Monday, April 23, 2012

Living the Gospel, Speaking the Truth, Loving the Lost

The last couple of weeks have been much busier than normal. I feel like we have been running without an idea where we are going. At the same time it has shown a lot of fruitfulness.

One of the things I have moved away from here in Brazil is an emphasis on the “sinners prayer”. I have struggled on this issue for years anyways. I absolutely believe that we are here first and for most in every situation to lead people to Christ. Absolutely above all else spiritual salvation. The problem is that a prayer to ask Jesus into our heart, even one confessing our sins seams to leave me feeling short of having made a disciple. That is our biblical mandate. In the end a disciple is someone who has submitted to Jesus to the point of having died to oneself. No longer me but him. Especially here in a religious country it is very easy get someone to say an “our father” or “hail marry” in us protestants case a “dear Jesus” but do those things lead to salvation? Perhaps, but is salvation enough? No, we are called, as I said to make disciples.

A disciple isn’t someone who has prayed a prayer, changed their clothes or quit drinking beer. Still working on that one myself. A disciple is someone who lives like you do, acts like you do, strives to pass you. This can’t be made at a large event or small event but is made in the heart. If I am going to become a disciple, to seek discipleship from someone I have to see someone I crave to be like. Perhaps this could happen sitting in a church listening to a pastor or at a weekend event but if I am not connected with them it is only desire. Discipleship takes one on one contact, time, progress, steps back and sometimes much pain.

As missionaries we are first accountable to God, then to our church, then to our supporters. Our first challenge is to seek and obey God, our next is to maintain a relationship with out home church and then to communicate so those who can’t be here physically can share in the joy of their ministry.

Seeking God should be the easiest but can be the most challenging. First of all it is easy to wake up each day and rush out the door. Just as if we had a normal job. It takes discipline to get up early, spend time in the word, pray together. It is essential. Second you can fall into a trap of trying to be busy, to write good newsletters, to get pictures. It may be God is leading you to do something a bit routine, to work with the same few people week in week out. It is hard not to let the second and third challenges begin to pressure the first one.

Maintaining the relationship with our home church takes work on both parts. We must be in communication one with the other. We need to remember to pray for one another. We need to desire to care about what the other is doing at a long distance. It is too easy to begin to forget how much you love each other and how much a part of one another we are. This is why we must leave our home for 2 months and visit the states. Imagine, this is our home, as much as we miss the states it will be hard to be away. This is why we also really hope to see some visitors come here.

Third, we need to remember that people go to work, not always fun to enable us to be here. You give up trips out, perhaps things you need in order to put the lord first. We need to remember that and discipline ourselves to be busy. We also need to share with you what is happening.

Here is a little of that joy. We are working on some bigger projects as I shared last time. One of the newer opportunities is to engage in some ministry in Bolivia. To pray with some people about getting an orphanage up and going there. Much more on this to come. We will be trying to spend Tuesdays there. I will go to a prison and help Ricardo do a service. Melissa will go with the little girls who happen to live in that prison to a day care. To play with and love on these very hurting girls. I haven’t been many places that have impacted me like a prison without cells where men, women and children all live together. All food is brought in by family, if they have no family they have to find a way to trade for it. It is doubtless a very sick sad place. It is cramped and broken, never built for a prison in the first place. Just 4 rooms, 2 bathrooms and  a little prison yard. Absolutely crowded. Something needs to happen, little girls 2-4 do not belong there.

In the meantime, as we run around and try and start things our main objective is to make disciples. This has started to go really well. We have invested a lot of our time, especially Melissa, in Kaela. A 21 year old mother of 4. She lives in a shack and her boys 2 and 3 play naked in the street. Her husband recently went to jail. We have stepped in, given her rides, brought a social worker to her house to explain her rights, given her food, hired her to clean the house and given her old clothes encouraging to sell them. We have seen her both make progress and take advantage of us. It can be tiring.

We also have written a lot about Yara, Kaelas younger sister. Yara is 11. When she fist started coming around she really didn’t obey. She likes to start fights with the kids, even now sometimes. We are seeing her learn to obey. To listen and she is becoming a real joy to have at the house.

This last week they both asked to go to church with us. This is going back to what we feel called to do. We want to make disciples. We have done what we can to show them who Christ is. We have spoken truth, but haven’t pushed for prayers or responses. Now we are seeing them ask to go to church, ask about God to seek it for themselves. I believe we are taking the slow road. I also believe though it is going to pay off with deep results. We may not write about huge numbers of people coming forward, big evangelistic events. Those things are AWESOME, I wish I was called to that, seriously. We can tell you that we are seeing the beginning of changes in these two girls family history.

Yara wants to be a Vet. I want to help her continue to hunger and dream for that. To see her avoid kids at 16.

I also can tell you that Juninho and his sisters came and asked for a ride to a birthday. They weren’t asking nice and I had company so I gave a firm no. A few minutes later the lady that is usually hard and rumored and appears to be the neighborhood drug dealer came over and very politely asked for a ride. Explained they don’t get to go to birthdays and had no other way to go. I of course took them and now she is very friendly with me. Thankfully not to friendly as she isn’t little.

Pray that we can help Kaela grow into a self responsible Christ reliant person. It isn’t just her you are effecting but her four kids. They are 0-6 and without our help are likely to live the same hard life. If she changes they change.

Pray for Yara. Pray we get the chance to help her achieve her dreams. To avoid the mistake most of her many sisters have made, her parents have 15 kids. Pray we can find a Christian vet to mentor her.

Pray our relationship grows with Maggie, Juninho, and their family. Pray we get to know their neighbor better. Pray we have the energy emotionally to continue to build relationship with very hurting people.

Also pray as we visit the US this summer we can get the resources lined up we need to expand from relationships on a few corners and our able to multiply these things.

Pray for the Brazilian Christians watching us. I have heard many times lately aren’t these people all just lazy. I have heard that in the states too. Discipleship goes beyond the people we are specifically targeting. There are lots of people watching us.



Lyon Family

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ponte, EDT

The recent couple weeks have begun to shed light on what need we can attempt to meet as a family. We have been here in Corumba about 5 months now. We have gotten established, a decent home, some ministry relationships, a church family, a few friends and some things we like to do. There is still a lot of adjustment to do, living in such a remote location but we are getting there. The biggest struggle you can pray for is sickness. We all go through rough patches, seemingly lots of them.

I (Ben) had started to build a bit of relationship with Juninho who I mentioned last time. I have built some relationship with TT, Melissa is friends with his girlfriend Kaela, we have asked for prayer for their baby Joao (John). We have good relationship with Yara, Kaelas younger sister. We also have a varying number of neighborhood kids over most Saturdays for a game and bible study.

At the same time we have also been building relationship with people in the church, PIB (First Baptist). I have been able to go fishing a few times with a couple of the guys. I have coffee once a week with the pastor. We are building a friendship with a couple that doesn’t live too far from us. I am also teaching a youth class for Sunday school. We are continuing to try and aid them with their commitment to Porto Esperanca. We had a great time with a pizza night and then a good Friday fish feast at our house.


The reality is we exist in two worlds. One that is middle class and much like the world we come from. The other is a mess. Good Friday was an all out fish feast with our church, Easter was hot dogs and trying to teach neighbor hood kids to listen to a message.

Last week TT who is crippled and I had talked to a bit about doing some woodworking training with got into some trouble. He in an effort to feed his family of 6 began helping capture exotic animals for export (more illegal then killing people here do to the tourism industry and Brazil’s desire to look good internationally). He is now in prison trying to get a lawyer, facing about 14 years in jail. His girlfriend Kaela sits in their little house with no power and little food. With their baby, two little boys 2 and 3 years old and another daughter of Kaela’s. We are making effort to help but know we can’t solve their problems. The idea is to disciple her and him if he gets out to help themselves.


Also it seemed Juninho might have been getting involved. Now him and his family seem to have disappeared. Melissa has seen the little girls around but we aren’t sure where the mom or Juninho have went.

All this though has led to Kaela being more open with us, also to her visiting the house a bit more. The problem is she needs to learn to solve her own problems. She hints for us to pay her power but the bill in her name has been shut off long ago, it is now split with several houses in her moms name and the bill is over 400 reais. Her desire was for us to give the neighbor 50 reais to run a wire from their house. In the end the brutal reality is she isn’t going to die without power, the kids aren’t in danger, it is just boring. We loaned her a little flashlight but when the batteries died she asked for more. I understand she doesn’t have money but we have to be careful not to have her dependency on a boyfriend twice her age switch to dependency on us.

This situation along with Juninho and others has highlighted the need I talked about in the last blog. Discipleship, vocational training a helping hand that isn’t a hand out but a long term solution. I haven’t been able to quit thinking maybe if I had something in place to offer work to TT or Kaela they would have made a different choice.

Frankly it may be too late for Kaela. It doesn’t mean we wont keep trying but it means we are fighting against a lifetime of bad decision making. Over time and through friendship we will see some change, hopefully see her grow into a relationship with Christ, I believe we will. It is more than enough to change her eternal destiny.

What about her sister Yara though? Can we offer a bit more for here. She has recently stayed the night here, then asked if she could live with us. She told us she would like to be a Veterinarian. She wants to move to Sao Paulo and study. She wants more for her life then a shack and a string of boyfriends leading to kids and dead dreams before she is 20.

Last week we began to talk seriously about how best to help people move from one world to the other. We began talking about forming an ONG, non-profit, that would concentrate on education, training and discipleship. We are moving forward, we believe this will be the best way we can be a bridge  between two communities, between two worlds and between churches and the hurting communities they often minister in. We do evangelism/outreach with 10-15 kids. One or two of them are showing potential. We know of many churches or people with similar outreaches. The idea is to have a non-profit that is doing vocational training, selling product, providing emergency assistance, bible classes, educational assistance to those 1 or 2 kids or youth.

For those youth who are changing, growing and show desire to break free we would hope to provide no interest voluntary payback loans for college, to start businesses, get documents whatever. Doing this in a way that encourages them not only to change but help change their own neighborhood, go back and help others. This would be an opportunity for churches to connect youth like Yara who want to change and grow with resources. Also for people in the churches who are professionals to offer help to others.

We are not sure exactly what all this will look like but it is a continuation in the development of what we were doing in Foz, what we are trying to do here and where we dream of going. We are working on the paper work with our friend Buster, communicating with our church here in order to have the hope of Brazilians taking this on one day and to build a resource list of who and what is already in place to help people.

We need to get the mission statement down, paper work filed with a name and logo, thinking of Ponte (bridge). We need to get a location that allows us personally to cast a bigger net with outreach but also a location to begin to build and restore furniture and other things. We are working on these things. We hope to have the foundation in place when we visit the states this summer and to come back ready to work hard at developing this further. It is exciting and we really feel like we are on the right track. I am sure it will mold and change more as we go but hopefully this gives you some idea of the need and how we can be a bridge seeing kids discipled in Christ and in life.