Ann was present at Asa’s "new birth," too!
“Team sit” at the youth retreat – who needs chairs? ?
“Professor Bruce” in the after-school program
What an amazing worship we recently had at our church here in Belo Horizonte, Igreja Batista Reviver! It included baptisms, a marriage proposal, the collection of goods for a mission trip to a poor community, an appeal for teachers for the after-school tutoring program, announcements about an upcoming youth retreat and the church’s first mission conference, prayer for our missionaries in Albania and Guinea-Bissau, and more. During the sharing time, one brother exclaimed, “Our church feels so alive!”
The highlight for us was Asa’s baptism along with five other candidates. It was doubly special for our family, because when it was Asa’s turn Ann came down into the water and baptized him.
During the worship service, Filó told us about a short-term mission trip the church is planning to a very poor, isolated community in the northern part of our state. In addition to their financial gifts, people filled a huge basket with other offerings of toothpaste and toothbrushes, laundry and bath soap, clothing, cooking oil, rice, and beans, etc. We plan to fill a truck with these love gifts and take them with us on the 10-hour journey that our team will make to the community in January.
Andrea then asked for more teachers to serve in the new after school tutoring program the church has started. Two days a week children of members, friends, and neighbors come to the church to go over homework assignments and get help with their lessons in Math, Portuguese, Science, and English. This is just one of several initiatives the church has recently started to reach out to our bairro (neighborhood).
Andressa, a youth leader, announced the weekend retreat the youth and young adults were planning around the theme Minha Vida Como Música de Louvor (“My Life – A Song of Praise”). The young people have been raising funds, and a planning group (led by Ann) has worked hard to make this happen.
On this Sunday, registration opened for the church’s first mission conference that will be held on November 2. Planning teams have been working hard to prepare a full day of worship, workshops, and discussion groups to explore the mission of our church locally, nationally, and internationally (“in Jerusalem, Judea and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8). Finally, we prayed for three of the cross-cultural missionaries our church supports - Fátima in Albania, and Luiz and Sandra in Guinea Bissau.
The big surprise came when Romeu, a quiet young man, came forward and proposed to Elzirene in front of the church. Everyone held their breaths to see if she would accept, and she did! Romeu had a ring in his pocket, and we all celebrated this new beginning by praying for the young couple.
But the fun wasn’t over yet! After the worship service, the church held a short meeting to formally recognize a new ministry called the Equipe de Mobilizadores de Missões (“the Mission Mobilizers’ Team.”) The team has been working quietly since May, and all of the new mission initiatives we heard about on this special Sunday (the mission trip, contact with the church’s cross-cultural missionaries, the mission conference, and the homework help) have been birthed through this committee.
The broad range of mission activities now getting under way at our church is a direct response to a time of concentrated prayer that began about two years ago. At that time the church and its leadership was searching for its unique purpose and calling. The feeling that the church was dormant and directionless drove us to our knees. Soon after, the young adult group started engaging in local mission outreach activities with our encouragement, and it even took a short-term mission trip to a remote community in central Brazil. The church started to see and feel a new life through mission activities.
Earlier this year, Pastor Marcelo asked us to create a mission committee for the church. We researched many models, but they all seemed so … bureaucratic. Our desire was to center this ministry team on the biblical truth that the local church is (not simply does) God’s mission in the world, and that God calls and equips each person to engage in the unique ministry that God has in mind for that community of believers.
So we developed the model of the Mission Mobilizers’ Team, and worked with the pastor to equip the members to mobilize the whole church for the whole mission of God. The results after only five months are astonishing: wonderful things happen when people are encouraged to use their gifts and abilities to join with God and each other to accomplish something significant in service.
Can you see why that worship service last month was so exciting? The church really is coming alive and starting to express what it means to truly be the Body of Christ. New disciples testifying to their new life in Christ through baptism. Youth seeking to be the music of the Good News of the Kingdom. Local, national, and international expressions of the church in mission. And a mission conference coming up to excite, encourage, and educate the church even more. God is bringing great and wonderful changes to our local church, and we as your missionaries are honored to be used by God to be a part of it all!
Thank you for walking with us on this journey. Thank you also if you and your church are participating in the World Mission Offering this fall. We and all ABC missionaries depend on you and your generosity, especially during this time of year. Please pray for our local church and us, and stay tuned for more news about our new adventure in mission!
No poder do Evangelho (in the power of the Gospel),
Ann, Bruce, and Asa
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil