International Ministries

The Forgotten Ones

September 11, 2009 Journal
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"The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’" Matt. 25:40

We will be very sad when you leave. Very few people ever come to our community. Nothing happens here. Every day is just the same. But your team has given us hope.” Velda’s words sank deep into our hearts. The mosquito bites, the fine red dust that settled on Bibles and even our toothbrushes, the oppressive heat at mid-day – all these minor inconveniences melted away in light of Velda’s warm gratitude. God was using our team to radiate love instead of indifference, to bring hope where there had been only despair. What an honor to serve as the Lord’s dirt-smudged, sweaty messengers of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ to this forgotten community in the arid Brazilian highlands.

In our last prayer letter, you learned about the four sub-teams that made up our church’s short-term mission team that ministered in a very poor, remote rural community in the northern part of our state in July. In this letter, we’ll highlight some of the special people we met and with whom we worked.

Rosa and Antônio welcomed our visitation team into their home, bringing a wooden bench into the clean swept yard so that we could catch the cool afternoon breeze. At the end of our visit as we were preparing to return to our encampment, Rosa disappeared around the back of the house and reemerged with a bag of feijoa (a type of dried bean) as a gift from their precious stock of food. What an incredibly generous gift from a family that knows the bitter taste of hunger as they wait for harvest time.

At the end of the worship service on the third evening, nearly the whole community came forward to dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ. One man who greeted the team the first morning reeking of cachaça (moonshine) turned his life over to Christ and was completely sober when he said good-bye to the team at the end of the week.

Maria, a woman who lovingly and patiently cares for her 86-year-old mother, told us that she was inspired by our presence to organize a leadership team for the community. Her dream is to promote cooperation among the families so that they can work together to provide running water, health services, and education for the community.

One day during our visit, we saw concrete evidence of God’s people working together side by side to restore hope to a forgotten people. Folks from the community, from Igreja Batista Paz e Vida (our partner church: Life and Peace Baptist Church), and from our team sweated and rejoiced together as they made a total of over 700 soil cement bricks. Which was worthy of more celebration – the bricks or the people working together toward a common goal?

Pr. Henoch and his team from Life and Peace Baptist continue to visit the community every week, helping to rebuild homes, provide health care, and lead worship services. Church members like Adão, Sônia, and Onéssimo say they have discovered a great joy in serving their new sisters and brothers in Christ.

Thank you for walking with us in our ministry here in Brazil. We ask that you would continue to pray for us, for International Ministries and for our missionary colleagues around the world as we all work with our Missionary Partnership Teams and Networks to build a strong financial base for our ministries. You are a vital part of this world-wide outreach in Jesus’ name. And though you already do so much for us, we would also ask you to encourage your church to generously support the World Mission Offering and our fellow missionaries. Obrigado! (Thank you!)

Servindo o Senhor contigo, (Serving the Lord with you)

Ann, Bruce, and Asa
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil