Discipleship in the Darien Rainforest
Life in the Darien rainforest is hard. Contaminated river water often causes illness, and indiscriminate logging has left little behind for the aboriginal people groups that call the Darien ‘home’. The native Embera and Wounaan tribes that live in this area are accustomed to growing plantains, rice, and root crops, but these traditional crops are no longer as productive as they used to be. In addition to this, there are often fears about the presence of guerrillas in the rainforest.
But these difficulties are not the primary concern of Einer & Girlesa Zuluaga, MB Mission church planters in Panama. Rather, they have grown increasingly concerned about the false beliefs of some evangelical churches in the Darien rainforest. Some Latin and foreign groups have been coming with friendly smiles and gifts for these churches, but they have also brought false teachings to the aboriginal communities. This has caused division in the family, the church, and the community, and there has been much confusion about practices that have no biblical foundation.
Because of this, Einer & Girlesa have made a long term commitment to work in this area of Panama. God has called them to enter into the Wounaan and Embera communities and to speak the truth. Their vision is to disciple these believers so that their faith will be strengthened and they will not be swayed when they encounter false teachings.
Recently, Einer had the opportunity to spend 32 days teaching 18 Wounaan disciples in the Darien rainforest. He took them on a journey through the Bible, from the creation of the world to the ascension of Jesus Christ. The Wounaan people have a rich oral tradition so the story of salvation was shared as a narration. As he taught, Einer defended biblical doctrine so that these disciples would have a real understanding of the true message of the word of God.
This group of Wounaan people were captivated as they heard the message of salvation in Jesus Christ and discovered that He was present even before the foundation of the world. They saw the love of God through His promise to send a Savior after Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden. And as they were taught about the new covenant in Christ, these disciples came to the conclusion that the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were a foreshadowing of the salvation that came through Jesus Christ.
When the period of teaching reached an end, six young people made the decision to be baptized. They now had a solid understanding of the love and grace of God and were ready to take this important step. Einer was able to baptize these believers with confidence, knowing that they were firm in their faith.
Praise God for the renewal that is happening in the lives of native believers as their faith is strengthened through solid, biblical teaching. Pray that many Embera and Wounaan people will learn the truth of the salvation story and will choose to surrender their lives to Jesus.
We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ. – Ephesians 4:14-15