It had been more than three years since our expulsion from the Canela village. We prayed for our Canela friends and daily longed to be with them.
One Saturday evening as my family and I were sitting down to our evening meal there was a knock on our door. I got up, opened it and there, to my utter astonishment, stood Jaco, our very best Canela translation helper—nearly a thousand kilometres from his village! I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say.
“Jaco, what are you doing here? How did you get here? Come in!”
“I walked for two days. Then I caught a ride on a rice freight truck for a day. Then I got on a bus for a day and a night, and I walked some more. Now, here I am. And what’s to eat?”
“Sit down, sit down. It’s so good to see you. Here, fill your plate.”
We had a great time visiting that evening and all day Sunday. Then on Monday, after a big breakfast, I asked him,
“So, Jaco, would you like to translate some more of God’s Word.”
So we sat down across from each other at my study table. I dusted off the translation manuals and other books that I hadn’t been able to use for three years. It wasn’t hard to pray and thank God for bringing Jaco. I asked God to help us translate some more of His Word. I was, of course, praying in the Canela language, and when I was done I said,
“Hamre,” meaning Done or Amen.
I opened my eyes and was about to open my mouth to start talking when I noticed Jaco still had his eyes closed. And then he started to pray.
“Hello, Great Father in the sky. This is me, Jaco, You’ll remember me. I’m one of those who just recently has turned to You, and begun to follow You.”
That’s when I began to cry.
Because after thirteen years of study, translating, praying and waiting, this was the first time I had heard there were any Canelas who had turned to God. And even though it was the first time I had ever heard a Canela pray, I could hardly wait to hear him say “Hamre” so I could ask him,
“When did this happen?”
“I have been reading those printouts of Luke and Acts every day for a long time. Then a few months ago, I was sitting in my hammock reading those papers and I asked myself,
‘Jaco, how much longer are you going to just lie here and read this stuff? When are you going to believe it and obey it?’
And I answered myself,
So I got up out of my hammock and walked out behind my house. I looked up into the sky and said,
‘Great Father in the Sky. This is me, my name is Jaco. According to those papers I have been reading, I am in a really bad relationship with You. I have not lived the way You wanted me to live. Will You please do something for me?’
And then, do you know what the Great Father did?”
“No, what did He do?” I asked.
“He adopted me into His family,” Jaco said, using the same term the Canelas used when one family adopted me as their son, and another adopted my wife as their daughter, and we became true citizens of the Canela village.
“Then I went into the village,” Jaco continued, “and talked to some of my friends. They read the Great Father’s papers too and now there is a whole group of people who are following the way of Jesus.”
There had been no missionary, no evangelist or pastor in the village for three years. All there was of God was an early draft printout of a couple of Bible books. But God’s time had finally come.
He had begun to build His Church among the Canelas.