A few weeks ago, I published The Letter from Ireland telling the story of Joe Wright, the Irishman whom God led to start praying for the Canela people in Brazil ten years before Jo and I were born. Sixty-two years later, after twenty-two years of intensive work, we completed the Bible translation program for the Canela. So, what has God done among the Canela since that summer in 1990 when we left?
Jo and I just experienced the truth of the passage, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country,” (Prov. 25:25) when we received a letter from Brazil a few days ago.
First Some History
During 1991-92, a Swiss couple, Freddi and Helen Frantz, who worked in a smaller Canela village about forty kilometres west of the main village, made sporadic visits to the main village to encourage Bible reading.
For the next ten years an American couple, Dennis and Shirley Ficek, who had worked among the Kraho, a people group closely related to the Canela, moved to the main Canela village and lived in the small house we had left for them. They encouraged believers and promoted Bible reading and prayer.
Then in 2002, sixteen years ago, a German couple, Bernard and Elke Grupp moved into the main village with their young family to live and work there, learning the language, holding Bible classes, and evangelistic services.
In 2009, Jo and I visited the Grupp family in their village location, bringing our whole family – fifteen of us – so our grandchildren could experience for a few days the village where their mothers grew up.
The Church Among the Canela is Growing
I am much impressed with Bernard and Elke’s work. He is highly computer literate and upgraded the Canela dictionary I had left with him. Because of his professional contacts and technical knowledge, The Jesus Film was dubbed in Canela and has been shown numerous times in various villages.
Of course, it helped that the electric power company needed to run some power lines through Canela lands during which time they “electrified” every home in the village. Many Canelas now have cellphones with the Canela Bible downloaded on it. Jo and I were in the middle of the translation project forty years ago. What a lot of things have changed since then!
Highlights from Bernard’s Letter from Brazil
In his recent letter from Brazil, Bernard reported that in January twelve more Canelas gave their lives to Christ: four adults, four young people, and three children. God had to lead one of those adults from alcohol addiction through deep waters of diabetes, hospital and near death, to bring him to Himself. God brought this man and Bernard together in amazing coincidences, riding together in the same vehicle from the hospital; and the man and his family staying in the same house where Bernard often has evening church services when he visits another Canela village.
Just a few weeks ago, after the Sunday children’s program, two twelve-year-old boys came up to Bernard and said, “We want to give ourselves and our sins to Jesus.”
Older believers urge new Christians to listen to the Canela Bible on the Proclaimers – a very popular way of hearing the Bible. Listeners often follow along in their printed Bibles to improve their reading skills. Proclaimers are practically indestructible, can be heard by groups up to 300 people at once, the installed pre-recorded microchip lasts forever, the battery can be charged by the built-in solar panel, or by a windup crank. The device can be recharged enough times to play the entire Canela Bible one-thousand times.
A few weeks ago, Bernard traveled to the village where the Swiss couple used to work and distributed another sixteen Proclaimers. Canelas like to take their Proclaimer with them when they travel up to fifteen kilometres away to work in their fields so that they can listen to Scriptures in the evenings.
At the end of January, the Brazilian Bible Society began producing an attractive illustrated version of the Canela Bible for children. We praise God for this publishing project and ask His blessing on it.
Jesus is building His Church among the Canela and it is constantly growing. Almost every email we receive from Bernard and Elke tells of more baptisms. Several years ago, the Canelas decided to build a church building, a strong, rainproof and fireproof building that would last. Some of our family and financial partners helped purchase materials for this building.
Jo and I are so thankful that we can see and hear of the spiritual and physical results of our long-ago work. Yes, we sometimes get thirsty for good news, and this Letter from Brazil was the cold water to quench our thirst.