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.