Saturday, May 21, 2011

Opportunities Abound...

Our Identity in Christ

One thing that Fabio and I are constantly reminded of is that our calling as missionaries is not a "job". It is not "what we do"... it is who we are. And we believe this should be true of all those who have called Jesus their Lord! Opportunities abound; the harvest fields are white. May we all have open ears and eyes to see those who are hurting and in need all around us, to share God's love and His Word with them.

"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season..." 2 Timothy 4:2



"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4;5-6

Recent Recap

Well since our last post about the coming of the team, we have had quite a few challenges. Sicknesses of various kinds, our car in the shop three different times, a week with no fridge (our BRAND new refrigerator broke!), and other busyness, including a trip to Santos. We also had the privilege of hosting Matt Barker at our home for six weeks!


Our Second Honeymoon

In the midst of all of this, our dear friends the Pals offered to bless us with an overnight trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary! We were so excited! Fabio found an amazing place not too far from here - a hidden place in the middle of the jungle, on the side of a mountain overlooking the ocean! It was breathtaking! It was the first time we had ever been away overnight together without the children (we left them at home with Matt!), and we were excited to get some rest and spend some time together.

While we did do that a little bit, the Lord had some other plans in mind for us!

The afternoon we arrived, we began talking to the lady working there - Maria. Turns out, she was a spiritist. Spiritism is very common in Brazil, and the creepy thing is they use the very same Bible we do, but to do witchcraft! However, they also greatly emphasize good works, caring for the poor and needy, speaking good and not evil, etc. The main reason is that they teach reincarnation, so their motivation in "being good" is to hopefully come back better next time around.
Fabio and I with Maria:
Well, she began to speak to us about how much she really loved God and read her Bible every day and wanted to know truth, and tried so hard to be a good person. However, she also expressed her frustration with herself, because no matter how hard she tried, she realized that she still fell short of all she knew she should be, in word, in action and in thought.

Fabio began to empathize with her on this point, saying how the Bible says that we ALL fall short, and that even our righteousness is like filthy rags in the sight of a holy God! That there is none holy, and no matter how hard we try, we just never can be perfect. Maria started to look really depressed as she listened intently.

He went on to describe a courtroom scene, where there is a just judge. This just judge has a condemned felon standing before him, and being a good and fair and just judge, he must see that justice is served. He must condemn the felon. He cannot, as a good and fair judge, let the felon go just because he may cry or beg or say how sorry he is for what he did. If the judge just let him go, he would cease to be a good judge. And so it is with God! He is just, and He, as a holy and righteous Judge, must condemn us for our sins. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, an eternal death in hell, separated from God. Now Maria began to get teary-eyed and desperate! "What can I do then??" she asked. I told her to wait for the good news!!

Fabio went on to say that, while God is just and holy as a Judge, He is also good and kind and loves us! It is not his desire that any of us should have to spend eternity separate from Him, so He provided a way, by sending His Son to take the punishment that we deserved. It was as if, in that courtroom scene, before the Judge could bang the gavel, Jesus stood up in front of Maria {Fabio got up and stood in front of Maria} and said, "I know that Maria is guilty of sin, and the wages of sin is death. But I want to take the punishment that was due her. Please lay her punishment on me instead." THAT is what Jesus did for each and every one of us at the cross!

I wish you could have been there to see her eyes as she realized exactly what this meant for her! There was a way that she could be free from her struggle with sin and self! That was the day of salvation for her, as we prayed together and she received the free gift of salvation from the Lord!

As soon as we were done praying, she asked us to try to talk to the chef, who was going through a very hard time. We tried several times that evening, but were unable to. Finally, at 10:30pm, we decided to try one last time. We walked out from our room, but everything was closed and dark. Then we noticed a solitary figure sitting by the pool. It was the chef!

We sat down and asked how he was doing. I was wondering how we were going to lead into a meaningful conversation without it getting too much later, so I was extremely surprised when he said, "Well, actually, I am going through a really hard time right now, and I really need to talk to somebody, so since I don't really know you guys, I think I will just open up with you now."

My mouth dropped open as he started pouring out his heart, how his wife of 12 years had just left him and how he was saved about six months ago, but did not know of a good church in the area and just didn't know what to do. We had a wide open door to minister to his hurting heart.

The following morning at breakfast, the waiter decided to pour his heart out to us! His girlfriend had just found out she was pregnant and he was scared to death.

We were reminded of Jesus, speaking to the woman at the well in John 4. He used every opportunity to steer the conversation to eternal things. May we be so wise!



Public School Ministry

We were so pleased with how the public school ministry was opened up while the teams were here. Our ardent desire was that it would be just the beginning -and praise the Lord! - that is just what is happening!

We have had several opportunities to go back into the schools since the teams were here. They asked us to do a presentation for Easter which Pastor Michely led, then for Mother's Day Pastor Cristian and his wife went to encourage and pray for the mothers of the students. And this past week, they went in to show a movie To Save a Life led by Pastor Rich, which proved to be very impactful for the students. We see a special grace that God has given him to deal with teenagers and we saw him flowing with all of God's favor in each class he went into. Several came up to them after the movie was over to share struggles, even one girl who had been contemplating suicide and was really touched by the message of the movie!

One other thing that is really exciting to us about this school ministry too, is that it is not depending on US to do it all! We are excited to see the entire church, and even the community of churches, getting involved and excited about the vision of reaching into the community and touching society with the power of the Gospel! We want this ministry to continue after we move on from this place, so it was essential to us to mobilize the church and not just do it all ourselves. We are highly encouraged to see this happening. We also recognize that this is NOT our vision but God's vision, that He had been stirring in the hearts of many in Camboriu, then after the work we did with the American teams at the schools we started finding out that there were many people that shared the vision of impacting society in this manner!
On the right, Pastor Rich from MANG, and on the left, two other youth pastors from the area:
Now the City Council has asked the church to put together material to be used in the schools in a more formal way, with the vision and its details. So Fabio has been spending a lot of time preparing a year's worth of material, explaining the vision, to be approved by the Council. If this goes through, we would have the opportunity to go into every public school in the city once a month to teach Biblical principles and values to the students! So, Fabio is working on the material now. Please pray about this with us!


Santos

We were able to spend a week in Santos the beginning of May, and it was a good time as usual. Matt was able to see (after a squished eight hour ride there!) another part of Brazil and another aspect of Brazilian culture - a Japanese family in Brazil!! We are SO excited to see the Lord continuing to work in Fabio's family, and even more excited to get to be a part of that! We also see the importance, for as long as we are in Brazil, to prioritize family and not have any regrets about that when we move on.
Matt and Johann sleeping on the squished ride there: Fabio praying for his cousin Douglass on his birthday:

The other reason we wanted to make the trip at this time was to film the Undokai (a kind of Japanese field day) and talk to the coordinators, with the hopes of doing something similar in the future here in Cambori├║.
Couple pics from the Undokai - Dominique is second from the right:
This (below) was not one of the events, but it was the highlight of the day for Israel, Johann and cousin Leonardo - jumping in the mud!! It is not every day Mommy lets them do this, and best yet, Mommy got in on the fun too!
The Lord continued to open doors. EVERY time I go to Santos, I "just happen" to run into this lady who is a Jehovah's Witness. I just know Jesus is after her! It was a privilege to (unexpectedly) spend time with her again this time. Fabio also was invited to preach at one church, and the same church invited us to come back in July and do a seminar on parenting. We are excited about that and preparing the material now.



Matt
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, we had the privilege of hosting Matt Barker here for about six weeks. It was a very good time and I think his worldview was expanded considerably. :) He got along great with all the children on the street - they were a sort of fan club of his! We celebrated his 16th birthday and it was a good chance for us to get to know some of the young people from church better. And he was a great help with our children - they just loved him!
We miss you, Matt!



Translating for Pamela White

Fabio had been asked a couple months back to translate for a guest from America during the entire second week of May. Well, since he got sick, the job fell to me. It was physically tiring, but spiritually refreshing as her main focus is prayer ministry, worship and prophetic intercession.

Midwifery Missions
So, after all of that two-month long whirlwind, I was really looking forward to staying home this past week to regroup and reorganize and spend time with my family. However, I got a phone call on Tuesday morning. You see, a couple of months ago I had spoken with a young couple in our church that was expecting a baby. The girl was scared, and I offered to accompany them to the hospital to offer some moral support during the birth. They seemed interested and took my number, but as I had not seen them since then, I really didn't think they would call. But.... they did! So, I went over to the house and helped out as I could, made her some tea and gave some suggestions to keep her comfortable, etc. Well... long story short, the labor progressed rather quickly and the baby was born into my hands about an hour later! It was incredible!!

We got mama and baby taken care of and settled in, got mom some food and made sure baby was nursing well and then the daddy went to the hospital to see what they should do, and if they would have any trouble getting a birth certificate. Surprisingly, the hospital was extremely nonchalant about it and said they didn't have to come in if they didn't want to! So, they didn't. I went back to check on them later that day, and every day since to make sure all was going well, and it is! Here we are about two hours after the birth:
Baby Raika weighed in at just under 7 pounds the next day when they went to the hospital to get a birth certificate. Here is a picture I took of her yesterday, at four days old: So, you never know what you might be called on to do as a missionary!!



Summary
There are times that we STILL wonder what we are doing here! Haha! It is not every day that it seems like "things" are happening. But then, we look back, and we can see it. Even if only for one soul, it is worth it. Even if only for those three I mentioned on our "second honeymoon", it is worth every thing we have had to go through just to be here. I have often been reminded of this wonderful old hymn:

It will be worth it all
When we see Jesus

Life's trials will seem so small

When we see Him

One glimpse of His dear face

All sorrows will erase

So gladly run the race

Til we see Christ

3 comments:

MOM said...

Great recap of the past month and great pictures! Yes, it is worth it all! You are all such an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for being on the front lines. We love you!

Aunt Michele said...

So glad to come by and check in with you today! Wonderful post. So many opportunities!

Yours,

Michele

FDC BH Centro said...

Great to see the work HARVEST is doing here in Brazil. We'll be praying for you!