Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Photo Post of our Kids

I thought I would take advantage of the time we are in Santos and have a little bit faster internet connection to upload some pictures of the kids. I know the Grandmas and aunties especially are wanting to see them and how they are growing. :)

It is always a super challenge to get a picture of the four of them in which they are all smiling and looking in the direction of the camera. In spite of the fact that this pic was another example of how I was unsuccessful in that attempt, I still loved this pic. :)
Dominique - such a little lady and so happy to be able to officially say that she is "five and a HALF". She loves to carry a purse with her everwhere, play with my make-up, and she takes such good care of her dollies. It is a joy to watch her grow.

Forget trying to get a good picture of the four of them together - just trying to get one of Johann period is a challenge! Good thing he was so into this tree - he was more than happy to sit there for a picture, and the way he has his hands was his own doing. Fabio has been teaching him lately to do that with his hands when Daddy says "Wait". It took him a while to stop being stubborn about it and just DO it, but he finally has it and is obeying much better lately. Thank you Jesus! I think it takes five or six times to teach him what it took to teach the others, but we keep plugging away and we are starting to see the beginning of the fruits.

Joshua recently lost one of his two front teeth and it looks just charming. :) The other one is loose and hopefully will come out soon before the adult one shows up on the other side.

Below is his backpack which he carries pretty much everywhere with him. It contains all of his treasures - books, wordsearch booklets, part of his rock collection, his special notebook, etc. I just had to get a picture of him with his backpack!
Izzy, my sweetheart! He is the one that most easily captures the hearts of everyone he meets. Again, this "pose" was his own doing, and captures his personality so well. As you can see, he has a treasured backpack as well!
Yet another attempt of "the four of them". :)
I LOVE this pic below because it is proof that they really truly do love each other!
Another RARE moment of Johann actually looking at the camera AND smiling! This is his "camera smile", but it usually only lasts a split second and not even long enough to get the camera ready! He is 19 months now.
Israel was so happy with this tiny flower he found! Just LOVE him sniffing it in the next picture!

Below is Dominique dancing! At MANG church, they have a dance ministry, and she started taking lessons with the other girls. This was the first performance, at church. She was so excited and all the little girls looked so cute!

Special Thanks

I would like to post a special, public thanks to my mother. She has facilitated many things for us while we have been here, including (but not limited to) receiving and sorting our mail and sending us the good stuff. :) She has kept the kids supplied with stickers, coloring books and (for Joshua) newspaper articles for kids. They all look forward to opening everything we get from Grandma Carol! Thank you, Mom!

I would also like to thank Abby King who lived with us for half of last year. She blessed us with a care package a couple of weeks ago, and as you can see in the picture, it was extremely exciting to get peanut butter, REAL crayons and markers, and Ranch dressing!!!
One of my Woodshed friends also kindly sent us a movie! We got it just as we were walking out the door to travel to Santos, so we havent even had a chance to watch it yet, but I am looking forward to when we get back to Camboriú. Thank you Heather!!

And just today we got a CD and a card in the mail from the Griffins. Thank you so much!

I also want to write a special thank you for each and every one of you that have left comments on the blog, sent an email or facebook message to let us know you are PRAYING for us and that you haven't forgotten about us.

We are so blessed by all of your care and concern toward us! Thank you all!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We are in Santos!

Last night, after praying with Michael and Paticia, we rushed out the door, leaving them with Claudio and Paula, to catch our bus to Santos. When we went to Camboriú, we only took supplies for one month, and the rest of our things we left in Santos. Now that we are switching gears from short term to long term, we needed to go back to Santos and get the rest of our things.

We decided to take Vamilson with us. As willing as he is to work in the church, the routine was getting a little humdrum to him, as he has always been a "free spirit" -- so we thought a little change of pace would do him good. There are also temptations in Camboriú that are a constant struggle that would do him good to have a break from. Finally, since Fabio is one of the main ones discipling him throughout each day, we didn't want to leave him just yet at this still vunerable time in his life in Christ. So, we brought him with us.

We arrived safely this morning after the ten hour bus ride. The kids were sad to leave Camboriú, but now they are happy to be in Santos. That is how they are - 100% there, wherever we happen to be! Here is a picture of them in Camboriú, with the other children that live at the church:

And... today is our ninth wedding anniversary! Happy NINE years, baby!! Because of the trip and because of the children and because of our guest, we weren't able to celebrate with a traditional night out with "just us". But, don't worry about the state of the union - it has never been stronger. We... stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Phil 1:27) Being on this adventure together, following the Lord's leading and serving him as a couple and a family, had brought us closer than ever. I am so thankful for my husband, more and more with each year that passes. I appreciate the husband he is, the father he is, the man of God he is and the willingness he has to take risks for the Kingdom.

Before Fabio became a Christian, I received a word of prophecy
(long before we were married), that God wanted to make out of Fabio a mighty warrior in His Kingdom, but that I was standing in the way (while trying to be helpful!). I am so glad that I got out of God's way, and I am blessed beyond measure as I see God faithfully fulfilling that good word He spoke over Fabio all those years ago: a mighty warrior in the Kingdom of God.

I love you, Fabio, more than words can express!

Ministry to Prostitutes

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations." Isaiah 61:1-4

Just a note now on the ministry that we have mentioned before to the prostitutes. Last week the kids and I put together some gift bags, eight altogether. They contained: chocolates, mints, a small notebook, a keychain, and a package of crackers. Then each of the three older children drew pictures for each bag, with notes like "Jesus loves you", and I wrote a letter for each bag with pretty stationary. I included John 3:17 in each letter: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." I included my first name and phone number, and we tried to make the bags look pretty. Then we hit the streets. I was especially hoping to give the bags to the group we had seen at the bar the previous week, as we already had some form of friendship with them, but we didn't see any of them on the usual corner.

We did see a couple from another time, with one new one, and we stopped and talked for a while, prayed with them and gave them the gifts. It really is nice to go out with the children. It makes it much easier to stop and talk to the ladies. Most of them have children, and they like to talk about their kids. Showing up with my team makes it easier to start a conversation without them feeling intimidated or suspicious about me and/or Fabio wanting to talk to them. And it is wonderful for the children to be so excited about showing God's love to people we meet on the streets that are complete strangers to us. They don't know what these ladies do for a living, only that they "work on the street". They have not wondered and we protect their innocence, while encouraging them to see all people, in general, as people that need to be shown the love of Jesus!

The next day we went out again. Since it was Saturday, I thought it would be a busy night, but there was NO one out! We walked and walked, and nothing. I was about to turn around when I felt the Lord urge me on. I had never crossed the highway before, and I was alone with the three younger children. Dominique doesnt walk long distances well. It crossed my mind that maybe I could take a taxi home if we got too far, but then I realized I had forgotten to bring money! Arg! But we followed the Holy Spirit nudge and kept walking.

We sang and talked and prayed as we walked and were having a wonderful time together, but there was still no one out on the street! Finally, after probably about 3 miles in an hour or so, I thought we better go ahead and turn around. Maybe we would meet with our divine appointment on the way home. Just as we turned around, a lady crossed the street and I felt that urge. But she sure didn't look the part of a prostitute! We followed her, until she stopped and leaned against a building. Then we stopped too, and started talking to her. She was probably about 45, had a black knee-length dress on, no heels or make-up or fancy hair-do. I still wasn't sure... After talking a long time, I asked her where she worked? She glanced around and sheepishly said, "here". Since she had been so open so far, I asked her how long she had been working here and what made her make that decision. She said six years, and it was after an accident that she couldn't work her regular job after, etc. She had no family and had gone hungry for a long time trying to find a way to make ends meet. Finally, she hit the streets.

We gave her a gift bag and explained that we were here because we care! Jesus had better ideas for her life, and He is the way, truth and life. We prayed with her and she said to come back and visit anytime. We certainly will!

I wish I could take pictures so you could see, if I could capture it, these ladies' eyes and faces. But as you can imagine, it is not really the appropriate setting to ask if we could take a picture together! But, please PRAY for these ladies, that they would be SET FREE by the power of Christ to newness of life!

(Also, the Lord gave Dominique supernatural strength that night too. She walked all the way back home without complaining! ;-)

Case History: Michael and Patricia

Yesterday we were tired. There had been event after event at the church, so Pastor Facundo told us to just close the doors of the church to rest and get renewed. (The church strives to keep the doors open from 8am~6pm in order to be available to any who come in for prayer, help, etc.) So we closed the doors. Paula, who lives downstairs was trying to catch up her laundry, and I was upstairs trying to get our bags ready. After lunch, Fabio was studying when all of a sudden, he decided to stop in the middle of what he was doing to go take out the trash.

Just before he decided to do that, a couple named Michael and Patricia had been walking down the street, until they could go no further, and then they sat down on the sidewalk. Patricia laid her head on Michael's shoulder and started to cry.

That was when Fabio came out with the trash. He asked them what was wrong, and they answered, "Crack". Turns out, they had been off crack and doing well, working and trying hard, but on their own strength - without having met the ONE who can really set them free! So, as usually is the case, when a few things started to go wrong, they got discouraged and went back to drugs. Six days earlier. They had stayed high pretty much all that time, without sleeping for five days straight. Now, they had finally come down, crashed down to planet earth and the reality that in just six short days they had lost everything. Everything. Now they were back out on their backsides with nothing. Nothing at all in the world, and no one that cared.

Or so they thought. Just as they sat down on the curb to cry about it, they found out they were wrong. They didn't even know that they had stopped in front of a church! They had already gone to a church looking for help, earlier that day -- and had been turned away.

Fabio asked if they were hungry, and they were. So, we brought them in and Paula warmed lunch up for them. They were so broken. We have come to recognize the move of God in a person's heart. Either the Lord is touching them, and they are receiving, or else they are too proud and hardened to think they need help. The difference, even just looking at one's face, is drastic and obvious. This couple was broken, being touched by the power of God. We let them take showers, and provided a mattress for them to sleep on while I washed their clothes and bag of sheets and things they had with them.

After they woke up four hours or so later, we had afternoon coffee and Fabio and Claudio began to minister the Word of God to them. They cried and cried, and prayed to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord. It was a powerful time!

In this picture is : Paula (who lives downstairs), Tabatha and Jonathan in the back, Patricia and Michael in the Shipshewana shirt (no he hasnt been to Shipshewana - he was wearing Fabio's shirt.), Claudio (Paula's husband who also lives downstairs!), Vamilson and Johann

From Short Term to Long Term

It has been six week since we arrived in Camboriú, and four and half months since we arrived in Brazil. As many of you know, when leaving the States, the only thing we had for certain was a call, a clear call to "GO" to Brazil. We had no idea what we would do here, where in Brazil we would end up, etc. As Fabio's sister is a missionary with YWAM in Recife (the Northeastern part of Brazil), we thought we might spend some time there.

We talked through the decision making process with our church leaders and sought their counsel in each step. As some of you know, our church has for years had a close relationship with a Bible school in Argentina (Iscami), sending teams there each year to serve in various capacities. Our pastors have developed close friendships with the pastors in Argentina as well. Five years ago, Fabio also went with a team from our church to serve in Argentina. While he was there he met an older couple named "Chicho and Chicha". Since Fabio was from Brazil, they told him of their son, Facundo, who had been called to Brazil as a missionary! Some of our church members who had been to Argentina in earlier years had also developed friendships with Facundo while he was still in the Bible school. And Pastor Gustavo, the head pastor over many churches in Argentina and a close friend of one of our pastors, John Leitzel, had also expanded his ministry in recent years to include frequent visits to Brazil - including to Facundo's church! And, there is an Iscami school that recently opened here in Brazil through the brothers in Argentina.

So.... when we started talking about a calling to Brazil, our church leaders encouraged us to get in touch with Facundo. Even though our church did not have any exact ministry in Brazil, relationally our pastors felt connected somewhat to what was going on down here.

That is how we ended up in Camboriú, at Pastor Facundo's church, which is called MANG. "MANG" stands for "Ministerio Apostolico Nova Geração", or "New Generation Apostolic Ministry". When we came here, we really had no idea what this place was about. We had had very limited communication with Facundo and Carol, so we didn't know anything about the church, how big it was, what kinds of ministries they was involved in, what the needs in the city were, etc. We agreed to go to Camboriú for a month, to check it out and get to know the people and the ministry. Here is Pastor Facundo, his wife Carol, and Apostle Gustavo, who was here visiting from Argentina last week:Guess what? God has filled us to bursting with love for the people of this city. We spent much time in prayer for direction the first weeks we were here, and the Lord confirmed to us that he had been preparing us for such a time as this, and that HE had led us to this place. It is amazing to us how much the Lord has turned our hearts toward this place - it is something that can only come from him. In spite of spending three months in Santos, among family members, etc ... we never felt in the least bit that we were to settle down there.

So... we are still in conversations with our pastors and leaders in the States, as well as the leadership here, about exactly how this will all look, but we are in the process of shifting gears from short term to long term.
Please pray for us as we continue to pray this through, that we would have wisdom in knowing God's will as we make plans for the future!!

Case History: Carlos and Tabatha

Meet Carlos and Tabatha, and their son Jonathon:
They live in the apartment building next door to the church. It is actually built so that it shares the wall with the church, as many buildings in Brazilian cities are. They had been coming to church a few months back, but had "fallen by the wayside". They struggled with drinking and drugs and all that comes with it: depression, poverty, laziness, filth.

We went to visit them a few weeks ago, as we tried to do with all the neighbors. We took a cake and invited ourselves in. :) They received us warmly, even though I'll admit that I hesitated to even sit down because of the filth, accompanied by an awful stench: alcohol mixed with body smells and who knows what else. They couldn't find a single plate to serve the cake we brought on, or any forks either. I was relieved. I thought it would be more sanitary in this case to eat with our fingers!

We were able to speak with them quite openly from the Word of God and they received the Word and shared with us much from their hearts about their struggles, etc. We ended our visit with a powerful time of prayer.

After that day, they started coming back to church. They also said they had no food, so while we will not give money to people in such situations, we invited them to come eat with us at the church whenever they wanted to. Turns out, they wanted to every day the following week!

Which was great, as it fostered an opportunity to continue dealing with them in love and with the truth of the Word, counseling them and encouraging them to give their lives to the only One who can transform them.

However, we also did not want to encourage long-term laziness, as they were basically sleeping all day and just dragging themselves out of bed to come have lunch with us. So, after that first week, we offered them a "job" at the church, in exchange for discipleship and meals. This way, they could start to build discipline in thier lives, while being discipled by the Word of God and strengthened in the inner man.
So, we said they must show up at 8:00am sharp. They do. We start with breakfast, and then Bible study. After that, we find work for them to do. Carlos sometimes has been able to find side jobs, which we encourage, but if he doesnt have work, he comes to the church to work. And Tabatha has come faithfully every day for several weeks now (with Jonathon in tow), helping in the kitchen and with cleaning, etc. At noon we all have lunch together. Then back to work. At 4:30 is the Brazilian hour for "afternoon coffee", another Bible study, and then everyone is free to go home.

We are SO happy to see how they have changed in these few weeks. Their countenance is brighter, their lifestyle is radically different, and they have not fallen back into drugs. They are beginning to see the bigger picture of the riches of the life God has in store for them as they learn to walk in his ways.
Please pray they will continue to grow and be strengthened in the faith and prepared for every good work!

Sexual Restoration Seminar

THANK YOU all SO much for being in prayer about the sexual restoration seminar!!! We SO appreciate all of you who sent notes via email or facebook or by leaving a comment here on the blog to let us know you were praying for the weekend. Several have asked since then how it went, and I am sorry it took so long to update. We have been in a whirlwind since then and this is the first chance I have had to sit down and write anything.

So, all in all, the seminar went really well. Thursday night was a highlight for us, because of so many teachers/ principles of local schools and the mayor having been there. (I posted a bit about that night in the last post.) The other sessions were held at the church, and mostly attended by more church people, from various cities, and it went well. Below is Pastor Facundo and his wife Carol, with the mayor of Camboriú:
This is, from left to right: the mayor again, three of the people that work with the government agency similar to DCFS, all desperately trying to deal with all the cases of pedophilia in this city, then Pastor and Doctor Cillani, the Argentinan guest speakers at the seminar, and Pastor Facundo and Carol:

None of the people we invited from the streets came, but we were kind of glad after we heard the content - it was all good, but I don't think it would have been the most helpful for them at this time. It was more geared toward equipping the body of Christ. A couple sessions were for married couples (bedroom topics), and another about how to deal with the issue of sexuality with your children/ teens, and a session about homosexuality. We found the information to be helpful, especially that of working with transexuals and homosexuals. We bought four copies of their book, and plan to enroll in their distance learning course (from Argentina) to become certified as sex educators in order to be able to give talks in the local schools on some of these topics - like abstinence and the truth of STDs, etc. In all of those ways, we felt it was very timely for our further equipping and that of the rest of the body of Christ.

And even though none of the people we invited from the streets came, I am still glad that we had it as an opportunity to invite them, talk to them, etc. We continue to reach out there. More on that in a post coming soon!

Simplicity at its Best

You know, I have always been one to advocate decluttering, not accumulating things you don't need, etc.... and yet, I seemed to always struggle with having too much stuff!! Between garage sales and hand-me-downs, things just ended up piling up - and I either used them all or liked them all, so I kept them. smile

But then I would sometimes feel suffocated or swamped with the stuff and its maintenance and keeping it all picked up/ organized/ etc.

Then we came here. We didn't take much to Brazil. When we were getting ready to come, and I was trying to pare down our belongings, I kept hearing God speak to my heart from the passage of Gideon - I kept getting rid of more, and God kept saying I still had too much!

But once we came here to Camboriú where we are now, we had to leave 70% of the little we brought to Brazil at the last stop (Santos)! Now we have literally the most basic of the most basic - one towel for each of us, one sheet, one plate, one pair of shoes, and barely enough clothes to wear and wash. We have one clothes cabinet in which all six of our clothes fit with space to spare. The kids really don't have any toys. They each have one stuffed animal. We have UNO, Skip-Bo and Dutch Blitz. We have a box of markers and ONE coloring book. We have about ten picture books that I read over and over to them, and the barest of the minimum of homeschool supplies.

The kids haven't seemed to mind one bit. They have gotten creative like I had always wished they would, but they never had to before! They had too many ready-made playthings. They take better care of what they have, because it is all they got! And when we do get something "new"(like when I got a small package of molding clay the other week), they are truly EXCITED and appreciative about it - the way I always wished they would be, but they just had TOO MUCH!!

I am not complaining about the little we have! I know it will not always be like this. We will soon bring the stuff we left in Santos here. We will likely go back to the States and get more of our stuff this summer. We may buy certain items here or even get hand-me-downs. And it will be nice. But, you know what? I am SURE I will look back fondly at this time in our lives. The simplicity is truly refreshing. I rarely see clutter on the floor. I have never kept up with dishes and laundry better than ever, because I HAVE to! It does not pile up and then stress me out. I don't spend so much time maintaining STUFF! And I like that.

I guess I just felt like sharing. Maybe someone needs encouragement to get rid of some things. smile

Thursday, April 08, 2010

URGENT PRAYER for Sexual Restoration Seminar

As you may have gathered from some of my previous posts, and as we are learning the longer we are here, Camboriú is well-known for being a city of "pleasures" - anything and everything goes. For this reason it is also quite the tourist attraction as well. In particular, there is a very strong spirit of sensuality which is manifest in many different ways.


The city officials recognize the problem; the school teachers recognize the problem -- but they don't have the answers to the problem. We, the people of God, DO! We believe that we have been placed here strategically, even though we didn't know anything about this place before we came! And certainly not just us, but this ministry as a whole - MANG church.

This weekend something MONUMENTAL is going to take place here, the FIRST time anything like it has happened! MANG Church is hosting a seminar on Sexual Restoration, starting tomorrow evening. We are hosting a couple from Argentina who are specialists in this area with a whole bunch of titles behind their names (lol), who will be doing the speaking, on topics such as pedophilia, homosexuality, prostitution, healing from sexual abuse, for parents - how to talk to your kids about sex, training for teachers to recognize cases of abuse and what to do about it, what the Bible has to say about sex, healing and restoration for marriages that have suffered adultery, etc.

Tonight Fabio was able to go to the pre-meeting (he invited himself!) with the MAYOR of this city, the other city officials, and the principles and teachers of several schools - about 100 people altogether. It was AWESOME! Praise the Lord! The mayor, the city officials and the school directors and teachers are looking to the CHURCH for answers -- which is just the way it should be, amen??! They were so excited about the information, as they see the desperate need for it in our current society. (Pictures to come soon.)

PLEASE PRAY!!!! We have been out in the highways and byways for the past several weeks handing out pamphlets in schools and on the street, posting posters, etc. Please pray that many people would come, and most of all the POWER of God would be released in a mighty way over the ones that come!!!

Tonight's Expeditions

Now it happened, as Jesus was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:15-17

While Fabio was at the meeting, I took the kids and hit the streets. We were actually going to the mall for ice cream, but we were armed with prayer and tracts and on the lookout for the girls 'working' the street. When we came to the first spot, we found the ones we have talked to the most all fighting - yelling and pushing and shoving - seemed to be mostly directed toward one girl named Tatiana that we had talked to before. I decided it was not the best time to stop and say "Hi".

We went on to the mall without finding anyone else to talk to, but it was still only around 7pm, so I thought it would be better on the way home. We did find two girls on the way home that were very open, so we talked with them and prayed with them. They said they would come to the seminar, so we'll see.

Then we went on to the main spot where I was still hoping to talk to the group that had been fighting earlier. Not one of them was around. I was disappointed. I thought that this must not be the night....

We kept walking, but then Dominique found them! There were four of them at an open-air bar, and no one else was in the whole place. There were two older ladies, a young one, and a transvestite. I waved to them, and they motioned for us to come over, so we did. The young lady got up to make a phone call, and the trsvst. got up to get another drink.

One named Martha was there, and she was so tickled that I remembered her name. She took my hand and put in on her head and asked me to pray for her (and her son, who is in jail. That tells you something of her age!). I prayed for her with my arms around her, and she got all teary-eyed.

Then the other older one (who had invited us to her house once) kept searching in her purse. Then she called "Ariel" over from the bar, and s/he gave Dominique some money! I said we didn't want it, but she (the older one- can't remember her name) told Dominique to buy some candy for herself and her brothers and told me to keep praying for them. I promised that I had been praying and I would keep on, and that they didn't have to pay me for that! She grabbed my hand and kissed it and kept telling me how much she liked me. I prayed with her too and told her the Gospel in the simplest terms. She was the only one that was a bit drunk, but still it was encouraging to see how much she was drawn toward me and kept saying things like "I'll stick to you no matter what!" and once asked if she could hug me. In spite of their "profession", these ladies are outcasts, rejected by the world and starved for real, true LOVE. We are pleading daily for the Lord to FILL us with so much of his love that we would OVERFLOW in speaking to these people and that they would be truly TOUCHED by Jesus' transforming love.

But the thing I thought was most significant from this encounter was the one called "Ariel". S/he is the same transvestite that once had acted bothered by me trying to talk to them and would not make eye contact with me, and the next time, s/he just walked away when we approached. Tonight, though, s/he greeted me and even touched my arm. I told him that I had realized that we were next door neighbors!! Then the old lady told that kept saying how much she loved me said that "she (Ariel) was her daughter"! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. I couldn't believe it! Sheesh. What a messed up family. Wow.

Anyway, I prayed with them too, and then they decided to buy a 2 liter of pop for me as well, to take home. LOL. I came away SO stoked!!! They were more free to talk to me because they weren't "working", and I think they are beginning to see that we really do care. This is so key! Please pray for them!!!

These are the things that recharge my batteries! We have been "inside" all week, preparing and cleaning for the seminar, which is all good and necessary, but once I get out in the streets, THAT is when I start to get really fired up again! The kids too - they were SO excited to have met up with these ladies again. And, Dominique was happy about the money the 'girl' gave her too. Imagine, if you wish, the look on their faces when I gently explained that that 'girl' was really a man!! After a moment of shock, Dominique said that she knew it all along because "she" had such a deep voice. And Joshua wondered why a man would want to become like a woman? I said that it was hard for me to understand too, but ultimately, it is the spirits living in him that make him think he wants to be a woman, but that JESUS created him to be a man, and JESUS can set him FREE from his bondage, and restore his manhood. Most of all, I stressed that Jesus LOVES that man, even though what he is doing is wicked. That is why He came to the world, to seek and save the LOST!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

Whew! I gotta get to bed! It is after midnight, and I have to get up at 5am to pray. I have no idea if what I just wrote even made good sense. No time to polish it right now!

Fabio is praying now. We are all praying around the clock from yesterday through Sunday for the seminar, each taking an hour block at a time. Please join us in intercession for the setting free of captives here in Camboriú this weekend!!!!!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Reaching Out in the Streets of Camboriú

Well, we don't have many pictures to show for it, but the thing we are the most excited about here, as far as ministry goes, is reaching out on the streets to the people who need Jesus SO badly! It is not hard to find a corner where prostitutes hang out waiting to get picked up, so we have been trying to stop by and talk to them. Some are nice, some seem genuinely appreciative that we stopped, some ask for prayer, some act annoyed at us, some walk away and many seem indifferent. Even the ones that are nice don't typically open up very much, and we know that this type of ministry is one that doesn't typically see results every night, but only after a relationship of trust is built. We gotta start somewhere, right?

Well tonight, after feeling somewhat discouraged and wondering about the best strategy to actually be able to reach these people, we had a divine appointment that was very encouraging. We saw a girl by herself on the street, and she backed into the shadows as we approached. Israel was ready with a tract and had practiced saying "Jesus te ama" (Jesus loves you) when handing it to people, so we approached her in the shadows and Israel gave her the tract and an invitation to church. It turns out that she has been on the streets only two months, and she was very open with us. We talked for a long time and she said she definitely wanted to come to church and visit us! Her name is Fabiana. She said she got nervous as we approached because most people "like us" just call her names or say rude things to her, so she thought we would do that too. Instead, I put my arm around her, we prayed with her, and she got tears in her eyes as we told her God had a better life for her and she didn't have to settle for this. Pray for her, that Jesus' love would set her free!

I asked if she lived alone, and she said that no, she lived with her sister. Well, she said, she is kind of a sister. "She" is actually a transvestite.... and was "working" down the street.

And that is what we find even sadder than the women prostitutes - is seems about half of the prostitutes here in Camboriú are transvestites.... This is a picture Fabio took the other night from our veranda of the street corner where this prostitute is negotiating and about to be picked up. Those sexy legs you see belong to a man!

There are about five or so of them living right next door to us. We tried to visit them today. We bought a cake to take there, as we had done with several of the other neighbors last Saturday. But, one of them just came to the window and said that they couldn't open the door when their "mom" wasn't there. They could not even accept the cake without their "mom's" permission... It seemed to be a dead-end. How can we reach out? Their "mom" is the one who collects the money they make on the streets, in return for paying for their silicone and hair treatments, etc....

Sigh. Sometimes it seems so hopeless! And yet, I know it is NOT hopeless! They are sinners just like every one of us, and the power of Jesus can transform them just as it can transform any of us! I have been reading the first several chapters of Romans over and over this week, and it has filled me with faith in the power of the Cross and the transforming work of Jesus in the life of ALL who believe.

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes...." Romans 1:16

"But now the righteousness of God is revealed... even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely through his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus..." Romans 3:22-24

And there are many more verses like it. Thank you, Jesus, for your Word that strengthens us and teaches us and guides us! PLEASE keep praying for us! This type of ministry is very spiritually and physically taxing and we need much prayer for wisdom of words, power of the Spirit, more infilling of the LOVE of Jesus to be able to reach out to these people, that we would be able to be channels of God's power to set them free from bondage to sin.

The kids get so excited about going out to share Jesus' love with the lost. If we tell them we are going to walk to the mall, they get whiney and say they'd rather just stay home, etc... but if we tell them we are going out to seek and save the lost, they get fired up and fill their pockets with tracts and run to the door to wait for us like horses chomping at the bit! Praise Jesus! Here is our ministry team and ministry vehicle:
Today Fabio and Vamilson went out too, to talk to people on the streets. The nice thing is that all the down-and-outers know Vamilson! hehe. The police even stopped today to see what kind of trouble he was into! They have been so used to picking him up for the past twenty years that they stop him when they just SEE him now! Fabio talked to the cop for a bit, saying that Vamilson was now a new creature! He looked skeptical, but told him to keep on the straight and narrow.
Here is a picture Vamilson took of Fabio talking with a guy they met:

Fabio wrote a few posts ago about a drunk that came in a couple weeks ago. His name is Gilberto, and he was just SO broken! After ministering to him for several hours, we took him to a recovery home and Fabio has kept up with him. Fabio preached there on Monday too. He came to the church yesterday, and has been sober for 13 days. He looks much better now! Here he is with Vamilson and Fabio:

This church (MANG) planted a church in Curitiba about five months ago. The pastor here, Facundo, travels there every Saturday to minister there, and comes back here Sunday afternoon to be here in time for church. (Church here is on Sunday night.) Anyway, Fabio went with him to minister in Curitiba a couple weekends ago, and here are a few pictures of their time there:
Here are some pictures from my English classes in the favela, the PETI school. I have taken Joshua, Dominique and Israel. Sometimes all, sometimes one, and it has been a great experience for them. We talk to them a lot about the vision for ministry. That we are not just wanting the children to learn English, and I dont just take them there to play and have fun, but we are striving to really impart in them a passion for reaching out, for praying for others, for showing Jesus' love and shining His light in the darkest places.