A Name You Will Want to Remember
“Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name…’” Acts 8
We are so thankful for so much it is sometimes a challenge to rely it all. We are constantly asked “How many people have been saved?” Or “How many churches have you planted?” And each time we write a newsletter we are challenged by our own questions, “Do we tell them about the new villages we are working in?”, “Do we focus on the hundreds of new converts who have been baptized in water this year?”, “How about the 120+ bible school students who are all preparing to plant and pastor churches?”, “But maybe they would enjoy hearing about the water wells we have continued to install, that has brought clean water to untold thousands?” Or “Do we tell them about the altar call that broke a church?” (This one is too good to pass over, stay tuned and very soon this story will follow) but this month rather than focusing on a number, we want to share a name, one single man who lives in the remote Ecuadorian jungle.
We met about three weeks ago in Sucua, when his daughter, one of our church planters, rushed up to introduce us and said, “This is my father and he desperately needs to speak with you”. It was Sunday morning and I was in a rush to preach several times that day, but I saw her urgency and decided to sit down with them. He said, “My name is Bolivar and on October the 3rd I had a vision. In the middle of the night God visited me in my hut dressed in white and surrounded by the purest white light. He asked me to get up and follow him, so I did. As we walked together he told me ‘This is your final warning, you must turn your back on the work of the devil and serve me’. I asked Him 'Why?' and He told me to look behind us and there I saw my father and brother in a boiling lake of fire. God told me that the same fate awaited me, if I did not turn from my ways. This vision was repeated three times that night and the final time I awoke yelling ‘Satan be gone’. So from that day forward I have no longer practiced shamanism (witchcraft) and I knew immediately that I had to talk with you Pastor Joil. Now can you tell me how I can be saved?”
Come to find out, Bolivar had been one of the most well known shamans or witchdoctors in the entire area, he was a witchdoctor of witchdoctors, from a long line of practitioners. Recently at a leadership event he shared his testimony and there was an audible gasp when he professed that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior. The response of the 50+ church leaders, all from area where he had practiced his craft, was both electric and tangible. Several got up and told stories of his persecutions and mistreatments, but the tears of those sharing those passed stories told the story of joy in his conversion. He was received with arms wide-open into fellowship with those he had formerly mocked and harmed. We cannot help but to stand amazed that the God that was on the road to Damascus, who knocked Saul, the greatest persecutor of the church, to the ground, is still in the supernatural business and that He is willing to do the impossible things that are out of realm of our possibilities to reach the lost.
We are so thankful that the God of eternity has never met a “lost cause”. Not even His greatest enemy is safe from the power of the Good News. We are thankful that you partner with us so faithfully, it is because of your prayers and financial support that we are able to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel. Together we are changing eternity.
With thankful hearts,
Joil and Leah Marbut
Drew, Will, Emelia & Aidan