Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Quechuan Christmas

Our church in Cusco went to a Quechuan village called Ocra on Saturday.  It is over two hours from Cusco and most of it is on dirt roads.  Our purpose of having a Christmas celebrations with the people of Ocra was to preach the gospel and see if God would give someone in the village a desire to seek God. 
We all met in one of the adobe houses so that we could do introductions and explain our purpose and expectations.  They gave us tea and should us around the house and the green house.  We then played some of their traditional games which they taught us to play.  Almost the entire village was involved.
After these traditional games, we played a highly competitive game of soccer.  I must say that the Quechuan women play to win.  They will not even hesitate to run you down and give you a forearm to the body.  All of our kids and their kids got along great and had a fun time playing.  Tim's little boy, Elijah was a magnet for all the little Quechan girls.  They took care of him the whole day. 
After the soccer game, which my team lost because a eight year old boy got a goal past our goalie Maria, we all gathered around and Wehrner preached a short, but excellent gospel message about Christmas.  It started to rain so everyone began to scatter.  We went to the cook house and served everyone the hot chocolate and panetón  that we brought.  Everyone stood in line and patiently waited for their turn.  At the end people were bringing pots and big jugs to get more than their share of chocolate. 
When everyone had ate we finally brought out the box of toys and candy for the kids.  We had the kids from our church pass out the presents to the kids in the village.  They were all very grateful for what they got even though it was not very valuable.  They cooked us a big pot of soup to show their appreciation. 
I must say this was one of my best Christmas experiences.  There is commercialization of Christmas in Peru but mostly in the bigger cites and nothing compared to the States.  It is much lower key in Cusco and in the Quechuan village of Ocra, it was about as simple as it can be.  Everyone of the adults and kids in our church absolutely loved the time we spent at the village and they look forward to returning.
At the end of the day one family showed a great interest in the gospel and Wehrner had a long talk with the father.  We will now begin praying on what to do next.  It is difficult and expensive to go to Ocra on a frequent basis at this point in time but we may have an open door to start a bible study with this family in a town called Izcuchaca, which is in between Cusco and Ocra. 

We found out that we were really the only true Christians that have ever preached in the village so we praise God for the opportunity to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest we build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him will see,and those who have never heard will understand." Romans 15:20-21.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Death, Animism, and Witchcraft in the Peruvian Jungle

Us:  How many people are married?
Wilder (Jefe of village):  None (with embarrassed look)

Us:  How many people have more than one wife?
Wilder:  7 out of the 8 families in the village.

Us:  Are you still living with both wives?
Wilder:  No

Us:  Why?
Wilder:  They were witches.

Us:  What evidence is there that they are witches?
Wilder:  They tried to kill their babies.

Us:  How?
Wilder:  The babies got sick and that is the evidence that the wives were witches.

Us:  Where did they learn witchcraft?
Them:  From other villages.

Us:  Where are the seven wives now?
Wilder:  Dead

Us:  Why?
Wilder:  They were cast out of the village and then they died?

Us:  How did they die?
Wilder:  Suicide

This was the disturbing conversation we had with Wilder, the jefe of the village of Nazaret.  It was disappointing to find that they are still so steeped in animism and witchcraft.  We realized they had almost no understanding of the gospel.  They believe that if a baby gets sick (which is quite easy in the jungle) then it is the result of witchcraft.  The wife is instantly accused and killed.  They say they commit suicide but the conversation showed that there was a mystery behind what he was saying that he did not want me to know.
Animism and witchcraft is a major part of the jungle.  There is a brujo (male witch) in almost every village.  Why found out from talking to brothers in Mayapo that the witches cause them great problems but they said God is more powerful.  Another disturbing belief that the jungle people seem to hold very serious is the belief of Chullachaqui.

Chullachaqui is a devil of the Peruvian Amazon.  Basically they believe that Chullachaqui appears disguised as prey to hunters and tricks them deep in the jungle where they get lost forever. Some believe that the Chullachaqui takes the physical form of a family member or a loved one long not seen, and persuades his victim to follow him to unknown places in the jungle where they are led into traps or left at the edge of cliffs with no way out. Others say that he appears in the shape of a very short man dressed in rags waving his closed fists in the air looking for a fight. In this case, natives believe a man must accept his challenge and beat him until he uncovers all the richness he has hidden in the jungle. He who declines this challenge is cursed with the inability to hunt and foul luck: family and friends turn into enemies, wife leaves with another man, etc.

In some recent incarnations, the Chullachaqui is described as a bipedal creature, similar in appearance to an imp. In these cases, the creature is said to be aggressive and extremely lethal, and has, according to some tribes, killed a number of humans.  Chullachaqui is said to have an ability to turn into any animal of the rainforest. Chullachaqui is a kind of a forest spirit who guards the lands and the animals and punishes a man if he breaks a taboo or otherwise acts unwisely in the forest.

We heard about Chullachaqui when we were at Chembo and we were laughing about it as we walked to Nazaret.  When we got to Nazaret, the name of Chullachqui came up and Wilder said that he has seen him.  He says that he is the lord of all the birds in the jungle.  Wilder holds to this believe and has fear of him and pays him homage as the lord of animals.  We taught on God as the owner and creator of all things and the great Sovereign over all.  We taught them that anytime they fear and give homage to anything else besides God that it was idolatry.  I don't know how they took the teachings or how much sunk in. 

Please pray for the destruction of the immense spiritual strongholds that keep these very remote people under slavery.  Only the gospel can break these strongholds.  The gospel is their greatest need.  Once again we arrive to the great needs and few laborers.  We need missionaries to go to these remote and dangerous place to reach and teach the Ashaninca people on a frequent basis.  Please pray, come, or hold the rope!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jungle Trip December 2013 video

Here is a video of our trip.  We found out some very shocking things that were happening in the villages.  I will write a blog soon to explain what we found.