The indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest put their faith in what we call Animism. Compared to Western or other conventional religions, Animism is considered to be more multifaceted and wider in scope. It serves a spiritual or even religious purpose in the Indian community, its central belief being rooted in the foundation of "work" and "functioning".

The Indian tribes still live with primitive world views, putting no distinction between the natural and supernatural. To them, the visible and invisible worlds are inseparably one in the same. Furthermore, this primitive religion of Animism fails to embody any moral affairs. Explaining the meaning of life, death, and the "great beyond" are the main concerns of this traditional religion of the Indian tribes.

To them, death is never natural or without cause. Whether a death is caused by a snakebite, illness or an accidental canoe flip in the river, there is always a spiritual rationale behind it. They believe that any kinds of misfortune, accident or death are the result of the interconnectedness of spirits (causer) and their related phenomenon.

The religion of Animism puts much stress in the practice of symbolic customs. In situations where the same ceremony or rite is continually repeated many times, they discordantly consider everything purposeful no matter how cliche it is. Such practices act as sacred representations and symbols, which to the Indian community, carries deep meaning even in society. Such ceremonies and rites redounded into life-changing or otherwise problematic follow-ups.

The religious tradition of the Indians plays a massive role in the lives of these brothers. It impacts the society, economy, aesthetics and virtually any and all system of beliefs they hold, including subtle activities and conceptions like soil tillage, hunting, fishing, treatment methods and preventive methods against diseases. Furthermore, they believe that the imperceptible outcome of their afterlife is primarily determined by the tangible "doings" of the everyday life of "today".

A real image of the moral, political, technical and social outline of the Indian tribes can be expertly ascertained just by taking a glimpse at some of their disease diagnosis. Animism, for the most part, values and emphasizes the tangible world over the intangible and supernatural. The best phrase in defining the faith of Animism would be "living the abundant life"; some constituents include good health, treatment and protection from diseases, good future prospects, efficient hunting and fishing, good luck and safety.

Animism even attempts to answer the uncertain, almost unanswerable questions of the universe, the collision between human beings and life-and-death. The supernatural, unseen world acts as a source of providence in empowering and providing human beings in what it needs to survive. For the most part, Indian tribes don't esteem ethics, in itself, to be of any value. However, ignoring sacred taboos and insulting or disrespecting the spirits, which may lead into problems, is considered to be of immense importance.

The culture of the Indian tribes is substantially replete with Animistic influence. It is believed that everyone is impacted, whether positively or negatively, through religious taboos. Spirits, as they call it, are also believed to affect the whole life of the Indian brothers. Contrarily, it is assumed that the active working of the spirits of nature of the dead and invisible supernatural powers is impervious to the events of the natural world. The spirits are responsible for bringing in all the good fortunes to a village, as there is a unique working of a spirit in each and every affair. Any kind of religious ceremonies in pleasing the spirits is highly regarded.

Such ceremonies, celebrations, commemorations or otherwise life's daily habits gear into religious faith, which they believe is divinely necessary.

When referring back to the unseen spiritual realm of the Indians, there seems to be very peculiar notions of what the spirits present to the natural world. As a result of this spiritual disposition, when an Animist is converted into Christianity, they often times feel freer to express their own unique spirituality than we, who naturally believe in the absolute authority of the Bible.

The Tiquie River, which is a basin of the Rio Negro River, inhabits the Indian tribe of Tuyuka. In recent years, a united Indian organization called FOIRN set up a school in the village of the Tuyuka Indians by presenting many traditional word-of-mouth stories. Within the book of 43 fables, 7 of the stories are about the divine spirits of the Amazon rainforest. It acquaints us in how the worshiping of deceased souls was integrated into the life of the Indians.

As these Animistic Indian brothers accept the Gospel and confess their faith as Christians, they strive to participate in as many church events as possible, in pursuit of salvation. However, there are many cases in which they would return to their old ways of dealing with problems when faced with life-threatening diseases or snakebites, such as seeing a shaman for help.

Consequently, such jumbled religious straits between Christianity and their traditional Animistic beliefs of spirits help explain why it is so critical that there be a re-indoctrination of the Gospel to 5 of the nominal "Christian" Indian Tribes of the Rio Negro River-Valleys. For instance, natural conventions like beseeching dead ancestors for help are one of the many inveterate exercises still being practiced by some of the Indian brothers in these tribes.

Such practices derive from beliefs that their ancestral spirits are still in their midst, always accessible for help. It is empirical that the church amends such human establishments through re-teaching Biblical truths.

If the Gospel isn't convincingly conveyed to the Indians and upholding relevance to the concerns of their daily lives properly in a way where topics like salvation and sin aren't conveyed explicitly, it will transpire into a rather more advantageous religion of its own-the continuation of mystical precepts. The final result will be a total shattering of the essence of the Gospel.

In order for the delusion of the Gospel to cease by their misconception of Biblical truths, the Gospel must be re-told to the Indians, upholding its relevance to their daily life and sharpening their knowledge of crucial Biblical topics like salvation and sin. When we fail to do this, then Christianity to the Indian tribes will transpire into a rather more advantageous and desirable man-made religion of its own, encouraging further dependence and the continuation of mystical/magical precepts.


As the Indian tribes were discovered, oppressed and persecuted by the Euro-Brazilian pioneers, there were many adverse effects of benevolence. One individual religious leader, Venancio Kamiku, started his ministry in 1857. Kamiku had a great influence in his ministry all the way into the mid-1900s, visiting every possible Indian village and administering medical treatment to those who were in need.  



He once prophesied that "a goddess will descend from the heavens to save the Indians." And in 1857, just in the nick of time, an unmarried American missionary Sophia Muller of the Missao Novas Tribos (New Tribes Mission) daringly ventured into the Indian village of Curipaco which was habituated in the rainforests of Columbia. As she gained momentum in their ministry, she was able to enter the domains of Brazil. Many of the Indian tribes wondered if Sophia possibly was the goddess whom Kamiku prophesied will come down from heaven to save them.

As a result of her rising influence in the Indian community, Ciringa Rupda insidiously poisoned her food in an attempt to kill her. After consuming the poisoned food, she lay down on a hammock and quickly puked it all out. Chickens that were passing by ate Sophia's vomit and all died on the spot. This became conclusive evidence to the Indians that Sophia Muller was indeed the prophesied savior from heaven. As the rumor spread throughout the Indian community as fast as the wind, great multitudes of people began to convert into Christianity.

Meanwhile, a chief policeman, who opposed Catholic missionaries, contemplated to arrest Sophia Muller. One night, as the policeman set out to buy hwaringya from the upper regions of the village, Sophia requested some of the Indian brothers to help her escape, as the time was perfect. They agreed to help her, and after rolling all night on a canoe, she was able to cross borders into another country. It was impossible for her to ever return again.

However, she continued her ministry in gathering and training the Indian brothers of the tri-border area of the Amazon rainforest. She also requested the Missao Novas Tribo to send more missionaries to the Rio Negro River-Valleys, and they quickly responded by doing so. In what was a humble beginning, Missao Novas Tribo's ministry extended to the regions of the Ashana, Rio Xie and the Baixo Rio Negro River, primarily targeting the tribes of Curipaco, Baniwa, Bare, Werekena and Cubeu. The result of Missao Novas Tribo's 50 year ministry is astounding with about 50 tribes hearing and 2000 Indians accepting the Gospel.

In 1953, as two American missionaries, Paul and Gracie Scheibe from the Missao Novas Tribo, set up a mission base in Brazil, they observed and studied the phonetics of the Indian language and began to establish alphabets in order to publish a copy of the Bible accessible to the Indians, especially for the tribe of Baniwa. Following their lifelong ministry, Henry and Elizabeth Lowen took their place in ministry.

Not long after their arrival, Elizabeth passed away as Henry remarried Missionary Edna and continued his ministry. Almost all of Henry's co-workers in ministry were unmarried female missionaries. Their names were Mirtes, Wordlok, Elizabeth Koop and Elma. After a few years, missionaries from Brazil were also dispatched from their country to serve the Indian tribal community.

What is now called the Protestant Linguistic Missions Association, was officially founded in 1984 by the missionary couple Bauteir and Sibana Martins, who along with missionaries Elias Coelho, Lenita Coelho and two other unmarried female missionaries still serve in the village of the tribe of Daw, which is located on the opposite end of Sao Gabriel. In 1999, a missionary by the name of Paulo began his mission work in the Tucano and Desano-tribe inhabiting village of Balaio, which is approximately 100 kilometers away from Sao Gabriel. Two churches have been planted in the village so far.

And through the agreement between the Presbyterian Church of Korea and the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil), missionary Cheol Ki Kim was dispatched to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira in February of 1995. His ministry includes the erection and the continual administration of Rio Negro's Seminary, planting of churches, and visiting and evangelizing in Indian villages. He planted a total of two churches in the town of Sao Gabriel, and through Rio Negro Seminary's alumni pastors, planted a total of six churches in the Indian villages. His congregation is estimated to be about 500 people.

Currently in the Rio Negro River-Valley, there exists three districts: Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, Santa Isabel and Barcelo. It estimated that about 750 Indian villages, holding a population of 80,000 Indians, are scattered throughout these three districts. There are 60 Indian villages out of the 750, which contain a Protestant church and the Christian population is believed to be about 3,100 people.