Saturday, April 30, 2011

Calvary Chapel Mocamba is Moving!

Nate - “Well I have good news and bad news. The owner of the church building didn’t accept our offer, we can not keep renting until they sell the building, and we have to be out of the building in 45 days.”
Me - “That sounds like bad news, bad news and more bad news. What it the GOOD news?”
Nate - “God is in control!”

It looks like the church body of Calvary Chapel Mocamba is going to have to move out of the building that we have been renting for the past three and a half years. As Nate told me the news I had my normal oceans of emotion sweep over me. I thought about all of the time and money that we have invested into the building. I thought about how difficult it is going to be to find something that we can afford that would have a space for all of the kids as well as the adults.
When we first started renting our current building the place was a huge dump which was actually a blessing for us because we were able to fix it up and keep the rent at a very low cost. As Nate told me the news I thought,
“ I know Rio Vermelho, there is nothing else to rent here for the price that we are paying now! Does this mean that we are going to have to rent a store front and all of the moms and the babies are going to have to stay home? Are we going to have to meet in my tiny house the week we bring our 7th baby home? Are we going to have to move our family to another house ? What about the Art Class, where are all those ladies going to meet?”
As all of these thoughts ran though my head what Nathan said started to sink in. - God is in control. Regardless of what or how I “feel” I KNOW that He is in control. I have learned how important it is in times of stress to push through my feelings and cling to what I know.
I KNOW that the church is HIS church. - (Col 1:17) “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Col 1:18) And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

I KNOW that the church is not the building but it is the body of people that meet together in that building. - ( Mat 18:20) "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

I KNOW that He will provide for the needs of both our family and the church. - ( Mat 6:25)"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?( Mat 6:26 )"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

I KNOW that He has called us to Brazil, and I know that He is going to be faithful to complete the good work that HE has started. - ( Phl 1:6) “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete [it] until the day of Jesus Christ..”

Our long term vision is to buy land and use it for both an after school sports program for the local youth and a church, but because financially this is not an option at the present time we will be looking for another place to rent for now.
We know that there will be a lot of changes over the next month and we are excited to see that HE is going to do!
Prayer Requests-
- Wisdom and direction as we look for a building.
- A building that will work for our church body, we have lots of kids so we are going to need something with a space for them.
- Financial provision.
- The LORD’S will to be done.

Thank you all for your prayers! God bless. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Story of the Church Break In and Prayer Requests (Part 2)

One month had passed and we thought that our situation involving the drugs was behind us. The dealers had not returned to the church , no one had shown up at our house to ask Nate what he had done with the drugs, and we had seen the boy that we thought was involved around town. He seemed fine although he was acting very distant towards everyone in the church body. We were pretty sure we were in the clear, but this past Saturday we found out we were wrong. Once again Nate and the guys showed up at the church building to set up for Surf School and once again it was obvious that the church had been broken into as soon as the doors were opened. All of our stuff had been pulled out and gone through and there were knives all over the place. It looked like it was the same person returning to look for the drugs.

The GOOD news was that there were no drugs left this time, the BAD news is they took Nate’s guitar - probably so they could sell it and pay for the drugs that we threw away. Nathan was SO bummed, not just because it was a very nice guitar and he needs it for worship but because it had belonged to Nate’s dad and it was the only sentimental thing that Nate had ever owned. It was something that Nate had hoped to pass on to his kids one day. While Nate was super sad about the loss of his guitar he said that he would rather lose a guitar so that the boy could pay back the money lost on the drugs than see him get hurt… or worse.

We have a few different things that our prayer warriors can be praying for. The obvious one would be that the Lord would do a miracle and have the boy return the guitar, but the far greater prayer request is that we would be given wisdom in how to reach these boys for Jesus.

The boy that we are thinking is involved is 15 years old and has had a very difficult life. His mom is dead and his dad is a drunk who is so lazy he will not even fill out the paperwork to give his son a chance to go to school. We have seen this boy spend nights sleeping on the street and we have seen him dirty and hungry. We have had a relationship with him for the past three and a half years through Surf School, English Class, church, and just spending time with him. I remember when he prayed the sinner’s prayer after watching the Jesus Movie, we had high hopes that he would stay away from a life of drugs and gangs but sadly it doesn’t look like he is making good choices. It is hard when he is not in school and has way too much time on his hands.

Our heart’s desire is to reach these boys BEFORE they fall into this lifestyle, perhaps through sports or an after school program, but we can not do it by ourselves. We have people in the church body who share our heart and would like to have more opportunities to reach our community but on the practical side of it we lack the resources and the space. Please be praying that the Lord gives us the provision, the wisdom and the direction in what to do from here and how to go about doing it. We want to make sure that everything that we do is in HIS will and in HIS time.
We thank you all for your prayers, and we look forward to seeing the work that the LORD is going to do.

The Story of the Church Break In and Prayer Requests (Part 1)

When the Lord called my husband and I into the ministry six years ago never did I think that part of being a pastor’s wife would include sitting in my living room trying to figure out how to discretely dispose of a bunch of drugs, but it so happens that this is exactly what we found ourselves doing late one Sunday night . Now, I am sure that this must sounds rather odd so let me take a minute and tell you how we ended up in that strange predicament.

About a month ago Nathan and the other guys who lead Surf School showed up at our church building on a Saturday morning as normal. Tiago was the first to arrive and he noticed that it looked as if someone was asleep in the church building. He told his little boy to stay quiet and wait outside until the Nate and the other guys showed up. Tiago thought that Nate must have let someone sleep in the church building and did not want to disturbed whoever it was. Once the other guys got there they told Tiago that there should not have been anyone in the church and they unlocked the doors and went inside.

As soon as the guys were in the church it was obvious to them that someone had been there. All of our stuff had been pulled out and gone through , the window was broken, there were knives everywhere, and someone had made a bed and covered the windows. Nothing had been stolen but they had left some drugs that they were bagging to sell on a table in the sanctuary . The guys were assuming that whoever had been there had spent the night at the church bagging drugs and going through our stuff to see if there was anything worth taking. When the guys showed up early Saturday morning they must have gotten spooked and jumped out the back window leaving a bike and their drugs behind.

Nate and the guys cleaned up the mess and called the cops to come and take the drugs. At the time they thought that calling the police was the best things to do but in retrospect it probably was not. After the police came some of our neighbors came and wanted to know why the cops had been there. This made us very nervous because the neighbors that came are dealers and it is never a good thing if the dealers know that you had the cops called to their neighborhood.

We were worried for a few reasons: 1 - We were afraid that the people who left the drugs would come back looking for them, and 2- We were pretty sure that we knew who the guy was that had broken into the church (based on the bike that was left) and we really did not want anything to happen to him. One guys that goes to our church was so worried that the dealers would come back he did not come to church the next day.

That night we did what we normally do on the scary days; we prayed more, checked on our sleeping kids a few extra time, and moved our baseball bat a little closer to the bed.

The next day as Nathan was preparing for church he opened a closet and found MORE drugs that they had not seen on Saturday, a LOT more. None of us knew what to do. We did not want to call the cops again because we did not want to get the guy that had broke into the church hurt, or killed by the bigger more dangerous drug dealers, but we also didn’t want to just throw the drugs in the trash and risk them being traced back to the church. Nate and one of the guys decided to try and flush the drugs down the toilet but after flushing about a pound of the them they clogged and broke the toilet , I guess if you can’t flush toilet paper it should go without saying you can’t flush drugs.

So there we were, my husband and I sitting in our living room racking our brains trying to figure out how on earth we were going to get rid of the “goods”. Now, if you are reading this and you are worried about the stress that this might have put on me or the baby, don’t worry about it. While it was a stressful situation I think that the Lord gave us the gift of laughter that night. All I could do was giggle about all of our crazy ideas on getting rid of the drugs and laugh that we were even in the situation. I was very worried about the boy that owed a bunch of drugs to someone but I guess that we were dealing with that stress through laughter and lots of prayer.

In the end we decided to divide the drugs amongst our used toilet paper trash bags, add some dog poop, a little gravel and then put the trash out right as the trash truck went by. I never thought I would be grateful for either our non-flushing toilet paper or mammoth size Great Dane poops but that day I was.

We both gave a sigh of relief as the trash truck drove away with our yummy concoction. We knew that we were not totally out of the woods, and we knew that whoever the drugs belonged to would be missing them but at this point all we could do was pray… and move the baseball bat a little closer to the bed. ;)

To be continued …..

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I want a heart like that!

I thought that I would take a little break from all the crazy stories of life in Brazil and family stuff and share with you all about a person that I admire. It is true that Nathan and I are blessed by everyone in the church body but I want to introduce you to someone that inspires me. Someone that I look at and say “Wow, I want to be like her”. Maybe she will encourage one of you.

Dona Maria is one of my very favorite people that I have ever met. She is about the age of my Grandmas, she is tiny, a little loud, and can break into dance at just about any time. She is always making us laugh and her smile is contagious, these are a few of the things that I love about Dona Maria but my VERY favorite thing is her heart for the Lord.

Nate and I first met Dona Maria when she gave us the keys to the then abandoned church building that we moved into three years ago. She introduced us to homeless man that she let live in the church, and I could tell then that she had a heart for people.

A few months later Dona Maria came to a bible study that we were having and she pulled Nathan aside. She said “ I have something for you, it is my offering. I have been saving it for a really long time. There used to be a pastor that would come and pick it up from my house but he has not come for a long time.” She then gave Nathan a very heavy envelope filled mostly with change. It added up to be enough to pay about two months rent for the church building. Nate was shocked. He knew that this sweet lady was not by any means rich. She does not have a car, and we had seen her walk to the store in the rain on more than one occasion. In my head I could just picture her getting R$10 and taking R$1 out and saving it for Jesus. It reminded me of the story in the bible about the widow and the two mites. She didn’t have much but she gave all she had. We knew that Dona Maria was a sweet lady but it was not until about a year later that we found out a little bit more about her story.

When Dona Maria’s son was in his early 20’s he was tragically killed in an auto accident. At the time Dona Maria felt the Lord put it on her heart to use the land that was supposed to be for his house, as well as her own money to build a church for the people of Rio Vermelho. The building was started but never finished. You see, Florianopolis is referred to as the “church cemetery” . It is very difficult to grow a church (in the flesh without the Lord) that is capable of supporting itself financially in such a small, poor town. So after seeing this the church body that Dona Maria had given the money to (which will remain nameless) decided that it would be better to focus on a more populated location. Thus the church building was abandoned and locked up.

It would have been easy for Dona Maria to be bitter as her other living son still is. Rather than getting angry that she had been used and abandoned however, she did something that we all so easily forget to do, she prayed. She prayed for years that the Lord would bring someone to open the church and bring the Word of God to the people of Rio Vermelho. When Calvary Chapel Mocamba started renting and fixing up the building she could not have been more excited!

Dona Maria once told Nathan and I “ If my son had to die for ONE soul to come to know Jesus I am happy.”

I want a heart like Dona Maria has, I want to be sold out for Jesus and to be able to honestly say “Not my will Lord but Yours be done.”

Dona Maria is currently co-leading an Art Class at the church for some of the local ladies. It is a group of about 50 older ladies, most of them Catholic. It has been such a blessing for me to hear some of their stories and listen to them talk about what a joy this class is for them. They may not currently have a relationship with Jesus but they know that they see something in the women that are leading this group. It is something that they are starting to realize that they may want for themselves; and that something is Jesus.

Be praying for the Ladies Art Class, for many of the ladies that are attending this may be the only time they will ever listen to anything about Christ. Please be praying for soft hearts for the ladies who are attending and wisdom and boldness for the gals leading the group.