Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Imagine a population of 4 million people of which 2 million are scattered among jungles and forests in a territory of 1.6 million km2 of total area. If we zoom in, we will find more than 25 thousand river villages, formed by countless families that have among themselves thousands of children. Children who are loved and cared for by their own, but who unfortunately still lack access to good education, health and opportunities of holistic development.
Due to cultural aspects, in general, many of these children end up being introduced to alcohol, drugs and sexuality precociously. Therefore, more often than it should, at the age of 12 many of these children are directly exposed to these realities. Children outreach movements already attested that between the ages of four and fourteen, most children, demographically speaking, develop their moral and spiritual structures. In the river context, this margin may be even smaller. In order to break this infinite cycle, the River church is dedicated to the development, protection and holistic nutrition of these children! And how could we not get involved in these efforts?
As a response to that need, Justice and Mercy Amazon, in partnership with PEPE Amazonas, Geração Elo and Nova Geração, had the privilege of carrying out our 1st Jungle Children’s Ministry Leaders Conference in the Amazon. The Conference was planned to provide inspiration, encouragement, care, and empowerment for leaders who are invested in children.
To pull this off, we had volunteers from our capital – Manaus, as well as from other states of Brazil – the Federal District, Goiás and São Paulo. 4 days, 23 volunteers, 35 jungle children’s leaders, 14 river villages and 17 river Churches represented from different denominations. One Kingdom. One God. One mission… to continue letting the little ones go to Him.
During these four days we were able to love, encourage and inspire these leaders who came from all over the State. We had participants who traveled up to 5 days by boat to get to our training Center, which shows the sacrificial quest for learning. We learnt important lessons from them, their realities, their joys and their greatest challenges. But we also had the opportunity to talk to them about the importance of children, the relevance of discipling children, providing them the tools available for teaching, and especially feeding them on what our Creator has left for us about these little ones.
As we left the Conference, they were encouraged and determined to serve this new generation. Leaders who understand that with Christ, they have the power to seed a new future for a new generation. Our JMA team leaves this 1st Jungle Children’s Conference with paper and pen in hand, drawing even better plans for this gathering in 2019. We are immeasurably grateful to God for the privilege of serving this church which is so isolated but powerful for its perseverance and courage. Our gratitude also to all of our partners who choose to look to the jungle church with love, generosity and dedication. We move forward together for a new river and a new generation!