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

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bits November

I’m late! I always try to get the update out at the end of the month and the latest the first of the month! But I have learned that you can’t win them all. :)

Well, we are in our building! We started using it a couple of weeks ago as we started on a Saturday night and had a great group. We did more of a thanksgiving type service (more thanksgiving for being there then for the pilgrims :) as Brazilians do not celebrate that holiday). We had three of us give a devotional surrounded by times of praise and prayer. We feel so blessed to be able to use the building…even though it is not quite finished. We continue to work on it to have the finished product downstairs.

We also inaugurated having courses! Dan and Kelly Cook came from Recife to teach Good Soil along with a camp worker he is training. We had a good group and a great time. The students were all faithful to the classes and it was really encouraging to have them there. We are currently teaching another course with Cam Woolford, the director of Servant Leaders International. He has come down for a visit and to see where we live and minister. He has said it has already given him a good context for where we are. 

These courses are giving us a good feel for how course times, prices and logistics will work out. It will also help us determine our target audiences for the courses. We also were able to film the course last night and hope to start to populate our training site so that we can have more people using the content at a longer distance. 

God is good! We praise Him for His many blessings in our life. One blessing was after our first service having our last football game for the year and being able to go to the beach afterwards as our neighbors let us stay in their apartment close to the beach in the city in which we were playing. It was just a day there, but it was nice to get away. We have been blessed in so many ways, including you all who are reading this. I had the opportunity to speak at the Northeast Brazil’s Word of Life Bible Institute on Wednesday about ministry in our region and I told them about the blessing of having supporters like you all that pray and give and that it is a humbling blessing that really keeps us going. So a big Merry Christmas to you and a blessed New Year in which you learn more and more about what it means to be conformed to Christ’s image!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, my braces girl that loves ballet and independence, and my little cat that has recently been painting her face to look like a cat….yeah, it is weird, but it is really cute. :) 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Living with eternity in mind

A friend’s mom just found out her cancer returned and has spread and it does not look good for her. One of our study group members is their neighbor and decided to have a service for her. She asked me to speak. What do you speak on in a moment like this? I cannot pretend to understand what they are going through. In a quick search I found out that it seemed like Paul knew what to say, as he wrote the perfect passage in 2 Corinthians 4. 

I started the message in verse 16:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not see. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

There is a costly gift in experiencing this seemingly hopeless situation. The recognition that our living reality should be in light of eternity. We easily wrap ourselves up in our earthly life and lose perspective on our eternal life. Our constant longing and hope should be eternal life in Christ so that the weights of this world do not boggle us down. Lately I have worried myself with tasks that  need no worrying to accomplish them. This week in a Bible study my daughter’s prayer request was that her parents would not be so stressed out. ha. Thanks baby girl. It was only slightly embarrassing as I have already come to the conclusion that the list is long of my deficiencies, but it did provide some reflection as to my mindset. 

The eternal is much more important than our earthly light afflictions. Verse 16 had started with the word therefore and so we look at the context above to show us why we can have this eternal mindset that does not let us lose heart. Paul emphasizes the gospel in the whole chapter. We do not handle the word of God deceitfully, we know that Satan blinds the minds of those who do not believe, and we do not preach ourselves. We are not the answers. In moments like this, my lack of words makes this entirely obvious as I do not have a clue what to say. But the gospel shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We have a treasure knowing that the power does not come from us, but from God.

For these reasons we can suffer but not break down. We have hope in Christ that stems from the resurrection. Just as Christ raised from the dead, so those who believe in Him will also raise. This hope sustains us! This grace sustains us to the glory of God! So remember when suffering through the reality of everyone’s mortality that it does not matter! To be absent on earth is to be present with the Lord for those who believe! And let these moments remind us that we are to always live in view of eternity, as a friend used for his ALIVE ministry slogan.