Mark Hagewood and I doubled up and traveled for a week through inland of Paraíba.
First stop: Cubati. We left them a pulpit for the four Christians that live in that city of 6,000. They are fixing up an Afonso's old garage. They put ceramic tile on the floor, painted the room and bought 30 chairs to set out for their meetings. You think they are looking to grow, from four? I always leave this town encouraged.
Cubati is close to Areial. You've heard about Sônia, Beta and Beatriz, the only Christians in the city of 7,000, starting a radio program to share God's good news. I am very encouraged with their excitement.
After Cubati we headed for Emas, where we met with the church along with the Catingueira congregation also. There are 18 Christians between these two cities. We spent some time visiting and encouraging Givanildo and Silvan, the two men that do most of the teaching.
We moved on to Pombal to pick up Ezequiel and Ezequias to take them with us to the church retreat in Cajazeiras. Ezequiel and his daughter Jessica are the only two Christians that live in this city of 30,000. I am working with five congregations in this region, motivating and help them plan and execute a church plant in this city.
We arrived in Cajazeiras and here we spent 5 nights and 4 days at the Carnival retreat with the church that meets in this city of 60,000. There were around 40 people, mostly young people that heard about the gospel through the Right Step Program. Mark and I taught them about overcoming their fears. I really enjoyed spending time with Café and Leila, the couple that lives and works with the church and also the young people. I travel quite often to Cajazeiras but I spend only 1 or 2 nights so I don't get a lot of time with the church as a whole; this trip was different in a very good way. It was in Cajazeiras that I began to feel a little overwhelmed with the needs of the church for mature Christians to mature young Christians. How? Who? These questions kept creeping up on me.
Mark and I moved on to Belém where we visited and studied with the 14 members of the church in this city of 6,000. The next day we traveled six hours back to João Pessoa. During our trip back, I discussed with Santo, the man who works with the church in Belém, ways to evangelize and how to help the church grow, spiritually as well as, numerically.
I know I wrote a lot of names, cities and gave a lot of numbers but I did it for a reason. The reason is for you to feel the need to pray for these Christians, for their cities and for those who are working with the churches. We need more man power. There are many ways to evangelize and study the Bible with people, there are fewer ways to help new Christians mature in their faith. The best and most effective way to help someone learn to live a new and entirely different life than they have lived before is to be with them and let them see you live your life in Christ. It takes time and presence both of which I am short on for the entire state. Everyone is working and it is still not enough in my own eyes. I came home from this trip heavy. Heavy with physical tiredness but that passes; I was heavy with the burden of caring for the workers of these cities and for the Christians with which they work.
Some of these Christians are old in the faith and should be teachers by now but they lack faith and perseverance, they need to be helped to mature themselves. Others are new in the faith and I can see them looking around with a desire to learn from someone how to live this new life in Christ. They truly reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew 9:36 "They are like sheep without a shepherd". Just two verses later in verse 38 Jesus says to "Pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He may send out workers into His Harvest". That is what I ask you to pray for this week and on. We need to raise up workers from within the church here in Brazil! Please ask God to help us do so and fast.