Monday, September 15, 2014

September Newsletter: The Harvest Edition

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest indeed is plentiful, 
but the laborers are few.
Pray, therefore, to the Lord of the harvest, 
that he send forth laborers into his harvest." Matthew 9:37-38
            What does it take for someone to make the incredible decision to give his or her whole life away in the here and now for the hope of reaping an eternal life beyond death? Sometimes years of Bible study, sometimes just one sermon, sometimes hardships in life, sometimes a wonderful victory, sometimes making new friends, sometimes losing family, sometimes being crushed under the weight of guilt, sometimes getting tired of this old life or  could it be that God, through his Spirit works these details into a formula personalized to each individual that will never be completely understood? However He does it, we believe and we praise Him for bringing salvation to people's lives, not everyone we would like, sometimes not in the way or time we would like, but when He does, we praise the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our King and Savior.
            Few whom we preach to come to Christ, so each one that does is motive of great joy, and sometimes they decide in waves, and the joy can give us a glimpse what heaven might be like all the time. These past weeks, several were baptized, some taking only a couple of months, others having worked on the decision for over twenty years, and now we have the pleasure to tell a little of their stories.

Francilayne: We have seen this sweet, quiet girl grow up since she was a tiny baby. Her parents, Francinaldo and Ivani, are possibly on the road to eldership by the way they bring up their family and care for the church. Francilayne is at every meeting and church activity, but this is the first time she was old enough to go to the Women's Seminar. There, on the first day, she said, "Call my dad, I want to be baptized." Francinaldo rushed out to help his daughter die to the world and live for Christ.

Maria Januária: On the second day of the Women's Seminar, Maria from Fortaleza (12 hours north of us) decided it was time to be born again in Christ through baptism. Men were invited again to the event (a rarity!) and we took four carloads for this party for heaven. It was an eternal moment, no one present will ever forget. Three more (including Jeremy's mother-in-law) decided to give their lives to Christ too. Four ladies were baptized in the same moment - beautiful! Many tears later, many happy embraces later, and 1000's of photos on Facebook later, we pray that Maria will be a light for Christ in her city.

Regina: Regina works with Leila at Cefet, the instituition that loans the field for the Right Step program in Cajazeiras. The program has gone beyond just converting the kids playing soccer, it has reached their families and now even people who see what a influence Christ is on the kids' lives. Regina made the 7 hour trip to the Women's Seminar, and was one of the ladies baptized on the second day.

Flávia: Vânia, from the city of Cubati, hasn't been quiet about her faith, her mother was baptized a while back, and now her sister. Flávia came to the Women's Seminar and was one of the four. She lives in João Pessoa and brought her husband to the church meeting this past Sunday, wanting to share the new joy she is experiencing. We pray that God will open doors for His Kingdom through her in her neighborhood.

Da Paz (by Jeremy Newlin): My wife, Monica, will have been a Christian for 27 years on September 20th of this year.  While still wet behind the ears she was teaching her grandmother, mother and father about Christ.  She was ridiculed by her family during many years of her Christian walk but she kept her eyes on Jesus.  Her grandmother was baptized and has already gone home.  She has prayed for almost 27 years to see someone else in her family believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
             I have known Monica for 20 years this year and we will have been married for 19 years in November.  I, too, have talked with her family, studied with her mom, driving two hours every week for two months to study with my loving mother-in-law (I do not tell mother-in-law jokes, I love her).  During our studies she saw and I told her that she was dead spiritually, that her destination was hell and that the only solution was Jesus.  I did not beat around the bush and I was very clear.  She demonstrated that she did not want to follow Christ.  Both Monica and I continued praying for her and her father, brother and the others.
            During this year's women's seminar, a woman from another city wanted to be baptized.  We took a group of people to see this lady baptized, that was besides the 280 women that were already there.  While there my mother-in-law came up to me (she has been to three or four women's seminars they have once a year).  She said "Hi, my son, you will baptize me, won't you".  To be honest I thought she was playing but referring to maybe some distant future date.  I said, "Yes, when?"  She said "now!".  I was kind of looking around and people, mostly women, were coming up to me and bugging me for being at the women's seminar but I immediately stopped and looked at her, she was very emotional, still not believing what I was hearing I looked at Monica and she was crying and she nodded her head meaning, yes, it is true.  I said "of course¨.  I began crying as well.
            After the women's seminar, Monica and I talked.  I knew her mom had the knowledge to know what she was doing but was concerned that she might be acting on emotion from the event and everything that was going on.  Monica told me that they had talked the night before and that she had questioned her mom about that very thing.  Her mom told her that she was truly ready and that she was not acting out of emotion.  She has thought long and hard about the difficulties she will face within the family as well as in the world and knows that she can not live with out Christ.
            27 years is a long time.  Thank You God for being faithful, patient and merciful to Monica's mom.  Never give up hope!  God is Not Dead, He is Alive and is Working in the lives of all of those around us.  That is the lesson that I learned from this experience.

Gabriela: Smart, talented, beautiful, and artistic, Gabriela may not have been a good candidate to feel the need for God. But when her parents separated, she suffered, and that may have pushed her to see how much she needs Him. She started praying and reading the Bible regularly. When she asked about baptism, her mother invited me to study with her. At her baptism, she invited friends and family, Catholics, protestants, even agnostics to witness, and a large crowd witnessed the simplicity of becoming a disciple of Christ.

Rosi and Danilo: While in Patos, for the last SEARA class, we were pleasantly surprised when Beta showed up with Rosi and her family saying that she wanted to be baptized.  The class was stopped immediately and everyone went upstairs to witness Rosi's burial and resurrection.  She participated in the class for the rest of the weekend and loved studying God's Word. Rosi's husband asked a couple of questions to Luciano, the evangelist in Patos and after hearing the answers, Danilo went home and was pensative.  He came back on Tuesday of the same week and was also baptized.Rosi's mom is studying also and talked to me a little bit about baptism but she is terrified of water.  Yes, she does not like to take showers because of this trauma.


Please Pray for all these new converts, that God might use them to further His Kingdom!

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