Welcome To Fearless Fridays, where everyday people like you, share amazing stories of fearlessness! #fearlessfriday
Finding Faith Up The Amazon – By Kevin Ball (my man)
Imagine you are a teenager again. Now imagine you are on a world exploring adventure. This adventure is not typical of teenagers – like a band trip to France, or an exchange trip to Japan. No, this is a different sort of adventure….
Imagine you are 700 kilometres upriver on the Amazon in the heart of Brazil. The river is this amazing mighty leviathan so large that you cannot see the other side. You are on a small river boat with a smelly diesel engine putting slowly upriver. GPS is not a thing and you simply need to trust the boat captain that he knows where he is going. It’s not as simple as a highway where if you know the direction you are traveling you can just keep heading in that direction! This river has off-ramps incredibly wide that are difficult to separate from the main river; in fact, you just took a turn onto the Tapajos river flowing into the Amazon. This river is 14 kilometers wide and the only noticeable difference is that the water is less brown and more blue.
Now it is getting dark, the diesel fumes combined with the days’ heat are starting to get to you a bit. You are basically sitting on the equator and definitely out of your element. Did I mention that everyone speaks Portuguese and you do not? It’s alright, you are not alone on this adventure! Teens do not simply travel to remote destinations like this without some supervision – that being mom and dad. It’s alright to not really understand what’s going on, because you are really more of a spectator in this. You can help carry stuff, and put stuff down, as long as there is someone giving you instruction.
This trip is part of a medical aid team taking immunizations into remote villages up river from the cities. Your job (as you understand it) is to carry stuff, and put stuff down, so when the word finally comes that this water bus has reached your stop you pick up your gear and head out!
It is dark, very dark. Black. It is a new moon, which is basically the lack of any moon. You are now travelling in a hollowed out log canoe with your teenage friend, a teenage member of the immunization team and a local man (plus his kids). As the river boat putts away it hasn’t quite hit you yet that this adventure is only just beginning! Well, sort of, the boat begins sinking because it is just a log in reality, and that cooler full of ice and syringes is a bit heavy with the six of you. No big deal, that water is maybe four feet deep and you can carry your gear to the shore – that shore way over there! Now normally you walk in the water with a stick and poke the ground in front of you so the stingrays will get out of the way. That is one of the first things you were taught! Well, you are not able to do that this time, but the guy in front is, so let’s just walk behind him and hope for the best! The caiman (or South American alligator) are a different beast all together.
You’ve done it, you’ve made it to shore! Good thing too, your nerves are getting a little tested, now to just get your sandals on and…nope we are walking into the rainforest, better keep up! Yes, that’s right, it is basically pitch black and you are now walking barefoot into the rainforest trying to keep up. It feels like a path, but you are unable to see in this incredibly dark night. You feel sand, sticks, leaves and what you hope are not insects or snakes.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the most densely populated wildlife areas of the world, with thousands of different mammals, reptiles and scurrying critters which can be so much more interesting on a National Geographic channel documentary; not so much walking barefoot in the dark.
There are noises and your imagination is stretching its legs. The noise of walking, and the other people walking, of branches brushing over your shoulder, and then the forest noises. You are quite awake and the rain forest is awake and
alert with you.
Ok, so now your nerves have gone into survival mode and those animals you are pretty sure are howler monkeys? They are not making it much easier on you.
Let’s switch our story into faith/religion mode. You grew up in a Christian home, in fact you probably wouldn’t be on this trip if it wasn’t for that. But your personal faith? Well it’s been more of your families’ faith, especially in the last few years as you work out your teenage popularity, drama and hormones. But being placed in a possible life or death by howler monkey situation has put more than a few outspoken atheists onto their knees. Let’s not make this a faith debating moment, let us in fact make this a completely humbling, possibly pathetic cry out to God for some assurance of safety!
This here? This is the moment that religion becomes personal faith. This is the moment that takes your analytical mind and slaps it around into a supernatural experience! This is your “Road to Damascus” moment, where although you do not see Jesus, you are filled with such supernatural peace and assurance that it can only be God. Your faith just grew up.This here? This is the moment that religion becomes personal faith. This is the moment that takes your analytical mind and slaps it around into a supernatural experience! This is your “Road to Damascus” moment, Click To Tweet
This moment has been the fulcrum in my life. It separated my child like behaviour into an adult pursuit of God. In future years I would look back to this moment as the time my God relationship started and it gave me faith for future travels to dangerous places. It gave me a faith to trust God intuitively when He said “GO” and had my concerns instantly silenced.
God loves the child like faith. It is a trust in Him that says He will never let go and He will always protect. It is knowledge that the safest place to be is in His will!
My trek through the rainforest did not end at that pivotal moment, it was full of faith testing moments, but I walked in peace that entire trip and still have this story to find encouragement in dark times.
Cheers! Kevin Ball is an amazing dad of 5 kids, the world’s most loyal and loving husband, humble and hardworking, and an extremely talented and anointed worship leader. (Hmmmm, I wonder who’s writing this bio?)