There’s almost an epidemic in the city. An unusually high number of cases of Dengue Fever have been reported, a terrible sickness transmitted by mosquitos (kind of like malaria). Dengue, in its several forms, completely debilitates a person for nearly 2 weeks — taking away all energy, apetite, and ability to function. The person is left with headaches, nauseia, and a fever that often fools people into thinking they have contracted some terrible virus. On the mission field, you put yourself at risk to all kinds of things you wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. And Ruth got it.
A week and a half ago, Ruth started to feel awful — truly terrible. We had a get-together for our cell group, and she could hardly even stay out to be with everyone. When the sickness didn’t go away after a week, we began to wonder if she had contracted Dengue.
But there’s another epidemic sweeping the city. It’s especially intense here in Santarém — in fact, many Brazilians believe it’s the epicenter of this epidemic in Brazil. It is a move of God in “Acts” proportions. Ever since moving the Paz Churches to a New Testament-based cell group and one-on-one discipleship model, the growth of the church has been exponential. There are now nearly 6,000 cell groups meeting in Santarém. That’s epic.
Think about what this number means. There are six-thousand separate “home churches” meeting weekly across Santarém. They are led by 6,000 unique leaders — Christians who have taken God’s call to go and make disciples seriously and are committed to it, who meet every week for leadership training. At an estimated 10 people per cell group, there are nearly 60,000 people attending a Paz Cell group in the city! In a number of a few short years, the epidemic will soon take the whole city, and Santarém will become a completely Christian city! But that will be just the beginning. Because the church’s vision is to send these leaders all over the Amazon, Brazil, and yes — the world. It’s already been happening as we have started several bases around the Amazon. But it continues to expand exponentially. I truly believe that within our lifetime, you will hear about what God has done here in Santarém not just from me or from PAZ, but from major news media outlets, internet, TV, etc. Professors will talk about what God did in the middle of the Amazon jungle and you will smile when you think you were a part of it!
In the midst of Ruth’s dengue fever, our cell group multiplied last Wednesday. It was a joyous time celebrating the new life (the new cell group) being formed — one more group of Christians growing in God’s purposes to win, disciple and send (multiply). Ruth and I are discipling many, if not most, of the members of our cell group, and now we have another cell group for which we are responsible. We prayed for the new leaders and celebrated with a multiplication party afterwards. Ruth went upstairs to lay down.
The next morning, Ruth woke up with the telltale sign of Dengue fever — the red, itchy rash. We praised God, thinking the worst was over. Then Friday night, Ruth began vomiting everything. Diarrhea ensued. It continued all day Saturday, Saturday night. When Sunday morning came and she could barely move, except to dry heave, we knew we had to take her to the hospital. Not an easy task, when there are twins at home.
After tests were done, Dengue was confirmed. We are still waiting for more test results to see if she contracted two different types of Dengue — one right after the other (which is known to happen to a few unfortunate souls) — or if she just got a virus at the end of the Dengue Fever. Three days after admitting her to the hospital, and Ruth is finally home. Dad survived at home with the girls thanks to the grandparents’ help. Some forms of Dengue are very serious and can be life-threatening. So please continue to pray and we’ll share the results via facebook!
At least a temporary sickness can’t take away the eternal joy of multiplying our group and seeing our disciples grow in the vision that God has for them. With the multiplication of this cell group, the cell group of our disicples Edson & Kelly and the addition of a multiplying cell group that our disciples John & Silvia Eisenmann are leading, we now have 5 cell groups under us! Praise the Lord!
This Christmas will mark 5 years here in Brazil, and I (Nate) still greatly miss the change of seasons, the good roads, the friends and family, the food, March Madness and Bears vs. Packers. We’ve lost a child here on the mission field, we’ve been sick, we’ve been robbed, we’ve been without power in the insufferable heat. But we’re not giving up now — we are in the middle of a huge move of God! There is already fruit of our short time here in Brazil, and I believe it is just a start of a great fruit-bearing time in our lives. Praise God!
If you would like to partner with us and this great move of God, we would be honored. We are so thankful to so many of you who are already partnered with us and have given faithfully, even when it hurts. We couldn’t be here without your support! We’re still looking to pick up more support to do all that we’re called to do and save for the girls future as well. Just click the link below. Years down the road, you’ll be able to look back and say “I was a part of that great work!” God has so many great blessings awaiting those who put His Kingdom first — in this life and the life to come! Thanks once again for all your love, prayers and support.