Confronting Witches, Mermaids, and Neckties in the Jungles of Peru

Alex Duke | March 18, 2016

“You can’t go into any of these places without permission—or you’d probably get killed.”

Fortunately, permission had been granted to Scott Doherty and his fellow missionaries, so they would at least survive their first jaunt deep into the Amazon jungle.

It took the team half a day just to reach their destination—eight hours in the back of a truck, heads bobbing as they bumped along dirt roads, hands white-knuckling as they drove across deep rivers with water rushing over the truck’s hood. Finally, after a two-hour peque peque (canoe) ride, they made it to a village somewhere in Peru.

“We were probably the first white people to ever come into that village,” Doherty said. “Even the local Peruvians had said we shouldn’t go.” Yet there his team stood, ready to share good news.

The village, Chembo, contained around 500 people, and most of them lived in thatched huts. They hunted, fished, and grew crops like bananas, yuca, and cocoa. A Peruvian native, Miguel, picked up the villagers’ crops for market and built a relationship with them over time. He also served as the mission team’s connection, the one responsible for procuring their life-saving permission.

Confronting Witches, Mermaids, and Ties  

When they arrived in…

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