We recently received news and pictures of a baptism that was held in the village of Atenas! Atenas is located about 20 minutes up river from Santa Rita.
The church “Monte de Sinai” of Santa Rita along with the church “La Hermosa” of Atenas came together to support each other during this baptism. So exciting to see churches working together supporting new followers of Jesus Christ as they make there public declaration.
Here is a video of me giving a Facebook live update for our sending church. It’s a bit lengthy but it sure speaks of God’s sovereign love for his children even while they are stomping their feet and throwing a tantrum.
For the last two years, Pastor Francisco (president of the cofraternity as well as the Pastor in Atenas) has been struggling with his vision in his left eye. Towards the end of 2019 Francisco asked JungleMaster if it would be possible to help him with the expenses of eye surgery and new eyeglasses. This was an easy decision for me to make. Of course, we would help him. In February he had his operation and had to stay in Iquitos for a few weeks while he recuperated and had some follow up appointments. Last night Francisco, his wife Sonya, and his son Bretan stayed with us in Nauta on there way back to Atenas. Pastor Francisco was extremely grateful to JungleMaster for helping him with this gift of sight and also wanted to make sure I let all the supporters know that he wanted to say “Thank You” to all who graciously give and support JungleMaster.
I would also like to personally thank all of our supporters for allowing us to continue to support these pastors as they fulfill their calling to bring the Love of Christ to the lost.
JungleMaster Ministries, along with Pastor William, are very excited about the interest that we have gotten from the archery program that we started last year. The basis of the plan was to get youth passionate about a sport where they could learn self-discipline, self-focus, and structure. All the things that we need to focus on to have a good relationship with Jesus Christ. We have based this program around the Centershot Ministry archery program that many churches in the States are using. Make sure to watch the short video of archery in Nauta.
So far, there has been a lot of excitement around this program here in Nauta. This year during the school vacation, which happens here from December through March, we have have been running an archery camp every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for any youth that wants to join. We have had a consistent number of participants who have participated in this camp. The camp has been held at Pastor Williams church and gives the youth not only an opportunity to practice archery but also provides the church with an opportunity to show and model the love of Christ to the youth.
We have been invited by the local education department to teach archery in the physical education program in the schools here in Nauta. We are in talks right now discussing what this relationship would consist of.
April will be the anniversary of Nauta. Usually, this is a month-long celebration with many different events and activities. The month of activities culminates in the last week of the month with many different types of exhibitions and fun activities. Examples include canoe races, peque peque boat races, traditional events, cultural exhibits, and things of this variety. Pastor William has been in talks with the officials in charge of putting together the anniversary program, and they invited us to put on an archery exhibition. At the same time that these conversations had been taking place, we had also been in contact with the Peruvian Archery Federation about the possibility of joining with them and forming an “archery club” here in Nauta. It was during these conversations that we invited the Federation to bring a few representatives from the Federation to come and join in with the exhibition in April here in Nauta. JungleMaster Ministries has helped pay for the plane tickets for the President, trainer as well as one of the women that participated in the Pan American games last year!
As you can imagine, we are incredibly excited about how God has been orchestrating all the pieces and love how God can give us a vision and passion, and all we have to do is start walking out the steps that he lays in front of us.
As always, though with these kinds of things, there are still costs involved. We initially brought with us ten fiberglass recurve bows eight being right-handed and two left-handed. Along with these, we had two Genesis compound bows donated. We need to purchase at least three more left-handed recurves as well as the ongoing cost of targets, arrows, and miscellaneous items that get worn and need replacing with a program like this. Along with these costs is the expense of inviting the Peruvian Federation to Nauta. The Federation participants have accepted our invitation but, they have asked if we could help cover the expenses of their flights and transportation to Nauta.
New left-handed bows and misc. equipment $600
Membership to join the Peruvian Federation $200
Flights for Peruvian Federation members to Nauta $400
The total cost we need to raise to help cover the upcoming expenses for this project is
As always, there are three very practical and easy ways to join us in any of our projects. Prayer, funding, or come to Nauta and see what it is we are doing, or perhaps you’d like to do all three. Oops, that was four ways.
Ok, how do you do these?
1-Prayer, well, I hope you’re doing this for us anyways.
2-Funding, go to our donate page at our website www.junglemaster.org or send a check to our address:
PO box 29868
3-You want to come to Nauta? Awesome, send me a message through our contact page at our website www.junglemaster.org and we”ll talk.
Please be praying for Nauta. There is a huge land invasion down the road from us. They invaded the land over two weeks ago and the last few days the police have started trying to remove them. Our church and other church families’ homes are right in the middle of the protests and invasion. Police have arrested a few people. Please be praying for a swift and just resolution for all involved.
“God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46.1
The past two weeks we have been replacing the posts to our house. Last year Joel replaced the back 5 posts and now we are replacing the front 5 posts. They were rotten through and we are having them replaced with concrete posts. Its been quite the project; very messy and having big holes in our walls and floor. For me it’s a very interesting process to watch. The other day I was taking pictures and giving thanks to God for being able to do this work and have a strong foundation. This morning I woke up with this on my heart…what it means to have a strong foundation. You know where I’m going with this, right? The bible talks in Matthew and Luke about the importance of building a strong foundation so that our “house” will not fall and will withstand the storms that come. And, in Isaiah, God declares He laid a stone of sure foundation. Maybe you even sang the kid’s song about the wise man building his house upon the rock. But, what I realized wasn’t this lesson that I learned and that I am trying to teach my daughter and sharing here in Peru with the young children that visit our house and we see in our ministry. No, what I realized was the magnitude of God’s love and grace for us. Because you see, like this house, many of us maybe didn’t start out with the best foundation. But, God’s grace and mercy and gift to us through Jesus Christ allow us to go back and replace that rotten foundation with one that will stand firm. God’s love and word is the surest foundation. He is there just waiting for us to accept the gift we have in Jesus Christ. And, like our house project… it will be messy! It’s hard work digging out the root of that old foundation that can only be filled by Jesus. But, when it’s done the assurance and faith that remains will be forever strong.
Acts 4:11 “Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.”
The good news: Jesus has risen and we are forgiven!
Amy, Carmen, and I were off-site for much of the year, but God was still at work advancing JungleMaster’s ministry of encouragement and support for the jungle pastors and for other missions and missionaries. At the same time, He used others to encourage us. While we were at language school in Arequipa, Amy, Carmen, and I were able to make one trip back to the jungle together: a trip home to Nauta for Christmas. While we were there, we had the opportunity to receive a team of engineers from George Fox University that had come to help Laura, a missionary from the Baptist Mission School. This team had been developing a water project for the neighborhood where that mission’s training center is located, the same training center where our pastors and leaders attend seminary classes.
Celebrating Christmas in Nauta in 2017
With the Geoge Fox University team
During a trip I made back to Nauta in February, a trusted friend and mentor came down from Bellingham to help build a church in the remote village of Dos de Mayo. JungleMaster tries to make the 16 hour boat ride to this village once a year, during the season when the river is high enough to be passable with our boat. But February’s scheduled trip had to be postponed because the river was too low. What we initially considered a disappointment turned out to be a blessing, as the local pastors of the co-fraternity decided to make the 5-day trip by peque peque boat themselves, fulfilling JungleMaster’s vision of inspiring the local pastors to do the work. These pastors not only encouraged and built up their brothers and sisters in Christ; they also got the church built! In addition to that, the change of plans allowed a chance for me to be encouraged and filled and mentored by my trusted friend. God was at work; He knew what the ministry needed. He knew what I needed. It turned out to be an awesome blessing on all ends.
Building the church in Dos de Mayo
The completed church
Getting to know the language better was a huge and continuing blessing, and our language school experience led to some great connections, as well. These connections have, in turn, led to various ministry opportunities, such as additional training for our pastors and more resources to help them and their villages. For example, we met two accountants from the Netherlands who work in southern Peru. When our pastors recently requested help learning how to handle church and personal finances in a biblical way, JungleMaster invited these accountants to come to Santa Rita to give a two day course on biblical finances. The pastors who attended were very encouragedby this training and asked for follow up classes. We are now in the process of developing training manuals for the pastors. Another connection from language school was a pastor from Texas who is with a ministry that works with and encourages local missionaries throughout the world. Through this man JungleMaster had the opportunity to help a team minister to, and share the gospel with, some village communities upriver.
The biblical finances class in progress
The team from Texas ministering to a village upriver
I also had the chance to provide transportation for a second team, one I had transported the year before. It is very encouraging to assist short term missions that want to work alongside longer term, local, “on-the-ground” missionaries, especially when the goal of these teams is to learn the needs of the local missionaries and what they can do to encourage them.
The work in the jungle has continued to be busy and blessed. We have seen growth in the pastors and have witnessed the amazing work they are doing. The partnerships and relationships JungleMaster has built with other missions and pastors here have continued to help spread the gospel and to provide the education that is so needed. I have partnered with a Peruvian missionary who is working in Nauta, and together we are helping the co-fraternity to become more focused on, and stronger in, their biblical practices. Since I returned to the jungle, we have led several meetings and small trainings with the co-fraternity.
Joel pastors with Pastor William to train the co-fraternity in biblical practices
Pastors at Joel and Amy’s house
This year JungleMaster was able to help take teens from a local church in Nauta upriver to put on a children’s program in another village. Being able to encourage and help the local churches to start doing missions and outreach on their own is such a blessing, as well as a way that JungleMaster can use the gifts that your support has provided.
Amy has started doing purity training for teen girls from the church in Santa Rita using content she learned at a conference two years ago. She is enjoying this ministry and is hoping to continue building strong bonds with the girls in order to help them grow in their understanding of their value and love in the Lord. Amy was invited to attend a second training conference in the Dominican Republic in November in order to continue learning how to teach and encourage the girls to walk in their faith and also to help bring healing to the many who are suffering from their broken pasts.
The team from Nauta interacting with kids in the village of Jose Olayo
We at JungleMaster are encouraged by the progress made in the jungle this year. And we continue to be thankful for your continual support and encouragement to us, through your prayers and financial gifts.
Please pray with us regarding the following things:
For the local pastors and communities
For the opportunities God is opening up for JungleMaster
For Joel to be able to continue to provide the education that is so needed in this area
For continued partnering with local missions in order to further the gospel.
For Amy as she is seeks to gain trust and build confidence in the girls she is working with
For Joel as he juggles the two roles of directing the ministry and doing the missionary work
For encouragement and blessing for the JungleMaster board as they continue to help encourage and bless JungleMaster
For encouragement and support for the McGee family as they continue to navigate their family life and the mission life. And, that God would bring others alongside to help mentor and encourage them.
Amy, Carmen, & Joel McGee having family time in Arequipa
I’ve always hated goodbyes. I’m not sure why. I just don’t like saying them. But, ever since we moved to Peru 4 years ago, our family has experienced a constant series of goodbyes, hello’s, and see-you-soons, and the separations just seem to get harder each time. 2018 was especially full of separations.
Amy, Carmen, and I spent the first five months of 2018 in Arequipa, Peru, attending language school. This gave us some much needed family-focused time and helped us to stay strong during the many times we had to be apart. This was beneficial because during those months of language school the pastors in the jungle still needed to be encouraged, and their relationships with each other and with JungleMaster still needed to be nurtured. This meant I had to make several trips from Arequipa to the jungle. To keep costs down, I usually traveled solo, leaving Amy and Carmen behind in Arequipa. Goodbyes had to be said. Separations had to be endured.
In May I was called home to Bellingham for a month to help take care of my Mom and Dad who were, and are continuing to be, dealing with health issues. Another goodbye to Amy and Carmen. Another separation. Then, in August, Amy and Carmen flew to Arkansas to be with Amy’s family during the time of her stepdad, Pete’s, passing. Amy and Carmen would end up being gone for just over a month, helping Amy’s mom. Yet another goodbye. Yet another lengthy separation. Even so, we felt so blessed to be a part of a mission that understands the importance of family and enabled us to fly home to help in these times of need.
Having to say goodbye is hard. And having to be separated during stressful family times is never easy. But in spite of our struggles on a personal level this year, God continued to advance the ministry of JungleMaster. And God was faithful to provide us with encouragement in our times of need. Amy, Carmen, and I are so grateful for the amazing family and friends He has given us. They have kept us strong and able to continue doing the work God has called us to do here.
Living in a different culture is hard! Some things are done here that I will probably never understand why, and quite honestly might not want to know why or need to know why. I also know that there are cultural things that I do that they will never understand and quite possibly might not ever need to understand about me. I could write about a million cultural things that I struggle with or have seen and not understood. One of these cultural things, or maybe we could call it traditions, that has bothered me since living here that I recently feel I have been able to put to rest is the fact that in the village of Santa Rita they have church services every night of the week except Monday. Why not Monday night, you may ask? Well, I have asked that very same question to the church leaders in Santa Rita, and the response has always been “I’m not sure why we don’t have one on Monday night, but I do know that is the way we have always done it.” It’s not the fact of why they don’t have a service on Monday that bothers me it’s the fact that for six nights a week the poor pastor has to prepare a sermon and deliver a sermon and on and on I could go why I don’t feel this is good. Now, as I said earlier there has been a lot of cultural struggles for me and a lot of these struggles through time have seemed to lessen, but this one, no, it just kept grinding on me until recently. I had taken a small group of missionaries to Santa Rita to put on a small teaching conference. I was explaining to this group how here in Santa Rita they have a full on 1 ½ to 2 hr. Church service every night but Monday. I’m also quite sure I was telling this story in a voice and a way that enforced my righteousness about this situation. It also enforced my position when the people I was telling this story to, agreed wholeheartedly with me. Man, did I feel good about all this, I also felt confirmed that this was probably the right time to address this “wrongdoing” by the church and it was time to fix this situation. This is when I heard this small, faint voice, from God, whispering in my ear. “Joel, isn’t this just like you to come here to tell about my love for these people and now you want to go and tell them that they are worshipping me too much? Who are you to tell them that, just because their style of worship doesn’t fit with the way you think it should be, is wrong? Do you think when I meet them face to face I am going to tell them, good job, but, man, I think you spent way too much time worshipping me, six days a week is a bit much. NOOOO, who are you to judge them on this? If they want to worship 24/7, let them worship.” OOOUUUCH, GOD, THAT HURT! As always, though, God was right, and that is why it hurt me, I knew this. I immediately turned back to the small group of missionaries that I had been talking to and told them how I was wrong in saying what I had said about this.
I love how God knows us so well, and He knows me so intimately that He has known my thoughts and feelings of this the whole time that I have felt this way, yet God knew me, and He knew when I was ready to receive the correction. Had He corrected me before this, I’m not sure I would have accepted it or, I might have just ignored it. In fact, the thought just popped into my head while writing this. Maybe he has tried to correct me before, and I have ignored it, if that is the case, I’m sorry God, thanks for always loving me the way you do and thanks for continuing to mold me into the person you created me to be.
Whew! Its been a busy two weeks since Carmen and I have returned to the jungle. The initial entry was a bit bumpy due to the water pump check valve going bad and leaving us without water for two days and some shipping mishaps with some things we sent from Arequipa. But, the Lord was among it all and with the help of our amazing church pastor, Pastor William and some helpful and patient customer service people here in Nauta, all is well. *Except for the SPIDERS!! I am having to try and co-exist with these new roommates that have taken up residence since we have been gone. Please pray for my sanity and fear reflexes as they are getting quite the workout…haha!*
Carmen is now back in school and doing wonderfully. As she and I went to get her registered, Carmen was immediately whisked away by friends during recess and returned excited and happy to get back to school. The church had a weekend retreat last weekend and Carmen was able to stay overnight with everyone and get back to being involved with the youth group here. I helped get PowerPoint slides done so that now the church can start putting our worship song lyrics upon the wall. I think it is more to help us gringos learn the songs than for the church itself. But, the idea was that any new visitors or members would be able to learn the songs more quickly. Also, since our church hosts different mission groups from Peru and other countries then it will be helpful there as well.
The first weekend back Pastor Fransisco, President of the Co-Fraternity, visited us. It was a nice time to catch up and hear what has been happening in the jungle. The church in Dos de Mayo has been completed (we will do another post with pictures about that). Pastor Fransisco had attended a pastoral retreat in Nauta where they focused on knowing who Jesus was personally. Abram and the church in Santa Rita are going strong and really focusing on outreach. We have also learned that one of our Co-Fraternity pastors has had to leave his village to find work. We would ask that you would be praying for him and his family as his heart has always been in missions and serving so we know for him to have to find work things must be a struggle for him at this time. Please be praying that God will provide a way for him to return to doing missions and serving. We have also heard from Pastor Orlando on the Chambira river. Pastor Orlando has attended the seminary training here in Nauta and now has two or three other pastors interested in joining the training in June. So please be praying for these men that God is lifting up.
Joel, who had to return to the US for the last minute trip due to family issues, will be returning to the jungle June 5th. Please be praying for his safe return because we are missing him terribly.
But in the midst of it all, there is God. With love and grace and help and peace. He has provided me the ability to use my newfound language skills and deal with things that Joel normally does. He has given us the help needed. He has given us the community and friendships and relationships that have carried us all through every day. Even a chance to enjoy a restful day with friends at the local pool. He has given Joel the opportunities to help where he is needed. Even in the simple everyday living beyond the mission, He is there with us.