Out of the favela: Gospel transforming power

by Craig Weyandt

As Alessandra, Alyssia and I travel here in the United States Edilson and Luiz get ready to embark on their trip to Piui in the North East of Brazil.  They are one of three teams that are being sent from the Caju Life Church to make disciples in other regions of Brazil.

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Sunday, before we traveled to the USA, I was at the Caju life church and Edilson (Left) shared his testimony.  I was glad because although I knew Edilson for a few years I did not know  his conversion Story!  I knew him as the Tech “kid” at the church and wondered if he was really ready to embark on this missions venture so far away!

I was amazed.  Edilson shared that two members of his family brought him to the Caju Life Church when he was 15.  He became part of the Caju family, “Purê”, as they call it at the church.  He experienced belonging.   He accepted Christ and was being discipled, but his family disowned him.   Even the two that brought him to the church had fallen away.   He was alone, but he still had his small group and the church as family.  

Now, with tears in his eyes he called his family up front.  Today 20 of his family know Jesus and are being discipled.  Today they are Purê because of his faithfulness to Jesus and the way Caju Life church embraces the lost and cares for the faithful.    

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What a marvelous example of what God is doing in Brazil among the young….in the midst of great political and economic confusion. God is at work!

Showing Jesus’ love in Panama

by Mark Lewis

Panama

I love what get to do in ministry…in Panama this week working with our ReachGlobal team in design of a Global Fingerprints child sponsorship program. One target community has many neglected kids working to make charcoal or as drug mules instead attending school. Our partner church in the context has been focusing on trying to stem this tide, and consists of 7 adults and many dozens of kids. Their vision is to impact more that 1,500 kids with Christ centered community, holistic care and intentional disciple-making. Awesome to be a small part of envisioning this tangible and transformational impact in kids and families.

A typical couple of days in jungle ministry

by Carlos and Meredith Block

There’s no “typical day” as it depends on whether we are home or traveling, but we thought we’d share this trip we took in April, just to give you an idea:

Peru river road

Needing to coordinate some of the year’s events and catch up with the Yanesha pastors in several communities, we left early Thursday morning. We closed up the house, set the timed light in the living room, and packed up our Nissan Terrano. Several repairs were made on the car in Lima (electrical system, a new grill, and functioning AC!), so we were ready to go.

The first hour and a half up to Villa Rica is smooth…a paved 2-lane road winds from 2500ft to 5,000. It narrows to 1.5 lanes on the way to Cacazu. Having passed what was obviously a major landslide weeks before, we stopped to ask about the rest of the way, as no trucks had passed us yet. The owner of the exotic-game-restaurant-shack assured us the way was clear, so we continued on, on dirt roads for the next 3 hours. Thankfully, it rained a bit, making the whole first half of the trip cool and enjoyable.

Peru road

Hoping to talk with Pastor Santiago Pascual, in the community of Santa Maria, we stopped about 2 hours later to look for his house. Donning rubber boots, we set off on a trail the neighbors indicated. We found him and his wife Teresa, finishing lunch. We were able to catch up, discuss and pray about upcoming events. His wise insights and biblical basis for ministry were refreshing. Their 12 children are grown and live on their own. They offered us a sweet rice drink and we were on our way.

In the car, we discussed work plans, and personal concerns, prayed, memorized a Bible story, and listened to music. The day had grown warm (94 degrees?), so we tried out our recently repaired AC. Closing the windows also implies arriving without a coating of dust over ourselves and our stuff. It worked well, but a clear liquid began to drip on to the floor of the passenger side, eventually soaking the floor. Was it water? Coolant? On my bare feet??

All of a sudden we heard a huge metallic crash. Carlos stopped the car and we jumped out, wondering what had fallen from underneath. Walking around the front of the vehicle, we found the problem. The new grill and fog lights had fallen off in one piece! Thankfully our curvy-dirt-road-travel speed never surpasses third gear (read: we did not run over it). Apparently the Lima welding job wasn’t enough for the kind of roads we were driving on. We hoisted it into the car, over the back seat, chuckling to ourselves, grateful it wasn’t the motor, and hoping we to find the right mechanic to weld it back on in Iscosazin.

An hour and a half later we arrived at Villa America, looking for Ps. Santiago Hurtado, to greet him and confirm the meeting for Friday. He was carrying his new baby granddaughter and wanted to introduce us to her. We checked out the church property again to discuss the training center building project to take place there, along with Ps. Jose Velasco (who lives next door). We found him teaching a group of elementary students to memorize Bible stories.

Men walking on road

On our way out, we ran into the Mayor, Aydee, who asked about the Engineers without Borders team, affirming her support of their proposal to fix the nearby reservoir for the community.

Pastor Santiago didn’t let us leave without giving us two huge papayas from his farm. Saying our goodbyes, we headed for Iscosazin to check on the lodge situation for upcoming teams, take a shower, and rest. At a local restaurant, we had chicken and fries for dinner, then stopped by the internet café, our evening entertainment. 1 hour for 60 cents and we got to sit next to each other (a very affordable date : ). Getting a little work accomplished as well, we head to bed at the lodge around 9:30pm, since the mechanic agreed to fix the grill at 6am.

Car fixed by 8am Friday morning. Running into one of the Yanesha hermanos and his wife in town, we offered to drive them to the meeting after breakfast. After having coffee, papaya juice, eggs and bread, the owner of the small eatery (who we hadn’t seen in awhile) gave us some very hot coffee to-go in an empty Gatorade bottle. Compliments of the house.

 Taking advantage of the local gas station, we bought enough to get home, and set out for Villa America. On the 45-minute drive two of the pastors passed us in a taxi, going in the opposite direction, assuring us they’ll be back soon for the meeting! There were plenty of other details we need to check on in the meantime, and we know this it how they roll.

Several pastors were already present; some we hadn’t seen in several months. We were able to catch up on the last few months apart. The meeting was fruitful as the group of 12 discussed the upcoming Yanesha translation of the Old Testament, sponsored by Wycliffe. The decisive meeting would be held the following week. Everyone involved would elect a team representing existing Yanesha church associations. The committee will then choose the translators.

Carlos with pastorsThe rest of the events of the year, were also deliberated: training center construction, school and community outreach, water systems, theological training, discipleship and Bible storytelling (Orality).

Later, we visited their local high school to coordinate for upcoming teams working with the 60 plus students. The new director was out, but we left a note, asked for his phone number and talked to some new teachers.

Pastor Santiago’s daughter-in-law prepared chicken and rice for lunch for the group, which we enjoyed sitting around their wooden table, sharing glasses of purple chicha. I had to ask Flora where her lovely blue drinking glasses came from…Avon mail order.

 Our trip home was sans AC (all of the coolant must have leaked out), but our grill stayed on! Our hearts were full with the time shared, anticipating the opportunities in the coming months.

Remember our end goal? We envision an indigenous movement of healthy churches resulting in Gospel penetration and transformed lives in the next generations for the glory of God in the central Amazon jungle of Peru.

Carlos and Meredith

You can contact Carlos and Meredith and learn how you can get involved at:

Carlos.Block@EFCA.org

Meredith.Block@EFCA.org

Giving from the little they have

by Omar Rodriguez, Associate International Leader for Latin America/Caribbean

Old Habana

One of the characteristics of believers throughout the ages is a desire to meet the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Often, the giver is not much better off than the person who will be receiving the gift. That doesn’t seem to stop believers from giving because at the end of the day, what matters is not the capacity of the giver but rather, the capacity of our God who earnestly desires to meet the needs of His children.

In preparation for a recent trip to Cuba with several pastors from around Latin America and the Caribbean, one of the participants asked if there was something that he could take on behalf of his church in Costa Rica to the church in Cuba. We listed a few items but also reminded that brother and the others who would be attending, that there would be a pastor from Venezuela who would also be at the meetings and that the situation in that country was actually worse than the situation in Cuba.  So, we agreed to take up an offering for Venezuela and ended up raising $780.

A few days after arriving home, pastor Samuel wrote us the following note, “I also wanted to thank you for the gift you gave me to help with the situation here. I have compiled a list of some families strongly affected by the crisis to help with bi-weekly or monthly support as appropriate. I spoke with someone who can help us get to places where you can buy something called a ” combo” (bags with some groceries that are hard to come by). These combos can be bought in some supermarkets when you shop above 3,000 Bs. We can buy several of these combos to make bags that will help, at least for a week, to some of the most affected families.”

We figure that some 250 bags will be distributed in the coming months to our brethren in Venezuela. Given the circumstances in the country, that’s just a tiny drop. But to those families, it will be another opportunity to experience what believers for millennium have been experiencing, as Paul aptly puts it, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

A dream come true

by Mike Gunderson

Shipibo pastors

“This is like a dream to me. When I, and many in my village, came to Jesus we wanted a church and they chose me to be the pastor. They handed me a Bible and basically said, ‘go for it’. Since then they have trained me as an oral Bible specialist, but I still dreamt of being able to study the Word myself.  Now that dream is coming true.”

Francisco and the others who participated in our second course are all fisherman and farmers. They live on the Ucayali River, a tributary to the Amazon. They eat fish and

Shipibo training
Francisco – Shapibo pastor and Pathways student in the Peruvian Amazon

plantain bananas every day. Now they are feasting on God’s Word every day in a brand new way and they are “eating it up”.  Due to their limited education, teaching them was a challenge (for instance, they had never worked in small groups before), but it was really fun and incredibly rewarding. Thank you for partnering with us so that Francisco, and pastors like him up the river, can learn to study and preach God’s Word faithfully. Pray for them as they pass the training on to other pastors up the river.

 

Brazilian workers for the harvest

From our team in Rio de Janeiro…

Tomorrow 1200 young Brazilians between the ages of 16 and 30 will meet for the second annual Vocare (Vocation) Missions Conference.     Please pray for the 30 leaders of the 26 missions organizations running the conference and their leader, Rodrigo from mission Base.    Here they are below!

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  • Praise God for the Vision to work in partnership of so many diverse organizations working together with the common goal of mobilizing this young generation to Trans-cultural Missions!
  • Please pray for unity among the leaders in the midst of stress, conflict and the hundreds of details that can disrupt a national conference:  Disrupted Travel Itineraries, Technical problems (sound and lights), housing and hosting details (beds, roommates, toilets and showers), 
  • Please pray for Unity between the speakers and among the thousands of participants in the midst of a politically volatile country after the pro impeachment vote of the congress.  Brazil has more than 30 political parties and the students coming will represent all of them.   There has already been party bashing of some of the main speakers by some denominations.
  • Pray that the main thing will be the main thing!  Jesus is calling this generation to himself and sending them out in the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of the Risen Christ and is calling this generation to go preach the good news and making disciples of the nations! 
  • The students will present 10 different visions for new cross cultural missions projects.  Please pray for a new  harvest of career missionaries.  Pray for new works of grace to be born as a result of this conference!