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Impacting The Wayúu Nation

Manna Church West Florida and Frontline Missions continue to partner in equipping and empowering Pastor Arnulfo as he reaches across two borders in South America. Pastor Arnulfo and his wife, Maria, who passed away in 2020, have twelve children, five of whom currently co-labor with him in ministry. This dynamic Colombian pastor and his team have been extraordinarily effective over the past 4 years in discipling students using his five-month course.

Pastor Arnulfo

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In This Issue:
Impacting The Wayúu Nation
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Praying as we go into the Wayúu villages

Sharilyn Margulis, Mission Pastor at Manna Church

The extent of Pastor Arnulfo’s honor among his disciples is rivaled only by the broad impact of his ministry—sending out 280 graduates at last count—affecting his own church, eleven Wayúu Colombian villages, and now reaches into neighboring Venezuela. Three Wayúu pastors (trained originally by Pastor Arnulfo in Venezuela) recently traveled to share with Heidi their testimony of 137 additional trained students.

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Heidi and group of graduates

In September, we were honored to distribute 100 family food bags and participate in the graduation of seven new graduates in the Maicao village (Colombia). Pastor Arnulfo and his daughter, Griselly, traveled three hours every Sunday for five months to teach for four hours. During the course, seven Wayúu students were challenged by their beloved teacher to study many scriptures each week and answer numerous apologetic questions to fortify their faith in Christ. The entire Maicao community came together to hear the great Bible truths these students had gleaned, honor the graduates’ commitment, and celebrate with a delicious goat and cassava feast. As the graduates’ royal-blue gowns, caps, and white stoles captured attention against the brown, dry background of the land, we couldn’t help but draw the parallels of the stark contrast of God’s light that wins hearts in dark places.

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Paulo & Betânia Nunez, CONPLEI

Partnering With CONPLEI

Four years ago Frontline Missions was asked to participate in the Jesus Film Project training Indigenous leaders to take the Gospel to the far reaches of Brazil. Through that project, Natacha and Alexander Gonzalez, our directors in Brazil, were introduced to Paulo Nunez and Henrique Terena, Vice President and President of CONPLEI.

The relationship deepened as we discovered CONPLEI shares the same unique vision that Alan and I have to empower Indigenous Christian leaders—a vision that does not seem to be shared with many organizations.

This year CONPLEI invited all their partners to their 32-year celebration in Brazil. The Indigenous regalia, crafts, and music touched our hearts, taking us back to our celebrations years ago at our own Indigenous training center. At the time that God led Frontline Missions to walk away from our Brazilian training center, I assured the Indigenous that God would take us to a “Promised Land” similar to the Israelites leaving Egypt. I told them, “I don’t know where it is, what it looks like, or how we are going to get there…but I KNOW that God will be faithful and take us there!”

Starting with sending them as missionaries with the Jesus Film backpacks to remote villages that Americans could not reach, continuing with starting businesses to help them become more independent, and now leading us to partner with CONPLEI will open up a world Frontline Missions could not offer them alone…the future in this new “Promised Land” is appearing richer and richer by the year.

This partnership is not a "handing off" of our Indigenous ministry, but instead, expanding the “family,” where we discover like-minded believers who are willing to share and empower. I believe it exemplifies the New Testament church:

“...the believers were of one heart and soul and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” - Acts 4:32

The value of having more local people share in the work of the ministry is immeasurable. May we all run the race to which God has called each of us with great determination and full vigor to the end!

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With CONPLEI We Can:
  • Bring a camaraderie that will deeply honor the Brazilian Indigenous people's diverse cultural background

  • Make available the numerous educational opportunities, and programs CONPLEI has built over the years

  • Help organize and raise up more Christian leaders to lead the charge and challenge their people

Leaving The 99 To Rescue The One

As we talked to the crowd of Wayúu women sitting in a circle outside on wooden benches and plastic chairs, I noticed one woman who was especially unresponsive to what we were talking about. Afterward, I approached her and asked if she was sad. She nodded her head and began to tear up. I then asked if she was having family problems and she burst into tears! I instantly scooped her up in a big embrace. There had been a death. A flood of tears fell from her eyes and she would not release her grasp on me for a very long time. It was precious. Although I had no idea what Yirbona was facing, the Lord did, and He had opened a huge door to her heart.

Heidi, Yirbona, and son

Heidi, Yirbona, and son

As we talked to the crowd of Wayúu women sitting in a circle outside on wooden benches and plastic chairs, I noticed one woman who was especially unresponsive to what we were talking about. Afterward, I approached her and asked if she was sad. She nodded her head and began to tear up. I then asked if she was having family problems and she burst into tears! I instantly scooped her up in a big embrace. There had been a death. A flood of tears fell from her eyes and she would not release her grasp on me for a very long time. It was precious. Although I had no idea what Yirbona was facing, the Lord did, and He had opened a huge door to her heart.

 

I proceeded with caution as Wayúu people don’t normally open their emotions to others. I asked Harvey Garcia to join me in ministering to her, as he too has lost a spouse but is also fluent in Spanish. We began sharing about how God has been the Rock of our emotions as we walked through our own experiences of grief. We shared with her how we endured such painful heartache and yet were now able to be active in our individual lives, walking in peace with God although still missing our spouses. This opened our new friend into sharing her story.

Her husband had been working at a gas station and as far as she knew he was a good man, she said. Strangely though, he had always wanted her to remain within the Wayúu village, which was quite isolated from the nearest Colombian town.

So Yirbona and her son stayed in the village with the mother-in-law all the time. We learned that Yirbona was not Wayúu as we first thought, but Venezuelan, and she and her seven-year-old son, Luis, were accepted by the tribe and lived in harmony there with her Wayúu husband. 

One day the husband went to work as normal and surprisingly never came home. For reasons unknown to the woman, four gunmen were searching for her husband and when they found him at the gas station they fired four deadly gunshots into his head. The shock of his death weighed heavily upon her. It had only been a month since this happened and God had sent us to her. To top it all off her own mother had died just two months before.

While telling the details of this terrible ordeal, her emotions became so heavy again that I reached toward her and this time the embrace was even longer. Holding her tightly, I began comforting her with my faltering Spanish, “As a mother in the Body of Christ, God has sent me here to hold you and comfort you. If for no other reason than to talk to you, we have traveled all the way from the USA to help you through this.” Through sharing scriptures, prayers, and more encouraging personal stories, the burden was evidently being lifted from her heavy heart. The change was amazing. We knew the Holy Spirit had come to raise up another one by His strength and grace. Gratefully her sweet son, Luis, also saw the remarkable change in his mama’s countenance and bestowed me with his own cherished bracelet that he had been wearing. Oh, how blessed it is to give! I will never forget that tender time with Yirbona!

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