Life-Giving Waters Flow in the Andes

The Andes Mountains run down the middle of Peru, splitting the country into an arid coastal region on the west and a luxuriant and steaming jungle on the east. On this mountainous spine live over a third of Peru’s 27 million people. They are either on the high plateaus and steep mountainsides of the Andes or in the seemingly bottomless gorges and fertile valleys of that sierra.

 THE rugged range of the Andes resists easy penetration from the outside. As a result, the millions living there are rather isolated, mostly unaffected by events and developments outside their territory.

Small villages have sprung up along streams to access the water needed for crops and herds of llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and sheep. However, there is another type of vital water that flows in the Andes​—refreshing spiritual waters that come from Jehovah, “the source of living water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) God uses his Witnesses to help people in settlements perched high up in the Andes to gain accurate knowledge about him and his purposes.​—Isaiah 12:3; John 17:3.

Since it is God’s will that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth,” these ministers spare no effort to visit hard-to-reach communities with the life-giving message from the Bible. (1 Timothy 2:4) This Bible-based message is enlightening and lofty. It has freed honesthearted local people from superstitions, customs, and ideas that made them fear the dead, the wicked spirits, and the forces of nature. More important, this message gives them the glorious hope of endless life on a paradise earth.

Making the Effort

The Kingdom preachers visiting these remote regions have to make many adjustments. To reach the hearts of the people, Bible teachers need to have some knowledge of Quechua or Aymara, the two local languages.

Getting to the villages in the Andes is not easy. Not many railroads serve those areas. Transportation is precarious and is subject to bad weather and odd topography. How do the Witnesses, then, reach the people to bring them the Kingdom message?

Courageous preachers of the good news have taken up the challenge and have responded in the spirit of the prophet Isaiah: “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) They have used three mobile homes to travel to the north, central, and southern areas. Equipped with dozens of cartons of Bibles and Bible literature, the zealous pioneers, or full-time ministers, have sown seeds of Bible truth among the friendly, hospitable, and honesthearted people living there.

The curves of the mountain roads are especially dangerous. To negotiate some of these, vehicles have to use a switchback. During such a maneuver, a missionary sitting in the back seat of a bus looked out of the window and noticed that one of the rear wheels was right on the edge of a precipice of more than 600 feet [190 m]! He closed his eyes until the bus pulled ahead.

Some roads are in bad shape and are very narrow. Negotiating such rugged terrain, one of the mobile homes was going down a narrow road when it met a truck coming up. The mobile home had to be backed uphill to a place where the two could just barely get by each other.

Nevertheless, the results of such persistent efforts have been outstanding. Would you like to learn more about those efforts?

“Watering” Lake Titicaca

Lying in a basin of the Andes Mountains 12,500 feet [3,800 m] above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the highest inland, navigable body of water in the world. Snowcapped mountain peaks, some of them more than 21,000 feet [6,400 m] high, give birth to most of the 25 rivers that feed Titicaca. Because of the high altitude, the climate is cold, and those not native to the area have to contend with altitude sickness.

Some time ago, a group of pioneers who speak Quechua and Aymara made a trip to  Amantani and Taquile islands on Lake Titicaca. They took along a slide presentation entitled “A Closer Look at the Churches,” a frank examination of the falsehoods of Christendom. This was well received. One man welcomed the brothers and offered a spacious room in his home where they could stay and teach the Bible.

The first meeting on Amantani drew 100 people; the meeting on Taquile was attended by 140. The presentation was in Quechua. One couple who had previously lived on the mainland said: “It was time for you Jehovah’s Witnesses to remember us. We have been praying for you to come.”

Besides these two bigger islands, some of the estimated 40 “floating” islands on Lake Titicaca have also been reached with the good news. Floating islands? Yes, these are made of totoras, reeds that grow in some shallower areas of the lake. Totoras rise through the water and extend above the surface. To make an island, the locals bend the reeds, still rooted to the lake bottom, and interweave them to make a platform. The platform is then packed with mud and reinforced with additional cut reeds. People live in reed huts built on top.

Jehovah’s Witnesses obtained a boat for preaching to people on the islands of Lake Titicaca. The boat is capable of carrying 16 people. After docking at the floating islands, the Witnesses walk on the reed platform from dwelling to dwelling. They say that they usually feel a slight movement of the surface underfoot. This is not the place for those prone to motion sickness!

As for the Aymara-speaking population, they inhabit the numerous communities and villages along the shores and on the peninsulas that jut into the lake. These are more accessible by boat than by land. In all, it is estimated that close to 400,000 people live in the region that such boats serve with the Kingdom message. The boats will be busy for quite some time to come.

Quenching Spiritual Thirst

Flavio lived in the village of Santa Lucía, near Juliaca, in the Andes. In his Evangelical Church, he had been taught the doctrine of hellfire. For years he lived in fear of such an eternal fiery punishment. He often wondered how a God of love could indefinitely torture humans in fire. When Tito, a full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses, visited that village, he called on Flavio.

One of the first questions Flavio posed was, “Does your religion teach that people are tormented in hellfire?” Tito replied that such an idea is repugnant to the Creator and brings reproach on the name of Jehovah, the God of love. Using Flavio’s own version of the Bible, Tito showed him that the dead are not conscious at all and that they await an earthly resurrection under God’s Kingdom. (Ecclesiastes 9:5; John 5:28, 29) This was an eye-opener for Flavio. He immediately accepted a Bible study and soon became a baptized Christian.

An Appreciative Village

Imagine how thrilling it is to bring the Scriptures to villagers who have never before seen a copy of the Bible or to preach in villages where the people have never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses or of the good news they preach! That was the experience of three pioneer sisters​—Rosa, Alicia, and Cecilia—​who preached in the villages of Izcuchaca and Conayca, located at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet [3,600 m] in central Peru.

On arrival at the first village, they had nowhere to stay. They talked to the local police  commander, explaining the reason for their visit. The result? He let them stay overnight in the police station. The next day, the pioneers were able to find more permanent quarters that became their center of operations.

Soon came the time for the annual Memorial of Christ’s death. The pioneers had visited all the houses in the village of Izcuchaca, had placed many Bibles, and had started a number of Bible studies. Before the Memorial, they sent out invitations to this event, explaining the purpose of the celebration and the meaning of the emblems used during the commemoration. A group of brothers had been invited to help with the occasion, and one of them gave the talk. What a joy it was to see 50 people from that small village present at this special event! For the first time, they were able to understand what the Lord’s Evening Meal really means. Also, how precious it was to them to have the Word of God in their hands!

Release From Heavy Burdens

Bringing the refreshing water of Bible truth to captives of false religion is always a joy. Pisac was a stronghold of the ancient Inca Empire. Most of the people living there today have been taught the unscriptural teaching of hellfire. Their priests tell them that they can get to heaven only through the priests’ intercessions.

Understandably, such people are thirsty for the refreshing waters of Bible truth. While preaching from door to door, Santiago, a full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses, had the opportunity to explain to a man that righteous ones are destined to live on a paradise earth. (Psalm 37:11) Santiago showed from the Bible that the dead will be resurrected and that mankind will be instructed in the perfect ways of Jehovah with everlasting life in view. (Isaiah 11:9) Until then, that man had been a devout Catholic, had dabbled in spiritism, and was given to overdrinking. Now he had a Bible-based hope and a goal in life​—to live in Paradise. He burned all his spiritistic paraphernalia and gave up carousing. He gathered his family and accepted a Bible study. In time, all in that family dedicated themselves to Jehovah God and were baptized.

Hospitality Welcomed

The mountain folk are very hospitable. Though their houses are humble and the people are of little means, they offer visitors what they have. Before learning the high standards of the Bible, a host might offer a visitor coca leaves to chew while they are conversing. But on becoming a Witness, he might offer a spoonful of sugar, which is of equal value in the isolated provinces.

A missionary was asked by a brother to accompany him on a return visit. After an arduous climb up a steep mountain path, they clapped their hands to announce their arrival to the householder. They were invited inside the thatched-roof house, having to duck to get through the low entrance. They carefully stepped around the center of the dirt floor, where the mother had dug a hole, stuffed in a blanket, and put her baby. Unable to get out, this baby was content to coo and gurgle happily while the grown-ups were talking. After they had had a lively discussion on the blessings of the Kingdom, the woman brought out a tall container of the local beverage. Soon the brothers were on their way down the mountainside for more calls.

A Bountiful Harvest

Now in this region, there are about a hundred isolated groups with over a thousand people studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Graduates of the Ministerial Training School in Lima are being sent out to develop those groups into congregations. Righthearted individuals who have been captives of false religion and superstitions for so long have found freedom through the good news of the Kingdom! (John 8:32) Their thirst for the waters of truth is being satisfied.

[Picture on page 10]

Witnessing on the “floating” islands of Lake Titicaca