We’ve all heard stories of missionaries of the past who traveled to the most remote areas of the earth searching for lost souls, people who have never heard the name of Jesus. Once I met a man who originally came out from one of those remote areas, searching for Jesus. His name is Yume, and he is a Pygmy from a remote village in the rain forests of South America. I had the privilege of interviewing him on Christian TV in Nashville, Tennessee.
Yume appeared the way you would imagine a Pygmy would look, less than five feet tall, slight of build, with facial features of someone from the remote regions of a South American Jungle. Yume had so much love of Jesus in his heart that it sparkled out of his eyes. His firm handshake and broad smile were infectious. His story is incredible.
Yume was born and raised in a Pygmy tribe deep in the rain forest of South America. Back in the 1960’s Yume came of age, which meant he had to submit to secret rituals and initiations, like every boy did, in order to be recognized as a man. In the final portion of the initiation, the elders of the tribe took him to a secret place in the deepest, most foreboding part of the Jungle. Wild beasts thrived there, and danger lurked behind every tree.
Young Yume’s challenge was to survive the night alone, armed only with his fear. They believed that sometime during the night, the spirit of the forest, a mystical being of terror, would find Yume. With his touch, the boy would die. Then the spirit of the forest would bring him back to life … as a man. Every boy feared this transformation from death, to life as a man, as much as the wild beasts from the jungle.
So they left Yume there … alone. His thoughts soon turned to the boys who never returned. Did they get lost and die? Did wild beasts devour them? Did the spirit of the jungle find them unworthy to be brought back as men? What would happen to him? These were his thoughts as he waited in the night — naked, cold, defenseless and alone, curled up on the ground under a large tree between two protruding roots.
Then the miracle happened. A man of light appeared. His skin was lighter than Yume’s and he had long brown hair and a beard. Clothed in a white garment from neck to toe, he shined like the sun. Yume thought, “This must be the spirit of the forest. I am going to die.” With that, he curled up even tighter as fear gripped him.
The man spoke and introduced himself as Jesus. He told Yume that he had come to save him and give him eternal life. Yume loosened up some. Jesus comforted him, protected him, and stayed with him through the night. At daybreak, Yume looked around and Jesus was gone!
After a harrowing run through the forest to his village, Yume told his family and the elders what had happened. How this man Jesus came to save and protect him. Nobody believed him. Yume told me that neither he nor anyone from his village had ever seen a white man before. He was ridiculed and abused, so he left.
He set out through the rain forest to find Jesus. He traveled through dangerous forests and jungles, climbed unknown mountains and swam across rivers. He searched from villages to settlements asking the same question of those he met. “Where’s Jesus?”
Every place he went, he would tell his story and ask the same question, “Where’s Jesus?” Weeks turned into years, and Yume grew up, but he never gave up. Eventually, Yume found his answer and discovered where and whom Jesus is, but not before walking through South America, Central America, Mexico, and into the United States!
“… he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)
Yume became an evangelist and a missionary. Not one who went to the jungle, but one who Jesus brought out of the jungle. Now everywhere he goes, he shares the answer to where’s Jesus, “He’s in my heart!”
“And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.” Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT)