Thursday, July 27, 2006

Quick Catch-up

We're coming to the end of the Winter Break here. Our kids go back to school on Monday and the university students go back as well. Breaks here are never a dead time for our ministry. On the contrary, most everything continues as normal. Our trip to Campinas was a great opportunity to connect with the American students and staff who were there for two months. They are now back in the States and we will continue to consider Campinas as we look at opportunities for expanding our ministry here in Brazil.

This week please pray for:

*Kids' transition back into school

*Upcoming visit by Demps' parents from the States (and everything that entails, including everyone's health and someone to take care of all they usually take care of in the States for two and a half weeks.

*Meetings over the next few weeks that will determine some of our next steps as a ministry here in Brazil

*Hearts full of hope and peace concerning the health of family members back in the States and wisdom for the doctors involved

Friday, July 14, 2006

Good-bye CCP or Life in the fast lane


It’s hard to decide which title is more appropriate right now. The last few weeks have been a blur as things have been coming to a close with the CCP (Cross-Cultural Project) here. This is always a busy time of the year since there are so many activities with US project students and the Brazilian students here. It’s been great to see God at work in the middle of all of this activity no matter how exhausting. It’s always worth it when we look back and see the lives that God is touching. Just last week we had a retreat to wrap up the CCP’s time here and there were 65 Brazilian students that went along with the 11 U.S. students and our staff. We’ll post some photos in the next few days. Check out something interesting that happened while were at the retreat in the paragraph below.

Here’s some things to be aware of and be praying for:

  • We will travel to the city of Campinas on Sunday to help debrief the cross-cultural team that has been there for the last couple of months. This team along with our full-time staff, Jeff & Amy Dowdy have been investigating a new city and campus for future expansion possibility.
  • We have a list of 16 guys and 13 girls that have been expressing more and more interest in investigating the person of Christ as a result of their contact with our staff, students and the students on the U.S. team. Pray for us as we seek to help them in their search for faith.

No mere coincidence

I have an interesting story that I would like to share with you about seeing God at work even if it is a little long. The focus of our time at the retreat was about God and suffering. Although most people talk about their intellectual questions or doubts about God, many times it is their heart issues that arise from their own personal pain that is the primary obstacle to faith in God and a search for him. Therefore, each day at the retreat we took some time to read some chapters of the book, The Case for Faith, by Lee Strobel and then spent some time discussing these chapters in groups of about 10. Anyway, something really interesting happened on our last day there that confirmed God working around us.

We were responsible for cooking and arranging the food for the retreat so I had gone to a local bakery when the retreat began and arranged for them to deliver fresh bread each morning for breakfast. They told me that they would do that and that I could pay for it on the last morning. When the owner of the bakery delivered the bread on the last morning I had set out the money to pay him but had forgotten it in my room and I asked him to wait just a minute as I went to get the money. When I returned with the money I found him reading one of the copies of the text that we had been using for our discussion. He looked at me and said, “Do you have any other copies of this that I could have?”. I told him that he could have that one and I asked why. He pointed to one line of the text, the question, “Is our suffering an accusation against God?” and said, “some men came into our bakery two years ago and murdered my son-in-law and I’ve been trying to understand that since then.” My heart fell as he said that and I could see his eyes fill with tears. We talked a couple of minutes about the fact that we had been discussing the very issue of suffering and faith and I told him that I was glad that he had found the chapter and that I hoped that it would be helpful to him. I was reminded of the C.S. Lewis quote in the chapter that says, “God whispers to us in our pleasures and shouts to us in our suffering. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a sleeping world.” Before he walked away he mentioned that he wouldn’t have found the text had I not “conveniently” left the money in my room. I knew that it was no mere coincidence and could see God confirming what we had been doing there the last few days. As he walked off, I prayed a little prayer for him to find the faith that for two years had eluded him and thanked God for the small “coincidences” of his sovereignty that change our lives and the lives of others.