Shapu is a bright teenager. His nomadic tribe chose him to further his education in a village only reachable by boat. The journey took 7 days down the Amazon River – and along the route a jaguar attack changed his life … forever.
The Amazon River is fraught with danger, even for those who hail from indigenous tribes with generations of experience with the terrain. The river and surrounding areas are laden with Dracula ants, crocodiles, giant mosquitoes, anacondas, electric eels, and man-eating fish. The most feared animal, however, is the jaguar; this cat can grow to be six feet long and weigh as much as 250lbs. They excel at swimming and climbing trees – and once they strike there is little hope of escape.
Shapu’s father accompanied his son on the journey and the two set out in a small wooden boat. Midway through the trip they stopped along the river and camped. They were not alone on this patch of land, however. A big cat was stalking Shapu, waiting patiently for the perfect moment to attack, and then he struck with unrelenting force.
Jaguars attack prey beginning first with the face and head. Shapu was rolling around on the ground as the large animal crushed his skull and tore open his scalp.
Shapu’s father reached his son quick enough to kill the cat with a bow and arrow and to save his boy, but the wounds were near fatal. Shapu lay on the ground in shock and bleeding profusely. Since they were in such a remote location Shapu’s father carried his son to the canoe, and they continued down the river, searching for help. Fortunately, they crossed paths with a small dugout canoe with an outboard motor. For 6 days and nights the crew pushed to get to Shapu to the hospital in Tabatinga.
By the time they arrived, Shapu had nearly bled to death and was burning up with fever from infection. The hospital staff gave little hope for recovery. A local tribesman, a Christian missionary, heard of the emergency and visited him in the hospital. He prayed over the boy and asked Jesus to heal – and the Lord healed in a miraculous way. Shapu and his father, amazed by the power of God, prayed to receive Jesus into their hearts.
The missionary found out Shapu was interested in furthering his education so he invited him to stay and participate in a special program with 9 other youth from different tribes.
The teen moved into the disciple house. Shapu became crazy in love with Jesus, and the more he learned about the Bible, the more passionate he became about taking the Gospel back to the Matis people, his own tribe.
Shapu is one of several young men intent on reaching indigenous people along the Amazon River for Christ. He is one of the first to translate The Story of Jesus – a 16 page graphically illustrated booklet on the life of Christ – into his dialect. This David C Cook resource taken from the award-winning The Action Bible , points children toward salvation in Jesus alone. Indigenous churches and organizations have distributed 27,450,00 copies in 24 languages and dialects since 2011, when the program began. Each Story of Jesus is customized to meet a specific culture’s needs and customs.
Shapu speaks 5 Amazonian languages in the Javari Valley, one of the most protected reservations by the Brazilian government. Officials and police are stationed two days up the river making sure no white people or indigenous missionaries outside the reservation enter the Javari Valley. They’re intent on stopping evangelism in order to preserve tribe culture that feeds a booming tourist industry.
This young man, however, is rare in that he is from the area and allowed to travel back to his village with the tools to bring hope to his people. One important tool is the Story of Jesus.In addition to the Story of Jesus, Shapu is taking David C Cook’s The Action Bible with him. This resource features 215 illustrated Bible stories in chronological order. The artwork captures the biblical narrative, making it ideal for oral cultures such as the Matis.
One of Shapu’s trips home took place over the 2012 Christmas and the New Year holiday. We’ll relay the details of his journey as we receive feedback.
It costs 10 cents on average to print and distribute a copy of The Story of Jesus for a child in the developing world. Each pamphlet is explained one on one and tied back to a local church for discipleship. Will you join us in spreading the Good News of Jesus to children in some of the hardest hit places on earth? Click here to read more stories.