As we made our way along the jungle trail Carlos explained to me that the police were looking for him because he and his buddies were being blamed for a murder that took place just two days before in the next village over. Mya gripped my hand tighter as Carlos went on to tell us that he had been in jail before and he didn't want to go back. He was in a gang in SanJuan de Lurigancho Lima and had escaped to the small village of Tupac Amaru that myself and ten others "happened" to be visiting for a few days. As Carlos helped Mya across a stream I asked him straight out "Did you and your friends kill that guy in Curiyacu?" He slowly turned and just looked at me with fear and sadness and guilt written all over his face. His silence was telling. Others in the village had told me that his picture and information was on the board in the Chazuta police station as one of those on the most wanted list.
I met Carlos the day before when brother Eddy Solano and I were doing some hut to hut evangelism and we came across five gangster types who were hanging out in a hut near the river. We didn't know what to expect from these young "punks" but as we started to share about "righteousness, self control and the judgement to come" they showed a lot of interest. They were very respectful and had a lot of questions. It was an awesome time of explaining Christ's love and standing in the gap between lost sinners and a holy God. After about 45 minutes of thoughtful conversation Carlos said: "I'm not from here, you're not from here, its amazing that you guys came to this village and this hut to talk with us about the most important message in the universe. I really needed this. This must be some kind of a divine appointment."
That night I preached open air in the village square and among those that came to listen were Carlos and his gangsters! They listened intently as I pleaded with lost souls to repent, trust in Christ and be reconciled to God. The next morning Carlos watched as Whily and Niki Cacho led our institute students in the children's work, He listened as Mark Mattix preached to the adults and he observed as I answered theological questions from the brothers and sisters.... Later that afternoon, while walking on the trail, as Carlos helped Mya navigate the mud and slippery rocks, he commented to me: "I want what you guys have in Christ." We talked more. He had lots of questions. I prayed for him. I gave him a New Testament for which he was very thankful. This is what missions is all about! I felt like I could only take him so far. I didn't want to pick unripe fruit. What better place to leave him than in God's hands? Please pray for Carlos and that God would do his regenerating work in his soul.
Missions quote for the day by Alistair Begg: "Our sins must be absolutely horrendous if it takes the death of God's only Son to fix it"
Micah for the Tuttle's
Nine days ago Amy traveled to the States for a homeschool conference where she is participating as one of the speakers and coordinators. We are missing her greatly here in Tarapoto and we anxiously look forward to her return next week. Amy is really good at educating our kids and she loves participating in these conferences where there's a lot of mutual encouragement and learning going on with the moms. In Amy's absence I'm trying to be Mom and Dad to our 5 older kids (Ellia went with mommy). Last week the kids participated in a one day river trip, some evangelism in the main square and lots of work in the bible institute. This week they are all studying church history, creationism and apologetics. I have them on a strenuous weight lifting program accompanied by a very strict diet of jungle rat meat (high protein). Concrete work and ditch digging are on the list for tomorrow. Things seem to be going fairly well ..... the kids are praying more than normal. I think they want mom to come home ASAP!
Apart from IBEM selva we have a bible institute for assembly elders that live along the river. We started this a few years ago and it has been a real help to the churches from the lower Huallaga. We usually do the study in one of the villages where we have an intensive week of classes every two months. This is designed to better prepare the "campo" preachers who have families and cannot come to live with us for a whole school year. Last week we tried something new and brought eight of those "campo" preachers into Tarapoto to do their intensive week of classes here at IBEM selva. It was an action packed week as we combined students from the two groups for meals, ministry and parts of the study. I taught Church history for eight hours each day, read through the whole book of Acts out-loud with the students and tried to spend some individual time with each one of these men so as to encourage them in their ministries. Everyone on the team (the Mattix family, the Cacho family and Dahly) did a tremendous job of coordinating, helping and making the week a real success. Lots of study, lots of discipleship, lots of singing, lots of fun!
Jesse Mattix had extended family visiting and we had sister "Yoon Koh" from Houston Texas here for a few days so we decided it would be exciting to do a quick river trip. We piled about 25 people into our boat and cruised down the river to take the "campo preachers" back to their respective villages. It made for a quick and fun one day excursion where we got to see some spectacular landscape. As the boat motored through the canyon we took in the towering mountains which were covered in ample, vibrant-green vegetation and shrouded in the fogy morning mist. After dropping of the "campo preachers" and saying our goodbyes we cruised back up river and visited a thermal hot springs and then a powerful waterfall. We had a great time swimming, laughing and exploring Gods creation.
It has been exciting to go forward with the Bible institute ministry here in Tarapoto. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to build it but God has been providing and we've been constructing. This last month we were able to add another dorm room, two more bathrooms and two more showers. We are becoming more and more prepared for bigger groups and extra students in the future. We hope that this ministry will have a real and eternal impact, not only on those that are coming to study, but also on those who the students will in turn disciple and then on and on goes the multiplication process. In 2 Tim 2:2 Paul said to Timothy "And what you have learned from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." That is our goal!
Missions quote for the day by David Platt: "In a world where everything revolves around yourself.... protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself, Jesus says, "Crucify yourself."
Micah for the Tuttle's
Here is an exciting video that will give you a good idea of what the action was like in the villages along the Chipurana river where I took the IBEM students last week. We combined classroom time with practical ministry, travel and lots of sweat. I meant to include this video in yesterdays post but it took too long to upload. So here it is, a day late.
Please pray for the people that we reached with the love of Christ and for the students that are continuing on in their strenuous missionary training program.
Missions quote for the day by John Wesley said: "I value all things only by the price that they shall gain in eternity."
Micah for the Tuttle's
Last week I took our IBEM (Bible Institute of Missionary Training) students on their first river trip. Several of the students were quite nervous as to what might be in store for them but in the end everyone survived :) After a five hour journey down the Huallaga river we arrived at our first village where we were greeted with much excitement and a fine meal of armadillo soup. From there we went on to have a great children's meeting with lots of singing, coloring, a message and bible-verse memorization. While the students worked with the kids, brother Whily Cacho and I had a tremendous time going from hut to hut doing personal evangelism and inviting the people to the evening meeting. Alligator meat was on the menu for dinner and it was actually quite tasty..... Or maybe we were just really hungry :) At any rate, it was a good learning experience for the students. That night the evangelistic service went really well as nearly the whole village came out to hear the greatest story in the universe. After the meeting was over it was awesome to speak personally with many interested souls late into the night.
We visited 5 villages in 7 days and each day our schedule roughly went like this:
5 a.m (Bible-reading and prayer)
7-8 a.m (Breakfast)
8-12 (I taught Bibliology/Theology proper)
12-1 p.m (Lunch)
1-2 p.m (Packed up and said goodbyes to the brethren)
2-4 p.m (Boat-ride to the next village)
4-6 p.m (Children's meeting)
6-7 p.m (Dinner)
7-9 p.m (Evangelistic meeting for the whole village)
9-10 p.m (Jump in the river and get cleaned up)
10-11 (Bible reading and prayer)
11 p.m (Sleep)
Our class time each day was great! Of course we did not have even close to ideal studying conditions as there was no electricity, no internet, no air-conditioning, no nice bathrooms and no running water. We battled mosquitos, gnats, smoke, intense heat, sweat and rain..... this is jungle-missions! We want our students to learn all they can but we want them to do it in the hands-on context of ministry. Experience is a great maestro! Everyone was attentive and very interactive during our 4 hour class each day. They had team projects and tests and work-book material and research to focus on, so there wasn't a spare moment to lose. We dealt with a lot of huge doctrines like the inspiration and inerrancy of the scriptures, the preservation and interpretation of the Bible, the attributes and names of God, the Trinity and the cognosibility of God. These are the greatest subjects that man can study and we tried to take full advantage of our time! In every village some of the believers sat in on the classes which piqued the interest of many to enroll in IBEM Selva next year (or some time in the future). Please pray that God would continue to grow and prosper this work!
There is not enough time to tell about all the exciting details but if I were to give a quick run-down of the highlights of the week it would include a boat-motor breakdown, a muddy hike (at night) through the jungle forest, a double murder in one of the villages, hundreds of kids participating in the children events, hundreds of adults hearing the gospel preached, helping to work through church problems, showering in a thermal hot-spring, a pink river-dolphin sighting, and surviving a torrential rain/thunder storm while traveling in the boat. We were blessed the entire week with a scrumptious menu of yuca spit juice, chicha, wild boar meat, smoked jungle rat and turtle..... did I mention alligator and armadillo? It was an awesome time with the IBEM students along the river trying to make Christ's name great in this part of the world.
Quote of the day by C.H Spurgeon about John Bunyan: "If you cut him he'd bleed scripture"
Micah for the Tuttle's
After months (really years) of praying and planning, our Bible institute here in Tarapoto has officially begun! We really want to have an evangelistic/missional focus and for that reason I started things off last week with a course on personal evangelism. Every day was absolutely awesome as we studied what our message should be and how we should present it. I tried my best to stamp eternity on the eyeballs of each student and to burn into their hearts the importance of being Christ's ambassadors here on earth. For the rest of the school year (until October) we will be going out into the plaza, the streets, the parks, the villages and door to door to share the greatest message in the universe with lost souls that need Christ.
We have fourteen students. Five are external and nine are internal. The internal students are a diverse group. Five are young men that are living with us while four are women that are living next door with the Mattix family. Two students are from Colombia, two are from Lima, three are from Tarapoto, and two are from the villages. It's a small group but it's perfect for discipleship and enables us to work out the kinks and details that come with the first year of starting a ministry like this. We thank the Lord that everyone seems to be really bonding and doing very well at learning to live and work with one another.
It has been a major adjustment to have our house become the center of activity every day from 6:00 a.m until 11:00 p.m. but we are learning to adapt to the changes. Classes and meals and campfires and devotionals and singing and prayer and games and study and team evangelism and new friends have really made things extra exciting around here. The Mattix family and the Cacho family are tremendous co-workers and we are all forming a good team. Our kids love the action and camaraderie but they need to keep their focus on homeschool too! Please pray for our family!
To add to the pandemonium we still have some construction projects that are slowly but surely progressing. There has been, and still is a steady flow of workers in and out of the property all day long. Buzzing saws and pounding hammers can be heard most of the time. Our infrastructure is almost at a point where it can handle more students and be able to host teams at the same time. We have basically been living on a construction site for the last several years and it is great to see everything finally coming together. We are so thankful for God's provision and the people that He is using to make this ministry happen. Please thank the Lord with us!
Missions quote for the day by David Sills: "The highest and best use of your life is to do exactly what God calls you to do in the place where He leads you to do it."
Micah for the Tuttle's
"IBEM SELVA" classes start on March 6th! There is so much to do and so little time to do it. We have been going crazy with construction these last couple of months and we are desperately trying to finish building bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, showers and decks. Most days are pandemonium as workers invade the house and I try to keep them supplied with materials. With everything we need to get done our stress levels have gone up quite a bit. Please pray for us! We have less than 3 weeks till our Tarapoto Bible institute officially starts!
Aside from the physical construction going on here in Tarapoto there has also been much to do in the area of spiritual construction. In January I spent 10 days on the coast preaching and teaching in the city of Trujillo. At the annual Bible capacitation course I had a tremendous time teaching through Genesis and 1 Peter. We were blessed with a great group of hungry and attentive students who studied hard and made the most of their time. In the evenings and on the weekends I had many opportunities to preach the Word not only in houses and church buildings but also in the open air. Our desire is to make Christ's name great wherever we can!
After returning to the jungle the next events on the list were planned evangelistic campaigns with the Quechua churches in the area. Each day was filled with great conversations, interesting experiences and strange foods. In the evenings I preached my heart out as I pleaded with souls to be reconciled to God. It was an exciting time as, more or less, 700 people crowded into the main square to listen to the gospel each night. Please pray that God would use His word that was preached to bring about conversion and revival in His timing.
Missions quote for the day by John Bunyan: "We esteem things according to the price paid for them. The soul has been purchased by a price that the Son and wisdom of God thought appropriate to pay for its redemption. What a thing, then, must be a soul!"
Micah for the Tuttles
Thursday December 17
Twenty-five believers and I piled into the boat and we sped down the turbulent waters of the Huallaga river toward the village of Yarina. When we arrived at about nightfall we were greeted by the excited shouts of brothers and sisters that lined the shore. After lots of back-slapping and hugs and kisses we made our way to the humble homes of the Yarina brethren that would give us a place to "set up camp" for the next few nights. Precious Christians had arrived from the surrounding villages to worship the Lord, study, evangelize and encourage one another. After the evening meeting one could hear singing, prayer and out-loud bible reading late into the night from many different houses around Yarina.
Friday December 18
The highlight for me on this day was that I was awakened at 4:30 a.m to the open-air, loudspeaker preaching of a young man that I was able to bring to the Lord several years ago. I struggled between being annoyed at this unexpected alarm clock and at the same time being overjoyed at hearing the gospel preached by this fervent disciple that has matured greatly in the Lord. About three years ago I saw that this brother (Jin Hedo) was really growing and that he was serious about preaching the gospel, but was having a hard time supporting his family, so I bought him some shoe making tools and a machine to help him in his trade as a shoe cobbler. Now he is a self supporting preacher doing very well in the shoe manufacturing business and more importantly he has been very faithful to the Lord and to his family while courageously preaching the gospel all over the region. Please pray for this brother who was a tremendous help and encouragement at the convention. Praise the Lord for His transforming power!
Saturday December 19
The basic schedule for each day went like this:
6:30 Morning devotional with all 350 brethren.
7:30 Breakfast (fish and boiled plantains)
8:30 Teaching session #1 "The priesthood of every believer"
10:30 Teaching session #2 "What the bible teaches about music"
12:30 Lunch (smoked jungle rat and rice)
1:30 Play soccer
2:30 Jump in the river
3:30 Teaching session #3 "The priesthood of every believer"
5:00 Teaching session #4 "What the Bible teaches about music"
6:30 Dinner (Chicken and fermented corn juice)
7:30 Open air gospel meeting
10:30 Meeting with the assembly leaders to coordinate this coming years plans and to deal with a few church problems.
12:30 Bed time!
Sunday December 20
After the morning devotional we had a precious time celebrating the Lord's supper with all the brethren. There's nothing better than coming together with Gods people to remember the Lord in His death burial and resurrection! From there we went out into the street where I preached in the rain for about an hour before going down to the river to baptize 6 new believers. As the convention came to an end there were lots of handshakes and good-byes and kind words of encouragement. Some headed off on foot, others went their way rowing their canoes and still others left maneuvering their peke peke motors up river. All were full of joy and rejoicing in the Lord. We thank the Lord for such a time of great blessing with the river churches in this area of the jungles of Peru!
Missions quote for the day by Martin Luther: "I'll preach Christ as if He had been crucified yesterday, risen today and coming again tomorrow."
Micah for the Tuttle's
The apostle Paul said: "Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!"
Last Sunday Amy and I celebrated 19 years of marriage! I am so grateful for such a wonderful wife and the life that God has given us together. Amy can now say that she has been married longer than she was single. Its amazing how time flies! We could never have imagined that God would bless us with 6 great kids and put us in the jungles of Peru with such an exciting ministry. We thank the Lord for His many blessings!
Trip to the coast
November was a very busy month for the Tuttle-tribe! We traveled as a family through the jungle, up over the Andes mountains, down the coast and back again which ended up being about a 5,000 km journey. Along the way we were able to see spectacular landscapes, visit lots of good friends, share the gospel with many souls and preach in several churches. I had been invited to speak in a total of 12 meetings in Trujillo and in Lima which was extremely exciting and exhausting at the same time. We thank God for His traveling mercies and for opening so many doors to preach His word!
Trip to Bogota Colombia
After arriving back in Tarapoto, Amy and I left the kids at home and flew off to Bogota Colombia where we spent an amazing ten days with missionary friends, Brian and Sharon Killins. We had a great time meeting many wonderful brothers and sisters from many different assemblies. Our time in Colombia started with a leaders retreat where I was invited to motivate evangelism, teach evangelism and do evangelism. After the retreat our trip was pure action going from one place to another, preaching in meetings, visiting new friends and trying to encourage the saints. In the end Amy and I were the ones that were most encouraged as we met so many wonderful people.
Even though we have been busy with ministry this last month we have still been able to continue with our construction project for the Bible institute. While we were away our construction "maestro" kept at it and has accomplished a lot on the floors, ceilings and bathrooms. The few days that I have been around I've been able to do some wiring and fixture installations which has been fun and brought back old memories. We still have a whole lot to do and are determined to get as much done as possible in December. Thank you to everyone that has helped financially with this project. Just three short months left until we start classes! Please pray that we get everything ready by March 6th!
Missions quote for the day by Hudson Taylor: "Oh that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest, heaven so real that we must have men there, Christ so real that our supreme motive and aim shall be to make the Man of Sorrows the Man of Joy by the conversion to him of many"
Micah for the Tuttles