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Emily Pearson

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2nd VIEW: Violence, unrest continue in Venezuela; Gospel spreading

CARACAS, Venezuela (BP) -- In recent years, IMB missionaries in Venezuela have struggled to spread the Gospel amid ever-increasing difficulties. In the capital of Caracas, rampant poverty, random violence and food shortages are a part of everyday life, and simply walking down the wrong street at the wrong time can be a fatal mistake.

FLAVORS: Amazon-style cooking deepens faith

AMAZON (BP) -- In the Amazon jungle, where modern amenities are scarce or perhaps non-existent, even the most basic necessities of life can present a challenge. Lack of electricity, limited ingredients and finite amounts of fuel all make cooking much more difficult in these rural, isolated areas.

Missions school trains believers in Amazon

IQUITOS, Peru (BP) -- Just three days after his wife died, 72-year-old Edison Romero climbed into a cramped wooden boat for a journey down the Amazon. He could have stayed home to mourn. Instead he took a 12-hour trip from his village to Iquitos, Peru, to attend missions training.

Family finds ‘God’s plan’ in Peru

PERU (BP) -- Brian and Jennifer Pennington knew God was calling them to be missionaries -- and that was pretty much the extent of their plan.       So when the couple from Fort Worth, Texas, and their two young sons arrived at International Mission Board's candidate conference for new missionaries, they didn't have much to go on.

WEEK OF PRAYER: Church sees unreached 20 miles away

SAN PABLO TIJALTEPEC, Mexico (BP) -- Renan, a 10-year-old boy in southern Mexico, isn't an orphan. But in many ways, he might as well be.

It's been more than three years since Renan's parents, bound for the United States, left him in the care of his uncle in Mexico. It likely will be months or even years before he sees them again. Renan and his family are from the Tijaltepec Mixteco people group in the isolated community of San Pablo Tijaltepec, nestled among the jagged mountains of southern Mexico. Most residents are subsistence farmers, growing the food that their families eat. Because jobs are scarce, many of these Mixtecos leave home to seek work in the U.S. But not everyone can make the journey, and families like Renan's often end up split between the two countries for years at a time. Until recently, the Tijaltepec Mixteco were a people group yet to be exposed to the Gospel. But not anymore. In 2011, Valley Baptist Church of Bakersfield, Calif., selected the Tijaltepec Mixteco people to "embrace," accepting the long-term responsibility of reaching them with the Gospel. Since then, the project has transcended the boundaries of culture and country, linking the Mexican mountainside and the Californian Central Valley in ways the church never imagined. The starting place Valley Baptist faced the initial challenge of choosing from among more than 3,000 unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs) in the world. UUPGs are people groups that have no continual access to the Gospel through any evangelical church planting efforts (unengaged) and those in which less than 2 percent of its population is evangelical Christian (unreached). Church members researched people groups via gettingthere.imbresources.org an IMB website that charts UUPGs and their locations using dots on a map. "And the first thing that struck me was how many were clustered in southern Mexico," co-pastor Phil Neighbors recalls. "I mean, I was thinking that we were going to be going to some far-flung corner of the world. I couldn't believe that right here in our hemisphere there was this huge cluster of unreached people groups." To find out more about the people groups, Neighbors contacted Chris Ammons, an IMB missionary in Mexico that Neighbors had known since they attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at the same time. ...

Jungle training camp teaches missionaries coping skills

AMAZON BASIN (BP) -- Eighteen International Mission Board workers and their children watched with mixed emotions as the twin-prop plane took off from the jungle airstrip, headed back to the city. As they stood surrounded by wide rivers and miles of dense Amazon rain forest on all sides, reality began to sink in. They were on their own. The group trudged through mud and stifling heat, loaded down with children, suitcases and boxes of supplies, before arriving at the camp -- a row of simple wooden cabins beside a river -- that would be home for the next month. The missionaries -- some new, some veterans -- were the first group to arrive at IMB's new jungle training center, designed to help missionaries learn to live and work in tough rural places. Donny Barger, an IMB missionary and trainer who helped start the camp, said the program will better prepare missionaries going to work among the nearly 230 unengaged, unreached people groups living in isolated places throughout the Americas. That's 230 people groups that are less than 2 percent evangelical Christian and who have no one seeking to reach them with the Gospel. "One of the things we hear most often from missionaries after they complete their first term is, 'I really wish someone would have helped me understand what it was really going to be like going into an indigenous area,'" said Barger, from Alabama. "And sometimes [lack of preparation] causes you to make big mistakes with your people group that takes you a long time to get out of." As the older kids set off to explore their new surroundings, the confused adults began learning how to set up a home in the jungle, asking basic questions such as "Where will we sleep?" "Is the river safe to swim in?" "What is for dinner?" The learning process had begun. Going in blind Before arriving, the trainees had been given very limited information about the upcoming experience. They didn't know what they'd eat or what they'd live in. Cooking options, bathroom facilities, sleeping arrangements and clean water sources were all mysteries. One trainee, Lisa Williams*, had an even more pressing concern as she gazed warily at the river flowing directly beside her cabin. With four children between the ages of 1 and 6, such proximity to fast-moving water made her uneasy. "I didn't come in with a lot of expectations, because I didn't know what to expect," she said. "I didn't know what our housing would be. I just had to be flexible and lower my expectations."

‘Blessed’ to reach hard places for Christ

AMAZON BASIN (BP) -- Brad Connelly* watches thoughtfully as his daughter and sons splash around in the jungle river beside their small cabin.

Venezuelan Christians pray for nation’s future

CARACAS, Venezuela (BP) -- As Venezuela continues to reel from the death of President Hugo Chavez, evangelicals there are seeking ways to show God's love in the midst of a national upheaval.       After a 14-year presidency, Chavez, 58, lost his battle with cancer March 5 ...

Cuban Baptists rally to aid Sandy’s victims

SANTIAGO, Cuba (BP) -- Hurricane Sandy's torrential rains and 105 mph winds slammed eastern Cuba Oct. 25, killing 11 people, among them a couple from First Baptist Church in the hard-hit coastal city of Santiago.

Cuban Baptists rally to aid Sandy’s victims

SANTIAGO, Cuba (BP) -- Hurricane Sandy's torrential rains and 105 mph winds slammed eastern Cuba Oct. 25, killing 11 people, among them a couple from First Baptist Church in the hard-hit coastal city of Santiago.