Monday, September 21, 2009

Our Next Missionary Journey

Over the past eighteen months, we have witnessed seventeen people choose to follow Jesus and have seen changes only God could effect in their lives. With such a thriving ministry it would only seem fitting that we should stay put and continue this work indefinitely. But God's ways are not our ways. We have received an invitation to work with a small group of Christians who are trying to reach the hundreds of thousands of Brazilians living in southern Florida. Through much prayer John and I have discovered that God is opening the way for us to move there in order, we believe, to evangelize.

John and I became Christians and were married a little over thirteen years ago. Since then John received a Bible degree in Tennessee, we trained in Texas for mission work, and we worked with a team to plant a church in southern Brazil. We then moved back to the US and were involved in various Stateside ministries until the spring of 2008. That's when we came here to northern Brazil to work with a small church in the area of evangelism. Throughout all of our travels the same two churches in Tennessee and Texas have sponsored and supported us, and for that we are grateful.

What we are leaving here is a small but thriving congregation. The ground has also been worked for a church plant in a town about three hours outside of the city of Natal. We plan to make regular visits to Natal to encourage the church here and to travel to Currais Novos to continue the work there.

Please continue to read our blog and subscribe to it if you haven't already. We hope to encourage you in your life and ministry. We covet your comments and prayers.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

John's Weekend Adventure

This weekend was John's second trip to a town called Currais Novos, about three hours outside of Natal. His first trip was in December with Mike and Jerry Hall from our sponsoring church in Springtown, Texas. They traveled there because Geraldo, the second man John baptized in Natal, told them about his hometown where there are no churches.

Upon their arrival, the men discovered a rustic town where there were indeed no churches and, more importantly, no Biblical teaching. Geraldo introduced them to his family and friends and John taught them from the Bible. At the end of their stay, they invited John back to hear more.

Since then, we have had Ben, spent two months in the States on furlough, and battled the swine flu for about a month. This weekend was John's first opportunity to revisit Currais Novos. He and Geraldo drove there on Friday morning and returned on Saturday morning. They decided to take Geraldo's jeep to handle the dilapidated road conditions. Here's Geraldo driving in the rain without windshield wipers:
Here's John afraid for his life:
Here's Geraldo's bumper sticker reminding John "I'm following the footsteps of Jesus":
And here's the broken-down jeep reminding them both that the footsteps of Jesus are not easy to follow:
They made it as far as Santa Cruz or Holy Cross, where they ditched the jeep and caught a ride to make the rest of the trip. A statue of Mary holding a cross and a sword overlooks this little town:
When they finally arrived in Currais Novos six hours later, they were greeted by Geraldo's in laws:
You may remember that Socorro is Geraldo's wife. These are her parents. Her dad offered John a fresh coconut:
Then they spent some time hanging out together while Geraldo walked around town inviting people to a Bible study that evening:
Socorro's dad had no interest in what John was there to teach during his first visit, but when John was leaving he promised to come to a study if John would return. During this visit he was hospitable to John and even gave him a hammock to sleep in on his porch but he didn't go to the study. Again, he said maybe next time.

These guys did show up:
As did these women:
And these kids:
In all, about thirty people were present for the study that evening:
John offered this DVD on the Gospel of John to anyone who would agree to share it with others in town. This lady was clearly thrilled to accept the offer:
John read and commented on John 3 where Jesus discusses with Nicodemus what it means to be born again. He spoke for almost thirty minutes without any participation from the group. When he asked them why nobody was answering his questions, one man revealed that the group had never heard these Scriptures and had no idea what they meant or how to comment on them. John then read 1 Corintians 2 and explained that nobody can understand the things of God without the Holy Spirit. It seemed that they had enough information to chew on so he called it a night. Again they invited him back.

The next morning, Geraldo and John caught a ride with Geraldo's cousin (the guy in pink) who is employed taking the kids of the neighborhood to school - a thirty-minute drive. The kids were on their way to extra-curricular, Saturday activities so the guys took advantage and jumped on board.
They ended up on the side of the road halfway back to Natal, where the truck ride ended, and caught another ride home.
Friday morning, which should have been a three-hour drive, turned out to be a six-hour ordeal of heavy rain and a broken-down car. Friday night was a sleepless one spent in a hammock where giant mosquitos snacked on exposed flesh. John was tired and had caught a cold by the time he made it home. I asked him if all the travel, rain, mosquitos, poor sleep, and sickness were worth it. He said without a doubt, and he plans to return to Currais Novos in the future to water the spiritual seeds that have been planted.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Untold Stories

For those of you who have been following the progress of this mission, I'm sure you have been impressed with what God has done in the short time we've been in Natal. We want you to know that it is not because of us that so many people have been baptized during the mission here but because of God's mercy to the lost.

Before we even left the States, John baptized his dad and nephew Anthony in Colorado. Since we've been living in Natal, we've experienced the baptisms of Francisco, Geraldo, Socorro, Rosendo, Ingrid, Talis, Jefferson, Tiago, Heloisa, and Noemia. During our recent furlough, John baptized his sister's friend John in Colorado and my mom in Texas. What an incredible eighteen months this has been!

I trust some of you have been praying for these new Christians since you first heard about their conversions. For that reason, I want to be sure you also know about three new Christians who were baptized while we were not here. Back in March when I was in the hospital with Ben, Joilderson became a new Christian:
Then while we were in the States on furlough, Relter and Monica were baptized:
Please continue to pray for these young Christians - not only that God will bless their lives but that he may also use them to spread the good news about Jesus and the eternal salvation he offers to anyone who will accept it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We Survived the Swine Flu

Here we are, relatively unscathed by the H1N1 virus. It was a long battle but we are finally well. We all have a bit of residual "gunk" in our heads so each of us is temporarily hard of hearing. That's been less than amusing, but I'm sure it will pass.

Thank you so much for your prayers, and please don't forget to continue to pray for the ministry that we're involved in together - reaching the lost for Christ.