Through the end of 2023, we’ll share stories from the past 15 years of ministry. It’s our way of remembering all God has done and encouraging us for what’s ahead. We invite you to read, watch, and pray about how you could be involved in investing in the future of our work. Here’s Cosme’s story…
Each year, the Amazon River rises more than 30 feet throughout the rainy season from December to May, displacing upwards of 70,000 families. Homes, crops, and belongings are submerged or washed away, as families evacuate to higher ground for safety. The floodwaters also hamper transportation, isolating villages from crucial services and supplies. Villagers face significant challenges during this season. Finding access to clean water and food are just some of their obstacles as they struggle to survive and rebuild what has been washed away.
Naturally, many people would jump at the opportunity to leave a place like this for higher ground. But, we know someone who moved into it.
Pastor Cosme Florencio is one of our Amazon heroes. Now in his early 60s, Pastor Cosme has been in pastoral ministry for 30 years for the Assembly of God of Amazonas.
Cosme, his wife Aurea, and their four children answered God’s call to move from the city of Manaus to the Novo Renascer and Nova Esperança communities, a two-and-a-half-hour journey by boat. Here, their village floods annually. The waters have risen so much that he has had to rebuild his church and home multiple times.
When Cosme and Aurea first moved, there were many days when food was scarce for their family. Cosme told us about one particular morning years ago when he reached a breaking point. He took his son into the jungle, where Cosme would labor to pick fruits from the treetops and drop them down to him. Cosme scaled his way up a tree to try and reach the fruit until he couldn’t hoist himself any higher. Running out of strength and hope, he buried his head in the branches and began to cry. “Had the Lord forsaken him?” he wondered.
“Daddy, keep climbing!” His young son jolted him from his sadness as he yelled from the ground. “I’m hungry!”
Digging deep, Cosme climbed a little higher, twisted the fruit from its stem as his own heart had been twisted, and fed his family for another day.
When we asked Cosme why he has sacrificed so deeply for so many years and why he remains in a village that floods, he replied with a visible gleam in his eye, “Because there are people here who need Jesus.”
He will tell you this with a joy that comes from the Lord, which is greater than any fleeting earthly pleasure that’s here today and then swept away by a drought or flood.
In March 2015, a JMI mission team from the Village Chapel in Nashville helped build Pastor Cosme a home that would stay above flood waters. Along with helping his village rebuild, one of the most effective ways JMI offers assistance to Cosme’s village, as well as others that flood, is by distributing emergency food bags, hygiene supplies, medications, and other necessities. We also bring medical teams along with mission trips there. By meeting basic needs, we are partnering with pastors like Cosme to offer the river people a glimpse of the Savior’s deep love and care for them.
Cosme also attends JMI’s annual Jungle Pastors Conference, where pastors receive biblical and practical training to help them disciple the people in their church and run effective ministries in the most remote and difficult settings.
Pastors often arrive at the conference exhausted and in dire need of encouragement, and they leave energized and refreshed. At this summer’s conference, Pastor Cosme told us, “This has given me such joy. I leave this place renewed. I could even say, transformed!”
The conference reminds him that he is not alone–offering the precious opportunity to fellowship with other jungle pastors along with ministers from the US.
“We feel we gain more vitality to fight for God’s work knowing there’s a team, there are brothers who are in the USA, who are here in the Amazon, praying and interacting with others,” he said. “Today, I feel I’m highly valued.” Watch a video from Chris Hardy about Pastor Cosme.
Many more pastors like Cosme are serving right now in remote villages up and down the Amazon River. Our partnership with these jungle pastors is the centerpiece of all the work we do in this region. A record number of pastors came to JMI conferences in 2023, and we are adding a third conference to host even more of them in 2024. Will you come alongside us in this ministry?