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In December 2018, they responded to requests for training from 30 church leaders among the Shipibo — one of about 14 indigenous tribes located along the Ucayali River in Peru’s rain forests.
“We held a leadership seminar fully tailored to meet their needs,” Steve and Theresa report. “We used the Orality Bible, a format in which Shipibo believers excel. They responded eagerly and participated with enthusiasm as we related 12 Bible selections regarding the lives of Moses and David.”
At the close of each section, a participant could volunteer to recount the lesson just learned, which the Fords say they did with “word-perfect recall.” The whole group was then invited to participate in a five-question discussion about each lesson’s meaning.
“From the Shipibo leaders’ insights, we could clearly see the Holy Spirit illuminating their hearts and minds to receive the deep things of God,” Steve and Theresa say.
The Fords were assisted in their endeavors by Marlon and Joice, a young Peruvian pastoral couple. Both proved invaluable, and Joice’s gifting as a teacher became clearly evident as the seminar progressed.
Theresa says, “Joice’s gifted ability to tell Bible narratives shines with poise and charm, drawing out the best in her listeners. She is a Spirit-filled, godly young woman.”
After three days of training, the group disbanded and the leaders went their own ways, eager to pass on their knowledge to their congregations.
The benefits of the training have already become evident beyond the 30 leaders.
Joice’s mother, a pastor’s wife in a rural community, has discovered she is able to quickly memorize and retell the Bible narratives, and is now telling the Bible stories and asking the five questions with what the Fords call obvious success. She reports that her church is experiencing an awakening of spiritual appetite and is requesting more of this teaching.
Steve and Theresa plan to conduct more outreaches among the Shipibo in the coming year. They conclude, “We see this as fruit, more fruit, and much fruit, and Lord willing, fruit that will remain!”