With a vision for partnering Baptist churches around the globe, Chris Hindal flew to Peru on Nov. 3 at the invitation of Andy Large, veteran missionary in Peru with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. The Republic of Peru is situated on the western coast of South America. Its varied topography—from the desert plains on the coast to the peaks of the Andes Mountains to the tropical rain forest of the Amazon region—is home to 30 million people. In terms of missionary work, the country is one of ABWE’s oldest fields.

At the beginning of the trip, Chris met with the ABWE missionary team representing the churches of the jungle. They met in Iquitos at the ministry center that ABWE has operated for more than 40 years. Present were Tom Farley, president of the Bible school located at the ministry center; Andy Patton and Andy Large, missionaries; and Bob Trout, ABWE administrator for Spanish-speaking South America. Chris presented the idea of the IPFBM, which for them is a new concept as far as partnership on an association level. After questions were answered, the group seemed positive about pursuing this idea with the national pastors, though they expressed concern that it not come across as another idea from the missionaries themselves. Chris is anticipating that another trip may be required to meet with the national leaders and present the idea to the association pastors.

The second purpose of the trip took Chris from Iquitos to Caballococha by boat, a nine-hour trip of 300 miles down the Amazon. The boat was a commercial boat—covered, windows open, with seating similar to that of an airplane with two on a side and a narrow aisle. The Amazon, while the second longest river, is the largest freshwater river in the world by water flow. Due to the twisting nature of the river with switchbacks like a mountain road, the river has cut a channel in many places so that it flows both around a corner and straight through. The cut-throughs, if navigable, save lots of time.

Chris says, “The best part of the ride was being with Andy Large. He would tell the name of each little village and then a story about what God did in that village.” Andy knows the river because he ministered for 12 years from a houseboat along that stretch of the river. “He would say what was coming up and why the boat hit a sandbar.” Pointing to a sandbar, Andy would explain that the middle of that part of the river fills with sand at certain times of the year and that the pilot should have stayed closer to shore. Then, pointing beyond some brush, he would say, “There is a village right over there behind those trees and we established a church there.” Chris and Andy saw some huts along the river and a few small boats. The boat stopped a couple of times to let people off.

The missionaries who work the river have seen much fruit, but it is not easy. For Andy and Diane, it meant preaching twice a day every day all along the river. He has tons of stories: being followed by an anaconda; his boat breaking loose in the middle of the night and floating downriver for three hours while they slept; trying to kill a she-bear in the water with an oar and finally giving up, leaving one angry bear.

Arriving at his destination, Chris spoke on Saturday night at a youth rally, at another church Sunday morning, and then returned to the first church Sunday night. Monday through Wednesday, each morning Chris spoke to the pastors from the village churches along the river on the general theme of pastoral ministry. Most of the men have had limited training but spoke openly of their appreciation for that training. Monday and Tuesday evening Chris spoke on the subject of stewardship to the village pastors and congregation at a local church. On Wednesday night he presented the IPFBM, showing a PowerPoint presentation that helped attendees appreciate the scope of what God is doing in building His church through independent Baptist churches around the globe.

The value of such a trip is to introduce the vision of the IPFBM and begin the networking that must precede partnering. Chris hopes that as these churches develop, this association will seek partnership in the IPFBM. He says, “We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg of what God may be pleased to do through this worldwide partnership.”