Christ in the Amazon

May 16, 2013

by Laurent Trabadello, regional director of Latin America and Africa for Samaritan’s Purse Canada

Samaritan’s Purse medical care, water, and innovative farming initiatives transform a community in Bolivia

By Laurent Trabadello, regional director of Latin America and Africa

The rain was falling hard as our small motor boat meanders through the murky waters of the Mamore River, a tributary of the mighty Amazon. Located on a wide Bolivian flood plain, the region is watered by large rivers and often devastated by seasonal rains.

Samaritan’s Purse first responded to floods in the area in 2007, and since then, a regional office has been set-up. Isolated river communities now have Bio Sand water filters to provide safe, clean water, and the people are being given medical attention by personnel from the Ruth Bell River Boat, a medically-equipped vessel run by Samaritan’s Purse.

Pink dolphins escort our boat as we pull up to the floating clinic. Anchoring beside the Ruth Bell, we follow our Bolivian staff up the carved and slippery steps to the thatched-roof village of San Antonio de Loras.

We are implementing new programs in this small community on the banks of the Mamore River, and we are excited to meet a group of newly-baptized believers—the first fruits of the three years of ministry in this community.  Water filters, medical attention and more recently, a special agricultural project have all been unique opportunities for our Bolivian staff to show God’s love to the people in practical ways.

As I ask about the “Camellones” project, an enthusiastic group of locals show me the pilot agricultural project. This sustainable farming initiative is based on ancient farming techniques that were developed in response to the constant flooding in this region. By elevating embankments to protect their crops from rising waters, ancient people were able to produce food. 

Samaritan’s Purse researched the concept and adapted it to the situation faced by this village. We’ve built three embankments surrounded by a special kind of canal, which collects water during the rainy season to provide a water source for the crops year-round.

On the three embankments, fruits and vegetables are growing—of those I recognize, I see onions, peppers, watermelon, and corn. The people living in San Antonio de Loras now have food and livelihoods. In the future, we will add fish to the canal, which will provide local farmers with additional income.

One man tells me how excited he is about the project. Through the witness of our Bolivian staff, his entire family came to faith in Christ, and his wife is now a volunteer in our nutritional education program. His nine-year-old son has also benefited, and now the boy is blessing others with his amazing gift: memorization. So far, David has memorized entire chapters out of the gospels, and has learned the entire book of Revelation by heart. He loves to quote God’s Word for others to hear.

The life of this family has been radically changed, physically and spiritually. They are a wonderful example of the holistic work that Samaritan’s Purse is doing in Jesus’ name.

Whether it’s through our community health outreach, the medical boat, water filters or evangelistic efforts, our regional team works hard to proclaim and live out the hope-filled message of the gospel. Through this work, God is transforming lives in Bolivia today and for eternity. 

 

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