Sometimes in the course of our lives we get a glimpse at how seemingly random events get woven together to form a clear pattern, pointing at something far more significant. A recent experience did that for me. Both causing me to reflect on where God has taken me as well as hints at what He is doing doing today and the privilege I have to participate.
|Luke and his ultralight.|
For anyone that knew Luke Huber the word visionary is often used to try describe him. Luke came to the frontier Amazonian town of Santarem with his small family in the 70's and started what today is a global church denomination with church plants in São Paulo, Tokyo and throughout Brazil. Ask any member of Igreja da Paz and they will say the church is only what it is today because of it's founder, Luke.
Luke was a family friend and I remember conversations with him as a kid. His passion for the lost and all consuming desire to reach them greatly impressed me. When he found out I was interested in aviation he encouraged me to pursue aeronautical engineering so that I could come to Brazil and help him build experimental aircraft to be used by his pastors and church planters. A far-fetched and wild idea at the time that could only be thought of as rational by a true visionary. Sadly, Luke died in 1994 when the ultralight he was flying crashed, his dream of building airplanes in the Amazon to reach the lost seemed to have died with him.
Last week I sat in one of the churches that Luke planted in Santarem, participating in a meeting with representatives from several missions operating experimental aircraft. The meetings centered around the idea of how we can work together to improve safety and efficiency in our goal of providing transportation to missionaries.
Lucas, one of the missionaries that hosted the event (who was actually named after Luke Huber) shared with me how Luke would take him flying, one time while allowing Lucas to take the controls he put his hand on Lucas' and said "Careful, one day this airplane will be yours". Whether meant to be prophetic or just an encouragement, Lucas never forgot that, and today he flies that same airplane as if it were his own.
Lucas' father, Nilton, who still works as a church planter and church leader shared with the group of aviators one morning. One story he told particularly impacted me. He shared about a flight with Luke when they had to cut across a remote part of the jungle instead of following the river (a much safer practice when flying a floatplane). They set out on the journey and soon the sun was beginning to set. They had been looking for a place to land and spend the night, but saw no house for half an hour. Finally they came to a lake that had a few houses. They stopped for the night and the village, all from the same family, received the unexpected visitors warmly. As was Luke and Nilton's custom, they invited the family all together and shared the Gospel with them. The patriarch spoke for all the family when he said they all wanted to accept Christ as Lord of their lives.
In the morning as Luke and Nilton were ready to leave, the father explained the significance of their visit. "We rarely get anyone here, maybe one boat a month will pass by selling goods from down river". They understood his concern when he asked how were they to continue to learn about the teachings of Jesus. They left some new testaments with the family and encouraged them to read together as a family. As they departed Luke said, "We have churches being planted all throughout the Amazon, one day someone will arrive here to start a church". And off they flew over the horizon.
Nilton explained that he recently had a conversation with his brother Clenildo (the main pastor of the churches where we worked with the Xingu Mission in Altamira), since that small community Nilton and Luke had visited was in the region were Clenildo worked in planting churches he wondered if Clenildo had ever found that community. "We have been there! And there is a little church meeting there today" Clenildo replied.
Hearing these stories and remembering the impact Luke had on my life was significant. During one of the meetings it was mentioned by someone "wouldn't it be awesome if we set up a shop here in the Amazon to build experimental airplanes to be used on the field here?" Perhaps it was just a comment. Or maybe not. Maybe the dreams of Luke did not die but God was just waiting for the right time to rekindle the vision. A vision that holds dear that one day every remote community scattered throughout the world's largest rainforest and river system will have a chance to hear the hopeful message of our Savior.
|Some of the missionaries who meet in Santarem.|