Sunday, July 1, 2018

This last week we had a great group come down from Salem, Oregon. They had three main ministry purposes. First of all they put on flag football clinics for kids and teenagers (and the adults joined in). We had great turnouts from the community and lots of fun. They heard the gospel several times as well. The group left flags, uniforms and lots of balls for them to use. As the amount of people involved in football grows in our community, the more contacts we will have for the gospel. They left many balls that will help the popularity of the sport to grow and thus our influence!

Secondly they did an English camp for three nights. There were several participants that came every night and we made some great new contacts. A couple of them even went to church Sunday night. The camp was mainly conversation and so they were able to share life stories.

Thirdly, a couple of the men in the group focused on building a playground at the church! It is well done and the kids are all really excited about it. 

This month we finished a couple of studies. First of all I did the Story of Hope with two of my English guys, Romildo and Eduardo. I did it in English! They started out as beginner English students in January but were able to study the Bible and English together. Pray for them as they wrestle through some questions. Then I did the discipleship book Way to Joy with Diego and Bruna who said they have never made it through a discipleship book, until now! We finished both these studies in the busyness of the last week! 
Sarah and the women’s group have been going strong with their prayer times. I believe that God has been blessing the church strongly because of this

We are on a short trip to the states right now and arrived last night. We are in for an ABWE conference and some family vacation. Being gone for over five weeks is not easy, especially since our colleagues Roger and Marcy are also in the states. Many people asked us what we were going to do with the church while we were gone. Yet we are not worried! We have a great group of people who serve. We have a good group of people who can preach and the music group is good to go as usual. 

With Servant Leaders I have taken on a project to do a quarterly newsletter to update people on what is happening. If you would like to receive that newsletter please send me a reply saying you would like to receive it and I will add you to the list. 

Your prayers sustain us! Thank you all so much!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and my little flag football girls; Evelyn had a couple touchdowns and Anna Claire had fun. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bits May

“Should we ask for people to pray?” Obviously prayer is good in most situations but you also do not want to scare people when you do not have to. My dad came down for football camp and had gone to Recife with our colleagues Roger and Marcy Smith. I would have taken him had we not been in a crisis in Brasil.

Last Wednesday I was headed to Recife to receive the group of football coaches that come every year. We had heard that there was a strike and some road blockades. Roger and Marcy had come to Arcoverde the previous day and said they had been able to come ok, but that there was starting to be some gas shortages in some interior towns. I was not worried as I had enough gas to arrive in Recife where the gas stations were fine. Halfway into my trip I received a call from another colleague Dan Cook. “Fill up as soon as you can, I just passed four gas stations with no gas and the other one had a really long line.” Messages started pouring into my Whatsapp, “Find a gas station quick!” 

A few minutes later I found a gas station with about 40 cars already but a good amount of gas pumps. I pulled to the right and within twenty minutes had an overflowing tank. After sending a few messages that I had gotten gas I headed out at a much more relaxed gas saving pace. That night news was already coming in of closing airports and gas shortages due to a trucker strike. Blockades were being put up on roads where tires were burnt and the highway would close down. 

Much to my relief my dad and the group from West Huntsville Baptist Church made it in. Our other ride made it as well and we headed out. My car got stuck behind one tire burning that took thirty minutes to clear, but beside that the other blockades were peaceful and let us through. 

Our popular international football camp had not seemed to popular this year for some reason. We moved from our normal spot at a camp in Recife to host it in Arcoverde. Once the strike happened we knew why God had allowed that move. We would only have players from two other teams beside our own team. Fortunately we set up a couple other opportunities for the mission team.

On Friday afternoon we went to the English school Fisk with whom we have a great partnership. All the coaches talked to the students as the students had prepared some cultural foods to show the coaches. Then Hoss (who played offensive line in the NFL) talked to the students about football and God. That night we had our first of four practices. Saturday afternoon we opened up to families and had three football games going; kids, women and men. We had a great time. At night we opened up a time of testimony, music and questions and answers to our church group and the team. We had some great questions and topics and Hoss shared his testimony as well. 

On Sunday morning as we had practice Don shared a very clear presentation of the gospel. There were some great comments on how impactful the times of talking were for these guys. Pray that they would put these truths deep within their hearts and decide to havce a personal relationship with Christ. Our team has been on rocky waters this year and I told the coaches to speak as if it were these guys’ last chance to hear the gospel and they did. 

The whole weekend we were not sure what would happen with the airport, or gas to get home or rides. The coaches were great about being flexible and we tried not to stress, but we did really wonder what would happen. The guy who said he would do it was stuck in Recife and so we had plenty of plans and back up plans. Two big trucks came to pick up our coaches and then my dad’s flight was later and so he stayed and was able to go to our Sunday night service. He then caught a ride with Roger and Marcy on Monday morning. 

When they arrived in Recife he decided to go for a walk to the beach since he had the rest of the day. He said he would be gone for an hour or an hour and a half, got directions and phone numbers and headed out….the back door by accident. He then went the wrong way to the beach and took an hour and a half to get there. By then he was tired and took a little nap after going for a swim. On the way back he got turned around again cause he had probably gone to the wrong spot. He asked for directions and even to use someone’s phone to call Roger and Marcy, but it wasn’t working.

Roger called me after three hours of him being gone and asked if he should be worried. He then went out on foot looking for him. No one had seen him at the beach. After a while he got his bike and our friend Carlos did as well. They rode around for a couple hours. Meanwhile we had the dilemma of asking people to pray which would certainly spread across social media quickly or keeping it to ourselves. Prayer is a good thing and so we asked a couple groups to pray. It spread like wildfire and now my dad is the most famous person in Recife. :) 

After being gone for a long time my dad found a taxi that took him to a nearby hotel where they recognized him and pointed him in the right direction. He had been gone for six hours when he arrived safely at the apartment much to the relief of many people. It was neat to see how many people were very helpful with prayers and spreading the word. Many people knew policeman or fireman or others that would be able to be on the lookout for him. 
The gas situation is still bad here which trickles into other areas. Please pray it will be resolved soon; especially before our other missions team arrives in late June. They are coming to teach flag football. Right after that trip we will leave for the US for several weeks to attend a conference and have family vacations. We are looking forward to that! 

Your prayers and God’s sovereignty give us so much peace as we are here. Thanks for all you do in partnering with us to reach Brazilians for Christ and so they can reach others! We had our church’s first missions conference this month and it went really well! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our little flag football players that have helped coach and have played. Also, Evelyn just finished second grade and so in August we will have a third grader and kindergartener  

Monday, April 30, 2018

Bits from Brasil April

April started off with a bang when we had our church inauguration on April 7th. We were really excited to see a group of around 80 people come from the mother church in Recife. The room packed out that night and we had the band from Recife lead worship for a few songs and our band for a few songs. We talked about the vision, construction and training we would offer at the church/training center. Our boss Cal Clark brought the message for the evening and then we had a great time of fellowship with the seven cakes we had made for the occasion. I made a video (click on the link to watch) including lots of pictures from the last few years as well as the night of the inauguration. 

Sarah is doing a wonderful job organizing the kid's classes as well as the women's prayer group. The kids have had a great time in their classes and tell their parents they want to keep coming. There have been several women who have been helping as well which makes it easier on Sarah. This next weekend we are having our first missions conference! It will be really neat participating in a conference as one of the Pastors. :) That has never happened before. We are looking at supporting a couple projects as well as taking on a missionary through grace giving. 

The next couple months we have missions groups that are coming down for football. Late this month we have our annual international football camp with our group from West Huntsville Baptist Church. My dad is coming down as well! Pray for the football team! We have had some issues this year. This camp could be a big turning point for some guys. We usually have a couple players in services and a few have told me lately that they need to be in church. Pray that they would come. One of those guys came last night and wants to come more regularly. 
(Roger and Marcy Smith, our coworkers)

The English group we have had has diminished since we started up. People are generally not that committed. We have two guys that have been pretty consistent though. This last month instead of class one Saturday they went with me to Tupanatinga for our Bible study. It was neat having them along! The group there has been strong! We have several families that are faithful and we look forward to our visits there. Please pray about our future there and how God would like us to continue.
We are loving our home here in Arcoverde. Our friends are wonderful to us! Thanks for your prayers for us and for the people of Arcoverde!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my diligent little school girl, and my scatterbrained cutie pie

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Bits March

One week from today, Saturday the 7th of April, we will have the inauguration for our church and training center. The mother church in Recife has around 75 people coming and we are inviting a lot of people here in Arcoverde as well. The Brazil administrator for ABWE, Cal and Carol Clark will be here as well. We are excited and trying to get the building ready for the big day. 

March has been the first full month for Servant Leaders in the church. We have several that are faithful in coming and we have had a great start. I had hoped we would have more students from outside of our church but that has not happened. Hopefully this start and posting some of the teaching online will get more people interested in what is happening, but for now I am thrilled in the members we have that are being faithful in attending classes. One pair of students are Chico and Bia, who are our main leaders in the Bible Study in Tupanatinga. 

This last week we needed to renew our passports in Recife and had hoped to spend a couple days at the beach. One of our friends here hooked us up with a resort apartment at one of the nicer beaches in the area. So we took a couple days to relax around one of the longest pools I have ever seen. While we were there Evie ran up to a little girl who showed up to the beach and invited her to play. We ended up hanging out for a day with them. They opened up some about their spiritual life and we were able to encourage them. We agreed that God had certainly orchestrated our meeting. I am grateful that God uses us even when we least expect Him to. 

During March our sermon series was about the church’s doctrine and values. We handed out membership packets and are seeing who is interested in joining the church. We are planning for membership interviews soon as well. March was birthday month at the church and we had a bunch of times of fellowship. We have a good time hanging out together. Yesterday most people did not have to work and so we had an informal lunch at the church. We have a good bit of contacts in Arcoverde and have had a decent amount of people interested in the church. Please pray that our unsaved neighbors and friends would be more and more open to the gospel in their lives. 

This coming week is a big week! We go to Tupanatinga and then receive the big group for the inauguration. Please pray that it all goes smoothly! Thank you so much for your faithfulness in praying and partnering with us in the ministry! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and my competitive eight year old and my soon to be five year old (Anna Claire’s birthday is Friday the 6th of April). 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bits February

Servant Leaders has begun! Not that we have not been doing seminars in the past for Servant Leaders, but last week we started from the beginning of the program and are working towards bringing our people through the entire program. We first started looking into Servant Leaders in 2013 and so it has been a long time researching and developing and I am thrilled to have already started. We have started with low numbers, but that does not matter a ton to me. I know that it will catch on. Yesterday we had our main couple in Tupanatinga present for Old Testament Survey which was really special for us. Just being able to train them is worth it! 

The women are taking charge! This month one of our ladies decided we needed a women’s prayer group. They organized and had a meeting and it was fabulous. From that a couple ladies that live close to the church decided to come. Since then they have been in services and wanting to be more involved despite their catholic background. They have really enjoyed the Bible study that our church offers. Our neighborhood is developing even more and there has been interest in the church by some of them, including showing up or taking English. Pray for us as we develop ways in which they can enter the church.

Esio was talking to me a couple days ago and asked which church I was in and what I did in the church. He did not know that it was the certain building. He is a non-practicing catholic and said, “I should try it out; it could be that I actually like church.” We would love to reach the many people in our neighborhood who are like Esio. Several have already come to services. You all would be pleasantly amazed at the questions some have asked like when one neighbor walked in and said: “I have never really been in a church, what do I do?” I replied to come in, sit down, sing and listen. Pray for more like these two that will come in and hear God’s Word and that we would be a light in this neighborhood!

Our official inauguration of the church will be April 7! We are excited as we will be receiving a bus from the mother church in Recife as well as our bosses and several others! As we prepare for this event we are also preparing for membership as we take our people through our core values and doctrine. This month the preaching will be focused on those very topics and we will be giving them membership packets to look through. 

Please pray for the activities we are involved in that aim to make disciples at all different stages: English, football, cheerleading, events at the church, short term mission trips (we have 4 this year coming-three from the US and one from Word of Life Brazil), small groups starting up, the group in Tupanatinga, and the daily interactions we have that our great opportunities to lift up the gospel. We have been very blessed in our area of influence in the community. Pray that we know how to leverage this for God’s glory! We ask for prayer because we know of the many faithful prayer warriors out there who partner so well with us to make disciples here in Brazil. 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, our responsible firstborn, and our little chatter box that now likes to go into the office with her daddy during the day.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January is a down month for most of Brazil. Some people go on vacation literally, most just go mentally. We try to schedule few events for January. Our colleague Dan Cook is a camp director and they have camp in January. He asked Sarah to do the crafts for the camp this season. She has been working hard since November getting them ready and for a low price. Mid January I dropped her and the girls off at Camp Paradise for a week along with Evelyn’s best friend Alice. They had a great time and the crafts were a big success! 

While they were at camp Roger and Marcy Smith and I put on an English camp with several other helpers. We did three nights in a row where the group came in and were able to converse in English for a while. It was a great opportunity! At this point we are looking at events that can introduce the community to our resource center and church! Another event this month was a graduation party for one of our faithful attendees. Her family and friends came and we had a thanksgiving service. Our band did the music and I did a small devotional on compassion (she graduated in nursing) and how Jesus gave us the greatest example of compassion. 

In February we will get into some more regular routines as we will be having English conversation on Saturdays and then start our Servant Leaders program on Wednesdays. We will be doing theology in the afternoon and seminars at night. We want to target surrounding towns with a program in which they can come in once a week and receive Bible training. Pray that the word will get out and that we will have the right students for the course. Some of our key leaders have already committed, adjusting work schedules and everything. I have been very pleasantly surprised! Praise the Lord! 

Our building is coming along! We have mostly finished the first floor, yet know it will be a long time before we complete everything! Right now we are making a list and prioritising our spending for what is most important. 

God has blessed us with so much lately. We praise Him for that. Currently I ask for prayer for Sarah’s health. She had a really bad migraine on the 21st and has not been feeling well since then. Please pray she can get back to normal soon! She is our main influencer down here and having her down really stinks! May God bless you all and forgive you for the New Year’s resolutions you have already broken! :) 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, my two time costume winner at camp and my other kitty cat woman. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bits December

Happy New Year! What a crazy year it has been. We started out with a trip to the states from January to April, came back to Brazil hoping we would about be in our building which led to a big focus on construction and finally getting in the building in November! 

Since our first services in November we have kept going on some detail work in the building and then ferociously cleaning the building for use on the weekends. It has been a whirlwind of activity. We did two courses for two weekends and then we focused on our Sunday services and Christmas party. Cam Woolford, the director for Servant Leaders came and visited, saw what we have going here and taught a course with me on Processing your life biblically. We had a really good time. 

The Christmas party was fun! We had around 60 people at the service and dinner and enjoyed wonderful decorations and food. Sarah has done a great job with this organization, mainly because a lot of it was delegated (even though she worked really hard too). We have had several key helpers for events, which is key for the church! 

Sarah has also been running the kid’s programs and they did a little presentation on Christmas night at our dinner. The kids are loving their class and the space of the church, although one night we had 18 kids and it was already a little tight. Sarah has the focus of II Timothy 3 that says from a child we should know the Bible because it makes us wise to salvation (David paraphrase). 

We are grateful that this season sees a lot of people traveling and little activity. We have needed some rest and gotten some, although we have had quite a few party invitations. We told the church how they have been a family to us. It certainly is a blessing to be surrounded by many wonderful people. That includes you all who pray and support us. So many of you are faithful in giving and that means a lot to us. 

We are launching into 2018 with great expectations for what God will do in the church here. There are some great things happening with the contacts God has given us over the past few years and we look forward to the miracles he sends us as we work for His glory in the Sertão!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our two little angels for our Christmas program. 

Evelyn playing her ukulele for the first time in front of a crowd. She played Jingle Bells on Christmas day while people were eating dinner. She played with her teacher Filipe. 

Evie at her ballet open practice