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Minha Esperança (My Hope)

Day 2 Update – Nov 7

The first night of the nationally broadcasted program of Minha Esperança was met with a great response within our cell group. Several of our cell group members invited their unsaved friends to watch the program together. There were a total of 6 people in need of the Gospel there last night.

The program was short and powerful, with a number of songs from top Brazilian artists and testimonies from two different soccer players, such as Kaká, who talked about their hope in Christ. Billy Graham shared a powerful 7 minute Gospel presentation and then after the program ended, I stood up to look over the group of people gathered, a group with tears in their eyes who were deeply touched by the love of God through Christ. I shared briefly about the hope Ruth and I have in Christ and how much it strengthened us through all that we passed through with Anna Rebecca. I invited those who wanted to receive Christ as their hope and savior to raise their hands, and there was 3 responses, including the family we invited, José and Elizangela!! I led them in a prayer of repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ. What an amazing privilege it was to be a part of God’s grace extended to these precious people!

And this is just the first night of 3 nights of broadcasting! And this was just one of over 2,000 groups meeting in our church alone! And we are just one of over 80,000 church across all of Brazil participating in Minha Esperança!! Continue praying for the next two nights, that the Gospel would find open hearts to receive the message of hope through Christ. Pray also for a young lady who raised her hand to receive Christ and prayed the prayer, but has some doubts that she wants to think about first. Pray for God to get ahold of her heart and faith.

Day 1 Entry – Nov 6

Dear friends and family, please be praying for the largest potential evangelistic outreach in Brazilian history, Minha Esperança or “My Hope.” In Santarém alone, there could be as many as 6,000 people come to Christ, and this is a national event! Ruth and I have invited some friends of ours to go, so pray that they will open their hearts to the amazing love of Christ. The event will be tonight (Thursday), Friday and Saturday and meets in people’s homes as it is televised live across Brazil! Read what we recently posted about it at Project AmaZon’s website.

Loved ones, I can hardly wait to give you an update on what happened at the MDA conference when Ruth and I sang, or what happened during the 3 boat trips immediately following the conference. God is preparing the way for a season of rapid growth here in Brazil, and we’re being used as a part of it! How exciting. Look for the update to come soon to our website (hopefully yet this weekend). Until then, be in prayer for Minha Esperança and our friends who desperately need Christ.

For those of you who live in the Quad Cities area (and you know who you are!), 1st Evangelical Free is having a missions conference this weekend and at the Friday night 7 PM service, there will be a live interview with Ruth and me over Skype! If you’re in the area, don’t miss it! I’ll be able to see if you were there or not 😉

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Making the Most of These Days

So much has happened since our last update, and we’ve been very busy but I wanted to share with you a quick update, so here it goes! (Don’t forget, you can click on any one of these photos to see them full size on your screen. Just click the arrows on your keyboard to move to the next photo)

Sunday, October 12

Our first Sunday back to church was probably one of the hardest days we’ve faced yet. On top of all the emotions we already had; emotions we have when we do anything for the first time since Anna’s death, it was also the Brazilian holiday “Children’s Day,” much like Mother’s or Father’s day in the US. The service was filled with Children’s programs and a baby dedication. Poor Ruth cried the whole service! I was able to keep it together until getting home, and then just pored my heart out to God in terrible grief. It turned out to be a real important day of more healing for Ruth and me, but you know something? Healing hurts! But there is a great grace, a very deep, profound grace available to those whose refuge is the Lord, our Rock, our Strength! I’ve only begun to learn, really.

The rest of the week just ramped up in busyness as we were getting ready for this year’s MDA Conference. Basically it’s a conference where pastors and leaders from all over Brazil come to the middle of the jungle to learn about missions, discipleship and church growth from some of the most fruitful church planters and pastors of our time. Last year’s conference was amazing – read about it here.

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Ruth’s Home!!!!

Ruth’s home!!! We got her test results back, and even though she’s not nearly completely recovered, she was good enough to be released. It was a bittersweet trip (mostly sweet) as we pulled out of the hospital and tears came to our eyes as we remembered the happy return trip from the hospital we had planned – a trip with Anna Rebecca. But praise God, we’re moving on and this is a big step forward in the overall healing process.

As Ruth continues to recover at home, we’ll now be confronting little reminders of all the plans we had. It’s hard but necessary, sad but we have hope. We are so thankful to be home and know that God will be healing our hearts, bodies and lives – and what’s more is there is a wonderful future ahead of us. We’ll continue to keep you posted on our progress, as we so covet your continually prayers. Praise God for this most excellent day!

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Ruth’s Getting There!

Good news- we got Ruth’s test results back and her white blood cell count went down from almost 25,000 to around 15,000. Praise God! The plasma treatment and change of antibiotics seems to have made a tremendous difference, and now we will continue in the same line of treatment until everything is normal again. The doctor said this could mean staying in the hospital until Saturday. Even though that’s a lot longer than we would like, we are very thankful that not only are the test results looking better, but Ruth is feeling much better as well. We thank you for all of your prayers, they are making a powerful difference.

Emotionally, we’re hanging in there. As life goes on, there are more and more things that remind us that Anna is gone – and it’s good to deal with them as they come up, but it also hurts a lot. Today Becky’s sister-in-law Christine Huber arrived in Santarém to spend some time with us. It was a real healing time to cry and laugh together, telling stories of good memories. I shared with them that I prefer the way things happened than for Ruth to have never become pregnant and for us to never have known Anna Rebecca. I must agree with Alfred Lord Tennyson who said “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Because not only was she our precious daughter (reason enough in itself), but she has made my life better – I’m a more broken, humble, dependent man on God and others, and a good portion of my heart already lies in heaven. What a great motivation to make the most of my life here on earth while I still can! Let’s remain faithful to the calling and never, ever doubt the goodness of God.

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An Update on Ruth

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, Ruth has felt pretty lousy. She’s swollen and a bloodtest done Saturday showed that her white blood cells were extremely high (signifying that there’s an infection, possibly from the same miconium stool that took Anna’s life). Fortunately last night Ruth was less sick and this morning she was a lot less swollen, but still nauseous (probably from all the meds). So this morning we had an additional blood work done to see if the infections getting better. The results were the same, so our doctor called a specialist in the area of infections, and he will come tomorrow (Tuesday) morning to check Ruth. He prescribed a new antibiotic for Ruth and we are going to have an ultrasound done to see if we can’t further locate the source of the problem, helping us treat it and get Ruth out of there!

We are truly feeling all yours prayers and your love. We are humbled by the amount of people interceding on our behalf and as you can see, it’s making a tremendous difference. Over the past 4 days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) almost 1,700 have visited and read our story!! What an amazing encouragement that is to me- to have so many praying. About twice a day I drive from the hospital to the PAZ office to download our emails, approve comments on the website, check our facebook and do the updates. I then take it all on back to Ruth and read them to her. So even though you may not have heard back from us (just yet), we are receiving and reading all of your comments, and they mean so much. Even though Ruth doesn’t always feel well, she’s in really good spirits and it encourages me so much to see her spirits high, joking around.

I couldn’t imagine going through this without a wonderful family of believers like you who are interceding for us. What does the world do in these kind of situations? Where is their hope? Where is their community of support? Oh, it’s so important for us to be involved in a good church and be involved in ministering to others, because when the day of trial arrives, the man with many good friends stands firm in the Lord. I have a new purpose in my life and passion in my heart to share the great love of the Father to all of those without hope, that they may know the everlasting joy awaiting us. What great promises are in God!