God’s Plans: Sometimes Only He Knows

Last September, my wife Diane and I were feeling like 2010 was turning out to be our most productive year of serving the Lord in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Things were really clicking on all cylinders. We were serving at a very poor school by bringing them English classes and, of course, the hope of Jesus. God had opened doors for us to get into the extremely impoverished and violent areas of Rio. We were working alongside three new Brazilian partners. God had provided some amazing short-term teams. And, last of all, we were preparing to have a young man, Curt, from the States come intern with us in Brazil as part of the ReachGlobal internship program.

We were really feeling good about things. We felt right smack in the center of God’s will and blessings.

Changes afoot

On September 10, Diane and I headed to the airport to pick up Curt for the start of his internship. After getting to know Curt during his two previous visits to Rio, we were thrilled to have him joining our efforts and looked forward to pouring some of ourselves into this young man.

While at the airport, we decided to visit the office of the Federal Police (FP) to check on the status of our visas renewals. Each year for the five years we had served in Brazil, Diane and I had gone through a visa renewal process. Apart from the headache of submitting the documents, each previous year had taken little more than a rubber stamp of approval from the FP. We assumed 2010 would be the same.

Yet, several hours after leaving Curt to rest in the waiting room at the FP office, we emerged with news that no one had expected. The FP had denied our visa renewals, and we had 10 days to leave the country.

What was God doing?

We were shocked, and Curt, fresh off the plane and sleep-deprived from an overnight flight, shared our surprise. Not only had he planned to spend 90 days serving with us in Rio, but he was also going to live in our home. And, at this point, he only knew a handful of Portuguese words.

After exhausting our connections, looking for a “bail out,” Diane and I made quick preparations to leave. It felt surreal. So many good things were happening in our ministry in Brazil. Our home was there, our dogs were there, and our Brazilian brothers and sisters in Christ were there. It just didn’t make any sense, but we also knew that God did not owe us an explanation.

Curt received a one week crash course to life in Brazil — including caring for our home, moving forward with the ministry, and a myriad of other details. [Read about Curt’s three-month experience in Rio.]

Diane and I, along with our 17-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son, packed two suitcases each, unsure as to when or if we might return to Rio.

We landed in Iowa the next day, and, a handful of months later, we are starting to make sense of why God would allow this to happen. Even as life as we knew it came to a screeching a halt, God’s plan kept moving forward.

God was working in Iowa

Our oldest daughter, “left behind” as a college sophomore when we moved to Brazil five years ago, was married this February — and what a blessing for us to be nearby to share this experience with her.

My father was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of prostate cancer about a month after we returned to the U.S.  Although that news is always difficult to receive, the difficulty could have been magnified had I received it in Rio. It has been so good to be with him as he and my mother have had some very serious talks and doctor visits.

And, in the midst of researching new visa options, I became ordained as a pastor by my home church. We had discovered that, once I became an ordained pastor, we could request a type of temporary visa that can be converted to permanent after one year.

God continued working in Brazil

Although He gave us great ministry and then took it back, God provided for its continuation in our absence. For the three months he lived in Rio, Curt pressed forward, teaching in the local schools, supporting some of our local church partners, and caring for our home and our dogs.

Even more exciting, after Curt left Rio, our local Brazilian church partners continued reaching out to the local schools and even started ministry in a new school.

And that is what this ministry is all about: Brazilians reaching Brazilians for Christ.

We are still “living in limbo,” waiting on the outcome of our visa application, eager to return to Brazil and this growing Kingdom of the Lord.

Story by Jeff D., ReachGlobal missionary to Brazil

* * * * *

CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

Contact us to find out how you can serve in Brazil — individually or with a team.

PRAY
  • For Jeff and Diane as they await their visas and the opportunity to return to the ministry they love.
  • That the work in Brazil continues moving forward, bringing new believers into the churches and adding additional leaders to labor in the ministry.
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On an unexpected journey with the One who gave me unfathomable grace, I'm just trying to follow Jesus and love Him and others a little better each day.

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