• The Beni River Ministry

The Beni Rivers Outreach Runs Deep
by The Indigenous Rural Expansion Team, SAM Bolivia

Mamore. Itenez. Machupo. Blanco. Beni. Quiquibey. These could surely be the names of Amazonian indigenous groups who inhabited this part of South America centuries ago, and perhaps they are, but to a special team of SAM missionaries and friends these are the names of the rivers we navigate each year in an effort to reach remote communities in The Beni department* of northeastern Bolivia.

SAM’s Indigenous Rural Expansion Team in Bolivia initiated this work in The Beni over five years ago. This past summer from July 13-23, a group of 20 made the voyage. This trip is more than just a tradition now; after more than eight trips and hundreds of people served, it is becoming a serious missionary endeavor. The vision for seeing indigenous and rural churches form grows more compelling as people in The Beni continually respond to redemptive measures of outreach.

Our ministry in The Beni primarily involves taking medical care and biblical teaching to remote places, and in doing so, God allows us to participate in the redemptive work of establishing His Kingdom on earth.

The vital medical care we provide—which ranges from treating respiratory infections to surgically removing tumors and extracting teeth—brings healing and restoration to the human body. There is a profound message of hope found in this work—hope in the complete bodily healing that God will bring when He grants us new bodies in the new creation. Sharing the hope of the new creation to the people of The Beni is a driving force in this missionary enterprise.

Biblical teaching is also an indispensable component of our work. Creating the environment of a vacation bible school and conveying the biblical narrative through film are two teaching methods we use. On this most recent trip we had six opportunities to show the Jesus Film: Mary Magdalene, each time to crowds filled with anticipation and excitement. Film is a powerful medium to reach people with a message, especially in a culture where illiteracy is not uncommon and the prevalent aptitude often never rises above a sixth-grade level. In the case of those who saw Mary Magdalene on our most recent trip, it was a new, wonderful encounter with the story of Jesus’ life.

Our growing vision for this ministry also involves offering a semi-annual, modular bible-training institute in one or two strategic locations along the rivers. As we begin to plan and pray for this bible institute, we are also forming a working relationship with a hospital in the town of Magdalena. Strategically located and with facilities for performing major medical procedures, the hospital could serve as our base of operations. Perhaps Magdalena could also be one of the centers of bible training. A place of sending and receiving, a “central port” for our on-going ministry in The Beni is the vision we are pursuing for Magdalena.

Next year, 2010, may prove to be pivotal in the growth of this ministry. Five trips on five different rivers is our hope. One or two of these trips have the potential to involve teams of physicians being sent out from churches in the States. But it is not just physicians whom we are eager to see join us in this work; it is anyone who believes in the redemptive power of Christ to unveil the hope of new creation. This hope runs deep, far deeper than the rivers of The Beni extend into the remote places of the Bolivian landscape.

*a department is roughly equivalent to a state


To date we have two trips planned for next year, June 11-21 and July 9-19. Will you pray with us as we plan? Moreover, will you consider ways that you or your church could be involved with us in this work? We need teams to join us and we need financial support as we grow this ministry. Email us at teams@southamericamission.org, or call the home office at 803-802-8580.


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