Come along with me on a trip up a tributary of the Amazon River as we visit a recently planted church! Make sure to bring plenty of sunblock 🙂 Enjoy!
Finally! The update I’ve been promising is here, and what an action-packed update it is. The title alone makes you wonder what all has been going on, doesn’t it? Since Anna died, God has been doing some absolutely amazing things that is getting us more and more excited about the future. Let’s start where I left off before the “My Hope” updates, right before Ruth and I sang at the National MDA Conference in Santarém.
On Thursday, October 23 both Jeff and Becky Hrubik spoke at the MDA Conference, an annual conference where pastors and leaders from all over Brazil come to Santarém to learn from some of the most successful church planters in the world and be equipped to make disciples in all of the world. The theme of the conference was “The Spirit of Faith that Makes the Difference” and it marked each address. Jeff talked about how a strong spirit of faith in the midst of trying times can allow us to bend and not break when our circumstances get tough. We felt so honored as he used our story with Anna as an example of a godly response to trying times. Becky spoke afterwards about living a life that is worth the living, telling real stories of her mom and dad who, in the end, lived an amazing life with a huge eternal impact. They gave up so much to live how they lived, where they lived, and in the end it was all worth it.
It was in that context that Ruth and I sang a song I wrote two days before Anna died, inspired by Melvin Huber’s life and testimony – a song about living life for the fullest eternal impact.
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 😉
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.
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!