Brazil (MNN) — In the Brazilian jungles, near French Guiana’s border and at the confluence of several rivers, is an indigenous tribe that had a significant ‘first’ last month — they heard the Gospel over the radio.
Nomadic and Godless
The tribe is considered small with a population ranging from 1,500-2,000 people. They’re described as nomadic, moving from village to village and constantly on the go because of their farming and gathering methods, including the slash-and-burn farming style.
The tribe’s constant movement makes it difficult to keep in contact, especially for missionaries. To God’s glory, though, the connection between Trans World Radio and the Waiãpi people’s needs were made through Silas de Lima from TWR’s national partner, RTM Brazil.
“Silas de Lima has been working for decades. He’s called as a missionary to the indigenous people of Brazil. He made contact with the Waiapi and began to introduce the Gospel message to them, and they’re very receptive,” TWR’s Steve Shantz explains.
Many people have voiced concerns over TWR attempting to share the Gospel with the Waiãpi people by claiming the ministry is trying to change the indigenous people’s culture and lives, and by doing so, spoiling their beautiful life. However, TWR isn’t trying to do that at all. Instead, the ministry is trying to share the message of hope and freedom.
“The Waiapi people have told pastor Silas de Lima that they’re tired of being in bondage to evil spirits, so the Gospel message is really something that enables them to live their lives freely,” Shantz shares.
Radio: Overcoming Barriers
Despite the Waiãpi people having a written language, the literacy rate is very low, making them an oral culture. On top of this, Christian workers and Christian literature are actually prohibited from coming into the area where these indigenous people live by anthropologists.
Yet, it’s a lot harder to ban radio waves. Thanks to a transmitter on Bonaire, TWR can send a pretty strong signal into the Waiãpi’s area.
Furthermore, Pastor Silas de Lima speaks the Waiãpi language, knows the Waiãpi people’s speaking style, and can communicate the Gospel message, Bible stories, and Biblical teaching in a way that is well received by the Waiãpi people.
“So on January 8th, we went on the air…with a program in their language. And this is pretty significant because if you turn on a radio in northern Brazil, you’re probably going to hear Spanish or Portuguese on the air,” Shantz explains.
“You’re not going to hear Waiãpi. So these people, when they turn on their radio, they’re hearing something in their language and it’s the only thing on the air in their language.”
TWR is also trying to introduce solar-powered radios to the Waiãpi people. This way, the people can carry these radios with them wherever they go. Though TWR is still too early in the radio broadcasting process to see a direct response from the Waiãpi people, Shantz has said the Waiãpi people were excited to receive radios and to know there would be a radio program on in their own language.
As the Waiãpi people hear the Gospel message and experience freedom from the bondage of evil spirits, will you pray? Shantz asks, “Pray wholeheartedly to God for the program to be well introduced into the region; that the program production would be relevant and would be something that really speaks to their hearts, and that the message would be received into the hearts of people as they turn on their radios.”
To donate to TWR for solar radios, click here!