By Amanda Boston
Missionaries Aron and Cessie Rice hail from Brandon with special ties to Kings Avenue Baptist Church. As a youth, Aron attended Kings Avenue and by way of volunteering he received his calling into ministry. Following Bible College, Aron returned as an intern at Kings Avenue and met and wed wife Cessie. A decade and four children later, Aron and Cessie were infused with a passion for missionary work.
The couples’ prior participation in the missions field had consisted of short-term relief trips and projects funding Jesus wells through
Gospel of Asia. Yet, they sensed God was mobilizing their family for long-term missions. Cessie revealed, “There was no more denying it, God put it in our hearts to become full-time missionaries. We said that we would walk through whatever door the Lord opens for us.”
The Rice family connected with Pioneers, an international missions organization, based out of Orlando. A door was opening at Pioneers; brand-new missionary teams destined for the Amazon region of Peru were starting to assemble. After much research, prayer, obstacles, and closed doors, God had called them to Peru. Without wavering, the family of six walked through the proverbial open door and set foot into the jungle.
The vast Amazonian region of Peru is roughly the size of combined states California, Texas, and North Carolina with a constant climate resembling a summer in the Florida Everglades. The untamed expanse contains 50 tribes, all with distinct languages, and a nonexistent literacy rate. In the 1950’s, Wycliffe Bible Translators spent decades developing written languages for the indigenous tribes. The fruit of Wycliffe’s labor produced 40 written languages and corresponding Bibles.
Unfortunately, Wycliffe pulled out of the region before the tribes learned to read their written languages. As a result, the newly translated Bibles were rendered useless and the gospel remained stagnant. Consequently, the tribal practices of animism, a belief attributing supernatural powers and souls to inanimate objects and natural phenomena, continued to thrive.
One of the objectives of a missionary team is to pick up where Wycliffe left off and fill in the linguistic and literacy gap. As a whole, the tribal community is skeptical of outsiders. In the pursuit to establish trust and relations, missionary teams must fully immerse into tribal culture. Originally, Aron and Cessie aspired to live in grass-made huts situated deep within the rainforest, except God had another course of action for the family. Aron’s experience as pastor and counselor paired with his wilderness training was vital to the daily operations conducted in the training and launch center in Pucallpa, Peru.
Like St. Louis, the gateway to the Wild West, Pucallpa, also known as the end of the road, is the last city before entering the wild uncharted territory of the Amazon River. Today, in Pucallpa, Aron trains incoming recruits, sustains the long-standing relations with Christian tribal leaders, and counsels missionaries returning from the field for respite. Cessie, an educated teacher, teaches her children and other missionary children in a one-room schoolhouse.
The Amazonian way of life has grown into the new normal for this family. Sure, from time to time, they miss certain modern-day conveniences or a favorite food, but the opportunity to give the unreached a chance to know Jesus is beyond comparison.
Though the needs of these types of remote missions are many, the most pressing need is for a dormitory building to house incoming recruits. For information on how to financially support the building project and Rice family, please contact Aron Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org. Online giving is also available at ww3.pioneers.org/donate/aronrice/111890. For more information on Pioneers, please visit its Website at www.pioneers.org.