What I Learned From a Week in the Amazon Jungle

Loving people is hard.

     The book and major motion picture, "The End of The Spear" tells the story of the remote Waodani people group in the heart of the Amazon jungle. The Waodani are well-known for spearing to death five Christian missionaries in 1956. After this tragic event, the tribe eventually came to Christ by the grace of God and the loving ministry of the murdered missionaries' relatives. Two weeks ago, I traveled to Ecuador with an organization called “i-Tec” into the Amazon jungle to live with the Waodoni people. Of the many things God taught me during my week in the jungle, one of the most important lessons is that it takes humility to love others well.  

     It was painfully obvious that without the leadership and guidance of the Waodani people, none of us on the trip would have survived our time in the Amazon. The jungle is full of dangerous animals, plants, and landscapes. Instead of mocking our inability to hunt, build shelters, navigate through the dense jungle, or utilize our surroundings, the Waodani loved us well by teaching us their way of life. They took us under their wing, humbled themselves, and showed us what true, God-like love looks like.

 

Here are some pictures I took during my week living with the Waodani.

     The Waodani people we lived with followed Jesus’ example. In John 4, Jesus had a conversation with a Samaritan woman. The woman had come to draw water by herself in the middle of the day and Jesus, being thirsty, asked her for a drink. Despite the many cultural traditions that should have kept these two at odds, Jesus humbled himself and asked the woman for a favor. Their conversation changed this woman's life for good. Not only did the woman return to her village as a believer in Jesus, but her testimony helped bring others to Christ as well.

     Humility is necessary to love others well. Here are a few things we can do as parents to humbly love our kids:

 

1) Get on your kids’ level.

     I’ve started trying to get at eye-level with my kids when I’m disciplining them. It shows my kids that I value this time of discipline and often allows us to have more engaging conversations beyond what they had done wrong. Beyond discipline issues, get on the floor and play with your kids. I’m convinced my kids’ favorite part of the day is when I come home and let them tackle me. In that moment, they know that I love them.

 

2) Admit your shortcomings.

     I talk to my kids about obeying Jesus and us as their parents frequently. After my trip to Ecuador, my wife and I have started to admit to our kids that we are also still learning how to obey Jesus. This doesn’t mean we need to air all of our sins and struggles to our family, but it is important for our kids to know that we also fail to obey Jesus sometimes. We are growing as a follower of Jesus everyday just like they are.

 

3) Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable.

     Loving people is messy and sometimes awkward. Be there to listen when someone in your family needs to vent. Listen well instead of trying to solve problems. Do the dishes so your spouse doesn’t have to. Come home ready to serve your family even if you’ve had a rough day at work.

 

     Sharing the love of Jesus with our families is a high calling. Pray with me that God would work through us to humbly love our kids well.