Sunday, December 23, 2012

When your husband is the pastor...

it is a very special thing.  He shares his messages with you before he preaches them.  He asks you how it went after the service.  He is always there to answer any Bible question you have and give Biblical counsel day or night.  And as a man of the Word, God uses him to convict your heart right when you need it.  Like today for example...

The Sunday School study was the usual 'let's reflect on the birth of Christ' study that most every Sunday School has the Sunday before Christmas.  This time it was different.  One of the questions in his study was to put yourself in Mary and Joseph's place and think about how they felt with all the events surrounding the birth of Christ.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks!

At this time of year, we read Luke 2, look at beautiful illustrations of Mary holding the newborn Son of God and reflect on what a wonderful story it is. 

This time I looked deeper as the pastor urged us.

I looked and found a life of humiliation for Mary among her neighbors and friends as she was forever labeled as the 'the girl that got pregnant before marriage'.  I found Joseph being talked about behind his back and even accused to his face as 'the man that did it'.

I found a very uncomfortably pregnant Mary travelling to a far away city.  I saw best laid plans for a birth in the comfort of her own home traded for that of a birth in a stable most likely with animals nearby and most likely without the midwife. 

I saw a young father and mother fleeing with their young child into a foreign land, from a king so mad with power that he ordered the death of every child under the age of two.

What was that I was complaining about?  The future ministry plans that aren't seeming to go the way I was sure God wanted them to go?  That we are getting a hot and muggy Christmas instead of a cold and snowy one?  The ants I had to pick off of my freshly baked Christmas cookies?

And so over an afternoon of washing dishes I confessed my complaining heart to the Lord and when the pastor came in for a Christmas cookie, I looked him in the eye and told him thanks for the message, it was just what I needed to hear. 

And it felt like I could hear Mary say,"It was worth it all and really, it was only a moment that life I lived on earth.  Keep on keeping on!"

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Tea

We had a wonderful ladies Christmas tea this month.  No, there was no snow and temperatures in the frigid zone but we made do with Christmas decor in the air conditioning and it worked quite nicely!

We had our biggest group out yet and that was so exciting to see!  We enjoyed a time of Christmas carols and then a testimony and devotional from Dawn, our co-worker who recently arrived back in Brazil with her family after their furlough.  One of the ladies brought her unsaved neighbor and she really enjoyed her time.  Please pray for Kelly that God would do a work in her heart and show her the true way to Him. 
As always, a dear lady in the church brought us a fun Christmas craft to do together.  Each ladies meeting she provides a fun craft that she leads us in and then sends us home with the finished craft as well as instructions and diecuts for us to make more at home on our own.  This is a special ministry gift that she has.  There is something about a group of ladies doing a craft together that creates bonds of friendship and generates conversation.
And of course our time would not be complete without our "lanche da tarde" (afternoon tea or snack).  Each lady brings something to share with the group and we enjoy trying each item and of course more conversation!
Merry Christmas or Feliz Natal as we say here in Brazil to each and every one of you.  May the Lord Jesus be our focus this Christmas and always!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Heart Cry

I rank with that group of people who organize their groceries at the checkout stand. Heavy things first, cold stuff stays together, lightweight and bread last. I was in that mode while keeping an eye on Flavia wandering around me and the grocery cart, when I heard a quiet voice call out, "Nene..."

This word is usually used when referring to babies but sometimes people use it for grown-ups too. Naturally I assumed someone was calling out to Flavia. As I saw diapers and powdered milk stretching out towards me, my brain registered that someone was talking to me. I looked up from the conveyer belt loaded down with groceries into sunken cheeks and sad eyes.

"Nene, I am out of money, could you buy these diapers and this milk for me?" Stupidly I nodded yes and then her sad eyes bored into my soul as she begged,

"Pray for me!"

I took the diapers and milk up to the front of the conveyor belt. The cashier didn't even blink an eye, just scanned the items, the emaciated woman bagged them up and then with a smile and a thank you she was gone. It happened so fast, I didn't even know it had happened.

Suddenly I came out of my organizational reverie.

Frantically I searched the store for her. She was no where to be seen. Why hadn't I offered her some food for herself. I had just let her go with only powdered milk and diapers!

I finished my purchases and began the long walk to the car. Long because Flavia was walking two year old slow motion style and I was pushing a cart groaning under the weight of the groceries.

Slowly I drove out of the parking lot looking everywhere for her.


Slowly I drove home, searching the crowds of people for an emaciated body in a yellow tank top and jean skirt.


So I did the only thing I could do and prayed for her, begging God to bring someone into her life to share Christ with her. Someone to help her.

I'm home now, my month's worth of groceries bulging out of my cupboards. I served lunch with enough and then some for everyone in my family. I still feel those eyes boring down into my soul..."pray for me!"...

A package of cookies yielded two per person except for one.  a daughter complained that the others had two cookies, why couldn't she. So I told her of a lady I met at the grocery store who looked like she hadn't eaten a decent meal in a long time. "I think you ate pretty good at lunch today, don't you?"  A quiet, "oh...." came out of her mouth.

And so life's clock continues to click off the minutes. Soon I will be going to cook dinner, a healthy, fulfulling meal . Still I feel those eyes boring down into my soul..."pray for me!"... And so I will pray for her. And the next time I go out I will be looking for an emaciated body in a yellow tank top and jean skirt.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weekend Cleaning

We scheduled a cleaning day at church on Saturday.  And while some parts of the building did get a fresh scrubbing, a soul to soul conversation revealed that Jesus had been doing some scrubbing too.  

The one who had just installed a flood light on the outside of the building confirmed that YES the Light of the World had entered his life!

Sunday afternoon we continued our ongoing baptism study with one, who for the last several weeks, we have struggled to hear a clear testimony of salvation.  We have prayed and prayed that God would clearly show us if this person was saved or not. 

Yesterday, the light came on and we heard clearly, "I am a sinner and for that reason I needed Jesus!"  As all three of us shared our own testimonies and areas that we are struggling in, we ALL left encouraged and knowing better how to pray one for another.

We have yet to personally lead someone to the Lord here in Rio.  Some looking from the outside in may deem that as a failed ministry.  We have come to realize that God has called us to be PLANTERS and not reapers. 

It doesn't take long ministering in Rio to realize how strong Satan's grip is on this city.  The hearts of the people are clouded over with cultic religions and the sinful pleasures of this world.  We know our God is STRONGER and that He is working in lives,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are missionary kids sheltered?

From the world?  No.

They see this world for how sin ugly it is. 

My little missionary kids see people losing themselves in alcohol every Sunday night on our way home from church.

They see the raucous parties through our tinted car windows. 

They know what a girl looks like who is out to sell herself.

They hear the music that displeases God blaring down from the neighbor's window right into our house.  They know the sorrow of hearing those lyrics over and over in their head as they battle against it. 

They aren't afraid of imaginary monsters getting them in the night, but of drugged up monsters getting into our church.

They know the faces and names of the homeless living under the bridge in front of the church.

They see the grace of God in this world too.

They see Daddy pray with the drunk homeless man and then beg to be the one to give him a sandwich.

They bound across the broken up cement to put an invitation to church in a stranger's hand.

Hymns in English and Portuguese fall from their lips as they rush through the house from one thing to the next.

They understand the joy of following God's calling even when it is hard

They beg to watch dvd's that highlight missions work in other parts of the world.

They want to be missionaries to the jungle and other places where people have not heard.

"Sheltered" missionary kids often have a world view beyond their years. 

Is it scary?


But we serve a great God who is all powerful and completely in control.

And so I trust Him with the life he has chosen for my children.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Planting Seeds

Sunday morning already promised to be a warm day.  The usual crowd minus a few came out for Sunday School.  Opening exercises ran the same way they do each week, we joined in song, Bible reading, announcements and then a special prayer for the children before they headed upstairs for their class.  The adults gathered around the wooden table that traveled by boat from North America to South America.  The table that back in Michigan served as dining room table folding down to seat three and folding out to seat nine.  The table where we first started studying the book of John in Rio with people from the neighborhood.  The table where we gather ladies one Saturday a month to fellowship over crafts and food.

One moment we were deep into our study of the passover and the next he was at the door seeking out a cup of cold water.  His name was Christian.  He came in quietly, not like some who storm the building demanding money or food.  How ironic that he came bearing the name follower of Christ and yet looked so lost.  A cup of cold water, an invitation to join the study, an open Bible and he was at the table with us receiving Living Water.

Twenty minutes later after hearing the gospel and quietly sharing his story of hunger and a hungry baby at home with no milk, he was on his way with his immediate needs met and a gospel shaped seed in the soil of his heart.

Planting's what we do.

We leave the results with God.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Annual Ladies Meeting

Every August the annual Ladies Day is held here in Rio amongst our sister churches.  Each church gets a turn to host the event.  It is a wonderful day packed full of food, fellowship and the chance to sit quietly and hear from God's Word. 

You would think that living in the same city we would see each other often, perhaps run into one another at the grocery store.  However, when there are eleven million and nine hundered and ninety nine thousand other people milling around, the chances of seeing one another are slim.  This annual meeting is when friends meet up, sometimes for only the third or fourth time that year!  What a reunion it is!!

The day starts out with breakfast and from there we head right into singing and a session from God's Word.  This year our speaker came from the deep south of Brazil.  She was a blessing to all.

After our first session we divide up into prayer teams.  This year the hosting church did a great job of mixing up all the churches so we had a chance to branch out in our friendships and prayer partners.  This is always a special time to hear the burdens these ladies carry and then to lift them straight to the Burden Bearer!

Each church brings a special number to share with the ladies.  Even more beautiful than the special music is hearing all of us sing our praises to God together.  It was an extra big blessing for me this year since our own church is so small, I have been really missing the joy of hearing many voices raised together in praise!

After lunch we divide into groups of highschool/college and ladies.  One group goes to a craft area while the other group goes to a session with the speaker geared toward their stage of life.  At the end we come back together for some fun door prizes and laughs and then share afternoon coffee and last conversations before heading home.  Already we are looking forward to next year and the blessing of being together again!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Winter Youth Camp

No, it wasn't snow camp, although there was intricately cut blue snowflakes adorning the walls and while it did warm up enough in the afternoon to open the pool, it was chilly enough at night to gather around a bonfire for testimonies and good ole american s'mores with marshmallows freshly imported just a few days earlier by Pastor Robert's daughter. 

A new group of thirteen year olds entered the world of youth group and camp.  Youth camp with teens from age thirteen up into the mid-twenties and even thirties can create an interesting dynamic.  No matter the age, God works in hearts just the same. 

This year the theme was I Timothy 4:12.  Four of the local pastors brought messages from God's Word.  BJ was able to share the importance of being an example in the faith.  Each pastor spoke on a different part of the theme verse. 

Some highlights for our kids were helping to set tables and ringing the dinner bells.  Myla was made an official kitchen helper by one of the pastors so she enjoyed drying dishes with the teens after meals.  All of the kids roamed the grounds picking flowers, chatting with the teens, watching game time and just having a good time out in nature!  As Daniel said, "when you are at camp, you play lots and lots of games!"

As many pastors and their families that are able to, come out for the camp.  It is such an important thing for the teens to see christian families in action and for our families to see the importance of serving in every area, not just at church.


Thursday night we had a unique opportunity.  Two doors down from the church is an auto school that has been in that location for the last 44 years with the same owner.  His name is George.  He has cancer.  He knows this neighborhood like he knows his auto school manual. 

George has come to church several times when he feels well enough to sit through a service.  He loves to say "hello" to our children in english.  George likes what we are doing, likes the impact we are making on the community.  In fact he told us that the whole neighborhood is talking about us and they all finally came to the conclusion that our church being there was of God.  Interesting that unbelievers would come to a conclusion like that.  He said before our building was the church, it was a bar and before that it was a night club.

Violence was the reputation of the building, now we are trying to establish a reputation of peace. 

Thursday night was George's birthday.  True to culture, he threw his own party complete with soda pop, cake and salgadinhos (fried appetizers served at EVERY party!).  Also true to culture several speeches were made.  George had asked BJ ahead of time to please come and do a small church service.  He wanted to use his birthday as a way to share the gospel with his auto school students.  George himself is not sure of his salvation, and yet he wants to share with others. 

Please pray with us that God would bring some of those students to our church.  George made sure each one knew exactly where the church is located!  It was an interesting experience but afterward we felt certain it was exactly what God wanted us to do and so we trust Him with the results.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Youth Rally

Tonight was the big night...the youth rally we had prayed for, planned for, passed out invites for. A sister church drove an hour or more with seven young people to help us pass out invitations, share special music and be an encouragement to those who would come from our neighborhood. The famous hotdog sanwiches, cake and pop for 25 people had been prepared.

 And we sat down to start the service...with just ourselves. Swallowing my tears I let the song service put my focus back where it needed be...on Christ Alone. My ever optimistic husband stood to preach a message he spent hours on geared for the skeptical unbelieving teens we had faith would arrive. Said he was not discouraged because we had planted seeds and seeds do not grow overnight.  Why do I always forget that, think that with miracle gro they will be flowering bushes the next day?

Praise the Lord for the faithful ones who came to help, support and be a part of. Praise the Lord that His ways are not our ways. Praise the Lord that someday we will see and understand all the twists and turns the road of church planting takes. Praise the Lord that He is in control no matter what!

ps - we forgot the camera...hence no pictures!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bible Conference 2012

Word of Truth Baptist Church had its first Bible Conference today!  It was a great day of preaching from the Word of God by Pastor John Victor of the First Baptist Church in Jacarepagua. 

The most exciting event was that a couple from Pastor John Victor's church came to church in the morning bringing someone the husband works with who lives in our neighborhood! What a great contact!! She came with her little boy and wants to come back!! Please pray that she will come back! Her name is Cacilda.

We enjoyed lunch as a church together with lots of yummy food and desserts!  It was also a great time of fellowship and people getting to know each other better!
As you can see everyone enjoyed our first Bible Conference.  May it be the first of many to come!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ladies Meeting...

Today was our first ladies meeting at Word of Truth Baptist Church!  At first it seemed like no one was going to come, but slowly they came and we ended up with a group of nine ladies and one little boy!!  We enjoyed singing together, the gospel was clearly presented, we learned a new craft and of course enjoyed food!  It was fun afternoon being together and having the chance to get to know the ladies better!


Thursday night we had an official unofficial organization of Word of Truth Baptist Church.  My first thought as we started the service was "this is ridiculous!  there is NOBODY here!" but then I had to tell myself to look around and really verify if that was true.  We were there, our co-worker was there, the pastor of our mother church was there and the family of five that came from the mother church to help us with the new church plant was there.  What I really meant was that nobody who had been coming from the neighborhood was there and it was, well, really disheartening to say the least. 

And then the pastor began to speak about his first church planting experience and how for weeks he preached to empty benches and then finally one day...a horse arrived to hear his message!  He had the chance to preach a conference in another part of Brazil and while there was able to visit a booming church plant.  He was curious to see what had made this church grow so rapidly when his own had, well, no one.  As he sat through the service on a Monday night with 300 people, it became very obvious how the church had grown so fast.  Those in charge had completely distorted the truth of the Bible to appeal to what people wanted to hear.  As he left that church and was on his way home, he asked the Lord, "what was the purpose in being at that church?"  And it was as if the Lord spoke to him and reminded him that preaching the truth and staying faithful to God's Word was the most important thing even if it meant your church was small. 

That was exactly what BJ and I both needed to hear!  The last few weeks have honestly been super discouraging, but we were renewed and reminded by the pastor's message that numbers is not what matters, sticking by the truth is!

So Word of Truth Baptist Church has been officially unofficially organized as a congregation of Baptist Church of Campo Grande.  (it is officially unofficial because we are a congregation at this point and not a church in the eyes of the government)  And I have finally come to recognize that starting a church is exactly like having a baby - exciting? yes. painful? yes. worth it? yes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today...

We had a great Easter morning service at Word of Truth Baptist Church.  We started out the morning with a yummy breakfast of bread, ham and cheese, chocolate cake and chocolate chip coffee cake and fresh fruit.  Don't forget hot coffee with lots of hot milk and sugar and of course passion fruit juice! 

After breakfast, the kids sang a special.  It was so sweet!  BJ gave a wonderful message from God's Word. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pao de Acucar

We took Sharon, our visitor for the month of March, up to Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain).  It was a perfect day weather wise but a little cloudy for really good pictures.  The kids had a blast going in the cable cars.  We ate a picnic lunch on the first mountain near the theater where they feature a movie about how the mountain became a tourist attraction.  Each time the movie came on we could hear it outside where we were eating and Ellie would call out, "Who's preachin?"  It was a wonderfully relaxing day after months of stressful construction on the church building!  It is rare that we get to enjoy the natural beauty of Rio like this.  We truly live in a beautiful city!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Danny turns 4!!

Danny had his 4th birthday this week!!  He was very excited and wanted to know if he would be four for the rest of his life?  His other "big 4 year old"question recently was, "Mommy what do your parents look like?"  He wanted a dinosaur theme so we tried our best with what he had.  Aunt Joy bought some cute dinosaurs for his cake.  His meal request was grilled cheese, salad, mashed potatoes and sour cream.  I did convince him to let me mix the sour cream into the potatoes instead of just plain in a dish on the side.