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Spring of Hope

by Chad Trafton

Nestled in the Peruvian jungle, Zungaro Cocha is one of hundreds of villages you may not find on a map but populate much of the Amazon River coastline.

Although it’s Autumn, it feels a lot like Summer, with temps in the 90s bolstered by high humidity from frequent showers. Makeshift wood and cement houses with simple metal roofs line the muddy roads of this community.

Zungaro Cocha literally means “big fish, small lake,” named for its once-booming fishing industry. But it’s been years since the lake was productive, and now most residents depend on selling corn, bananas and whatever food they can grow in their yards.

Here, the average man makes barely enough to scratch out an existence. Most families have little more than a table and a few chairs, along with a wood-burning stove and a place to sleep. Many don’t even have this. And until recently, almost no one had access to clean water.

Quantity of water is not the issue; they are literally surrounded by the Amazon’s tributaries…and within walking distance of the river itself. It’s the quality that proves dangerous, with dirty water from these sources bringing parasites and other diseases into the community.

Through the support of our friends and partners, Joyce Meyer Ministries missions outreach, Hand of Hope, recently joined with Camino de Vida Ministries in Peru to build a church and install a fresh-water well in Zungaro Cocha…bringing physical and spiritual help to thousands.

Gilberto Ahuanari is the pastor of the church. For the past three years, the congregation held services in a dilapidated house, which eventually deteriorated due to the rain and intense climate.

“We didn’t have a home and people began to leave,” says Pastor Ahuanari. “My tears began to roll. I prayed to God, ‘If you have brought me here, then hold out Your hand—bring the time and the moment.’”

The Lord immediately spoke to his heart and gave him Zechariah 6:15: And those who are far off shall come and help build the Temple of the Lord….

“I didn’t know where it would come from,” says Pastor Ahuanari. “But its you—God used you to build this. It’s a gift from God.”

The day of our visit, the congregation gathers to welcome us…and share stories of how things have changed.

“Since I was a kid, I saw suffering from water,” says Ester Yahuarcani. “Kids would suffer from carrying it. We’d have to go down to the river with buckets and bring it back on our heads. Our knees would hurt, and kids had a lot of diarrhea. Now they don’t—now God has blessed us.”

It’s a blessing that runs deep. This church congregation of fifty people now finds themselves sharing Christ with hundreds who benefit from the fresh-water well.

“Things have changed because the town believes in God and believes in us,” says Ester. “They come to us for difficulties and come to church to ask for prayer. The whole town is really happy about that.”

Just miles down the Amazon River, the stories continue. You are making a difference in the Puerto Almendra village, where we have installed another new church and water well.

Nadiesta Acho recently gave her life to the Lord when the congregation went house to house offering prayer. She’s grateful for the new beginning…and for the safety the new well brings.

“When I used to get water at night, there was a lot of danger,” says Nadiesta. “My daughter was even bit by a serpent.” That bite caused her teenager’s leg to swell, and they feared the worst. She was rushed to a doctor and eventually recovered. Thankfully, they no longer have to place themselves in harm’s way.

“I thank the Lord for bringing this blessing from so far away,” says another resident Lidia Altamirano. “Water is one of the elemental substances in life—to cook, to bathe, to drink, everything. We can live without light, but we cannot live without water.”

Over and over, the people we meet tell us, “This is the answer to our prayers.” Friends and partners, you are here in the Peruvian jungle, bringing hope and God’s love to thousands along the Amazon River.

Thank you for helping us share Christ and love people all around the world. Thank you for being a part of the answer.