Category Archives: Church

Pray for the Country of Venezuela

Pray for Venezuela

Venezuela Flag

Our church here in Vilhena has been praying for a Brazilian missionary family in Venezuela (Pastor Aguinaldo and Rita Ferreira). Although we knew the situation there was bad, it seems as though the situation is getting quite bit worse. This week I called them to find out exactly how bad the situation is. Here is what I was told…

Aguinaldo and Rita

Pastor Aguinaldo, Rita, Joyce, Julia, and Juan Pedro

Wages

An average person makes about 5,000 Bolivars a week. That is equivalent to 5 American dollars a week. This makes things difficult enough. From the information I received, a carton of 30 eggs costs 4,000 Bolivars. That means you must work for four days to buy 30 eggs. Inflation is through the roof. Just imagine what it would be like to pay $4,000 for a carton of eggs. Just carrying that much money could be a problem. What if you were going to buy a weeks worth of groceries? Where would you keep the cash?

(The $4000 is just a comparison. If you carried $100 bills, then you would need 40 of them. The actual price of the carton of eggs is $4, but minimum wage is $5 a week.)

Shortages

Their biggest problem is not money. The biggest problem of all is food shortages. People can wait hours and hours in a line to see if there is any food for them to buy. Then they can wait for hours to pay for the food they found. There are shortages of everything. Our Brazilian missionary friends said that they are eating mainly rice and eggs. They raise chickens, but are finding it harder and harder to feed the chickens.

Recent news articles are saying that eating three meals a day is a luxury. Most families are eating one meal a day. The government regulates all prices.

Other items like cleaning supplies, deodorant, medicine and other such basic items are not available. Thankfully, the Brazilian currency is stronger than the Bolivar making it easier for the missionaries on the financial side, but the shortages are affecting the rich, the poor, and everyone in the middle.

Dangers

As far as we can tell, Pastor Aguinaldo and his family are in no immediate danger. They are happy to be where they are and have no intentions of leaving the country at the present moment. The country of Venezuela has been rated the second most violent country in the world when measuring on a homicide index. It is second only to Honduras.

That being said, some people around them have committed suicide because of the desperate situation that they are finding themselves in. Many stores are being looted and thieves are trying to provide for their own also. Lines are very dangerous! People start shoving and pushing. Many have been killed while waiting in line. Besides that, there is always a risk that the people will be arrested for one thing or another while waiting in line. The police and military seem to be on the lookout for opportunities to act and threaten the populous.

Pray

There is not much we can do other than pray. Our church is trying to keep a close eye on the situation from here in Brazil. We are sending a special offering this next week to help Pastor Aguinaldo and his family take a much needed trip to the Brazil border to get some supplies. They have been allowed to bring things back in without being searched, but they always run a risk. The government is confiscating many items. They open letters and mail to get anything out that might be valuable.

As I was talking to Rita, Pastor Aguinaldo’s wife, she said they have been providing bread and a drink at church. Many of the children coming to church look forward to getting a small piece of bread. However, she said, “Our flower is running very low. We cannot keep this up if we do not find more flower.”

It is not a crisis of terrorism, but many of God’s people are having a hard time there in Venezuela. Please pray for this family. They are serving the Lord with gladness. They have stayed in Venezuela because they have no other choice, but because they realize that people need to hear the Gospel message.

Though we say the greatest need is food shortages, there is no doubt that there is a greater need than that. There is a spiritual need that must be met. The love of God through Jesus Christ must still be proclaimed and this may be one of the best times to do it! Pray that God will work in lives and may many come to know Christ through the hardships that they face.

 

Easter and Other Services in March

Here are a few pictures from the last few weeks at church. We have been trying to paint the walls around the area where we meet. Due to rain, schedules, and many other variables, we have not quite finished. We were able to change the color by Easter making things a little nicer for the special day.

A Church Facebook Page

Patience and prayer are always a good thing. Sometimes we might get a bit discouraged when we do not see the fruit of our labors. This weekend I was reminded that the Lord is working in hearts and drawing people to Himself. What we do for the cause of Christ is a part of His plan and the Lord uses those opportunities as He wishes.

Even before we moved to Vilhena we were praying that our paths would be directed to meet the right people at the right time. A few weeks after being here I started a Facebook page for the church. We have posted some devotional type materials on there as well as pictures of some of the events at church. We advertised just a bit in the community as well.

Facebook Page

All the work and hours invested in the site have already paid off. We still look forward to what the Lord will do with it in the future.

About a week ago, we received a message from a young man who was looking for a job. He talked about coming to church, but did not know his way around the city. We communicated with him through messages several different times through the week. On Saturday we were able to make a visit with him. Sunday evening he came to church! He is very excited about participating in the church. We look forward to helping him settle the matter of his salvation and baptism as we have more opportunities to spend time with him.

Though I know we are just beginning to work with this young man, it is amazing to see God’s hand at work. I believe that God has been working in his family’s life for many years in order to bring him to our church. You may think that is a little far fetched, but let me explain.

  • His grandparents moved to Brazil from Japan as children in the mid 1900s.
  • Brazil is a very evangelical country. Some areas have much more of a Gospel presence than others.
  • On his mother’s side of the family, his aunts and uncles all moved to Rondônia where we now live.
  • He along with his immediate family lived about 1,250 miles south of Rondônia.
  • Through some strange circumstances including weird dreams, he was directed to an evangelical church.
  • Persecution from his Buddhist family made it very difficult for him to continue following the Lord and going to church.
  • Due to his “conversion”, they had him put in a mental hospital.
  • After a few years under this persecution, he decided to move up north to Rondônia to get away from it.
  • He moved to Vilhena to live with an aunt and help take care of his family in the area.
  • He was attending a Baptist church down south, so he searched for a Baptist church here in Vilhena. Our church was the first to show up in his search.

Now, that is just a quick version with the basic points that connected us. We could go on and explain how that God put in our heart to reach the world through Brazil. We have websites with Gospel materials in Japanese, yet God brought his family to Brazil where they learned the Portuguese language, then allowed him to come in contact with some Christians and begin seeking after Christ. Through persecution he is placed right here in our city and our church is the first he comes across.

I believe this is God’s work. He may be altering plans for hundreds of years in order for you to be in a specific place at a specific time. What an amazing God we serve! Just like he used Cesar Augustus to make a decree that every person in the world should be taxed so that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, He also does the very same thing millions of times all over this world so that people can hear His Word. Open your eyes and see what God is doing!

Prayer Letter November – December 2015


Prayer Letter – November / December 2015


E-mail sent with Prayer Letter

New Pictures

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Men’s Retreat in Porto Velho

The past week was an interesting week. I left last Saturday for a trip to Porto Velho, the capital of our state of Rondônia. It is quite a drive from our house considering the road conditions. The trip was about 450 miles one way. It took me around 10 hours to drive it.

On the way up, I stopped in Ouro Preto do Oeste the town in which we were previously working. It was about half way up and I was able to stay for the Sunday morning service and preach to the church people. Not only did Julie Kokenzie provide some great meals while I was there, but John also let me preach on Sunday morning. It was a huge blessing to see the church growing and to see the faithfulness of the people. We still have many friends there and enjoy every chance we get to see them.

 

Preaching in Ouro Preto
Church in Ouro Preto

Bro. Brian Lawson met me in Ouro Preto and kept me company for the remainder of my trip. We had a good time of fellowship riding together, and he had a chance to visit a few churches and meet many people.

Shortly after lunch on Sunday Bro. Brian and I headed out to Porto Velho. We arrived in time to freshen up before the service. Pastor Adonias invited me to preach on Sunday evening in church and also at the retreat they were having on Monday. We had about 50 men at the camp retreat. The morning service was great, but it was worth the drive just to sit and talk to some of the men from the church for a good part of the day. There were different activities during the day including a soccer tournament. By the end of the day we were very tired, yet refreshed by the fellowship.

By late in the afternoon, most of the men were heading home. One particular man, who is in politics, drove us around the neighborhood of the camp and told us the story of how God supplied the money for the church to have the camp. He was able to help make the access to the camp a bit easier and also helped get electricity out to the camp. This has raised the value of the property. Some neighbors who were selling their property for 20,000-30,000 are now trying to sell for 250,000. Though it might not quite be worth all of that, the church has a great camp and the property is worth much more than when they bought it less than two years ago.

We stayed out at the camp until Tuesday morning, then made our trip back home. I dropped Bro. Brian off in Ji-Paraná and arrived at home at nearly 9pm. It was a tiresome trip, but worth every bit of it to spend time with God’s people around the state. God is doing a great work here in the state of Rondônia. There is much going on for His glory. Please pray that more laborers would join the work force and more churches would be started throughout the state.

An Outdated Prayer Letter

Many times in writing a prayer letter, by the time it is ready, I am forced to rewrite the letter because the information is outdated or irrelevant. Our last prayer letter for October 2015 was outdated when it went out. I decided to go ahead and send it out even though it was lacking more information. So, let me try to get you updated on the outdated.

Update #1

The last paragraph of the prayer letter held the most information about the ministry. In it, I mentioned a couple that was forced to leave due to a medical issue that needed to be solved.

They were gone for one Sunday. Upon their return, they told us the story. She no longer has any problem whatsoever. After looking at her exams, the doctor asked who did the exams. He questioned about the lab and the doctors, then said he did not understand. The exams were hers, but he could not find any sign of a problem. He looked at the chart again and again and told her that she did not have what the exams said she had.

Just to make sure this was true, he sent her down the street for more exams. The new exams confirmed that she did not have any issues whatsoever. The doctors at the lab compared and verified the information from the past exams, but said she no longer had any issues.

Wow! Considering the fact that she had a large tumor and other easily noticeable issues, this is amazing. Upon their return, they expressed to us that, though they did not understand it, God had healed her. She will need to go back in a few months and have more exams, but as it stands right now, she is doing very well.

For us this was a great blessing because now we can continue to work with them. Their financial situation is not good, but their spiritual situation is what bothers us most of all. They have been faithful in coming to church on Sunday evening, and even on some Thursdays. Please pray for their salvation. Their names are Ivan and Sandra.

 

Update #2

The last paragraph of the prayer letter also included a quick note about a young lady who had publicly announced that she had trusted Christ as her Savior. This has not changed at all. She is very faithful to the services, is eager to learn, and is being discipled by one of the missionary wives. Amen! Please continue to pray for her. Her name is Daniela.

That same paragraph said that others were forced to consider salvation for themselves. Before I could send out the letter, we had already heard of two more who have said they have trusted Christ as Savior. Both a husband (Marcio) and wife (Fabiana) separately have told us that while alone at home they asked the Lord to forgive their sins and save them! They have expressed changes in their lives that they believe the Lord would have them make. We still have much ground to cover and much to help them understand, but there is no doubt that God is working in their lives.

One of the couples that have been attending has a background in the Seventh Day Adventists. Without knowing that, we have taught over and over again that the law cannot save you. It only shows you that you make mistakes (Romans 7:7). They agree with what is being taught. Though there is opposition from their families, they now say they are part of our church. Our main concern is their salvation! We want them to learn the truth from the Bible, but not stop at that. They need to take action in their own hearts and believe! Please pray for them. Their names are Adinaldo and Jéssica.

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