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Players of Hope: Ministry Update

March 31, 2020

Players of Hope: Ministry Update

March 31, 2020

Matt Parker travels along the Amazon each year handing out Players of HopeWhen Pretinho was given a solar-powered MP3-like digital audio player by a missionary traveling along the Amazon River, he had no idea how it would one day change not only his life, but the life of many others.

There are over 30,000 communities along the Amazon River and around 10,000 of those have never heard the Gospel. These 10,000 communities consist of more than a million people, making it a large unreached population. No local Christian radio stations have been established in this area, and there aren’t enough trained believers to meet the ongoing discipleship needs.

Since 2012, Reach Beyond missionaries Matt and Anabella Parker have led the Players of Hope project as a way of bringing the Gospel to these river communities and support the missionary efforts in the area. Matt grew up in Brazil and is a third-generation missionary. His parents, Richard and Kimberly Parker, direct a ministry called Services of Evangelism and Assistance to the River People of the Amazon (SEARA). Matt had originally planned to open a radio station for the river communities, but the Brazilian government denied them a frequency.

“That’s when God gave us the vision to help reach and disciple these people using solar powered MP3 players instead,” said Matt.

The devices are loaded with an expansive Scripture audio library, including the entire Bible in Portuguese, music, discipleship materials and content for families. Since launching the program 8 years ago, the Parkers have distributed over 2,500 players in 120 communities, providing families with quality programming that has helped open up and evangelize communities, and is helping believers grow and mature spiritually.

Pretinho is one such believer whose life has been transformed by receiving a Player of Hope. As his family began listening to the family content, Pretihno’s youngest son listened to the words and decided he needed Jesus in his life, too. Receiving one of these players and hearing the content, not only impacted Pretinho and his family, but has impacted thousands of others living in the river communities.

One of SEARA’s ministries is sending teachers along the river to hold a floating seminary for those who want more training. Pretinho completed that training and now serves as a missionary along the Amazon. He recently began working in a community that is very opposed to evangelicals.

A man living along the Amazon River listens to a Player of HopeAlthough that community is entirely Catholic, the people do not have a personal relationship with Jesus or a true understanding of the Gospel. But two brothers who received the players have since come to accept Christ. One brother is actually a leader in the Catholic Church, the other brother cannot read at all.

“Before, he had to count on his brother to be spiritually fed or to learn,” said Matt. “But now, he has his player and listens to it everywhere he goes – when he wakes up, when he fishes, when he eats, and even when he sleeps. He goes to bed hearing the Bible.”

Pretinho was able to start a Bible study in the community after a few came to faith, but it angered other leaders. One person even put up a fence, declaring no Bible studies were allowed beyond that fence.

“There is a lot of persecution in the community, but there is also hope. The one brother is still preaching in the Catholic Church, but he is using the content he has learned from the Player of Hope when he preaches now,” said Matt.

In other areas along the Amazon, Matt is seeing doors open that have been shut for generations. One particular community was so opposed to evangelism, they closed their doors to missionaries, but one of the Brazilian missionaries, Alex, was able to give a Player of Hope to a teacher. The teacher had to teach a class on religion, but he didn’t have any content, so he turned to the player. Parents began listening, but they had questions, so they invited the missionary back that they had kicked out.

Matt said, “My grandfather had tried, others had tried, but thanks to a Player of Hope, we could finally get in.”

This year, Reach Beyond is praying for $39,600 to distribute more players to new communities along the Amazon. Please join us in prayer for this funding, for the Parker family, and that the more than one million people living along the Amazon River will come to know Christ through this ministry.

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