Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Sweet Aroma....

Dear Friends,

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

He is Risen!!!

Dear Friends,
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, be
cause 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
Project AmaZon
Santarém, Brazil