Monday, November 30, 2020

Bits November

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! Sarah started putting up lights the begining of November and our tree is already up. After so many years in Brazil it is still weird to be working and sweating outside and come in and hear Christmas music playing. We are excited to see friends and family for the next few months. Jeremiah and Cindy Cook will make their third trip to visit us as they arrive with their kids Hudson and Nora on Sunday. Jeremiah is a police officer and will speak and train some local officers. Cindy does women’s ministry and will do a couple events with women. 

November started big for the church. We had a church organizational meeting in order to be a legally organized non-profit in Brazil. The next day we had a baptismal service in which we baptized five adults and two children. We also had a good meal and fellowship time. 

In Pesqueira we are a few months into our Bible study we do every other week. Ricardo and Wilker are very faithful and even do extra reading. We are studying the Story of Hope and just finished some lessons on Moses. They had some very good observations. 

Sarah had her last module of the year and we went to Fortaleza as a family again. This time another couple from our church went and we were able to go to a water park again. It was nice to have a couple days to have fun in the sun. While we were gone we left a member of the church to preach (our colleagues Roger and Marcy Smith left for a 9 month furlough). The day before his father passed away (pray for William during this difficult time); this meant that the church in Tupanatinga wouldn’t have a preacher or the church in Arcoverde. The church of Tupanatinga ended up having a time where they shared Bible verses and prayed together. I was glad they were still active in our absence. In Arcoverde I called José who has been nervous about preaching and hadn’t made the leap yet. He agreed to help out and did a great job. It seems God in His providence had a way to help our friend make a great stride in his life. 

We are already planning for next year and covet your prayers! We are offering a Servant Leader’s Bible certificate and we are structuring the preaching around it as well. Pray it is a year of spiritual growth in the lives of our members, but also with other churches. Pray that they will take up the challenge to equip leaders in their own churches. Despite officially being a couple hundred dollars short per month, on average more than we need is coming in each month. Thanks to “Anonymous” and others who have gone above and beyond, we are extremely blessed and we thank all of you, especially those who faithfully send in a gift each month. We are so grateful for you!

God bless, 

David, Sarah and my growing like a weed firstborn who could overtake her daddy soon, and the second one who is turning into a super organizer, pulling weeds outside and sorting our clothes in the closet, all by her own initiative. 

Evie also made a Thanksgiving portuguese.


Friday, October 30, 2020

Bits October

 It was the sweetest little prayer I could hardly believe. Due to a Covid situation we have a mother and daughter staying at the church and we have had lunch together the last couple of days. The daughter asked to pray yesterday and thanked God for our family that was teaching her about God; of course the way she said it was super sweet and encouraging to hear. 

Prep time. In the last couple of weeks I have been working on strategic planning for life and ministry as well as preparing for our official organizational meeting followed by a baptismal service next weekend. We are also preparing for the furlough of our colleagues Roger and Marcy Smith who will be gone for 8 months and leave a huge hole here! We are working on training leaders that will step up and help out with the load. 

Sarah has kept busy with counseling, discipleship and classes. She has started some new extensive discipleship material with a couple of women and they are doing well with it. She has also counseled a couple of ladies regarding baptism and we are having a baptismal service on the 8th. We have around 7-8 people to baptize. We will also have a church organization meeting the day before to officially start the church legally. We are working on getting all the legal aspects in order and so this will be a big step. Then the baptism service will be the next day and serve as a celebration time as well. We rent a place with a pool, grill and space to spend the day and are looking forward to a great time. 

Every other week I do the Story of Hope Bible study in the city of Pesqueira with my friends Wilker and Ricardo. They have really enjoyed the study and seem to be learning a good bit. Ricardo is reading the Bible through as we do the study. Wilker is very studious and so he has done some extra study as well. 

This month we are taking the 10 hour drive to Fortaleza and going to a big water park with some friends. It was originally scheduled for Sarah’s August module, but pushed back to November cause of Covid. And actually the module will be on zoom, but since we had already scheduled everything we are still going. We are feeling the need for some rest and so we hope that we also get another couple of days off this month or early next month. 

Next year looks to be the year in which we offer a certificate through a US Bible college for Servant Leader’s curriculum. I am working on organizing a team, material and logistics to pull this off. If the system is good, it could take off in Brazil and we could have a good impact on leadership training. My main prayer is that we have a few people in our church that go through with the program and will feel more confident in leadership roles. We have some great people around us and see how God could really raise up leadership and use our church and leadership team to impact the region for Christ. This week some famous pastors in Brazil went viral for teaching false doctrine. Although apparently Brazil is growing in evangelicals, the doctrine is all over the place. Not that God can’t use people with different doctrine than we have, but the doctrine in Brazil needs some solid biblical influence. We pray that we can be a part of that positive influence here that will help grow healthy churches within Brazil. 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, and my little fish who are ready for Beach Park

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Bits September

 When hammered with tasks early in the pandemic we felt somewhat overloaded in our Pastors and wive’s group. We then proceeded to divvy up tasks by expanding our leadership structure. We welcomed new leaders over all kinds of areas in the church and worked on training them individually. This month we did a training for all those who serve in ministries. Although our average main service attendance had been under 30 at the time, we had 31 take the course! It was a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning event and we decided to do it up big for our people. They came, participated, learned and enjoyed. We hope this will give us a good excitement as we push past 2020 and try to leave it in the dust! Haha

One ministry that sprouted up this year was a social ministry. The church seeks to meet social needs to open a door for spiritual needs as well. One young lady in our church is a single mom and Sarah has been working hard counseling her as well as trying to set her up in a business that will provide for her needs. However, with this there are lots of different issues to work through. Please pray for wisdom in this situation!

Our discipleship groups are still going well. One of our men’s groups that had been slow to start back up is now getting some momentum. Sarah’s Sunday morning group has been starting to meet personally instead of online. Then our new study in Pesqueira had one week online and then another week together (it is an every other week study). The next time in Pesqueira our study group will start the book The Story of Hope. 

Raphael started coming to our church a couple years ago. We had a membership interview with he and his wife. His wife said she would be involved with music and kids and was excited about her involvement. I looked at Raphael and asked him about his gifting and about any ministry he could be involved in. I kind of received a blank stare for an answer. We decided that we would see and something would come up. In the last year or so, I do not remember exactly when, Raphael came to me and said, “I am ready.” 

“Ready for what?” 

“Whatever, it doesn’t matter, but whatever God wants me to do I will do.” Raphael has been in our pilot group for the systematic theology class as well as our homiletics class we started this year. This past month he helped teach our Theology and Practice of Servant Leaders module and then preached that very same Sunday night. Our worry now is that we are overloading him with tasks. His wife Viviane is the same way; she was one of two to leave Sarah’s discipleship group in order to start a new one. They are a huge blessing to us. 

Their growth the last couple of years has been a testament of the power of the gospel transforming lives and it is these types of stories that make us think we have the best job in the world. We appreciate how God has touched your life to participate with us in His work!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our now 11 year old Evelyn that is in those not totally a kid, not yet a teen years, but she is doing great as she navigates this tricky road, and Anna Claire who is enjoying being able to play a lot more with her friends than the last few months. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Bits August

 “It’s a miracle.” Chico and Rodrygo said about Richard, their friend who has started coming to church in the last year. Richard was practically voted most likely to not be in church about a year ago, but due to some life circumstances he started coming and has gone all in. A couple weeks ago we had a preaching class on a Sunday morning that Chico is attending. They live in Tupanatinga and Richard came with them for the day. We did a church feijoada (traditional Brazilian meal consisting of beans and pork essentially) for lunch for people to come pick up. So they all came for the day. Padim didn’t want to say anything in the class, but he ended up really interested. He bought a Bible for himself and his wife with whom he would like to get back together. Pray that God uses the Bible in her life to transform her just like God is transforming Richard. 

A couple new people have come to the church since we started up after the pandemic. Mathew is even taking the theology class and doing a good job keeping up with it. Sarah finished counseling a couple of ladies recently. Most of these situations are confidential, but it is really exciting to see how God is using Sarah and this way of making disciples. The counseling is basically a discipleship for people in crisis. Really, we could all use that type of counsel. Sarah is super busy!!! Pray for her as she juggles all these events. 

We started a new Bible study in a new town (Pesqueira) on Thursday of last week. The intention is to make disciples there and see if eventually there can be a church. Our contacts there are with a couple guys that were on the football team. We plan on starting slowly as we are busy elsewhere but an advantage to having a long term vision for reaching a region and staying in the same place over the long run is that you can work on multiple plants at once. I just edited our Outback Vision page of our blog to talk about the advantages of having a long term vision of staying in one place and reaching cities around you.

We are excited about the leadership training phase happening around us. The next two Sundays we will have two men from our church preaching. They are in the preaching class Roger Smith is teaching. The theology classes are going slowly but surely. On the 12th and 13th of this month we are going to do a module for those serving in our church. The Theology and Practice of Servant Leaders is great material and we hope this will launch into a great season of service for the Kingdom. We are going all out on the event in preparation that it will be a time in which our people feel very blessed. 

Two disciples that we are excited about as well are Evelyn and Anna Claire. They each like to help out in their own little way. A house they frequently play at is our neighbor’s, Ana Paula who announced during the pandemic she wanted to be a member of our church. Sarah had a good talk with her a couple months back about salvation but had not really heard anything, but in her membership interview she talked about how she had decided to follow Christ. Sarah has now started a long, deep discipleship booklet with her. Pray for her in her new faith as well as her husband who says he wants to start coming and even wants to put in a pool at their house so they can get baptized in it. There is no doubt that the lives of our little girls played a role in her coming to Christ.

We are so blessed! As all the memes about 2020 being a disaster are so true and we do go through trying times in the church and ministry, we understand that the blessing of God has been abundant as well. Thank you for your part in that blessing. 

Evelyn's new glasses

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our sprouting fifth grade Evelyn who should pass her father soon enough and our puzzle queen Claire bear.  

Friday, July 31, 2020

Bits July

A higher standard! This Sunday I am speaking out of I Corinthians on how Christians live by a different set of rules. We are to be more generous, loving, forgiving than the normal standards of this world. How applicable is that to these days. We have so much to learn. 

Sarah's counseling continues to go well along with encouragement in the women's group. At some point I hope to be more specific with counseling stories, but for now you can trust me that it is going really well! I posted on facebook this month about how proud I am of her and yes, she did approve of what I wrote, in case you are wondering! haha. Here is a picture of her at her annual surprise birthday party. I think she was surprised this time because it happened a couple days before her actual birthday. 
This month the second online Theology class started. We started with over fifty names in the system! I didn't think all of them would go through with the work, and we are right, but at least half of them are! They are enjoying the class as well. So far it is reaching the goal of not being too time consuming yet at the same time giving them the ability to learn as much as they want to learn. I really think this is a great  start to more of an online learning platform that can be very effective. 

We had a couple trips this month! First off was a much needed four day vacation to the beach! We had been waiting for things to open up enough to get away. It was great. The second trip was by myself as I went to the US to grab the girls' school books. Like literally, I was there for two days and had enough to pack my overweight luggage (I paid for one extra bag and dragged the rest through the airport in a check in bag and my backpack. Fortunately they didn't check the weight of those bags, haha). This trip was basically as cheap as finding another way for the bags as all the groups coming down had been cancelled and the post office isn't sending internationally! How crazy is that. The easiest way was for me to take the quick trip. I did get to see my sister and brother-in-law and their new daughter! 
When I arrived home the girls announced they wanted to start school already! So this past Monday they started back up. They are lovely and doing a great job. 

We have opened up our services but are having low attendance as the virus seemed to pop up strongest at this time. Several in our church have contracted it (not from church) and are doing fine. We praise the Lord for that and are now praying for wisdom as we work with the people on coming back to services. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and our fifth grade Evelyn and second grader Anna Claire

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bits June

And we are live
Two weeks ago we had our first live service of the quarantine through Facebook and Instagram. We just had the musicians and pastors present. This past Sunday was our first service to have people present and for further prevention we had the service in the afternoon on the church lawn. It was really nice to be back together and have that option. The crowd was about what we expected since kids and adults older 
Lawn service
than 60 were not allowed amongst other restrictions. 

The quarantine gave us an opportunity to evaluate ministries, structure and leadership in the church. Because of how busy we have been we started to look down the road to when we will not have our colleagues Roger and Marcy and to the times we will be gone and to what we would like our church to look like leadership wise. So we decided to dish out some duties in the church. We are looking at long term transitions and so we are praying, analyzing and looking for the right times to talk to our members as well as train them in different areas. This has been really exciting. So far we have a social ministry director, librarian, kitchen lady, worship co-leader, kid’s ministry leader, events coordinator, outdoor facilities director, head of security, treasurers, and more in mind for the future. 

Roberta organizing books
Roberta was saved around five years ago and has changed her life perspective. She enjoys reading and is one of our more frequent attenders to the library. She has secretarial experience as well and so when she was asked to be the church librarian she was thrilled. 

One night Sarah had two of her discipleship group members over to plan their split from the group! They are going to start their own together and Sarah sent them off two by two. This is huge! Vivi and Luciana are really excited and Sarah has done a great job preparing them and we have seen so much spiritual growth from these two. On the same night Vivi’s husband Raphael came as well and we went over his message for next Sunday! He is going to preach for the first time. He is involved in a class that was just started With Pastor Roger preaching homiletics. We have four men in this class and look forward to them developing their preaching skills. 

The three mentioned above and two more have been involved in a Systematic theology class that was started during the quarantine and is done mainly online. I have filmed ten minute videos and they have a discussion forum they participate in. We did meet for a review and their first test! We found out they had indeed learned some important truths and they all scored in the 90’s with one ace. The pilot class has been successful and did leak out leading to more interest. Next week I am starting an open class. We have a few people from around Brazil already and a few from our church. We have space for more and so pray the right people will get involved. 
Test time

Recently I read a post about the difficult things missionaries go through. I could relate to every point, but I have not thought deeply about them lately because I feel like our life is super blessed. We have so much more than we deserve. Even in this chaotic 2020 that quite frankly needs a reset button, we feel God’s grace and blessing in our family and ministry life. Thank you for your prayers and partnership that makes all this possible.

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, and my two beach bound daughters who are excited about playing in the waves, sand and pool starting tomorrow until Sunday morning :) 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bits May

Another strange month for the books! Two weeks ago I was robbed at gunpoint. Two
young men took our car, my wallet and cell phone after pointing a revolver at me when I was driving out of our sub-division. It was pretty disappointing that it was so close to home. Fortunately God took care of us as there was a policeman literally in front of our house in his car as I ran home. We went after the robbers while at the same time letting all the police groups know of the occurrence. Apparently the robbers were not able to make it through the next town and ended up back in Arcoverde the next day where they tried to take the car apart in the woods. Someone saw them and called the police. They had thrown my cell phone out the window shortly after the robbery and so I received my cell phone back within a couple of hours. The car we got back the next day with minimal damage (they had driven it into the woods and so the front end suffered some damage). 

the main dent from the thieves
We are grateful for many things with this rather disturbing incident. 
  1. The many missionaries who have gone before us and already told us their stories. We kind of had it in our mind it would happen sometime and so that has helped.
  2. Sarah or the girls weren’t with me.
  3. We recovered the car and cell phone.
  4. The wallet didn’t have any cards that could be used. 
  5. We have so many friends that offered help. 
  6. I could add to this list for a long time.

Brazil is behind the US as far as the advancement of the virus. We heard there will be an eleven week opening up process that hasn’t started yet. We are thinking of having some
Praise group practice
small group meetings at the church and following some spacing issues. We have been able to see many of our members at some point, but still wish we could meet all together. If the state’s parameters hold up it looks like our first service will be the last week in June. 

During the quarantine I decided to do a pilot run of an online course. There had been some murmurs of interest from a few friends in our church wanting to study theology. I have a systematic theology course that I used in the Amazon and loved teaching it. So a project has been putting these videos online and having the Servant Leaders platform site facilitate this class. It has been outstanding and the five students are loving it. We met for the first time Sunday spread out in our space at the church where we hold services and we chatted about the favorite lessons being learned and then played a review game. It was really a lot of fun. 

Neighbors working on the neighborhood
The quarantine has brought up some interesting perspectives when it comes to church. Are we the people the church or does it need to be a group meeting in a building? Is the Word a priority in my life that I need or is it just a part that is optional? It is exciting to see those in our church who have chosen to make it a priority as well as its application in their lives. 

A prayer request we have is for the girls school books for August! All of the groups coming down here needed to cancel, understandably, but now we need to see how we can get the girl’s school stuff down here. Another request is for our car to get fixed up (we are just waiting on the parts). Then pray for wisdom for us as we start back up, as well as for Sarah (and me a little) as we counsel some. 

Abraços pra todos (hugs to everyone). And lots of thanks for your prayers and encouragement!
girls playing school during their summer

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, our Narnia loving, conversational, loving, sweet girls Evelyn and Anna Claire

learning kickball!