by Trisha Goddard, Partners for Paraguay
Mike and I have the awesome opportunity to partner with 13 First Nations men (one Ava Guarani and twelve Ache) in Eastern Paraguay. A few years ago they realized that other people in their region needed to hear God's word, and they stepped out in faith to obey God's call on their hearts. They began reaching out to three communities, and that number has grown to 11 – one Paraguayan community and 10 First Nations communities of Ava Guarani and Mbya.
We have seen these men face challenges and obstacles: limited resources; muddy roads; motorcycles that don’t work; differences in language and culture; personal sacrifice; the demands and pressures of their own families and ethnic groups. Yet, they never focus on the challenges and hardships.
Instead, they share stories of how God is faithful to bring along people to encourage them personally and provide for these eleven outreaches. One group of young people sell bread to raise funds. A garden has been planted, the produce sold for more revenue. People from many ethnic groups and nationalities have partnered with their team in prayer, giving financially, visiting them, and providing essentials like food, materials, and motorcycles.
These thirteen First Nations men are on fire with a mission to see communities in Paraguay transformed by the power of God’s word. Mike and I can testify, and I know these thirteen men can too, that being obedient to God's command to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18) always comes with a cost, yet it is worth it!
In Acts 13, five men from the church of Antioch were worshiping and fasting when the Holy Spirit told them to send out two of their key leaders, Saul and Barnabas. So after they had fasted and prayed, they [the other three] placed their hands on them [Saul and Barnabas] and sent them off. Acts 13:3
These five men were committed to seeing communities reached with the Gospel. Three men stayed behind to take care of the local church in Antioch, and Saul and Barnabas went out in obedience to proclaim God’s Word to the Jews in Cyprus and Pisidia. They saw miracles happen. They witnessed people coming to know Jesus as their personal Savior. They gave a message of exhortation from the Old Testament, laying the foundation of who of God is and the fulfillment of God’s word. At one time, almost a whole city came to hear them!
Even when Saul and Barnabas faced persecution by the Jews, they went to the Gentiles and remained faithful.
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. (Acts 13:47-49)
When believers are obedient to God's command to go and make disciples of all nations, the power of God's Word will transform a community. We are to be the light where he has placed us. For Saul and Barnabas, it was among the Jews and Gentiles. For my husband and I, it is serving the Lord in Paraguay. For the thirteen First Nations men in Eastern Paraguay, it is reaching out to eleven communities in their region. For you, it may be within your own family, neighborhood, or work place.
Let’s be a church on mission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18)!