Don’t Give Up!
He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree beside the road…
—UPDATE— August 16th, 2018
I arrived early on this trip. You see, I left the big boat, about 9 hrs early, and took off in the ministry boat. It was late afternoon. Normally we arrive at 1am on Thursday morning, but today, it was going to be early Wednesday evening.
Valdici was with me, as we had brought him to Manaus to study the Doctrine of Salvation with me and to be part of the Wordless Ministries team who were here to evangelize along the Amazon River the 2nd week of July.
We left the big boat at 4 pm and, weighted down with gas, diesel and supplies, straight up river we went, through some shortcuts, to the Indian village. We entered the Reservation at 6pm and Vila Nova(Village #1) by 7pm. Unloading, cleaning, and hanging hammocks, I was in bed by 10pm.
My theme for this trip was “Don’t Give Up”. I had all of my notes ready for our morning classes and Sunday services.
I was very excited for this trip as we had planned to start our new house construction in Aldeia Nova(Village #2), the village where we are doing weekly church services and hope to build a church building next year. The people there were prepping the ground and cutting the needed wood before I arrived, and I was now here, full of energy and excitement as I considered what God was doing and His future work in this new village.
Have you ever been blindsided? Well, on this trip I felt as though a freight train came through with the warning lights and crossing disabled.
We work, live, and believe that God is in complete control. I know this. And yet, there are always times that I need to be reminded. Even with our best laid plans, after prayers, fastings and supplications, things cannot always be foreseen or foreknown. This was one of those times. We still trust that we are heading the right way, actively involved in his His good work which was prepared for us to walk in before the foundations of the world(Eph2:10), but I do not claim to have an answer as to why I did not see the train coming.
When I woke up on Thursday morning, the 2nd day of my 3 week trip, Valdici and I headed to Aldeia Nova to see the progression of our new house, and to plan the next 3 weeks, which would include teachings, services and work days for the house construction. Remember, Valdici is the one who has faithfully been preaching God’s word to this village during the times I am in the city. He had been with me in the city over the last 5 weeks, and the believers in Vila Nova had promised to continue the work in our absences.
Upon our arrival, the Chief pulled us off for a private meeting. He informed us that we were no longer building a house there, but not explaining why. He also let us know that they were still wanting us to build a church building, but there were some new stipulations. (I will not share these here as they are culture sensitive and hard to fully understand)
This took the wind right out of my sails. The next 2 weeks, I kept to myself in Vila Nova trying to figure out what had happened and who had been messing with the work in Aldeia Nova while Valdici and I were in the city. I continued to have my daily Bible Comprehension classes in our house in Vila Nova and nightly services in the Church, but we did not return to Aldeia Nova to conduct services until the last week of my trip, after Melissa and our children were to arrive..
God is really blessing the work we are doing and the services and classes in Vila Nova continue to grow. The people are becoming more fluent in the word, the Children’s and Women’s studies are growing with new people, and we are in the mists of replacing the roof on the church, funded mostly by their own tithes and offerings. All of these things show an incredible amount of growth in the form of the people taking responsibility for their own spiritual growth.
We are having record attendance in our morning studies and will be building new study tables to accommodate everyone. We will also have to remodel our house a little to allow more people to study together. We have a new woman who desires to help in the leadership of the women and another one who has started helping in the Kid’s club. One of the new men in the studies could be very integral in reaching the village youth in the coming years.
But who ever said ministry was easy? The Apostle Paul describes what ministry entails in 2 Corinthians 11:26-30. But, there has been much joy too. Seeing the growth in the people, the new believers in Aldeia Nova, our reception in the new villages, and knowing that God had seen it all coming, preparing me to see the beauty involved in the trials……I can only say that it is humbling to be used by our God.
In the 2nd week of my trip, Valdici, Raimunda and myself took a 3 hr boat ride down river to two villages. We had visited the first village last year, evangelizing and explaining Bible history from creation to Jesus and Raimunda has a married daughter in the second village, which was our open door to enter in this time.
The trip was very fruitful and we had church services/Bible studies in each village with most of the people coming out.
As we left, we encountered the Big Boat on the main river and picked up Melissa and the kids who were arriving for a short 5 day stay in the village. We met them at 3pm and returned to Vila Nova by 6pm. She was very happy to shave 7 hrs off her trip.
After Melissa arrived, I found out what had happened in Aldeia Nova which had changed the Chief’s mind on us building a house there. One of the leaders of the Church in Vila Nova had gone to hold “Church” at Aldeia Nova while Valdici and I had been in the city. This man had never been to a service in Aldeia Nova in the prior year. He had not been supportive of the work. His real motive for going was for fear that if we built a house there, we would leave Vila Nova. So, he convinced the Chief in Aldeia Nova to stop all construction in order to keep good relations between the two villages.
Knowing the truth and fixing the situation are not the same thing. I am glad that I found out the truth. But I was unable to fix the trouble that had been started. I now know that this fear of us leaving had been planted in their hearts by another missionary earlier this year.
We will regroup, and continue on.
It is interesting that God had set on my heart the theme of “Don’t Give Up” for this trip. I had studied and planned all of my teachings to surround this theme, in order to encourage the church leadership to continue to look towards God, even in the difficulties of life. I did not know that God had been preparing my own heart until I was sitting in our jungle house, the wind out of my sails, feeling wrecked by the unannounced train.
Let us know if you have ever been hit by that train. Did God show you or teach you about His sovereignty during that time?
Please join with us in prayer for discernment and wisdom as we continue to climb the trees to see Jesus a little bit better.
Brad and Melissa and family
–OVERVIEW OF THIS MINISTRY–
We are working closely with the leadership to bring them into a deeper walk with the Lord through Personal Bible Devotions, Leadership Unity, and by teaching how to Pastor the flock of God.
We have three goals:
1) Leadership Training
2) Teach the Bible
3) Evangelism of the other Villages
We always pass by all the houses and families of the village, sharing our lives as they share their’s with us, encouraging, consoling, and continuing to build relationships.
Please pray for the Apurina people! There is an ongoing spiritual battle in their village right now.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
There is always a real danger of Malaria, Yellow Fever, snake bites, and other things.
—Background on this Ministry—
We minister to and with the Apurina people. We are following the work of two Wycliff missionaries, Judy and Cathy. They were ministering to the Apurina for 37 years.
This tribe is about 2 days travel by boat from Manaus.
Our goals are to continue to augment the lives of the believers in the Tribe while seeking the opportunity for the furtherance of the Gospel to those unreached in the neighboring villages, which are currently opening up through our evangelical boat trips. We are doing this by systematically teaching Through the Bible, teaching Old Testament history coupled with New Testament revelation and applying both to the lives of the people.
We are so grateful for the work of Judy and Cathy, who learned the heart language of the people, made an alphabet, and created teaching material for future missionaries, such as us!
Currently the Tribe does not have the whole Bible translated in their language. They have the total New Testament, the books of Genesis and Exodus, and part of the book of Psalms. As our relationship grows, and we learn the Apurina language, we will continue the translation of the Old Testament scriptures that Judy and Cathy started. In the meantime, we teach in Portuguese from the Apurina scriptures and have one of the leaders translate that into Apurina.
Please pray about joining us in this large work, which is the main focus of our ministry here in the Amazon Jungle.
Please pray for these people as the spiritual warfare is intense, unlike anything we have experienced in the U.S. The leaders who would like to have prayer are Makoaa, Domiguinho, Doval, Patricio, Pedro, Oscar, Analucia, Valdicis, Raimunda and Chico.