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Evangelism Through a Rapala

By Al Raber, RMM Associate Worker serving among the river people of the Brazilian Amazon

I rent a house on the mission base where I work, but I spend most of my time on a boat called the Semeador II (Semeador means ‘sower’ in Portuguese). The primary purpose of the Semeador is to bring the evangelical gospel to villages that have not yet heard it, and to open the door for permanent missionaries in these areas. Our trips usually last from 21 days to a month.

We typically spend one day in every village, arriving in the morning or late evening. My days start at 5:30 in the morning with a short time of devotions followed by breakfast. By 7:00 we are either traveling to the next village or starting our work where we are. We try to visit every house in and around the village. Lunch is at noon, and then back to work around 1:30. There is a kids program in the afternoon, with a worship service at 7:00 in the evening. And 9:30 is lights out.

The river people of the Amazon live a subsistence lifestyle – hunting, fishing, gathering, and growing almost all of their food. Only buying basics like sugar, salt, rice, beans, flour, and coffee. Almost everything they need, they make from natural materials found in the forest.

While making breakfast in a village called Vista Alegre, I noticed a young girl fishing close to the boat. We were docked about 100 yards from her house. She was fishing with just a single fishing wire and a homemade lure. I kept watching her to see if she would catch anything. She didn’t, even though she had been fishing for almost an hour.

After breakfast it was decided that I would stay on the boat for the morning to run the generator (it had been giving us some trouble). I finished up the dishes and cleaning tasks that we do daily to keep the boat clean. I noticed that the girl was still fishing, and was now joined by her younger brother. Still no fish. I noticed while doing dishes that several peacock bass had been swirling not far from the boat, so I decided to see if I could catch one. Normally, I don’t have time to fish, so my rod was broken down and stowed. I got it out and was putting it together on the bow of the boat. I overheard the girl and boy talking about me in Portuguese. First I heard, “What is that gringo doing? What is that thing?” The boy says, “I think maybe it’s a fishing rod.” The girl says, “Why does he need all that? I don’t think he knows what he’s doing!!”

I tied on a black and silver Rapala lure, and on the third cast, I caught a peacock bass weighing about four pounds. When I looked over they were standing on the bank with their mouths hanging open looking a bit jealous. I took the bass off my line, called them over and gave it to them. The girl immediately told her brother to go gather firewood and start a fire. She took the fish, gutted it and scaled it, and within minutes had it roasting on the fire. “I am always asking God to open doors, and on this day God sent me a peacock bass.”She called the rest of her family; there were six of them and they all had fish for breakfast. The father came over to the boat later and wanted to see my lure. I traded him the lure for a few bananas. We ended up talking for several hours and I had the opportunity to share the gospel with him. This happened in March, and I have been back to this village several times since then. They always invite me to their house for coffee.

I am always asking God to open doors, and on this day God sent me a peacock bass. Trust me, Thaíssa (the girl) is a much better fisher than I am. It was a God thing. Have they accepted Jesus as their savior? No, but the door is open. The ice is broken; the seeds are sown. The rest is up to God.

Please pray for Al’s continued interactions with this family. Pray that they would see the abundance offered by a life with God.