South America (MNN) — On May 11, the Southern Baptist
Convention held a Day of Prayer and Fasting for World Evangelization, focusing
on the unreached peoples of the Amazon
Basin. Pastors encouraged their congregations to set
aside a meal or a whole day to fast and pray.
About 26 million people in 400 people groups live in an
almost inaccessible area the size of the United States. Much of the area can only be reached by
helicopter or boat. Some of the people
groups would be completely unknown if they hadn’t been spotted by
In 270 people groups, less than two percent of the
population is evangelical, and about 85 people groups are completely isolated
from the outside world.
The government actually prohibits outside access to
indigenous groups, sometimes guarding protected areas with warning signs and
“They don’t want them to hear the
Gospel,” reports an International Mission Board missionary. “The
government a lot of times sees indigenous peoples as museum pieces – something
they can show. They are actively against indigenous peoples being educated…having choices.”
Guerilla warfare and tribal beliefs
also obstruct missions in the Amazon
Christians of the Kogi people group
face threats and persecution from their people. Out of 11,000 Kogi, missionaries figure there are probably only about
100 believers. The Kogi believe they
have to pay the spirits for everything they do.
“[They] have lived in fear, paying
the spirits and not seeing any results. And when we tell them Jesus has paid all
for us, they really like that,” explains a Kogi believer.
In 1956, five missionaries died
while trying to reach the Huaorani people, as portrayed in the movie "The End of
“When [those five missionaries]
died, it really raised up a host of prayer warriors [who] began to pray for the
Huaorani,” says Russ Bare, an IMB missionary who leads work among indigenous
people in Ecuador.
“Today we have many Huaorani
believers. There is power when God’s people pray.”
Today, the power of prayer is the only hope for the people
of the Amazon Basin cut off from the outside