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! 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bits April

Someone sent me a message this morning that we should thank God for what has happened this month even though it may have been a difficult month. True words. They came from a man in our neighborhood that is now watching our services and posting them in our neighborhood text group. One month ago he was not doing this, but our colleague Roger has been involved in his life, counseling him, speaking the gospel into his life and he is listening. Praise the Lord.

Several others in the neighborhood are now listening as well and we have built stronger relationships with other neighbors. It has taken lots of time here, a virus, neighborhood floods, but it seems as if some doors are opening up. 

This month has been a month of adjustment to a new way of ministry life. While there are times we are frustrated, we have felt that God is just giving us new perspectives on opportunities we can have in ministry. The online platform can be used more to reach out with our services and we are trying to be more creative with our videos so as to attract new people as well as keep people’s attention! Technically the Word of God should keep everyone’s attention, but we would be amiss if we thought that everyone out there wants to sit down and engulf the Word of God at every possible moment. I took an editing class and am trying to play around with the software and format a little more.

Sarah has been busier now than ever before and she was really busy before! Her main project is her online classes for counseling which have gone well, but she is now working on getting counseling hours in both observing as well as practicing. She has had great opportunities with this. She is also involved with three discipleship groups which have been meeting on video chats or online forums. Besides this are varying projects like organizing gift baskets for our church members and getting a social ministry in our church up and running. There are so many other little details she works on besides taking care of our home as well. Most of the visual fruit that comes from ministry comes from her side of things. 

I have wanted to put our Servant Leader’s material in video format for a while but often lack the motivation, especially when I see how few views they receive. However, we are now using the videos to do our studies and I am taking advantage of that to work through the Servant Leaders curriculum. I have done several classes already and actually started a separate class with a few people from our church on systematic theology. I invited them to participate to learn as well as to be a pilot group in order to test a platform site for classes. As we work through the details of the site we will be able to broaden the scope of our audience and class participants.

As the economy will have questions, we have wondered about the future of missionary giving. Logic would tell us that some of our supporters will be greatly affected. Up to this point we have not heard any news in this regards, but it wouldn’t surprise us if we did. God has taken great care of us through supporters. Sometimes we receive news of a new supporter just as we hear news of discontinued support. God is good and has sustained us and provided so much more than we need or deserve. Praise be to Him and thanks to you all who continue to support us through prayer, finances and encouraging words.

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my teacher Evie to my chapter book reading 7 year old (birthday April 6) Anna Claire (as I write this they have setup their school room where Evelyn teaches Anna Claire) 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Bits March

Do not boast about tomorrow because you do not know what will happen in a day. That is a paraphrase of Proverbs 27:1 and pretty direct about everyone’s life recently. We are doing online services as well and are cranking out the videos for services and studies. So with that in mind, we decided we could do a mini-furlough! Since you all are doing online services, we have the possibility to be just as present as you all are in your services! So here is our “not actually in the US” mini-furlough video. 

Along the same lines is kid’s church! At our church I sometimes teach and I have a personality called Dr. Kid. One of my friends in the US said he was planting a church and didn’t have a kid’s church for them to watch and so they did something in their home and so I made a video that can be used for kid’s church in English! Here is the link:

The world events have certainly affected us. We are doing online services and trying to serve our people while staying home. We have not had so many nights at home in a really long time! It was when we first arrived in Arcoverde in 2014 that we had very little to do at night. We have kept a fairly normal schedule during the day though as the girls are homeschooled anyway. Some of the daily activities have changed up but a lot was already online. 

Evelyn started a discipleship group on her own with some of her friends. We are really proud of her. They are going to study Proverbs. Sarah wrote up some material for them to use as well. The girls and I actually finished going through Proverbs at night. They have already started using the idea of not being a fool and being wise! 
Besides the virus this month, our neighborhood has dealt with flooding. There have been heavy rains in the region; rains they haven’t seen in 5 to 10 to 35 years depending on who you talk to. New developments in the city have pointed their sewage and water overflow towards our neighborhood and so we receive rivers flowing through and entering houses. Our house is at a high point and the church was built high, but we had one day in which the whole first floor of the church was full of mud. It was pretty bad. 

The praise in all of this is that God has used this time to open up the hearts of our neighbors. Roger and Marcy Smith as well as Sarah and I have had so many opportunities to minister. The neighbors have been more trusting as we have sought to serve them. Praise the Lord for these opportunities during this crazy time. 

As of this moment we have not heard of losing any support, although we understand that these times could bring major changes in many lives. Thank you for your prayers and continued support as we seek to make disciples in the Sertão!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my discipleship group leader as well as expedition leader Evelyn who likes to tout around with my animal lover Anna Claire (who has a cat, but recently a stray dog adopted us and stays outside our gate). 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Bits February

The year is now officially starting. Brasil has always been interesting in this respect; people do not take the year too seriously until after Carnaval. Every year numbers are down in church until after Carnaval. But this year was different for us; we experienced only one week of this in our church which is normal due to retreats, beach trips and such to get away from Carnaval. This was really exciting for us as we feel we have continued momentum in the church and are experiencing good spiritual growth. 

The women are organizing discipleship groups for the year as well as continuing their prayer meetings. The men have been going through the course “How to Biblically Process Life” and we have had good turnouts. Our services have been dynamic. We are about to start an eight week series on the church that everyone is excited about. 

Sarah had her Counseling Module this month for a few days and it was all about practice. They went through counseling situations and received instruction. Our colleagues Al and Kim Yoder are her teachers and have been amazingly helpful in training Sarah. 
As we have preached through Romans 8:28-30 and how God uses circumstances to draw us to Him we have both experienced and seen this in the life of our members. Walking down tough roads can seem so difficult, but it is so comforting to know we serve a sovereign God who has a plan and purpose in all these rough details. Pray for the maturation of our church! We have a lot of great people that are learning so much through their own study and through the church. Pray we will be good stewards of the gifts He has given us. 
This month Roger, Anderson and I went to a town of 65,000 people about 35 minutes away where my friends Wilker and Ricardo live. Wilker was on the football team and turned into a good friend. He sometimes watches our live feeds although he doesn’t belong to any church. He gave us a tour of Pesqueira showing us some of the churches there and giving us a rundown of the town. Pray for wisdom for us as to whether this could be a possible future Bible study/church location. We are praying about it and continuing some research as we make long term strategy to reach the region for Christ. 

Thanks so much for your prayers and investment in God’s work here in Northeast Brasil!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my Bible study girl Evelyn (she does the adult Sunday school class on the OT) and my puzzle genius Anna Claire

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Bits January

We had a group over for New Year's.

Happy New Year! How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? I hope that you are in the Word this year! There was a good group from our church that decided they want to focus on reading through the Bible this year. 


Evelyn went off to camp for a week this month. She had a great time and even won camper of the week for her room. They have theme nights and one was profession. Here is a photo of her as a stewardess. I was able to go to the camp (our mission has a camp that has been around for over forty years) during Adventure week where we camped in tents and did lots of outdoor activities. I spoke five times to over 50 young people. It was a great opportunity. 

Evelyn with some girls from her room
Sarah and I are taking on some counseling and this last month we got beat up a little. Pray that we would grow in wisdom in dealing with difficult issues. We had our office redone so that for the first time in her life, Sarah has an office. We are together and then we have an area in the office for counseling as well. We inaugurated it this last week. In a couple of weeks Sarah travels to her class for a few days. 

Sarah is very involved with our kid’s ministry. I begged for involvement as well and finally get to follow in my dad’s footsteps as a doctor. I am Doctor Kid who sees spiritual sicknesses with kids and treats them. You wouldn’t believe it, but my first treatment plan was for obedience. We have a Farmacist in our church who helped me (she is legit) and we have a nurse as well, but didn’t realize it until afterwards… but we will use her in the future. 

It has been hot! This is our little
blow up pool
Our Tupanatinga group has remained firm and have had some extra people attending as well. We are praying and looking for what God will do and what the next steps will be. We are also praying about starting a smaller study in another town as well as we see how long the process of planting a church takes. Getting our foot in the door and testing the waters is a very first step and Roger (our coworker in Arcoverde) and I are praying and looking towards a survey trip possibly this month.

Thanks so much for your prayers! This month our needed support went up once more cause of health care increases, but so did what came in for the month. God seems to touch hearts in a rhythm that always meets our needs.  

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my little camper of the week Evelyn and my other little water bug Anna Claire