One of the blessings we are enjoying at the moment is the flexibility in our schedule and provision which allows us to spend time with people in between commitments. I (Linsey) remember reading once that, for Brazilians, the most important person is the person in front of them, that is to say that they will chat with or help out the person who needs them then and there. They may well have another commitment or something else they could really be doing, but the person who needs them in the present comes first. This logic helps explain why being punctual is not so important here! Time is seen as a endless resource…there’s always time to re-arrange a commitment or start the meeting a bit later than planned. It takes a bit of getting used to if you’re used to things starting on time but being aware of the mentality helps you understand why things work out they way they do. For us, it’s great that people are more open to chat whenever an opportunity arises as the door is open to share the faith we have and that which brought us here.
A Timely Visit
At his request of Luena (Daniel’s nephew’s wife), Daniel visited her Uncle this week who is has been in hospital with lung cancer. Marcelano has been battling cancer for some time and the doctors have said there is no more they can do. He has been given 2 weeks to live. Daniel shared Psalm 121 with him and explained the hope of heaven; that if he believed in Jesus as Lord and Saviour and confessed his sin before God, then he would be forgiven, accepted by God and would enter heaven when his time on earth ends. He said he understood and wanted to confess his sin before God, for he had spent all his life living the way he pleases with no fear of God. After understanding the gospel, he said he wishes he could go back and live his life over again with God at the centre. Marcelano has now left hospital to spend his last few weeks at home in his own town but he left Sao Luis content and eager to share the hope he has found in his last days with his family and friends. We don’t often know or understand why God allows suffering but, in this case, it would seem that God allowed this to happen to get this man’s attention, that he might realise that he is not in control of his life, there is one greater than him and only one way to everlasting life. We pray Marcelano’s faith would be real to him and he might use his time to share it with others.
Working with José continues to be a blessing and encouragement to many as the change in his life has been so radical. José knows A LOT of people in Sao Luis and many folks are shocked to see him no longer drinking, using drugs or scamming people, but actually evangelizing to those who used to support his lawless lifestyle. As a mechanic, José did some work for a Major in the army. They built a friendship to the extent that whenever José was caught in a police speed trap, he would simply say he was friend’s with this Major. A phone call confirmed this was the case and off José would go without a licence, in a car that wasn’t roadworthy. On one occasion he was let off when his car had no doors! The Major was also involved in a stream of corruption until he was whistle blown for stealing and selling guns and was put in jail in 2008. He had a breakdown while in prison because his career was over. He was diagnosed with bi-polar and depression and his wife recently left him due to his violent behaviour. José became aware of his situation and invited Daniel to join him on a visit to his house. He has been open to studying the bible a few times already and spend time with José and Daniel. His background is spiritism and his mental health is such that he is not always very responsive but he answers questions and is understanding the basics of the bible. Our new friend has 2 grown up children who, like him, need to try and take in what has happened and grasp the purpose of life, as taught in the bible.
It was Father’s Day in Brazil yesterday, or “Dia dos Pais” and it’s a big deal! The shops go mad with it and churches tend to use it as an opportunity to put on special events and invite families to come along. The small group we have been going to put on a Father’s Day breakfast for the dads in the area at 7.30am. The leaders asked Daniel to share a message from the bible. In typical male style, the men came, they ate and they left without hanging around to chat much but it was good that they came along!
In Other News…
Last weekend, we went along to the local baptist church’s first service in a piece of land they have bought to build a bigger building. There is no building yet on the land so it was an open-air event and it was packed. It was exciting to see how God has provided for this church, which is located in a fairly poor area of the city. We pray that this church will preach the true gospel in its fullness. As in every church in every city, there is a danger of straying from the bible and telling people what they want to hear. In our context, promises of prosperity and good health often run alongside, or instead of, a clear explanation of God’s salvation plan.
Daniel was able to get some helpful advice from a lawyer about the requirements for the project last week. It’s amazing the difference that looking sharp can make here in Brazil…hence why Daniel put on a suit to be taken seriously at the Council Offices and the Registry Office.After leaving the Council building, Daniel got to chatting with a homeless man who used to be a missionary in another city in Brazil. In his finery, Daniel bought him something to eat and chatted for a while at the side of the road. Daniel was impressed with how much the gentleman knows about the bible but was saddened by how he has fallen into a life of drinking and begging for money. He took Daniel’s number so maybe we’ll come across him again some day.
Linsey had a second meeting with the group of women who are keen to reach out to the neighbours with the hope of the gospel. We are dedicating the next week to praying for the objectives we have and next Saturday will finalise the plans. We’re hoping to do a mix of visiting houses personally as well as generally building friendships, providing practical help and inviting the ladies to the many Christian events that are already taking place in the vicinity.
Someone who has now warmed up much more to the new faces in his life is Antonio. He is very comfortable with family and people he has seen a few times and some folks, like Rafael below, can even win him over on a first encounter!
Hope you’re all enjoying the Olympics. Team GB is flying high and doing Linsey proud (I’m always keen to correct folk who think I am American or German- no offence!). Brazilians are disappointed with the lack of medals they’ve won, as well as their capabilities of keeping swimming pools blue and cameras from falling on top of people but, other than that, they seem to have done a pretty good job with the games, indeed, better than expected. Roll on the rest of the events. Two months into our mission here and it will be more of a marathon than a sprint but we hope we are encouraging people to join the race and finish well.