Philippians 3:14, Ephesians 2:10
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Greetings in Christ,
The family just returned from another amazing trip to the village. But first, we have a story to tell.
You see, we actually got lost this time.
You have heard me tell the story before, arriving at 1:30am in the middle of the Jungle, pitch black, crocodile eyes everywhere, and not a light of any kind anywhere in sight. We pack into our 7 meter boat with all of our supplies and leave the bigger boat, weighted down from all of the food baskets we are bringing into the people for Christmas, the water pushing and spraying out in front of us as the nose of the boat is deep in the water, as well as all the way to the back of the boat, which has the water passing by just under the rails by the motor. We creep away and watch the big boat disappear into the night.
But on this night, something else happened. It is also raining hard and we cannot see the edges of the shore unless we are right next to it, but the shores are not visible now, the water levels have risen again, and only the tree branches hanging out make up the shore, the trunks completely under water.
We have about 25 kilometers to go like this. There are also other trees and brush sticking up out of the water. It should be about an hour at this slow speed, that is, if we were traveling by day. But then, 1 1/2 hrs go by and we start to realize that something is not right. 2 hrs pass and we realized that somehow, in the darkness of it all, raining too, that we got turned around on the big lake, and we ended up going in circles, arriving at the mouth of the lake again.
That is when the excitement starts to flow out, and dread and the realization of just how tired you are enters in. Benjamin and Veronica are sleeping while the rain is still falling and hitting them, all of us getting soaked.
Then a miracle happened. I turned on my iPhone to check the time, (no, that wasn’t the miracle) and Melissa says, “Does Google maps work?” Of course it does not work, there is not a cell tower in sight for miles and miles and miles, plus I have tried it on countless other occasions, and it never works out here in the jungle. She said, “Try it anyway.” Guess what? It worked. It led us across the lake, well the GPS part of it did, through the various trees and brush sticking up, pelted by rain in our faces, to the mouth of the small creek at the other end of the lake. We now know exactly where we are and the path is very easy to follow. Then…….google maps quit working and did not work again until we left the village 2 weeks later arriving closer to the city. Praise the Lord.
30 more minutes and we arrived at our jungle house, it was 4am.
I ask you, what are you willing to do to bring the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth? If not this, are you willing to at least support those who are? Praise the Lord for calling people to work in his vineyard! Some plant, some water, but the Lord reaps the harvest. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10
What can a person say? We are but sinners, saved by grace, but who can fail when the Lord is on their side? This trip was AWESOME!
We had 5 people ask us to help them receive Jesus as their Savior this trip, the church plant in Aldeia Nova is growing under the faithful work of Valdicis, the deacon in the church of Vila Nova where our jungle house is, we had unprecedented numbers in church attendance at all services, 18 services in 14 days, 8 leadership classes, 2 women’s meetings, and 2 kid’s clubs.
The food baskets you provided were given out. We miscalculated by 2, but that was okay. We gave out 24 in Vila Nova and 6 in Aldeia Nova.
We had a very special Christmas evening service, in which we had invited the 3 villages close to us to come, and there were some people from another village farther out which came also! This is BIG news, as one of those three villages has an Assembly of God church, and us being more Baptist, there has always been a wall between the two villages, as far as Spiritual fellowship goes. We have been working on tearing this wall down over the last year though, teaching our disciples to show the love of God, and not debate over the traditions of men.
The village farther out, Aldeia “Anonymous”, asked us to come and preach the Gospel to them. A few of the people had received Christ through Judy and Cathie, the missionaries before us 10 years ago, and were faithfully waiting for someone to return and continue working with them. I was able to talk with the Chief of the village and confirm that no one else is working there, or trying to enter. Will you pray with us about this new village? We lack the resources for gasoline to go there on a regular basis, and we lack the manpower from our village right now to continue the work while we are in the city, but we are completely of willing heart, mind, and soul.
Melissa and I have felt a great burden upon our hearts for the people of Aldeia Nova. We need to spend more time there, building foundations for the women and children, along with the future leadership in the Church. One of the problems? Time. Another? The women there cannot read or write. Please pray with us that God will give us a solid plan of action to lift this burden we have and accomplish what we believe is His will for all involved.
Good news! Oscar and Analucia, Oscar being the one who has been leading the church in Vila Nova for the last two years, is feeling called to go upstream and plant a church in the village we evangelized two years ago and returned in June 2017 to do a Bible Conference. Please pray that God would give clarity in this to him and Analucia.
Valdicis feels called also to preach. I see a great gift in him of evangelism, and I see him growing in the area of preaching and teaching. It could be that God is calling him to a Pastoral position in the future in some new village. Please pray for him.
Please pray for Guerlermi and Elsimara. We baptized them in July. I see great things in him for the future. I believe with Oscar and Valdicis possibly leaving as missionaries in the coming year, that Guerlermi may be the one who takes the reigns.
Please pray for the men, women, and children in Aldeia Nova. We believe they will become an evangelical hub for the other areas in the future.
Please pray for Aldeia (Anonymous) who are calling us to come and preach the Gospel to them. Pray for discernment, wisdom, manpower, and resources.
!OTHER THINGS! Are you still with us?
Melissa is organizing a big outreach for January 27th. It will be held at a smaller congregation here in town, Congregacao Ebenezar. They are a daughter church from our Baptist church we attend. We will have Doctors, Dentist, Barbers, Cosmetologist, masseuses, and more. Our main goal is to preach and teach the Gospel while edifying the people in the Spirit and in Physical well being. We are expecting several hundred people to show up.
We are coming to the U.S.!
On January 30th, we fly out to Washington D.C. to relax and refresh with Calvary Chapel Cumberland, Maryland. We will be there for 5 weeks. If you are in the area, come visit us, or if you would like to schedule us to speak with your church, small group, or youth group, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always pray for the people we minister to, pray for our family, and pray about coming to visit us.
God bless you all,
Thank you for your prayers,
Brad and Melissa, Josiah, Veronica, and Benjamin.