Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

More pictures!

Here are some pictures from the Ingazeria library story told here.

Edileusa praising the Lord for the Bible

Another Bible, another praise


Edileusa and one of the twins in front of the library

Daniel with Edileusa's twins Els and Ens

The rest of the crew
(Thanks to Cheryl for the great play-by-play picture taking.)

Hey, how do you like the new look, complete with the ministry logo? Thanks to our friend Faith for her help!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And now with pictures!!

We wrote about meeting Baby Wendi here. Now we have proof for you!!

Our Wendi first meeting Baby Wendi

Here they are the next day at church where Baby Wendi was dedicated. She's wearing a dress Wendi brought her that belonged to her niece.

~Baby dedication~
The family asked our Wendi to come up front with them. Isn't that the sweetest?

We'll try to add pictures as time allows. We're all trying to get back into the groove of "normal" life. Keep checking back!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Resting in the Lord....................

The team had a great time of rest and relaxation at Porto De Galinhas Thursday and Friday. It was so nice to finally have a shower with hot water, water pressure, and without little frogs staring at you. We had a little shopping time and were able to ride the doon-buggies to the beach to see the fish and coral. Some even had opportunities to do water aerobics, take dance lessons, and play a mean game of beach volleyball! Napping in the hammocks was another popular past-time. Did I mention that we finally got to eat some Brazilian pizza!? YUM! are you thinking that this is supposed to be a mission trip instead of a vacation? The Lord's work never ceases, even in the midst of fun and relaxation. A few team members went back into town to pick up some necessities and were able to share Christ with an awesome young man that sat on the street making beautiful carvings out of cashew tree bark. Come to find out he already new Christ but had become disillusioned by people that seek to make a profit from "religion". We were able to encourage him and gave him a Bible in addition to buying a few pieces of his incredible handy-work. He was so grateful for the Bible he said he would read it and carry it everyday with him in his backpack.

On the way back to the hotel we passed a couple selling cashews out of a wheel-barrow on the street. You could tell from their dress they were probably Christians (they were completely covered!). Airton asked them if they were believers and they were thrilled to find out that we were believers too. She asked about our mission, hugged us, and said she had a Word from the Lord for Bonita. It was Psalm 40:1. This lady had no idea that this was Bonita's testimony scripture. Bonita hugged her and they began to cry together. It was such a huge encouragement for both of them. It was amazing to watch God work through perfect strangers that met on the street!

Did I forget to mention the surprise birthday celebration for Diego (our Brazilian dentist friend)? At dinner we all slipped in a pair of bubba teeth and had them bring out a cake for him as we sang happy birthday. Oh about some ugliness........we laughed so hard. Wait till you see some of those pictures!

We closed our time with group devotions and reflection as we each shared some of our favorite highlights from the week. God did amazing things. We discussed what happens when you return home from a trip like this. How do you transition back to your world with the reality of distractions, problems to deal with, cell phones, family responsibilities, etc? The conclusion was that we have a mission everyday. We are to share Christ, be like Christ, and live it out in our everyday lives. God called each one of us to the life that we are living. We must seek Him and stay close to Him as we learn to balance the tasks He has given each of us to do in life. Boy, that can be difficult!
The love and laughter we have shared together this week is unforgettable. It is bittersweet to go home. How can we begin to thank You Lord for the blessings and miracles that we saw at every turn?!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Final day in the outback........

Tuesday we started in Ca├žimbinha, the small village that's name means "little well". The first time we went there in May the village seemed very oppressed. This time there were many who had already received Christ and were reading their Bibles. We were able to encourage them and then witness to those who hadn't yet prayed to receive Christ.

Sheila, Airton, Bonita, KP, and Jill went to visit a lady named Rosa. When they arrived, she was able to mumble that she had been waiting for them to arrive. She had a stroke 13 years ago and has been very sick since and it was evident that she is in her last days. Pastor Carlos was able to get her a bed and mosquito net since our first visit in May. This time they were able to talk with her about assurance of salvation and she could only say "yes" and "Jesus". They sang to her while Jill held her hand and stroked her hair. They sang songs and prayed with her and cried with her. It was a very moving situation. While Jill stayed in her room massaging her legs and arms, the rest witnessed to her husband, daughter, and two granddaughters. All prayed to receive Christ.

Also at this house one of the granddaughters told them she had been reading the Bible she received in May. She had started in Genesis and was already in Psalms! She's 13! That is dedication and she hadn't even become a Christian yet!

Evan shared Christ for the first time with four people and they all accepted Christ. He was pumped!

Daniel, Cheryl, Wendi, and Monica met and shared with a woman whose husband had left her four years ago. She had three sons and she was just waiting on her husband to come back. So sad. The 16 year old and 10 year old sons and the mom accepted Christ. It was the 10 yr old's birthday and they were able to give him snacks and a soccer ball.

After lunch at Pastor Carlos's apartment in Ingazeira, two groups went out to do door to door evangelism. Doug, Evan, KP and Airton stayed at the church to play futsal with local boys.

Sheila, Cheryl, Bonita, Kesia, Daniel, and Jennifer went door to door. After a few uneventful visits involving major strongholds and age-related difficulties, a little girl came running up. We recognized her from previous visits. She wanted us to come with her to encourage a new believer her mom had led to Christ. We went to the public library and met the mom. Unfortunately the new believer had already left. We were just chatting with them and asked if the library had a Bible. She said no and we offered her one. We are having a hard time even describing the reaction we received. She was raising her hands and praising the Lord. It was precious.

Then she said her new believer friend didn't have one either and now she could come to the library and read this one. So we gave her one to give to her friend. She started jumping up and down!! She kept praising the Lord and we kept wanting to give her more!! We gave her daughters Bibles and left her a stack to give to local believers who didn't have one. She told us how expensive Bibles were there and how people had to share. By this time she was out of control with tears of joy and shouts of "glory to God". We looked over to her 13 year old daughter and tears were rolling down her face........okay......there wasn't a dry eye in the house! Oh to be that excited about God's Word!

In the evening we went to a local home and held a service for about 20 people. Diego did his tricks, we all sang, and Daniel brought a Word of encouragement to the people. It was awesome! Several decided to follow Christ. We were able to leave each person a Bible.

What an awesome way to end our time in the outback! God has done AMAZING things over the last 5 days. We praise Him for using us and for keeping us all safe and healthy. We don't have a count but many received Christ and many were discipled and encouraged. Keep praying for our travel back to the USA. You never know who might meet Jesus along the way.

We have traveled the long trek back to Recife on the bus today. It was a great time of sharing testimony, fellowship, and much laughter. We had a couple of hours to shop this afternoon and enjoy Brazilian pizza. Tonight we surprised Diego at dinner by presenting him a birthday cake while we all wore bubba teeth. Can't wait to share those pictures. The dentist was quite surprised! Tomorrow we rest and relax as we prepare to travel home. Again, thanks for all the encouraging comments and prayers. We know God moved because you asked. We love you and will see you at home.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pelo Sinal

Today we travelled on the truck/taxi (turnip truck, as Monica calls it) to Pelo Sinal. We were able to use the local Catholic church for Diego to his tricks. How about God using the Catholic church as the setting where tons of children prayed to receive Christ?! Very cool.

Lunch was at the house of the vice-mayor of the city. This woman welcomed the May group as well. She is Catholic and apparently the leader of the church. (They don't have a priest right now.) Pastor Carlos has established a relationship with her and has been teaching her about the Bible. She has a 4 month old baby who she wanted to be dedicated to the Lord today! By Pastor Carlos! It was so neat to see how the Lord is moving in that city. This lady is so close! It will be a BIG deal if she receives Christ. Pastor Carlos and Airton have said that it is truly a miracle that she has welcomed us into her home, the church, and the school.

Pastor Carlos and Pastor Moab each shared their testimonies with us. It is amazing to see how God has orchestrated their lives and ours together for His work.

We were also asked to speak to the older kids at the school there. After lunch we divided into teams and were assigned to a classroom. We shared the gospel with the students and teachers and many accepted Christ.

Many of us have reconnected with kids and adults we had previously met. Relationships are being developed and God is working through them.

One of the girls Daniel witnessed to in May is named Jussara. He took her an NC State shirt this time and had promised to visit her family. At the church this morning she told him that she had been reading her Bible and had read a very interesting story she wanted to share with him. This afternoon Daniel, Sheila, Airton, and Evan went to visit her. Jussara said the story she had been reading was "about a man who took his son to be killed. But at the last minute angels of the Lord told him not to kill him." (Abraham and Isaac!) Airton explained the story further and Daniel was able to relate it to Jesus as a sacrifice for us as he witnessed to her friend and her mom.

KP witnessed for the first time to four people at the dental clinic and they all accepted Christ. We're so proud of these teenagers for being so bold!

Sheila thinks it's funny that a few of the teachers were enthralled with the idea of homeschooling. Once they found out she homeschooled they were asking tons of questions. I'm pretty sure they thought we were all crazy. (This team is made up of all homeschoolers!)

Keep on praying! Thanks for the comments too. We've been so encouraged by them. Tomorrow we are in Ingazeria all day and it's our last day in the outback.

Sabbath in the outback

It was an awesome Lord's day in the Outback! First of all the we were blessed with slightly overcast skies that gave us an incredible breeze.......thank you Lord!! We began the day in Solidao at Pastor Moab's church where they had a children's service. Diego was up to his old "tricks" again (literally!) There was also a baby dedication.......guess who??? Wendi was dedicated to the Lord by her family. It was awesome to see our Wendi standing with baby Wendi's family and remembering what the Lord has done in these lives. The baby was even wearing a beautiful little dress Wendi had given her. (i wish we were able to post pics from here!) We prayed that she would follow Jesus all the days of her life. It was a beautiful moment!

After church we did some house visits. There seems to be a different dynamic this time with the people. Legalism and ritualism seems to be a huge barrier to these people from developing a relationship with Christ. Many have left the Christian church because of rules they cannot seem to keep yet they are without peace and assurance through the Catholic church. We have found that most do not have Bibles to read therefore they are relying on man instead of God. It is providing a great opportunity for us to hand them a Bible and let them read Truth for themselves. God's Word does not return void!!! Discipleship is happening.

During our lunch and "siesta" time Tiago (16 yrs old....Philipe's brother) shared his testimony of miraculous healing of a childhood illness he had. The same illness had taken his older brother's life as a baby and he had "inherited" the same. The difference was that his mother had prayed to idols for healing of his brother. When Tiago was ill she remembered the God of her mother who was a Christian and he was completely healed.

Tatiana worked a dental clinic while the rest of us went back out on house visits. The harvest was plentiful!!! Many believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved. Many were also encouraged in the Lord.

We attended a church service in the evening where we actually sang (oh my!!). It was more like a joyful noise! Pastor Airton brought the Word from Genesis 32. It was about reconciliation and forgiveness. Kesia Vale brought down the house with a beautiful song!! Many of the congregation came forward and the team was able to pray individually for them as needed.

We hurried home for the big that is........Brasil and Chile. Some of the brave ordered pizza and stayed up........the pizza never was delivered. Ha! It was an awesome day!!

By the way...WAY TO GO PANTHERS FOR THE BIG LAST MINUTE WIN (thanks to daniel our sports update reporter). This morning we are headed to Pelo Senal. Thanks also for the encouraging posts and comments. Keep praying!!

"Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish today."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Steele Creek Service Today

The service today at SCCC was incredible! I wanted to fill everyone on the mission team in on a little of what happened today. We were able to give Kelvin a copy of the latest post about Saturday's events. We had no idea if Kelvin would actually mention or read anything from the blog, we just, at a minimum wanted him to know what is happening in Brazil. As usual, we sang praises to the Lord for 1/2 hour or so, then Kelvin stood up as he usually does and made a few announcements. He mentioned a missionary pastor from the Ft. Mill area being arrested and imprisoned recently along with two fellow laborers. Kelvin mentioned he was friends with this pastor so the church between 6:30-7:00 began to call out to our Lord for them to be released and the gospel allowed to be preached in this country. Well, Kelvin learned this morning that last night between 6:30 & 7:00, all three were released! Praise the Lord! He also read a little of the blog that you guys posted yesterday. Obviously, he couldn't read the whole post but he did highlight the alcoholic being set free, soccer and the talk of complete surrender being the theme of the day. After he talked about the post, he asked the entire church to pray for all of you and he led the church in a beautiful prayer for you all.
Today's message was from Mark 5:21-42. Kelvin spoke of 'falling at the feet of Jesus' and to 'press in' on Jesus just as the multitudes did and the lady with the hemmorage did. He spoke for maybe 30 minutes then went into a time of prayer. Many people came to the altar for prayer. The Spirit of the Lord moved greatly. I told Jill that was the most moving and encouraging service I had been part of in a very long time and it was incredibly refreshing.
We all hope your day of worship and serving has been one of the greatest days of your lives! Be encouraged, press in, press on, continue doing the work of the Lord! Remember, the work you do for Jesus Christ is not in vain. We pray holy and abundant blessings upon you all.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday in the Outback...........

Saturday started in the new village, Barra (ba-ha). Dr. Diego shared Christ using magic tricks and jokes with the local kids. He's quite a character and even though we didn't always know what he was saying, he was very entertaining to watch.

Next we divided up into teams to visit house to house. There were a lot of strongholds to battle, but seeds were planted and decisions were made. Pastor Moab will have much follow up work to do in this village.

After lunchtime we finally got to see baby Wendi!!!!!!! She showed up to see us all and then Wendi, Daniel and Jennifer got to go to their house to visit with the family for a while and encourage them in the Lord. Damiana and her husband seemed to be growing in Christ since they accepted Christ. She had asked Wendi last year to pray for her husband because he was an alcoholic. God has delivered him from this stronghold and he is a changed man!!!!

Other teams went out in Solidao and God moved mightily!! There were several that surrendered their lives to Christ and were encouraged through prayer.

Later in the afternoon the guys and kids headed to the soccer field. They played a mean game of soccer and followed it up with the good news of the gospel after the game. It was a great time for many to fellowship together on the sidelines also.

We all learned many things today. Surrender was the theme. There seems to be great bondage of legalism here that wants to keep some from surrendering to Christ. Please pray that the bondage will be broken as they see that we are not here to represent a "religion" but that we are followers of Christ here to bring them peace, hope, and love that comes from Him.

Praise the Lord everyone is feeling well and healthy. Continue to pray for Him to sustain us. We are off to worship in two cities tomorrow. Keep praying!!!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

We're here!

After a VERY long travel day(s), we are finally here in the outback. God has been blessing since the moment we left.

We flew from Charlotte to NYC (don't ask) and had quite a layover. So what do you do when you are in New York with 8 hours to kill? Well we went to the Brooklyn Tabernacle!! God was all over that decision because we were able to go inside, look around the sanctuary, and pray at the altar! We even met the worship leader and he prayed with us! Awesome!!

Through God's provision and the help of some nice Metro workers we ended up saving almost $90! For this group on a tight budget, that is a big deal!

Now let's get to the good stuff! The Outback! We started today in Solidao. This is the village we have visited before.

First on the agenda was to hike up to the huge statue/idol that overlooks the city. We've gone there every trip to pray over the city and claim it for Christ. We also took time to pray for the local pastor and his family and Pastor Carlos. While there we learned that one of Pastor Moab's daughters has decided to be a missionary and has a heart for the Japanese people. God is moving in this city!

The afternoon was spent in Sao Francisco, a very small village about a 30 minute truck ride from Solidao. Pastor Airton was kind enough to cool us off with his handy-dandy water gun/oozi. Very bad man.

We split up into groups and went door to door to evangelize. KP and Shelby (two of our teenagers) shared the gospel with kids for the first time. It is so amazing to see these kids on fire for Christ and boldly sharing their faith. Several people, kids and adults accepted the Lord today and we are honored to have witnessed it.

Devotion time tonight was a great time of prayer and testimony. Now we're all ready for some sleep!! We have to get rested up for a full day tomorrow as we go to a new village. Apparently no one has gone there EVER to share Christ with the people.

Side note---we had a huge amount of people who signed up to pray yesterday. Thank you! Prayer works! Keep on, prayer warriors! We couldn't be here without your prayers.

Also, internet is pretty slow here, so we may not be able to post pictures while we're here. We'll share lots when we get back, we promise!