It’s only when we stop and think about all the day-to-day difficulties that appear in our line of work that we can appreciate that there are greater battles going on than those that we can see. As Christians we believe that God has set us apart to live lives that honour him, but that means we have to give up certain things in this world, and even expect challenges to trouble us and try and tear us down.
`For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.` Ephesians 6:12
Our church small group meets on a Friday evening and we don’t see it as a coincidence that nearly every Friday there is some kind of mishap or a minor disaster occurs which can make us late, think of not going or simply cause unnecessary stress.
In terms of our apprentices at the workshop, we have noticed victories in many areas, but we also see that the battle continues. One of our young boys comes from a family who practice candomble or macumba, the black magic spiritist religion which is full of superstition and many dark practices. His mum has diabetes and had her foot amputated some time ago. It has not healed properly yet and she has a theory that if her son dances at the Bumba Boi festival in June, then she will be cured. The Bumbo Boi festival takes place all over the Maranhao state in June and July celebrating a cow. To tourists, it looks like a colourful party, full of colour and music and dancing but the whole idea of the cow stems from African religions. We’ve been chatting to this mum and she has been to church before but her roots are strong and we need to keep praying for her.
The workshop has continued to be a hive of activity and the apprentices are doing well assiting in big projects and making their own pieces. I was impressed one day as I walked up to the workshop and spotted the guys welding in a neighbours house without Daniel or Pedro in sight! Lusione was supervising, but it proved to me how much the team have learned. This was actually a favour Daniel agreed to do for a chap who was needing some help with an extension in his house.
Other projects have included gates, barbecues, key holders and stands for speakers. An interesting client for whom the Instituto made some gates was an Algerian man who is married to a Brazilian lady. It is not easy to come across fellow international folk here, and Mohammed was chuffed to find someone to make his gates who spoke English, wouldn’t rob him, and actually did a good job! We haven’t come across a Muslim in Sao Luis before either so that was a first. He heard about the purpose of the project so hopefully he will think on it.
One continual challenge for us has been finding dedicated people to join with us but we trust that God will continue to raise up people. We have had some new faces coming in and out, and of these is another of Daniel’s nephew, Fábio. Just 2 weeks ago, Fábio’s long-term girlfriend took ill fairly suddenly with a fever. It turned out to be severe dengue fever and Cynthia didn’t survive it. She leaves behind their 2 children, Fabricia, aged 7 and David Luis, only 2. We are grateful that she re-committed her life to Christ in her last days on earth so we can take comfort in knowing where she is in now. The family will appreciate prayers from praying readers. Fábio has been working at the workshop as handed in his notice where he had been working and he may well keep on with us.
Another nephew, Ricardo is continuing his battle with addiction at the Casa de Davi recovery house. It is not an easy journey, but he is continuing firm. His birthday was this month and the family turned out to encourage him. Daniel was asked to bring a message from the bible.
The kids club and English class are going well and we are preparing for the next craft course in April.
There has been so much going on that’s it’s hard to keep track but hopefully that’s enough news and our next email newsletter will be out soon so look out for it!