PUCALLPA – Misión a Bordo (Mission Aboard) first launched the El Evangelista, a 98-foot long riverboat in 2005. The four-deck ship is berthed in Pucallpa, Peru, on the Ucayali River. But the El Evangelista, as its name may indicate, is no ordinary ship.
The vision of the El Evangelista is “to demonstrate God’s heart for people through simple acts of love and service.”
The ship is dedicated to spreading the Gospel and ministering to the needs of the indigenous Shipibo people who live in remote villages along this major tributary of the Amazon River. Medical care, hygiene, and education constitute a large measure of the work done in the name of Jesus.
At least once a year, Mission Aboard invites believers to participate in a week-long trip up the river in what is both a floating missions conference and an evangelistic outreach. The ship is able to house and feed as many as 100 people, albeit in close quarters.
HCJB, best known for its Christian radio station in Quito, Ecuador was one of the “founding fathers” of the project who recognized that
A pill or an injection cannot cure the ailment of many who live along Peru’s Ucayali River … [because] the problem goes beyond physical needs.
For those on the ship, the experience combines missions training and opportunities for practical application and outreach during their journey.
A typical one-week trip will reach five riverside villages, minister to dozens of children, and provide medical care to as many as 600 or more people with varying conditions, some chronic, others urgent.
The story of one native Shipibo woman gives some genuine insight into the lasting impact of the El Evangelista. Her eyesight had been failing, so she knew that the next time the boat arrived, she hoped to receive a pair of reading glasses. When the ship had docked and the team had come ashore, she brought her tiny New Testament to ensure that the glasses would allow her to read it. Now, she can!
It is not atypical to hear villagers tell the departing teams, “Please stay. We need you” or “You will come back, won’t you?”
Team members close out their week with comments like “I will never be the same again,” “There are people out there who need to hear about Jesus,” and “Lord, here am I. Send me.”
The ministry’s effectiveness is evidenced “by unexpected and wonderful ministries being birthed that are now touching thousands of people.”
Praise the Lord for this unique and powerful ministry.
To read more news on World Missions on Missions Box, go here.
- Reach Beyond, Riverboat Ministry Engages Unreached People Group in Peruvian Amazon
- John’s Lutheran Church (Ft. Collins, CO), Peru, Day One; Peru Day Three
- Development Associates International, Misión a Bordo (Mission Aboard)