Posted by: calloftheandes | January 27, 2012

Son Takes Up Mission Work Begun by Parents

Buckman prays with Terena Christians in Brazil (photo by M. Harrison)

As Larry Buckman reminisced several years ago with leaders of Brazil’s Terena people, they remembered the impact of his parents’ tireless work with this Brazilian tribal group to provide them an education.

The Terena were not just looking back, however. Anticipating future ministry, they asked Buckman to return to them to help strengthen their Christian congregations for mission work among other neighboring groups.

Win Buckman Sr., now deceased, and his wife, Francis

The conversation occurred on the sidelines of an anniversary celebration of the school founded by Win Buckman Sr. and his wife Francis in Taunay village in Mato Grosso do Sul state in southern Brazil. Already working with a different tribal group, the Buckmans agreed in 1956 in respond to a Terena request for basic education in Portuguese.

Today, five decades later, many Terenas are trained professionals in different disciplines. “We have pilots, doctors, lawyers, pastors and politicians.” Buckman said. The Terenas wanted help from Larry and his wife, Fay, however to train themselves and others to share the gospel with hard to reach tribes hidden in the Amazon rainforest. This meant not only embracing Larry due to his parents’ work, but also welcoming him as a leader among them.

Understandably, Buckman’s leadership style differs from that of the Terenas, who arrive at decisions by group consensus from starting point more egalitarian than that of many Western cultures. In this context Buckman’s doggedly determined way of doing things has earned him a ‘Larry the Tractor’ title. “They don’t mean that in a bad way; they do have community tractors in their villages,” he chuckled, observing that a transition from ox drawn plows hastens agricultural work.

“It’s the speed of change that bothers them,” Buckman said, “Not that they don’t want change. Gradually we are finding the right speed for change that does not violate their culture but keeps the movement going forward.” For his part, Buckman for decades worked in film and video at HCJB Global in Quito Ecuador where Fay also taught school and they raised two sons. On loan now to Miami International Seminary, they work within HCJB Global’s Corrientes (Currents) which seeks to help mobilize Latinos for cross cultural mission work.

Win Jr. (Larry) Buckman

In July 2012, the 100th anniversary of gospel arriving to Terena territory via a Scottish missionary, Harry Whittington, will be observed. “Not long ago a chief from another tribe in Parana, asked one of our chiefs why the Terenas were more advanced and professional,”Buckman related. The young chief replied that in Bananal, Mato Grosso do Sul, where Whittington’s work began in 1912, the Terenas were the first tribe to embrace Christianity.

Buckman said the young chief offered that “the missionaries gave us a complete education when no one else valued our tribe.” The surprising statistic is to see the number of Terenas competing for positions in the secular universities. All have plans to return to their tribe and develop their own people and then other tribes, according to Buckman.

Today, even with Bible translations underway and the New Testament in 30 languages, there are still 121 language groups who have never heard about Jesus. Embracing this reality, the Missionary Union of Indigenous Evangelicals of South America (UNIEDAS) has set a goal to “prepare the Christian tribes to reach other tribes.” This year the Terenas anticipate opening two Corrientes type training centers with Biblical, vocational, and trans-cultural education.

The Terena are also passionate about reaching other indigenous groups via radio. Presently, three tribal groups are pursuing licensing through the Ministry of Communications in Brasilia. All these tribes have already received training through HCJB Global Voice.


  1. […] Bill and Sue and two of their children, Jodie and Jordan, will join the July 11 celebration in Brazil for the 100th anniversary of the gospel reaching the Terena Indians.  To learn about this story and to praise the Lord along with them go to this blog site. […]

  2. […] […]


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