Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Not My Will But Yours Be Done."

Adding that little phrase to the end of a prayer can be like inviting chaos to rule your life. John and I are good at dreaming up grand ideas about what our lives should be but, ultimately, we want to know that we are useful to God in whatever way He sees fit. For example, we believe God has brought us to this part of the world for a reason, but we're beginning to realize that it may not be the reason we first thought it to be. What began as a mission to grow a congregation among the Brazilian people of southern Florida has become a house church among a group of people who don't all speak Portuguese.

We've been meeting every Sunday with a group of about fifteen people -not all Christians. My job on Sundays has been to teach the children who, I'm proud to say, have learned eight key Scriptures by heart. There have been some occasional attendees but the core group has obviously been long established. They invited us here to act as full time ministers and continue what they have had going for many years. They also want their congregation to grow. We were immediately concerned about those among their group who have not made a decision to follow Christ and thought it necessary to address them before looking outward for new converts. For this reason, John has done his best to encourage a fresh perspective among the members through intense Bible study. He also has begun facilitating individual Bible studies among the non Christians to encourage an intentional decision to follow Christ and make that decision public through baptism. I think it's fair to say that there has been little interest on that front but that God is showing His faithfulness in other areas.

Some in the church are having financial difficulties so we decided to save the rent we were paying and meet in our own living room instead. There are also some serious familial and marital issues that we have been addressing through one on one counseling. On a happier note, the parents in the group get our children together for playdates, the women get together for afternoons of crafting, and we have all gotten together for barbecues and bowling at different times. Some in the church have even been so kind as to babysit our boys so we could have a much needed night out. In short, we are getting to know each other and the direction for this church is becoming clearer.

While the members grow in maturity and relationship with Christ, John and I have been putting out feelers for other Brazilians to invite into our midst. John met the owner of the Brazilian bakery and got his permission to advertise free English classes using the Bible. A recent sting on illegal immigrants, however, has put a serious damper on an outreach like that being effective. We've gone out of our way to meet other Brazilians by, for example, seeing a Brazilian doctor and dentist. All this has been at the expense of potential relationships with English speakers even though two of the husbands in our church are American and don't even speak Portuguese. We have been holding all of our studies, worship services, and other meetings in English while projecting that one day it would all be in Portuguese. That has been the collective idea of this church for years but, by their own confession, it hasn't been working.

When I met a single mom at the ballpark before the kids' baseball games one Saturday, I knew she didn't speak Portuguese but invited her to our church anyway. That day I didn't see someone who was not Brazilian. I only saw a lady who was raising her son alone and searching for some support. I offered it to her by inviting her into our group. I'm happy to report that she was well received and that it may well have shifted our focus from Brazilian people to just people. She's a new Christian who quickly became disenchanted with the church when her requests for practical help were denied by several churches. Now she and her son spend lots of time with our family and she has even begun to encourage other single moms she knows to come be a part of our times together and get to know Jesus.

We recognize that our living room won't hold even one more family comfortably so we have begun to talk about the near future. It makes sense to start meeting in two groups on a weekly basis and come together as one group less frequently to worship together on a larger scale. We hope that freeing up some physical space in our homes will also free up some space in our hearts and minds for a greater desire to receive whatever people God puts in our paths. John and I have six families in mind that we plan to invite to our house for dinner over the coming weeks. Though this is not what we had envisioned and at times seems a bit chaotic, we trust God to work a better plan than we could have ever imagined and are anxious to see it unfold.

1 comment:

  1. Samantha, Thank you for sharing! This could not have come at a better time. "Not my will, but yours be done" is truly where several of my family members, as well as myself, are right now!

    Once again, you guys are in my thoughts and prayers, as I ask that you keep us in yours!

    Have a great day!