also a graduate of the HVQ family practice residency program), have also spent a month at a missions hospital, Diospi Suyana (Quechua for “We trust in God”), in Curahuasi, Peru. The Ecuadorian couple plans to go back to the Diospi Suyana hospital to work for at least a year while the hospital’s founders, Drs. Klaus and Martina John, return to Germany for several months.

The hospital was established in 2007 at Carihuasi by the Johns—former HCJB Global missionaries who had served earlier at Hospital Vozandes-Shell in Ecuador. They established Diospi Suyana, a nonprofit facility, (two hours from Cuzco) to serve the Quechua people of Peru.

Misión a Bordo provides Latin Americans a quick opportunity whereas missions engagement and education is a process. Vélez and Vivanco, for example, are being mentored by, among others, a longtime HVQ medical missionary, Dr. Roy Ringenberg, and his wife, Marabeth.

Saavedra said that after such trips, email and social media tools such as Facebook assist in carrying out ongoing mentoring relationships with participants “in order to hear their stories and provide encouragement in their journey as followers of Christ.”



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