“Uau! Que benção. Aprendi tanto!” [“Wow! What a blessing. I learned so much!”] These were some of the comments we heard about the first mission conference held on November 2 at the church we attend, an event that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
During the morning worship service, Pr. Wagner encouraged us to “open the box.” He asked us to think of our church as if it were a shoebox full of people with various talents and abilities. Rather than keep all these good things to ourselves “inside the box,” he challenged us to recognize that we are God’s blessing in the world and then go out to touch and help and heal and love people who are desperate and broken. He illustrated this point by opening the shoebox and telling people to look inside to see God’s answer and plan for the church’s mission. Looking inside the box, people jumped in surprise: they were staring into their own face because Pr. Wagner had put a mirror in the bottom.
After the service, we split into four groups to hear about mission work and opportunities in South Africa, Morocco, and Minas Gerais (the state where we live). The fourth group focused on urban mission outreach here in Belo Horizonte with its population of 5 million.
As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we were the main organizers of the group that came together to put on this conference. A few days ago, we met with the coordinators of all the conference planning teams to evaluate our work as a group as well as how things went on the actual day. We began by praising God for the many ways God blessed us during the conference and then spent some time in prayer seeking God’s direction for the next steps on our mission journey together as a church community. At the end of the meeting, we asked whether folks wanted to have another conference, and if so, when. We thought you would appreciate the response we received.
Roughly translated, this is what Solange said: “We definitely want to have another conference, but not next year. Right now, we need to focus on putting what we learned into practice. God didn’t want us just to have a nice day together. God wants us to wake up and go out into our neighborhood, our world. We need to tell people about how Jesus transforms our lives and show them his great love in practical ways. Let’s get to work!” Amen, sister!
The church’s Reforço Escolar program (after school tutoring) continues to slowly expand. Children from poorer families have little or no access to such assistance so this is a practical way that our church can reach out to our bairro (neighborhood). Currently, our members are offering help in Mathematics, Portuguese, Biology, and English – even Asa is serving as a “professor de inglês”! (teacher of English)
Jesus empowered us to be his witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In an effort to reach our own “Samaria,” our church is sending a team of about 15 members to the far north of our state of Minas Gerais to minister to an extremely poor community. We have already begun preparing for ministry in the areas of health care and HIV/AIDS prevention, dental hygiene, evangelism, sports, and food and clothing assistance.
Pr. Wagner (r) with one of our students who helped us with the conference
Please join us in praying for:
• “D” (our student from this year), who will be leaving for North Africa at the
end of December. He will do a required 2-month internship there before
returning to Brazil to finish his nursing degree.
• JAMI missionary (and former student) Ana Paula who recently arrived in England to work with Portuguese-speaking immigrants. Pray for
perseverance as she learns the difficult language of …. English.
• New JAMI missionaries (and students from this year’s class) Celso and Andréia, and their boys Samuel and Daniel, who will soon be leaving for
Senegal, West Africa. Ask God for stamina as they visit churches and raise their financial support.
• Our church Igreja Batista Reviver – that God would guide us as we seek to faithfully expand his kingdom of grace and justice.
• Asa as he takes another series of nine tests at the end of his freshman year
of high school (something similar to to the SAT). Our school year ends in
Thank you for walking with us on this journey. On the days when we feel discouraged or just plain exhausted, we remember your faithful, loving support and this renews our strength.
Com amor em Cristo (with love in Christ),
Ann, Bruce, and AsaBelo Horizonte, MG, Brazil