He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8
When you live a ministry in a foreign land you must learn to walk with humility; which involves overcoming language barriers, cultural barriers, and change of lifestyle habits. So often we feel as though we are completely ill-equipped to be able to minister in the magnitude that is laid before us, and we are. But in the moment, as we step forth in faith, as the rubber meets the road, God meets those needs and provides the strength, courage, and determination that is needed to press on towards that upward calling found in Christ Jesus alone.
We are so glad that we are not left to our own abilities! Praise God for His continual providence as we faithfully minister to those whom He has placed before us.
Let’s start this update by looking back. In our last update, in January, we wrote of our hope to see Oscar and Analucia step forward in ministry in the tribal church. Over the last 3 years the people of the village had not held regular Sunday services during the times when I was not there. This happened because the Church leadership was continually out of the village and they were not letting anyone else step up. This was the main topic of my leadership meetings for the last 2 years.
We have worked with Oscar and Analucia for the last year with the hopes that they would step up and take upon themselves the responsibilities of caring for the flock of God within the next year. We prayed and hoped that the other leadership would allow for new people to be trained. We are please to announce that since January, Oscar has been leading the church services on a weekly basis and Analucia has formed a children’s group. This is a huge obstacle that has been overcome and we praise God for the growth and fruit we see in the leadership over the last 3 years!
Let’s also look at other fruits of this ministry.
1) 3 years ago there were 6 adults that would come to the Sunday services when I(Brad) was in the village. Now, there are a faithful 35 who attend each of the two Sunday services.
2) 3 years ago I had difficulty getting people to come to a midweek service, but now, when I am there, we hold three midweek services with 65 in attendance.
3) 3 years ago we only had 6 adults; no young adults or adolescents, but now we have 2 young couples and 9 other young adult singles along with 9 or so adolescents at each of the night services with a few of these in the Sunday morning services too!
4) 3 years ago the people were completely against evangelizing the neighboring villages, as this is not a cultural norm, but now plan to take a one week mission trip in their boat to visit the closest six villages and share the Gospel with them. This is planned for later this year.
For the last 2 years, I have held leadership meetings in the jungle house each week during my visits. In March, I started to meet on a daily basis with more focused discipleship classes with the 4 church leaders. My goal is to have these 4 then take their training to the rest of the congregation and raise up the next generation of leadership. I hope to see these things start to happen within the next 2 years.
We have finally completed the construction projects on the village house which included replacing part of the roof, destroying and rebuilding an outhouse, destroying and rebuilding a water tower, installing a connected shower room to the house, installing an indoor toilet with running water, rebuilding the front porch, and sealing the house from termites. All of these projects take a lot longer to complete than they would in the city as the wood is cut from raw trees and planked using chainsaws, with each joint of a building project being hand made using hammer and chisel. And all the wood needs to be dried and treated for bugs before using.
Praise God for what He is doing in the Jungle.
The work we are doing in each of the local communities is showing fruit also. We work in Colonia Antonio Aleixo at ITV (Institute for Transforming Lives) and in Jardim Tropical, both of which are very poor communities struggling with drug addiction, child prostitution, and broken families.
The work at ITV is showing constant improvement in the attitudes of the youth and children. They are growing in their abilities to control themselves, respect the leadership, and obey the rules of ITV. We believe that these principles will then slowing be brought back into their individual houses, changing and affecting the futures of everyone involved, turning from the vicious cycle of divorce, teen pregnancy, and gangs to completing school, going to college, jobs, and forming good healthy families.
We see some of this already as the amount of parental involvement grows each year. Melissa has started to train a small group of women from our church to do street ministry and discipleship. This was something that just happened as we were ministering. These women saw the fruit being produced and came along side to help, and now are doing the same things with the encouragement of Melissa.
The work at Jardim Tropical is different than at ITV. At Jardim Tropical, we are still in the infancy stage of ministry. We are still looking for the initial contacts that would open the doors for a weekly bible study or discipleship class. Some of the hindrances we see have to do with the variance of Churches and their doctrines. It would seem that most of the people who go to church, go to different churches, and thus don’t agree with each other, and those who don’t go, are comfortable where they are at.
Both of these communities allow for safe places to do outreaches with groups. We recently did an eyeglasses clinic at Jardim Tropical where we ministered to over 100 people. We also evangelized and made new contacts with an older teen boys football group. We hope that these new contacts will be the open door we have been waiting for.
Please praise God with us for all that He is doing in each of these communities!
Our family is doing well. We are all healthy. Melissa continues to homeschool Andrea, Josiah and Veronica. Brad has a continual job of mission base upkeep and repair. Andrea is planning and receiving support for a summer mission trip to Santiago Chile. She will be ministering there for most of July.
We are still in the process of transferring the documents of the mission base into our name. There are some problems with the house documents that we are working on, but hope to have fixed by August. We still need to pay off the remaining balance on the house of $40,000. If you feel called to help with the remaining balance, your gift of any amount would support this ministry, would bless our family, and would encourage Judy and Cathy, who are selling the base to us at 1/2 market value, and using the sell of the house for their retirement from the mission field after faithfully ministering in the Amazon Jungle for 30+ years.
In March and April our support fell considerably and has caused some financial burdens upon us. We had a tax liability this year with the IRS that was higher than normal also. We thought that others may have had similar stories, but now, we are at the end of May and the support has not come back up. We had a 3 month cushion in reserve, but have now exhausted that. We will be returning to the U.S. to raise support in a few months, but are in need of help right now to make it through the summer and to help with the current commitments we have.
We are listing these commitments under our prayer requests down below. If you could partner with us at this time to help with the current financial needs, please let us know or click on the “Become a Financial Partner” link at the top right of this page.
Thank you for your prayers and support, as we continue to minister in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, made possible by God, who allows us to be a part of his wonderful works, prepared before the foundations of the earth. Ephesians 2:10
Please pray with us for the next 3 months of ministry and commitments. Here is a list of prayer requests.
1) The Short Term American Group arriving June 5th-12th. The outreaches planned for them and the people we will minister to.
2) Brad’s next Village trip, June 16th-26th. The discipleship classes and people there.
3) The visiting couple from Murrieta, Ca June 27th-29th.
4) The Short Term American Team arriving July 3rd-17th. The river ministry and the people we will minister to.
5) Andrea’s Mission Trip to Santiago Chile July 5th-29th. The evangelism she will do and the people she will minister to.
6) The visiting couple from Carlsbad Ca August 1st-17th. The village trip with them and ministry in the city.
7) The transfer of the house documents in late August.
8) Our furlough late August or September. Speaking engagements and total finances to be met.
9) The Apurina people, the people of Jardim Tropical and ITV.
God bless you all. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10
Brad and Melissa and family,