The month of September began with a river trip on which I took the IBEM students who combined their studies with ministry as we went from village to village preaching and teaching. Each morning we set up a makeshift classroom with whatever benches or chairs we could find and we studied through the book of Revelation. It was a 30 hour class and we had to work pretty hard to get through all the material. It may sound like a tough course and less than ideal teaching conditions but.... it was awesome! I had a great time teaching and our students were eager learners! We spent a lot of time in the classroom.... but it didn't end there.... We visited 5 villages in 5 days and in each place the students had opportunities to preach in the churches, to do personal evangelism and to work with children. We had a lot on our plate. I would call it: "organized pandemonium!" By the end of the week everyone was quite exhausted but at the same time we were happy to have been spent in the Lords work.
After their course on Revelation the students had one more week of studies and then last Saturday we wrapped up our first school year of "IBEM Selva". Eight students made it all the way through and graduated from our seven month intensive discipleship training program. These brothers and sisters lived with us, ate with us, studied with us, prayed with us, went on missions trips with us, did ministry with us and, in general, had lots of fun with us. As we went through the graduation ceremony and then sent them off with their suitcases it felt like a part of our family was leaving us. Frankly it hurt. It was sad. It was difficult. Amy and I and our kids all developed deep relationships with the students and it was hard to say "good-bye". Some of them we may never see again this side of heaven. We pray that the Lord will use and bless each one of them according to their gifts and abilities and in their future ministries!
Amy put together the following video that runs through the highlights of the past 7 months. If you take the time to watch it you will get a good feel of what IBEM Selva life was like for the the students.
We want to thank everyone that prayed for this ministry and gave to make it happen. Whily and Niki Cacho and Jesse and Janel Mattix worked diligently with Amy and I on so many details throughout the school year. We are thankful for what the Lord has done! Please pray for those that were impacted and for the disciples that were formed.
Missionary quote for the day by Samuel Zwemer: "The great Pioneer Missionaries all had 'inverted homesickness' this passion to call that country their home which was most in need of the Gospel. In this passion all other passions died; before this vision all other visions faded; this call drowned all other voices. They were the pioneers of the Kingdom, the forelopers of God, eager to cross the border-marches and discover new lands or win new-empires"
Micah for the Tuttle's
Last week the Lord blessed me with a really unique opportunity to preach for a few days among the Shauwi people who live along the shores of the Paranapura and Yanayacu rivers. We drove for 3 hours in our Isuzu Trooper, then we jumped into a boat and motored up river for about an hour more. After walking the last half-hour stretch we finally arrived at the village of "San Roque". Upon arrival I was informed that they had scheduled me to teach four, two hour sessions each day and the topics were: #1 courtship and #2 the government of the antichrist. Wow! Im not sure if they thought those two subjects were related or not but.... I tried my best on each one :) In the end, forty hours of preaching in extreme heat really took it out of me!
Each afternoon there were a few spare moments to play soccer and/or volleyball, explore the jungle and cool off in the creek. Believers and unbelievers alike, came from 5 different villages to hear the word, so I tried to get to know as many people as possible especially the leaders of the churches represented. I gave out hymnals to almost everyone and study bibles to the men that seemed the most serious about learning and preaching. There was plenty of yucca spit juice to drink and chicken to eat so we didn't starve to death (although I did lose a few pounds). On the last day of the event everyone went down to the creek where I preached and baptized 22 new believers! It was a tremendous time of ministry and opportunity to help these precious brothers and sisters in Christ. Please pray for the Shauwi!
Missions quote for the day: "As for you, always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Tim 4:5).
Micah for the Tuttle's
We have just completed an exciting ten day visit to Lima. Amy and I and all the kids enjoyed some family time and got a lot of paper-work done on our expired passports and resident cards. We were able to visit with many great friends and see precious brothers and sisters from several assemblies. I preached five times, Amy did a women's meeting and we worked together at a marriage conference. Nearly everyday we got out as a family and walked 7 or 8 miles, discovering as we went, some of the vastness of this "concrete jungle". It was MUCH colder and grayer and congested than Tarapoto but exciting nonetheless. We even got to enjoy some of our favorite American restaurants like Starbucks and Papa John's. We are thankful for opportunities like this to visit "civilization" together as a family! Please pray for Amy and I and our kids!
Before the Lima trip I had a tremendous opportunity to raft solo down the Huallaga river. I was scheduled to preach and teach for a few days in one of the villages but no one was able to accompany me so I decided to take my 50 lb box of Bibles and tracts and row my way down river in my inflatable Kayak. The trip took me about eight hours and I was able to stop in at several of my villages along the way to give out tracts and greet the brethren. The villagers were quite amazed that I was doing this trip in such a vulnerable "balsa" but were mostly concerned that either mermaids or "Yacumama" (a giant anaconda) might get me :) .... There were a few spots with dangerous rapids and treacherous rocks but I was able to survive and successfully arrive at the village of Achinamisa without too much difficulty. I arrived at dusk to the excited and joyful shouts of many brethren on the bank who promptly helped me pack up my things and escort me to the main square where a crowd was waiting for me to preach in the open air. The next two days were filled with lots of preaching, yucca spit juice and sweet fellowship with the believers.
In the midst of all the events of this last month I was also able make a quick visit to one of the Shauwi villages near the town of Yurimaguas. The Shauwi are a native group with a different language, different customs and a completely different culture from the the other villages that I regularly visit. Some of these natives still paint there faces, fish with harpoons and hunt with blow-guns. There is a good work of God going on in some of their villages and in "Nueva Cajamarca" brother Pablo Cenepo is helping to construct a new building for their church so I decided to pack in a bunch of metal corrugated roofing for the project. Brother Jin Hedo and I were able to haul the roofing in our Isuzu Trooper up to within 4 kilometers of the village and from there we packed it in on our shoulders the rest of the way. As we drew near to the village we were greeted by the indiscernible screams of a completely naked native with face paint. We exchanged indiscernible conversation (friendly.... I think?) as we passed by and then continued on to the village where we were received by the brethren who could speak Spanish rather well. We had a great time in prayer and singing and scripture reading with these native brothers and sisters who were a huge encouragement to us. Please pray for the Lord's work in this area!
Tomorrow Javen and Cullen and I will be taking the institute students on a 20 hour drive up into the mountains where Whily Cacho will be teaching our world-view module. After the course is completed we will all be participating in a national youth conference. It should be an exciting time for our students who have never traveled to this area before. We will meet a lot of brothers and sisters that will be coming from all over the country and it will be a tremendous opportunity to impact a lot of youth who will be the future leaders of the work here in Peru. Please pray for me as I will be preaching several times and trying to lead the institute students through their different ministry activities.
Missions quote for the day by John Wesley: "You have one business on earth - Save Souls!"
Micah for the Tuttle's
On Monday we wrapped up four of the most important days of the year for "my" river churches! The much-anticipated bi-annual conference of the Huallaga valley assemblies was a great success! Brothers and sisters from all of the surrounding villages converged upon the bustling town of "Huimbayoc" where we celebrated our scheduled "spiritual fiesta". There was plenty of yucca spit juice, lots of boiled bananas, and loads of strange looking fish on the banquet table for each meal. I preached every morning and every evening while brother Niel and brother Jairo took the mid-day and afternoon messages. Our IBEM students worked with the village children for five hours each day and were an incredible help in many of the small details that come with an event like this. We are thanking the Lord for this tremendous time of encouragement that we experienced with these humble but precious brothers and sisters in Christ.
A few weeks ago we completed our first semester of classes at IBEM selva and before starting the second semester we organized the students into teams of three and sent them out into the villages. Their job was to make Christ's name great in their assigned pueblo by sharing the gospel with everything that moves. They organized and taught VBS kids clubs, preached in the churches, did personal evangelism, made pastoral visits, did manual labor and, in general, served the saints in every way they could. The results were incredible! The brethren in the villages were GREATLY edified and the students were able to put into practice everything they had been learning for the past four months. When we all came together at the convention it reminded me of "operation Luke 10" where Jesus sent out the 72 disciples to preach and when they came back they were overwhelmed with victorious excitement saying that "even the demons submit to us in your name" (v.17). Our students didn't do any exorcisms .... that I know of... :) but there was certainly a feel of that joy of having been victorious in Jesus name. We are still hearing exciting stories from each of the students about how God used them and stretched them in amazing ways!
In the midst of all the river trip action and bible school pandemonium we were able to baptize 6 new believers in our assembly here in Tarapoto. For Amy and I the most exciting part of this event was that Josiah was among those who participated in this public confession of faith in Christ! It was an exciting day for all of us at "La Iglesia Evangelica Emaus" as the whole assembly traveled to a nearby creek where we gathered together in a thatch-roofed hut. We sang and prayed and after hearing a great message from Jesse Mattix we went down to the water where I baptized each one of the new believers before many witnesses. We went on to have a great afternoon with lots of swimming, fun and food for everyone. Please pray for these new believers and for our assembly here in town.
Missions quote for the day by Jim Elliot: "It makes me boil when I think of the power we profess and the utter impotency of our action. Believers who know one tenth as much as we do are doing one-hundred times more for God, with His blessing and our criticism. Oh if I could write it, preach it, say it, paint it, anything at all, if only God's power would become known among us"
Micah for the Tuttle's
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