Saturday, June 26, 2010
Well, the firecrackers are going off all around the neighborhood, signifying the beginning of the first World Cup soccer game this year for Brazil, this one against North Korea. I may be the only person in Brazil that is not watching television at this moment! But praise the Lord, what a wonderfully undisturbed time to write to you!!
We have much to catch up on! Several teams have come and gone, and by God’s grace, scores of lives have been eternally touched. We have a team coming in a couple days, and we’re blessed that we’ll be doing health clinics with them as well as construction and evangelism. Please pray for that trip, starting this Monday—there’s so much to organize, and the boat we’re going on is in repair and needs to be ready and reliable in time.
I wanted to share a cool story with you about God’s presence here – read on:
A sweet aroma
Recently, members of our cell group (and other cells) gathered in a local park for a fun outing together. We were all from cell groups that had multiplied off from each other, forming a “sector,” so it was fun to see old and new faces.
After some time of just strolling through the park and chatting, we sat down on some benches and divided into teams to play some party games. One of the challenges was for each team to select a member to share the Evangecube, for the judges (our sector leaders) to decide which presentation was better, and award points to that team. (The Evangecube, in case you haven’t seen one, is a cube-shaped evangelical tool that unfolds and folds back on itself, revealing a series of colored drawings that depict the Gospel in sequence.)
Don and I had to grin when they started the game, because when we’re in a river village, my favorite thing is sharing the Gospel door-to-door, and the Evangecube and I are good friends.
The other team went first, while I was sequestered so as not to copy from their presentation. When they were done, I was allowed to return, and started with, “How many here would like to hear a story—this is the best story in the world, because it’s about the love of God for us.” Of course, all hands were raised. But soon after I started, an elderly woman, who was just strolling through the park, approached us and asked, “Can I join your group and listen too?” She was with her daughter and her toddler granddaughter, who tugged Mommy off to look at some off-season Christmas decorations left nearby.
Of course, we all beamed and welcomed Gramma to sit down. Suddenly it wasn’t just a party game! The woman was spellbound by the story of our chosen sin-separation from God, and God’s unbounded love in redeeming us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. At the moment of invitation, she was quick to ask to receive this gift of salvation from God, and, with one of the sector leaders, she asked Jesus to wash away her sins and come and take charge of her life as Lord and Savior. She was delighted at the new sense of His presence in her life!
Afterwards, she told us that she had just been wandering through the park with her loved ones, and smelled something beautiful coming from our direction. She followed the aroma, and felt she just had to be a part of what we were doing! …Now, THAT was a witness for US!!!
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.”
2 Corinthians 2: 14-17
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Many blessings to you from the Amazon, where Jesus has many disciples (and the Easter Bunny scarcely any.) Today — Resurrection Sunday — the light of His glory will rise in many people's hearts, including ours. God is pouring out his grace on this beautiful land called Brazil, and bringing many to salvation.
We have just come back from a wonderful (but rough) trip out on the Amazon River, to a community called Correio do Tapará, where six adults and three children made decisions for Jesus! One of the Brazilians who gave her life to the Lord was Gilse, the president of a neighboring community. She asked for prayer for her family, and for wisdom in leadership. It was easy to see the hunger for the Lord in both communities.
The Lord used the team’s presence there to really strengthen the local church, and help with their church building, which will serve as a regional training center. And, as is often the case, many of our American team members — seven from a church in South Carolina — went back home on fire for the Lord. One of them said it was “the greatest experience” of his life!
When we say the trip was “rough,” we mean it in a physical sense, because the mosquitoes were the worst we've seen in a long time and the nights so still and hot and humid that it was difficult to sleep. We can't tell you how fine it felt to get back home and stand under the shower for while, and then to sleep in our sweet bed!
Yet, how this pales in comparison to the magnitude of our Lord’s sacrifice — just in becoming man — to save us! Nothing of the above would have happened, nothing would have been written to you, there would be no hope for any of us, if He hadn’t readily submitted to immeasurable torment at the hands of those He loved and came to save. We are grateful for so much this Easter that our hearts cannot really hold it all, or express it in words. Above everything else is the joy of our salvation — knowing that we are loved by God and truly His. It is God’s love that invades our hearts, your hearts, and the hearts of so many here.
We confess to you a little homesickness right now, as you — our friends and family — are far away. We want to thank you for your steady friendship, your prayers and your financial support for our family, which enables us to be part of this mission. To each of you we send a blessing, full of God's peace and our own best wishes! Happy Easter!
Don & Betty
Friday, September 11, 2009
Whew!! What a trip! I just got back from the border of Bolivia, where we visited a PAZ youth ministry.
Can you imagine a place darker than this?
Mothers regularly pimping their 12-year-old daughters to truck drivers in order to put food on the table. Young men selling themselves as male prostitutes to finance their addiction to “óleo”, a deathly combination of cocaine, acetone, and tobacco. Witchcraft. Thievery. Suicide. Murder. On arrival in Guajará-Mirim, these stories and more landed like lead in our hearts.
Guajará-Mirim is a dusty Brazilian town on the northern border of Bolivia. Its main products are drug smuggling and prostitution, hidden thinly under a quiet veneer. A young team from Samaritan's Purse Canada had come to help with construction and evangelism at Chadash, the PAZ outreach center there, and had requested that I come to facilitate and help them with translation.
We were met by PAZ pastor Júnior Rocha, and his wife, Vângela, who head up the Chadash ministry, which reaches out with training, love and evangelism to the young folks of the community. The center attracts young people through special youth services and sports, and church members offer classes in guitar, computer operation, and handicrafts. Those who have been rescued grow through discipleship and cell groups, and soon become leaders, reaching out with the love of Jesus to others.
The battle is great:
Take the story of Gleen, whose addiction to óleo and other drugs had reduced him to bare survival, had turned him into a thief and a prostitute, and had destroyed much of his brain. His family had become desperate, even afraid of him. But God got hold of him through a girl he was attracted to – who invited him to the youth service. There he was surrounded with the love of Jesus, and wanted more. He is now a smiling faith-filled young man, who leads a cell group and disciples several young people.
Or, take Lucilene. The arrest of her husband had left her in deep depression, with a voice in her brain insisting that her only way out was to kill her children and then herself. She sought the help of a psychologist, but each session only left her more depressed. People shunned her – except some young nursing students, who reached out in love. When they invited her to the PAZ church, Lucilene came, and soon noticed that after each time she came, she felt better. Covered in the prayer of the saints, she gave her life to Jesus and started discipleship with Vângela. When I met Lucilene, she smiled easily, looked me in the eyes, and bubbled with the joy of the Lord and love for her two children.
The team and I had come to share testimonies as well, and to encourage the church. We worked hard in the blistering heat, building bathrooms for the PAZ Church/Chadash Outreach Center. But, I'm not sure who got blessed and strengthened more – us or the people of the church!
Two heavenly principles took over:
1. Those who come to bless, get blessed more than they can imagine, and
2. Where it is darkest, the light shines brightest.
So, by the time we left, ALL involved had been strengthened, encouraged, loved, and edified. The team was a great encouragement to this small church. The simple fact that the team had come so far to bless them, in the middle of nowhere, moved them and challenged them to greater outreach around themselves. Tears flowed when we left.
We thank God for your prayers for this mission, and for our family. One day, you'll see the results of these prayers – in heaven, if not before!
Serving Christ with you,
Betty Best (for Don)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
We hope you are well and enjoying each day to the fullest.
We were really blessed over the past few weeks by a wonderful team of medical students who came down from South Carolina to run free health clinics and share the love of Jesus.
I (Don), along with some other PAZ missionaries and health staff, accompanied the team during their first week here, running clinics in the small river town of “Prainha,” (“prahEENya”--means “little beach”). The town sits on the north side of the Amazon River, about 14 hours downriver from us.
We saw over 600 patients during the week, predominantly women and children! God used the experience to break my heart anew, seeing the physical suffering and spiritual emptiness of so many people up close and personal. The world works day-in and day-out to harden our hearts and make us cold to those around us who are in need. But the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, strives to keep us tender-hearted and vulnerable.
Working alongside each of the medical students, I got to translate for about 120 Brazilians who visited the clinic over the six days we were there. (The PAZ missionaries rotated in our translation assignments.) In the picture I'm working with Ian as he helps a family with their health needs.
The team went on to attend patients in five other communities, attending a total of over a thousand patients! Please pray for these Brazilians who live out in the middle of nowhere. Pray both for their spiritual and physical condition. Please pray also for these visiting medical students as they return home to a hectic schedule and their residency assignments.
We’ve also been blessed this past month by a visit from Carolina, who works with Samaritan’s Purse Canada in support of Project AmaZon’s water filter project. As you probably know, PAZ uses the water filters as a means not only to save lives, but also to open doors for the Gospel and church planting. To date, we have placed more 8,000 of these filters in homes and schools across the Amazon Basin.
Last but not least, we were delighted to have our good friends, Vu and Sheryl Nuygen, a beautiful and gifted couple, visiting us from Chicago. They were here with their young daughter, Lan, to see if the Lord is leading them to join the mission full time. (We pray so! We need ‘em!!) Thank you for your prayers for them, especially for discernment and provision!
Please continue to pray for us as a mission to grow in the Lord and to always be attentive to His voice and calling. It’s easy to fall into the busyness of the mission, and we need to actively be seeking Him.
Pray also that He would fill us afresh every day with His Holy Spirit and break our hearts anew for the Brazilians that He places before us. They are the very reason that we are here!
May the Lord bless you and fill you with His joy, discernment, vision,
and triumph as you serve Him and His Kingdom!
In His service,
Monday, December 22, 2008
Don and I arrived back from our AMAZINGLY BLESSED furlough in mid-November. If you’re reading this, you were probably part of the blessing! Thanks for your prayers, your smiles, your sacrifices for the Lord’s work here in the Amazon. It was such an encouragement for us to be able to share with you just a tidbit of what we see and do here daily.
Hey, have you been following the story of Juvêncio? (See last blog entry, from eons ago!) The judge finally gave him permission to go back to his home state of Maranhão to get his documents! This will involve a two-day lineboat trip to Belém, and several long bus rides to get to his home town of Pinheiros. He’s anxious to go, but will need our help financially, as well as our prayers to do this. Please keep him in your prayers, for safety, provision, and favor with the authorities. If he gets his birth certificate there, he can get documents that will protect him from abuses in his work, and give him his rights as a citizen of Brazil. It’s been a long haul for him! But praise the Lord, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
When Juvêncio found another young man’s misplaced documents, he made perhaps the biggest mistake of his life—he kept them, and assumed that identity. In fact when we met him five years ago, we thought his name was Raimundo.
Soon after “Raimundo” gave his life to the Lord, the truth came out—and he went to prison. His employer, who had no vested interest in Juvêncio getting his rights as an employee guaranteed by legitimate documents, quickly hired his own cousin as Juvêncio’s lawyer. It’s been sickening to see the legal abuses our friend has been through, and the disinterest and corruption of that lawyer.
After 55 days in prison, and five years of bureaucratic nonsense, Juvêncio still has no documents. It appeared that Juvêncio’s only way to get documents was to return to his home village of São Joaquim. However, because of his prison record, he’s not allowed to leave our state without documents!
After some prodding by Don, Juvêncio finally fired his lawyer – hard for him, as he’s meek as a mouse and genial as a teddy bear. That enabled us to hire another, who gave us a strategy for a wonderful side trip…
We’d complained about “frustrating” delays in Betty’s surgery here in Belém, but the extra time allowed us to visit São Luis, the capital of Juvêncio’s home state. A taxi, two buses, a ferry boat, and a pick-up truck (and the counsel of locals) got us from there to São Joaquim, Juvêncio’s home town!
There, in a small sturdy home on a side road, the Lord led us to Juvêncio’s long-lost sister, Teresa! We gave her some photos of her brother, and even played a little video greeting from him off my camera. She cried and cried with joy to know he was well, and to hear news from him! We took some pictures of her, and recorded a video greeting for Juvêncio as well.
From Teresa’s, we headed straight to the county clerk’s office. He was able to give us just what the new lawyer needs to get new documents going for Juvêncio—a certificate stating that he was never issued a birth certificate. The local padre also gave us a document saying that Juvêncio was indeed born there. Teresa’s schoolteacher daughter is helping her to write and send a document certifying that Juvêncio is her brother.
Praise the Lord for allowing us to participate in His work of setting the captives free!! We’re learning not to fret with changed plans. Pray that this will be the end of the long haul for Juvêncio. Pray for his spiritual growth, and the salvation of Teresa and her daughter Ana Telma.
And thanks for praying for Betty´s pacemaker operation-- tomorrow morning! Home on Sunday, Lord willing!
Don & Betty Best
Friday, April 4, 2008
- We've been blessed with four powerful teams this year-- two from Canada and two from the U.S. God continues to melt hearts with the Gospel here. Please pray for the many new believers in Igarapé-Açú, Curicaca, Prainha, and Ilha do Bom Vento. Some will face persecution from family and friends, some will not. All will face the challenges of new birth. Pray for great discipleship, and spiritual protection-- and for fire! :)
- Jonathan (our son) has received his FAA certification as an airframe mechanic! After two more years of training at Moody Aviation, he'll be ready for his dream -- to be a missionary pilot! God has been so faithful with both our sons. Pray for discernment of where the Lord would have Jonathan serve (of course, we hope it's the Amazon!), and for financial provision for the many hours of flight training he'll need in order to be licensed. (Donors welcome!)
- We're off! Sunday we leave for Belém, a big city at the mouth of the Amazon, for Bionic Betty to get a new pacemaker. The operation is actually quite minor, but we still very much covet your prayers. We should be back by the 19th of April. Praise the Lord for these contraptions!!! Take a lickin' and keep on tickin'!
The Lord bless you, and THANKS FOR YOUR PRAYERS!!!
Hugs, Don & Betty
Project AmaZon (PAZ), Santarém, Brazil