Our second semester here has been filled with answers to prayers... As you read about in our last blog, a lady I met last semester and her husband have started a church plant in their home which is right beside our condominium walls... solving our transportation problem to go to church : ) and giving us an opportunity to integrate "Sunday Service" goes into a church...
I was really thirsting for some community and true fellowship with other believers..and our new church which does not even have a name or official denomination yet (they will became part of a baptist church by December) has fulfilled my needs in so many ways..
Salgadinhos...that is the beginning of the story...
I first met Fatima because I needed to order some salgadinhos (brazilian petit ouvres or appetizers served in parties here) for Joel's welcome party/get together to meet the student's parents.
Fatima impressed me with the quality of her salgadinhos and her neatness. She looked like such a Proverbs 31 housewife to me and I like her from the start. So we became friends and I invited her to our Sunday English service. In talking to her I found out she was a believer with a passion for discipleship and small groups. And that so rang true with my heart too...I told her that was exactly what we needed to offer the people at the "Sunday Service". I thought to myself: wouldn't it be neat if they came over here and started forming small groups from our Sunday Service people or just being here to preach the truth and support us in our small breakout sessions after the preaching....
Upon returning from our Summer Trip to the States, Fatima called me or I called her, I can't remember I think she called me, anyway, she told me that for 4 months they had been meeting with a group of people and that they met on Sundays at 6 PM, which is right after Joel's "Sunday Service."
So the next Sunday, I went there, I had had a fight with Joel and was hungry for the Spirit.
The praise and worship was great and I confess a bit intimidading b/c of its charisma. It was so refreshing to hear people praising and worshiping God in Portuguese. So I kept attending...every Sunday there were people accepting Christ. That was so refreshing for me. I had not seeing someone giving their lives to the Lord in a long time! It was like: this is a miracle right here!!!!
On the first service God spoke to me powerfully and I can say I am being fed through the evangelistic preachings but most of all by being corpo or body... Joel and I participate on Sundays at the service, on Tuesday on the leadership/discipleship meeting, I am discipling a lady also named Fatima on Tuesdays right before the leadership meeting, and we have in the past once but would like to participate in other meetings they have across town, but transportation has been an issue to us.
Right now this is what our church is and does:
Tuesday: Discipleship of leaders/leadership meeting at Barbara's place. We ride with the pastor and his wife.
Thursday: Ladie's prayer meeting at Pastor's Jorge's house. We just started that for those who expressed an interest in praying together. So far we have met once this past week and due to the rain it was just me and Fatima. But we are hoping many from her condominium will come : ) and share in this wonderful time of prayer.
Friday : Prayer meeting at Mrs. Antonia's house. We would love to go and will once we have a car, or someone offers to give us a ride.
Saturday: Service with praise and worship plus teaching...evangelistic in nature at Mrs. Lourde's house. We went to it once...but again transportation issues are keeping us from going there also.
Saturday to be moved to Sunday mornings: A new convert who is being discipled by one of the church core group members (Nalva or Nalvinha), has opened up her home in a very humble and needy spot of town. There are many children that are so hungry to come to Rai's house and just participate in the service...People who love to work with children are needed. Our pastor is very aware of the spiritual darkness of that place and the need for mature believers to be working together there. Right now leading this new mini church is Marcelo and Nalvinha, both wonderful members of our church.
Sunday: We have moved the church meeting from Pastor's Jorge's house to the same spot at our school where we meet for the "Sunday Service" with the hopes that some who attended the English service and are hungry for the Lord will stay for this other service.
The setting is no longer as cozy as Pastor Jorge's varanda but we are trusting the Spirit to move and bring many to Him from the English Service.
In about 5 months the church has grown to about 50 people and many are coming to Christ every week...those who are trusting in Christ are being discipled or going to be discipled by those who invited them to church. The Lord is doing a great work of setting the captive free, and putting families back together.
Pastor Jorge is such a man of God. We are so happy to serve alongside with him. He still has his full time job as an engineer at a local paper plant. His job is very nice but he can't wait to be in ministry full time. He has already planted one church and handed over the pastorship to a friend. He is an evangelist at heart and man, he goes for it!
One of the blessings of being in this church is the strong emphasis they have of being body. It's something else...being in each other's lives during the week and praying for one another daily. I also love the emphasis on discipleship. Someone you invited to come to church makes a decision for Christ...you are the one responsible to disciple that person and love her unto the Lord. In the discipleship we teach basics of the faith such as repentance, baptism, being a new creation etc.. as well as have time to talk about personal issues.
Please pray for the lady I am discipling now...her name is also Fatima and she has been involved in the past with some umbanda...african black magic very popular here in Brazil. She also attended a catholic church and even some evangelical churches but has not "firmed" with any.
She has made a profession of faith but is very confused in her mind and has not shown in her conversations with me a real understanding of the gospel yet...so I am still waiting to see her grow in the Lord and really have the Spirit's understanding of the Word, etc... so please pray for her.