April 8, 2014

seeds on a path

Admere looked at me and smiled. It was a forced smile. She was fighting her emotions, and the smile was a cover. Her eyes focused on the ceiling. The window. Anything but me. After a moment of silently gathering her courage, she looked at me. I smiled encouragement and offered up silent prayers of courage. That’s when she broke. As she tried telling me her story, she could no longer keep back the flood of emotion from the war in her heart. She sobbed. She held her face in her hands and wept. She wept for herself. She wept for her family. She wept for Jesus. 

I arrived in Paramakatoi (PK) Friday afternoon. A remote village hidden deep within the jungles of Guyana, PK is made up of people and families trying just to survive. It’s a hard life and a hard place to live. Dependent on family farms for survival, the residents of PK live without every modern luxury we have learned to take for granted. I hauled our drinking and bathing water along with the girls I stayed with. They thought it was hilarious that my full bucket became increasingly less full with every step. They joked that I was having my bath on the trail and gently chided me for wasting the drinking water. How they navigated those trails with heavy, full buckets without spilling a drop, I’ll never know. 
The last look of the airplane as I’m left in Paramakatoi

The experiencing of living with them for four short days was eye opening. Carrying our water was just part of it. The outhouse door didn’t quite close all the way (and don’t even get me started on the spiders that lived there). There was no running water, let alone indoor plumbing. The only power was a generator from the public secondary school that was on for four hours each evening. Even the generator was a luxury most homes in PK went without. Being on the school campus we were blessed with it. They ate two meals a day. For the simple reason that there wasn’t enough food to eat any more often than twice a day. 

As hard as life seemed in PK, my hosts, Mr and Mrs Gudge, told me about the surrounding villages that many of the secondary students on campus come from. Villages even poorer than PK. Villages without any shops (PK has four small shops that sell staple items for a premium). If a family needs rice, flour, or oil in these villages, they must go a whole days walk, sometimes two days walk, to PK or two other villages in the region that have shops. I asked more than once how the people there live, how they are able to buy anything. Mrs Gudge shrugged her shoulders and couldn’t answer that. She told me that most people go without and rely on what they can grow on their farms. 
Paramakatoi SDA church, left, and some of the village

Admere comes from a village similar to PK. Another poor village a days walk from PK called Kurukabaru. A village more isolated than PK and rooted deep in tradition. Kurukabaru village is known as being home to the only priest in this mostly Catholic region. Admere, along with six other girls from Kuruabaru, attended the region’s public school in PK. 

Although being at a government-run public school, the Gudges (he is the boys warden/dean and she is the girl’s matron/dean) are missionaries at heart. Soon after they accepted this position over six years ago a family in the village began joining them for the small family church they held on the floor of their small apartment each week. Then some students asked to join. Soon they outgrew their small apartment and asked permission to use a classroom. More students joined them, and the Gudges saw the students were hungry for God. They were granted permission to hold weekly Bible lessons, and then daily worships with the students. Two years after this began the pastor that visits the village once a year baptized 15 new members. Two families and a gentleman from the village and several students. The following year 27 students were baptized. And then 34. 
Backed against the wall, there are so many students at Friday night worship I can’t fit them all in one photo!
The Gudges and the students are awaiting the visit from the pastor this year and are anticipating many baptisms. One of the students considering baptism is Admere. She has accepted Jesus into her dear heart, but fears the ramifications of choosing baptism. She has seen many of her classmates struggle with the same choice: choose to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into baptism, or choose to listen to their families. Almost all of the students at one point were warned by their fathers and mothers that should they choose to be baptized the family would cut off support and the student would be on their own. The family would abandon and essentially disown the baptized student. For these 14, 15, and 16-year olds, it’s not an easy decision. 

Admere cried out through her sobs that she wants to follow Jesus but her father has warned her that if she gets baptized her family will no longer support her. How would she support herself as she finishes school? She would have no way of buying school uniforms, books, or school supplies. 

Admere is only one of the many students who are accepting Christ into their hearts. The Gudges have spent six years sowing seeds among the fields, and as these seeds begin to grow into new creations, the birds, rocks, and thorns threaten to steal and choke the budding new growth. I beg for my friends and family to pray for the Gudge family as they continue to share the everlasting Gospel in PK. I covet prayers for these students, both those who are facing very hard decisions and those who have made the difficult decision to follow Jesus. Pray for the students who are asking for work in PK so they can stay near the Gudges and grow in their faith more before returning home to families and villages who will not accept them back with open arms. Pray for the students who have returned home to hard situations but who, despite all odds, are working to now plant their own seeds in the hearts of those who opposed them. Pray for a world that you will never meet on this earth, but that you might meet in Heaven someday. Pray, my friends, please pray. 
One of the many students who will be returning to her village soon to spread the gospel.
Matthew 13: That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”


Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh, God bless each and every one. Hard stuff! Hard to believe that our God WILLLLL provide. He always does, always has, but stillllllll... May they endure and persevere, with grace!

Leigh said...

Thank you for sharing Cas. This really puts life in perspective. I take so much for granted.

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