Another week has flown by in Northeast Brazil. We are a 3 and a half hour flight away from the hive of Olympic activity in Rio de Janeiro but the excitement has stretched this far. The response here to the opening ceremony yesterday was initially one of relief that it actually happened and that it seemed to go smoothly, but mostly Brazilians are proud to have put on a spectacle that showcased their culture despite the current economic and political crisis. The carnival atmosphere was never in doubt! The Olympic adverts here feature people and scenery from all over the country and carry the strapline “We are all Brazil”.
There is frustration at the amount of money that has been spent on the Olympics but, for now, Brazilian pride is flowing and, even if they haven’t heard of the event, Brazilians will throw a party and earnestly cheer on their countrymen.
Back to our day to day activities, and we continue to make inroads in the community in which we are working…
The Kilted Brazilian
On Tusday evening, Daniel was invited by the local baptist church to speak about Scotland and the challenge of sharing the gospel there. When people hear we’ve been living in Scotland, the main topics of conversation are the cold, whiskey and “that skirt that e men wear”. I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo this week because Daniel got into the spirit and sported his kilt to speak in front of a packed Igreja Batista Novo Alvorecer. It’s always positive to have a chance to share about Scotland as it’s helpful to open people’s minds as to the differences in culture and the challenges that exist. Many misconceptions exist such as the presumption that everyone is rolling in money and a Christian- not quite! Daniel also shared a word from 2 2 Corinthians 9:16-27. We have visited a local small group from this church twice now and 3 Sunday services and have been made to feel welcome.
Persevering with People
Working with people brings challenges in any work situation but there is a specific challenge when working with folks who are, or have been battling with addiction. We ask you to pray for Raimundo who was doing well with Daniel and José for a week or so but he is still very much struggling with his vices and now recognises he needs more intense recovery programme before he can work with us more permanently. The plan is to take him to a recovery house on Monday morning. Pray he accepts this help and for his long-suffering family. We are pleased that a chap called Walter has joined the morning bible studies. He has had a huge problem with alcohol but became a Christian at church after coming along to one of the bible studies. He has been faithfully attending the bible study for a couple of weeks and working steadily in the job he already had as a welder.
Daniel is continuing work on the workshop and is making progress with the foundations for the structure. He also met a local Councillor who will put him in touch with those in the know so that the project can be legally operational.
I (Linsey) was invited to join a meeting with a group of local women who are keen to reach out to the other women in their street who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. It was a great chance to get to know some of ladies in the area and the challenges they face in day to day life with their work and families, as well as with their neighbours. The area is very mixed with many nominal Catholics, some people from churches which preach the prosperity gospel as well as spiritists and lots pf. We brainstormed some ideas of how we can share the hope of the gospel and have agreed to spend a week praying and fasting until we draw up some kind of plan. It was great to see women from different churches coming together to share their faith with their community.
Community Outreach Event in J.Lima
We had the pleasure of visiting a community outreach event in J.Lima last weekend. This is a very deprived area outside São Luis where the ‘Off the Streets’ Project (led by Mez) planted a church and community centre some years ago. It is also where Niddrie Community Church sent a mission team in 2013. The event was designed to provide something helpful for the community that would also enable them to hear the gospel message. We were encouraged to see a hive of activity round the church where there were kids activities, including a visit from the Fire Service, professionals offering consultations and advice including nutritionists, paediatricians, lawyers, dentists, as well as, drama performances, gospel talks, second-hand clothes available, free haircuts and lunch for everyone!
It took some organising by full-time missionaries Otacelia, Fernando and Adriana, and their teams, but there were huge numbers coming in to the site who were blessed practically and enjoyed themselves. We pray that many people will come along to the church and future events.
Cake, Cake and More Cake
We have been at 3 birthday celebrations this week. The first was Joina who leads the small group we’ve been visiting with her husband. The second was Daniel’s brother, José.
It’s so amazing to see him well. Many times we have visited Brazil on holiday and found José drunk, sorrowful for his lifestyle, and yet there was no change. Now he is a different man because he has sought God and is battling the sin in his life.
The third sitting for cake was Jose’s grandson, Daniel’s great nephew, Samuel who was 2 years old.
Antonio has become quite the dancer at such celebrations and now cannot pass a sound system without showing his moves. All very sweet until he starts dragging his mother into a bar to dance to non-Christian music (it’s not culturally acceptable here for Christians to dance to secular music, nor drink in a bar!). The bar is next to the local baker’s in case you are wondering where we were! Fortunately, Antonio wasn’t keen to chat to one of the customers who, upon seeing his appreciation for the style of music, was asking him if his Dad is a rocker. I managed to entice him along the road with warm rolls and the helpful distraction of a loose chicken on the road.
Thanks so much to everyone back in the UK who is supporting us. We are so grateful. More updates soon!