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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Devine Connections, Hurt by the Church, Cracking Down the Walls


Divine Connections

There are times in life when you feel like God is distant, wonder if he’s even aware of your existence and then there are times that you feel like He is orchestrating your every move.

Lately, we’ve felt more like we are in the latter experience.  God seems to be connecting us to key people with shared vision, goals and dreams.

Recently we felt we should meet with the minister of a local Anglican church we have been visiting now and then.  It’s a strange thing to be without a congregation for this long, the longest period of time we have not been regularly attending organized church since we became Christians.  This Anglican church is very much like our beloved Vineyard.  We have had several conversations with the minister who was recently made Bishop in the region. A few Sundays ago as we were leaving the service in a bit of a rush because I realized I had left our slow cooker on burning my baked beans, Phil was stopped by one of the ministers saying he had seen us praying for the girls.  He said they wanted to know how they could help and be involved.

This week we met with Marcio, the bishop for the northeast region and shared our story.  Half way through he shared a dream he had about giving a dinner for the women and men in prostitution, he described it as a very fancy dinner with tablecloths and nice dishes and that he was wearing a suit (rare for him). He said, ‘it was very honouring to them and it was like…like a banquet’.

At this point Phil and I started to laugh the kind of laugh that bubbles up when you realize God is speaking the same thing to others that he has been speaking to you.  We shared the fact that doing banquets for these ladies is one of the things we are working towards.

He became very excited and offered up their beautiful space to hold our banquets in.  He went beyond that and offered up the space for us to use as our Vineyard church family begins to grow and we need  space to meet in!

He believes strongly that we, as Christians, should be more about being the body of Christ than our denomination.  We can see a future of our two churches working closely together to expand the Kingdom here in João Pessoa.

I am continually amazed on this journey at the ways he guides, provides and loves us!

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Hurt By The Church, Released by Forgiveness

What used to take us an hour is now taking about three or more hours.  Spending time with the girls has gone beyond a quick prayer of blessing and request for health and protection to the girls sharing their hearts and lives.  We talk, laugh, cry and pray together.  

Some are more open than others.  One of the women we met in the first few days is particularly closed off, she always allows us to pray but you always know that she is not really letting her guard down.  A couple of weeks ago as we were praying for her to be freed from addictions she said she struggles with, I felt I was supposed to ask her if she had been hurt by the church.

She pulled back and looked at me like, how did you know that?

Yes, I was, she said.  A pastor asked me to have an affair with him.

My heart sunk.  Oh, how the enemy messes with the people who are supposed to represent a just, fair and loving God.

I was at a loss for words so I prayed quickly….’ok God, now what?!’  I felt that Phil was supposed to apologize and ask for her forgiveness on behalf of the pastor, the church and men in general who have hurt her.

So, there in the street with cars passing, some slowing down to stare, Phil put the power of forgiveness in her hands. She forgave and then, without prompting or asking leaned over and hugged Phil.

After that moment her entire demeanour changed.  Her body language was much more relaxed, she smiled more, it was clear to see that a bit of her protective armour had fallen away.

As we were getting up to leave she said, ‘Please don’t stop coming here, we really appreciate what you do here, I always feel lighter and more at peace after you pray for me’.

All of these women have similar hurts.  God knows what each of those hurts is and when he tells us it’s like he’s giving us the keys to open the door to the protective wall they have built around their hearts.

Daily they deal with hurt, rejection, jealousy and addictions.  They are enslaved to a destructive lifestyle that, for a variety of reasons, they can’t see a way out of.  We are continuing to pray that as God works on healing them physically and spiritually, that he will also give them new eyes to see hope for a different future.

We are so grateful to be a part of what God is doing on that dark street.  There are so many stories, every time we go God moves in some way.

Next month we will begin our beach church. Stay tuned.

Below is a video of the making of a bench Phil made to install in one of the locations the girls wait for clients...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndEMQAqoc3Q

 

Cracking Down the Walls



Running parallel to our ministry to the women we have been trying to crack through the hard surface of this concrete jungle to find the soil to plant a church.  One of the ways to do this is using our skills as native english speakers.
Last month I started teaching at a local bilingual school where I have been able to incorporate Alpha into the curriculum, this encourages the students to have great conversations about what they believe.
Recently, Phil was invited to begin an Alpha course in the state university english class.  University is where we are more likely to find people who are not part of a church or have begun to question their spiritual beliefs. Research says that only 30% of young adults who enter University as Christians leave as believers. University is a great education but it also is a setting where people are taught to question everything and discover who they are apart from their family.
 Alpha is the perfect tool in this environment because it works best when there are people with different opinions and lots of questions.  It’s also a great tool for people wanting to improve their english because instead of repeating simple phrases or learning grammar, it forces them to express their thoughts and opinions about a sometimes heated topic.
After the first video, at some points, the discussion became so passionate that the students flipped into Portuguese because expressing themselves and their thoughts won out over speaking in English.
Our goal in this is to identify people who are interested in continuing and perhaps starting a small group with friends or family, people who naturally meet.  We are looking for ‘people of peace’ as the Bible refers to them, who will connect us to larger groups of people.

We keep following and walking through the doors as God opens them.

 

Visitors

We have been blessed to have several visitors already in our first year here.  Last month we had Allison, Ronã and their adorable baby boy Oliver visit for two weeks.  Their visit had several purposes.  Oliver’s birth needed to be registered, Allison needed to change her name in her passport, Ronã needed to apply for a visa and last but certainly not least, they are praying about whether or not João Pessoa is the next step in their missionary journey.

Please join us in praying with them that God will speak directly to them about where they are to serve here in João Pessoa.

LUKE FACILITATES ALPHA YOUTH


We were invited to start a youth Alpha in an apartment building where a member of our small group lives.

On the first night it was evident that Luke, without being asked, was facilitating the group.

It's exciting to see him stepping out in this way!
He's a teenager now, a time when he can either influence or be influenced, we are overjoyed to see him doing the former!

PRAYER REQUESTS


HELP! We need to build a team here to facilitate the growth of the ministry and the church.  Please pray with us that those who’s hearts are stirred will begin to surface to help us.

Kids-Both our kids are nearing the end of their first year of studying here in Brazil, it’s been a really tough year for both them and us as we learn the ins and outs of the system, more of the language etc. adjust (AGAIN) to a new city, friends etc. this is a lot for them to process.  

Finances/Resources-As a missionary one of the hardest things is to feel like you are always asking, but that is the reality!  In order to grow our ministry and church we also need the resources to do so.  Both people and finances are needed.  We need to connect to the people who can help us further the ministry and grow the church


 C

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