International Ministries


December 17, 2009 Journal
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“I will beat the living daylights out of you if you go to that church!” Fidel, a slight boy of 11years, came to Sunday School with his father’s threat still ringing in his ears. He was shaken but still irresistibly drawn to the message of hope and unconditional love of Jesus. Pr Herbert and Desiré gently laid their hands on his shoulders and led the congregation in prayer for Fidel’s protection. We also praised God for the courage of this young boy and asked God to bless Fidel’s father.

This was one of the defining moments during my (Ann’s) recent pastoral visit to our Brazilian missionary colleagues in Senegal and Guinea Bissau, West Africa. Herbert, Desiré and many others quietly and courageously share the good news of Jesus Christ in a spiritual-cultural context hostile to the gospel. Belief in amulets, capricious spirits, evil spells and the ability to injure or kill others through curses is common in both countries. People live in fear of displeasing the spirits or their neighbors. Jesus’ message of sacrificial love, forgiveness and the transforming power of the gospel stands in stark contrast to those fears.

What kind of spiritual context do you live in? We westerners worship many “idols” as well, and our rituals are no less strange. Remember the thousands of people who stood in line at 5 a.m. on Black Friday to get special deals on an HD television, the latest video game, or just to get their hands on a Zhu Zhu Pet? And while the spiritual climate in the communities I visited caused me great sadness, I was struck by the fact that it felt much safer on the streets of Dakar and Bissau than in Belo or Seattle or Philadelphia.

Please remember Fidel in your prayers and all those who are desperate for hope in their lives. Ask God to strengthen and protect Herbert, Desiré, Geny, Natã, Henrique, Rose, Samuel, Larissa, Reuben and Rebecca in Guinea-Bissau as they reach out to the people in their community through a clinic, church, orphanage, school, and hospital. Please also remember our JAMI colleagues in Senegal: Moisés and Márcia, Josué, Ana, Glaucimar, Celso, Andréia, Samuel and Daniel.

May we all be more like Fidel as we celebrate Jesus’ birthday in just a few days – committed to knowing Jesus more deeply and sharing his love with our family and friends, perhaps even at the risk of their disapproval. Our family is also remembering that Fidel’s name means “faithful,” and how faithful you have been in your support for us and our ministry during 2009. We are grateful to God for you!

Feliz Natal (Happy Birth)

Ann, Bruce, and Asa
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil