Tar Heel missionaries share through 'Xtreme missions'
April 3 2003 by Joanne Honeycutt , BR staff

Tar Heel missionaries share through 'Xtreme missions' | Friday, April 4, 2003

Friday, April 4, 2003

Tar Heel missionaries share through 'Xtreme missions'

By Joanne Honeycutt BR staff

Have you ever shared the gospel at 20,000 feet or had to check the baptistery for man-eating fish?

Poor roads make travel difficult in the Amazon region. Chris Ammons and Marshall Kitron push their vehicle as Pam Ammons tries to steer it out of the mud.
Missionaries Pam and Chris Ammons are recruiting a team of young men, ages 21-30, who will backpack, climb mountains and row snakelike rivers to take the gospel to unreached people groups from deep in the Amazon jungle to high in the Andes mountains.

The Ammonses met when both were students at Gardner-Webb University. Both felt called to missions. After studying at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the birth of two children, they applied to the International Mission Board and were appointed to serve as church planters in Spain.

In 1991, their work took them to Lima, Peru, where they continued to plant churches. They began working with the Asheninka people of Peru in 1998, where prior attempts to establish churches had failed.

Searching for a more effective way to do missions, Chris pursued a doctorate in missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, focusing on the use of storytelling, a technique that was proving successful for New Tribes Mission, a nondenominational group based in Florida.

Since less than one tenth of one percent of the Asheninka people are literate in their own language, storytelling has proven to be an effective strategy.

The Ammonses returned to live among the Asheninka as part of the community, sleeping under mosquito nets and telling Bible stories to people who are accustomed to oral learning. They discovered that the Asheninka spread stories quickly from household to household and village to village.

One of the keys to unlocking the Asheninka communities was finding native leaders willing to teach Bible stories in their native dialects.

Asheninka people believe that many evil gods control their lives, living in fear of evil spirits believed to control the wind, rain and river. The Ammonses tell them about the one God that created the wind, the rain and the river.

Thus, Asheninka Christians no longer need to use a machete to cut at the ground to turn the direction of the wind, or fear walking beneath a rainbow.

While Pam teaches Bible stories to hundreds of Asheninka children and coordinates a network of prayer supporters, Chris travels with short-term mission volunteers - well-drilling teams, water purification teams and medical teams - that visit regularly.

David and Judy Payne, Wycliffe Bible translators, work with the Ammonses to provide scripture in the native tongues. The Asheninka Bible was recently recorded on tape. Through hand-cranked cassette players, some listen endlessly to the stories.

In 2002, Chris had the idea of bringing in teams of physically fit young men to backpack to remote Amazon and Andes Mountain villages. After discussing the idea with colleagues and presenting it to the International Mission Board, he and Pam, along with others, were soon appointed as coordinators of an "Xtreme Team" project.

Currently on stateside assignment in Cary, the Ammonses devote the majority of their time recruiting young men for the Xtreme Team.

In April, 50 young men from the United States will be chosen to spend five months in training before heading to South America. There they will be paired with national partners. The teams of two or three will backpack and sleep on the ground for months at a time as they travel to the world of the most remote Asheninka people. Future teams of women are planned.

In June, the Ammonses will return to the jungles of the Amazon. While many American television viewers will be watching men and women attempt to win the "Survivor: Amazon" competition, Pam and Chris will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of 50 young men who seek a higher prize as they follow the Great Commission "to the ends of the earth."

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4/3/2003 11:00:00 PM by Joanne Honeycutt , BR staff | with 0 comments
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