Thursday, April 24, 2008

From Catch-22 to Isaiah 61

Meet Don’s disciple Juvêncio, pictured here. He was born in the tiny village of São Joaquim in the northeastern state of Maranhão, never went to school, never even got a birth certificate. He left home thirty years ago at the age of 17, in search of work. He worked as a farmhand in Mato Grosso, and in the squalid gold mines of our state of Pará. He found soon enough that to get a decent job and worker’s rights, he needed documents -- which he couldn’t get without a birth certificate.

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
Project AmaZon
Santarém, Brazil

Friday, April 4, 2008

Shrinking the miles...

Eureka! Welcome us to the 21st century! With the busyness of the guesthouse, river trips, and everyday ministries, and with the flakiness of the Internet here in the Amazon, we've had a hard time keeping in touch. Our heart is that this new blog will shrink the miles between us. We want to rejoice and pray with you, laugh and cry with you, and encourage you with the great things God is doing here in the Amazon Basin!

Here are some quick updates:

  • 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