Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Bits June

My favorite ministry time this month was when we brought the newly formed music group from Tupanatinga to spend a few hours with our group in Arcoverde. They arrived around ten in the morning, had a snack and then listened to one of our music leaders about the difference between secular and Christian music. It was very informative and interactive. Then most of our group arrived for lunch. After lunch we had a small meeting sharing some of how praise groups work as well as working through some of the issues that are faced. Then they just started playing a few songs together. Both groups enjoyed the experience and it gave me a good idea of how we can function more as a training center in the future.

We saw our friend and new attender at a
restaurant on the way to the airport
The church in Tupanatinga has really turned a corner. We have had consistent services with several new faithful families. Then having visitors is common. On Friday we used every last chair we have in our small room we rent. We are hoping to start construction soon as we have a good bit of funds, but we are waiting on the trustworthy workers  that our people know to be done with another project before we start. 



After a month without in person church services in Arcoverde we were able to meet Sunday morning. We had a good group there but still a good bit of people are waiting for it to be safer. Small groups have been able to continue though. This month we had some of the men together to study the qualifications of deacons and elders. While we haven’t placed any in positions yet, it was good to challenge them in these areas. Some of them already functionally act as deacons or elders as they preach, lead music or take care of the finances. 


Sarah continues to stay busy with her master’s classes. She only has a couple left and will be done with the classes before the end of the year and then next year will be spent writing her dissertation. She has stayed very busy with all of her commitments. 


Vinicius was a flight attendant on our first flight to
Brazil in 2008. On that flight he read Joshua 1
to encourage us. We ran into him at the airport!
Tuesday afternoon we arrived in Chattanooga to spend around a month here on vacation. It has been almost two and a half years since we have been to the farm (where Sarah’s parents live). We are planning on spending a lot of time with her family and see some of my family as well at the end of this month. This trip will give several people in the church the chance to stand up and lead, preach or just function without us! 


Thanks for all you do for the kingdom! May God bless you. 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, our little reader and our little imaginitive girl who loves to play! 

The girls looking over the city

Monday, May 31, 2021

Bits May


Mother's Day breakfast
This Sunday Raphael preached a great message on being salt and light in the world. We started a sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount and it has already taught me so much. It is neat to see someone from our church preaching so well. He has probably preached 10-12 times since last year and he does an excellent job of preparing and delivering. This month William also preached and did a great job. A good group of preachers is a blessing and it will be good to have our coworkers Roger and Marcy Smith back with us in August. At the beginning of our services we also have a little word and prayer and we have had some excellent thoughts come out of that time where we hear from different members of the congregation. 


Raising up leadership is important to us and we thought the pandemic would help fast track that last year when we decided to divvy up a bunch of tasks. Unfortunately a lot of ministries have been stalled. We hope to have a module this month, but the uprise in cases in town has left a good bit of people hesitant about coming to church, much less eight hours of class on a weekend. Lord willing we will get the module done by the end of the month. 

Mother's Day breakfast families


Local Pastor's prayer breakfast

Our mission board ABWE likes to emphasize teamwork and having support around you. We are grateful for those who help us. We have a regional administrator, Cal Clark, who is currently in a rough spot with pancreatic cancer; please pray for him! In Brazil we have our colleagues that are an encouragement. We also have a local Pastor’s group that meets for breakfast on Tuesdays. They have helped especially during this time of navigating Covid laws. Sarah has her counseling classes that have brought friendships that help her with a good sense of community. On Mondays I meet and pray with a group of missionaries with Servant Leaders and they have been important in regards to productivity accountability. I hope that you all reading this have a group in which you can be accountable and that helps encourage your spiritual growth! 

Tupanatinga has a preais

Sarah’s small groups have been doing pretty well. The Sunday morning group had great attendance the last couple of weeks. This month it seems like we have gained an extra assistant. Evelyn has been super helpful in setting up for church. She also helps with the slides during the service. The girls just finished their school year last week and so are planning their summer routine which will include some responsibilities. Today I was able to teach the kids upstairs at church and it was neat seeing how sweet and participative my own daughters are. 


Thanks for your prayers! The gospel is spreading here. Tupanatinga had record attendances this month thanks to a couple more faithful families! We had a Mother's Day breakfast in Arcoverde that had a bunch of people here. 


All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our now sixth grader Evelyn and third grader Anna Claire! 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Bits April

Teaching a module at another church
Vidão. That is the Portuguese word for Big life, or good life. When things are going well. It is the expression I like to use when people ask how life is going. This month we finished the Story of Hope Bible study in Pesqueira. They decided to start a new one and study the book of James. In Arcoverde we have had ups and downs as far as groups and meetings and services. Brazil is still having Covid problems and some have lost friends and relatives and it has made them more hesitant about coming to church. 

The church in Tupanatinga is seeing a good bit of visitors. A couple of the women started an Instagram account for the church and have been faithful with posting and that has drawn more people. We are looking into having a praise group from there soon which has gotten me excited. The group there has also been excited. I am going through the Pastoral epistles with some of them just to kind of paint a vision of church leadership. We talked to some brickmasons about starting the church building in a month or so. 


Here is a picture of Rodrygo in Tupanatinga reading the Bible with his father-in-law who is unchurched. The group there has taken to heart God’s Word. Rodrygo will now pray in our Bible study after being ashamed to for a long time. In a meeting about possibly starting a praise group one of the guys talked about how he came partly because of the encouragement of Rodrygo. The group there are getting answers for life from the Bible and sharing with others how the Word can help their lives as well. 


I just had a conversation about the social ministry with our colleague that has now been here three months, Sarah Rogers. There are so many needy people around us and how do we know when it is wise to give and not give. Our church has adopted a community called Batalha in which we have taken food baskets as well as our little thrift store where they can buy items inexpensively. We have a “person of peace” in Batalha who knows where the needs are and we have tried to empower her to help her community. On their own they have asked for services and Bible studies and so we have one person interested in doing a Bible study there. We also have someone in our church that we helped start a small business making signs. Please pray that Roberta can keep up the business. 



This month we watched the series The Chosen as a family. It has been a blessing and helped give us a different view point on Scripture that we have appreciated. Each disciple has their own story, just as each of us has our own story. May our stories point others to Christ!


All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our two little disciples of Christ that are learning more and more what it means to follow Him. 



Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Bits March

Raphael preached last week
on the family
I found a passion. Family difficulties are a problem here in Brasil as well as in the US. We hear of and counsel couples from our church in regards to their marital relationship as well as raising children. We started out the year structuring our messages and small groups around the Servant Leader’s certificate structure and after an Old Testament module we moved into talking about the Christian Family. We have great material, but I felt like it was missing something. Then God gave us the missing part right before the first message by way of song. 

I am now convinced that the gospel can radically change every Christian home. Of course it can, you say. But I am not convinced that we as Christians think about its implications too often. 








The Tupanatinga church meeting on their own
Meeting in Pesqueira
A peaceful place, without screaming, where smiles are abundant and conflicts resolved without feelings of anger; compassion, forgiveness, patience, mercy, grace, love. Is that a description of your home? It isn’t a description of mine necessarily, but it is closer to this now than it was 10 years ago. When we let the gospel settle in to our lives we realize that it changes us. As the gospel is effective it molds us into the image of Christ and this changes everything. As sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters we received inheritances. The legacy of our parents and grandparents passed on to us. Their tendencies became our tendencies, but their choices don’t have to be our choices. Yes of course, take the good stuff; and I am grateful for a lot of great character traits from my family and from Sarah’s family as well. But we can live that legacy or we can let the gospel transform that legacy even more into a Christlike character that will honor God.



Pastors united to pray for the city

These thoughts have been prevalent this month in which a new quarantine was put in place that hindered the great rhythm we have built up. The month of April already has a different quarantine in which we can meet on Sundays but not at our normal time. We feel this is an attack on what God is doing in our families. Pray that God will continue to do this work despite the difficulties! 


We made our first purchase (water boxes) for the construction in Tupanatinga. Now we need to hook up the energy and get the water running. We are also still waiting on a document which is inhibiting some other needed actions to take place. Pray for our CNPJ to come through!  


Grateful for your love and prayers! 


All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and my bi-lingual firstborn who is learning sign language, and my birthday girl (next week on the 6th) who will be 8! 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Bits February

Hopping. For about 7 weeks in a row we have had a consistent attendance in the Arcoverde church. Before the pandemic that never happened; we would have high attendances but the next week would be low. Since the new year we have had visitors that have stayed and other visitors most weeks. One family is coming that were involved in 2014 in our first studies and have come once in a while, but have never been consistent. The husband is a soccer buddy, one of my first ones when coming to Arcoverde; he told me this week that he is very interested in coming frequently and he has shown that lately. He also brings his brother besides his family of four. It was neat this month having my mom here as well to be involved and see all that God is doing (but mostly to play with her grandkids).

In Tupanatinga on Friday we ran out of chairs and didn’t have much room left either even if we did have other chairs. It is a good thing we are already on that! We have bought land and will soon start construction. Both the Arcoverde church and Tupanatinga church are excited about building in Tupanatinga. 


This month we received a new colleague! We met Sarah Rogers when we went to the Servant Leaders’ Missions Academy in Germany. She came and visited us in Brazil for three weeks in June of 2019 and then raised support to come work with us for two years. Sarah and I have been helping her get settled this month and she starts language school on Monday. She then will work with English classes and in varying roles in the church plants. 



Sarah is doing a great job with counseling and will start her small groups back up this month. Our small groups are going to start out with Servant Leaders material on the Christian Family. Pray that our families will be strengthened! 


Speaking of Servant Leaders, the first class for the one year Bible fundamentals certificate is Old Testament and we did the module Saturday and Sunday. We had around twenty students, mostly from our own church and we learned, laughed and ate good food. 


The church in Tupanatinga is rallying to build the church. If you would like to help out, feel free to send in a gift with ABWE and mark it for church planting. We already have some funds in the account to get started, but not to finish. I asked our civil engineer in Tupanatinga to get me a total amount for the first phase, which will be the temple. My guess is that it will be around twenty thousand dollars. 


I don’t think that I can explain how blessed we have felt lately. In the middle of the pandemic, of difficulties on and off the field, we see God move in people’s lives, disciples being made, the lost being reached. We can’t believe how wonderful of a life we have. We appreciate your prayers and support that has sustained us and abundantly blessed us over the years. 



All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and my star Old Testament student who knew practically all the answers, and my little tag queen who is tough to catch! 


Friday, January 29, 2021

Bits January

 

We’ve got land! Last month I said that we hoped in 2021 that we could find a more permanent location for the church in Tupanatinga. We started searching for land and what it would look like and God already supplied a donor that took care of a land purchase! A relative of our colleagues Roger and Marcy Smith asked about projects and Roger graciously told him about Tupanatinga. His donated amount takes care of pretty much all of the land cost and the Arcoverde church has enough saved to cover the rest and some of the purchasing costs and then start building some. We also have some ministry funds saved up to start working on it. We really wanted a good location and God provided it; it even has a wall, well and small office building. Rodrygo is a civil engineer and started working on a project as soon as he negotiated the price. The next afternoon he had this programed out. We are working through how we would really want it, but this was better than we could all picture.
 


If you are interested in being involved in this church construction project, please let me know! We could start as early as this month. We are all pretty excited. The Arcoverde church already has some fund raising ideas as well. 


My mom came to visit us. She arrived on Monday and we are enjoying our time with her. The girls especially enjoyed Nana’s arrival. We also are about to receive a new coworker! Sarah Rogers visited us a year and a half ago and has decided to come back as a short term missionary for two years. Pray for her this month as she arrives on the third, looks to get settled and get going in ministry. 



I included a picture of some from our church praise team just to say that they have been a blessing to the church. There used to be more conflict and the group has grown to really do well in having a peaceful environment so that when the praise service time arrives we can have more meaningful worship. I am really grateful for the serviceful hearts and talent God has sent our way! We structured this year’s preaching around the Servant Leader’s curriculum we are going through; hoping to go deeper in Old Testament, New Testament, Bible study methods, Christian Family, Processing Life biblically and Good Soil (Evangelism and Discipleship). Sarah’s counseling classes have helped with some dynamic book requirements for the classes. 



She did her first module of the year this week. It was also the last module in which our colleagues and her professor, Al and Kim Yoder will be active on the field as they are retiring. Well, they love ministry and counseling and will continue to be active with the classes, but technically they are retiring. I met Al and Kim as a 10 year old in the Amazon. We then did an internship with them in the Amazon in 2010. Kim counseled Sarah during our first term and had a great impact on Sarah’s spiritual growth. When they moved to Fortaleza they started offering a master’s class for Biblical counseling and convinced Sarah to take the course. They have been very instrumental in Sarah’s studies and honing her abilities in the area and we are very grateful for them! 


All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, and my little fish that love having Nana here

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

 Tomorrow we will be staying up late to make sure 2020 leaves us for good. Recent unofficial polls would have 80-90 percent agreement to the rough year. This past week though I received an audio saying that 2020 was one couple from our church’s best year. They had decided to read the Bible through together in 2020 and finished it up early. They had grown so much as a couple this year that they together agreed it had been their best year. Another friend, Padim talked about how his life radically changed for the good this year and it has been the best thing that has happened to him. He was baptized this last month and is seeking reconciliation in his marriage. Pray for that reconciliation!




Jeremiah and Cindy Cook and their kids Hudson and Nora visited us this month for two weeks and we had a great time! Cindy is a women’s ministry leader in her home church and she is Sarah’s go to for women’s ministry questions. She and Sarah put together a Christmas tea for the women in Tupanatinga. They all loved it and there has already been visitors to our services from the visitors at the tea. 


Tupanatinga has picked up some steam the last few weeks. We had a baptismal service with four of our adult main attenders being baptized. There were some tears shed as we thought about life change, growth and our friendship. We do not have a huge group in Tupanatinga, but we are really close as they are very faithful. One of our main goals for 2021 is getting into more of a permanent building situation. The Arcoverde church has been putting away some money for this and we have had some donations from family come in to the point where we will be seriously looking at purchasing either a building or land to start building. Please pray God shows us the right place! 



Jeremiah is a police officer and SWAT team member in Chattanooga and so that always draws interest here. We did another informational event at our church building and then we did two training events at local police stations. One station was for BEPI which is basically a specialized force that can survive the elements, has the guns, and is enacted versus the worst of criminals. It was humbling to see their courage, seriousness and interest in what Jeremiah had to teach. Jeremiah started with a talk showing the respect he had for them and then prayed for them. After that moment they were all ears and very involved. It was neat to exchange tactical information and we had a great day. The commander has promised to come to church as well and a couple of the guys were interested in Servant Leaders. 



Please pray for the Servant Leader certificate development for this year! It is a lot to organize but it has been encouraging to see excitement from several different people. I am recording classes and preparing material to be used as well as advertising. 


May you have a blessed New Year! Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and my roller skating girls Evelyn and Anna Claire