Thirty years ago, on Nov. 28, 1984, Vicki, Micah, and I arrived in Brazil, with three other families, to begin our life here, and to kick off our work on the south side of Belo Horizonte. Ten years after that, our family, now five in number, moved to São José dos Campos, the only Americans in the church, to contribute our efforts to a recent beginning. In that time, we’ve started two congregations in this highly populated region and helped with a third beginning.
Our work has included print publications, Internet ministry, Christian youth camps, Christian orphanage and child care, missions consulting, spiritual workshops, Bible seminars, leadership training, and lectureship speaking.
Today, Vicki and I are empty-nesters enjoying our life together and looking foward to new challenges.
Some months ago, I wrote out four questions to serve as a daily journal exercise. I use them below to base my thoughts about our 30 years of continuous presence in Brazil.
What has happened?
Through our service in the mission of the Almighty, he has changed us, using the church, the country, our experiences, and our life together, to make us more mature and more Christ-like. We see others who have been changed as well, transformed into the likeness of Christ by the power of the Spirit, and moved to share the Good News with others. We have labored to provide an example of walk, worship, and work that anyone can follow anywhere. After a ministry with varied facets, we’ve come to understand how simple is the Way of Christ and the mandate to share the blessing of salvation.
What does it mean?
We pray it means that God has been glorified in us and through our efforts. It means that Christ has preached where the gospel has not been heard before. It means that people have had opportunity to hear the Message and that saints have been encouraged to remain firm in the Way. It means that our children and friends have been given an example of service and mission. It means that we have learned to depend more on Scripture, on the Spirit, on the simplicity of his plan, than on our own efforts and strategies.
What are you feeling?
I feel grateful for God’s faithfulness to be present at our side and to help us in our need. Glad to have had this wonderful experience of service. Humbled to have been used by the Lord for the accomplishment of eternal good. Saddened to see a number of missionary colleagues and national brothers leave the faith to embrace other doctrines. Grateful for a good measure of health. Confident in the truth of the gospel. Hopeful that more and more people will follow our example. Thankful for churches and saints who have shared their material blessings with us. Blessed to have a godly woman with whom to share this life together.
Where are you going?
We plan to persevere in our service to the Lord. We continue to learn and to improve as we can. We will develop the new congregation in our home, asking the Lord to make it grow and multiply. We want to be alert to opportunities for growth and to doors that the Lord may open to us.
A mission to fulfill
The mission of the Urbanova congregation, which we began this past January, is also ours: to glorify God; to go and produce much fruit that remains; and to grow in number and spirit, in love and good works.
Glory to God who makes it all possible in his Son and our Savior Jesus Christ!