SANTARÉM, BRAZIL – The picture you are looking at is a village outside of the remote city of Santarém, deep within the Amazon rain forest. “How deep?” you ask.
Santarém is a journey of roughly (in more ways than one) 1,550 miles from Brazilia, the capital city of Brazil. That’s about equal to the distance between New York and Denver, a drive of approximately 26-27 hours, a little more than a day.
It took the young Huber family all of five days to drive the Pan-Brazilian Highway from a Goiania, Brazil, to reach Santarém in the mid-1970s. Luke Huber’s parents had been missionaries to Goiania, about 100 miles southwest of Brazilia, for 25 years. Their home had been the launching pad, so to speak, for the establishment of 20 churches in the jungle villages over 25 years. Now it would be the launching pad for Luke and Christine to venture far deeper into the middle of the Amazon rain forest where millions of indigenous people lived in tens of thousands of remote villages.
Relatively untouched by outsiders, most of the inner Amazon tribes had never heard the good news of Jesus Christ.
They also lived in the most meager of circumstances, typical of under-developed regions of the world even today. No education. Poor health. Unsanitary living conditions. Unhealthy diets. Little or no communication with the rest of the world.
The list of obstacles the Hubers faced is like that of so many others whom the Lord has called to suffer for His sake in the most difficult of places and circumstances.
As they persisted in their vision to plant 100,000 churches in the Amazon Basin and throughout the entire country of Brazil, they also realized that they needed additional help. They contacted the people most young adults would, regardless of where we are or what we are doing – Luke’s parents.
Not only did the elder Hubers offer sage advice, but they also moved to Santarém to work alongside their son and daughter-in-law to help them train more disciples and plant more churches.
Even more remarkable, Luke’s parents invited all of their other children to join the work in Santarém. And they came.
The entire Huber family and their children joined the effort to reach out to other villages along the Amazon and its tributaries.
In 1994, Luke died when his ultra-lite aircraft crashed shortly after take-off. Devastated, Christine and the rest of the Huber family took encouragement in one of Luke’s favorite expressions (his own version of what Joseph had said to his brothers).
“What the devil meant for evil backfired on him.”
At the time of his death, there were 250 PAZ churches and more than 100 house churches alive and well as a result of the Lord’s blessing on the ministry.
Today, there are more than 450 PAZ churches. The elder Hubers have gone on to be with Jesus, but all of their older 11 grandchildren and their spouses are in full-time service for the Lord. The remaining younger ones are preparing for ministry. Their 23 great-grandchildren intend to serve the Lord in ministry as well.
Likewise, many of the discipled and dedicated Brazilian nationals reached through PAZ – including their children and grandchildren are establishing more new churches and church-planting bases throughout the 2.3 million-square-mile country.
PAZ International has planted churches in nearly every Brazilian state, Venezuela, Paraguay, Portugal, Italy, and Japan. The vision continues.
Perhaps the best way to describe how the Lord has and is using PAZ and the Huber family is by using the same verses that are on Luke’s epitaph. They’re Ephesians 3:20, 21.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen!”