Building a Wall in Boa Vista, Brazil
Pastor Paul Dehaven
The Brazil River GO Team traveled to Brazil in November. During the trip, they went ashore in the town of Boa Vista to work on a brick wall for Pastor Eliseo. Before the work had begun, he told us of a story in which they had been praying for help to build this wall. The wall was needed because of several break-ins over the past several months. Pastor Eliseo said that he lived far away from the church, but spent many nights sleeping at the church to protect it. He said they prayed for the help so that he could begin work on the house next to the church to move in. He was moved to tears as he told us his story because we were his answer to prayer. The team finished the wall in front of the church in one day! The pastor was so grateful for our team because he knew this work would jump-start his church and community into serving more. The following day, our team was about an hour upriver in another village. Just before our worship service started, the Pastor from Boa Vista arrived along with the mayor of his city. They attended the church service, and during the gospel invitation the Mayor indicated that he was surrendering his life to Christ!
Emily In Bangladesh
Monday night ended our first full day in Khulna, Bangladesh. Mary and I were in our room and she was preparing for the bible story drama we would be performing the following day. At 9:15 p,m. we heard a knock on the door. Mary answered and to her surprise, she was greeted by Emily and her husband Alpha. We had met them four years earlier when they lived in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, which is a several hour drive from Khulna. Emily is the daughter of Jim and Lina Miller, who currently live in Germany, but for many years attended and served at Christ Community Church. Alpha and Emily are missionaries in Bangladesh. Emily is American, and she met her Bengali husband, Alpha, when she went on a 2008 Christ Community Church mission trip to Bangladesh. They married in 2015. Together they operate a recording studio out of their apartment for the Bengali people to write, record, and produce music free of charge. Two years ago they moved to Khulna and reside very near the Home of Blessing boarding school, where our mission team would be serving. We all moved to the lounge, adjacent to our room to begin our visit. As the conversation progressed, we had such a sense that God had planned our time together. Emily, noticing our fatigue, offered to leave, but we insisted she should stay. Since she had been in Bangladesh for several years and had a good understanding of the culture, we valued her insights and input regarding the topic we had selected for the college students, “Spiritual Warfare” from Ephesians 6:10-18. She affirmed the importance and value of this topic for the students’ spiritual growth. We asked her to give us insights regarding how to share “The Gospel” (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) with the Home of Blessing girls. She informed us that she would challenge the girls who say they are Christians, to examine their own lives. Do they have a sense of the indwelling Holy Spirit changing them and becoming more like Christ and less like the world? This is the mark of someone who is genuinely “born again” (John 3:3). For those who are unsure of their relationship with Christ, help them to understand what it means to come to the realization that they are a sinner in need of a Savior. Realizing the value of her cultural insights, we asked if she would join our Team Thursday morning. This was the time our Team would be acting out the parable of “The Lost Sheep”, then presenting “The Gospel”. She accepted. Mary and I truly believed that God ordained this time and placed Emily in our path.Thursday arrived and Emily was waiting for our Team at Home of Blessings. In our drama presentation of the of “The Lost Sheep”, the girls represented the sheep who knew the Good Shepherd. A little girl, wearing a white hat, represented the lost sheep who did not know the Good Shepherd. Don, a Team member was the Good Shepherd. Ed played the part of the wolf, who wanted to kill the sheep, especially the lost sheep. In the drama, The Good Shepherd risked his life as he searched for the lost sheep. Upon finding the lost sheep, he joyfully picked her up and brought her home to celebrate with his friends. After the drama, Emily spoke to the girls from her heart. She shared her story regarding the years she knew about Jesus intellectually, but had never received Him as her personal Savior (John 1:12). She shared that her life was about trying to be good by following rules and commands. She was like the lost sheep, who walked away from the only One who could save her, in order to try to find fulfillment in the things of this world. The girls were silent as she spoke to them. Only God knows how her words will influence the lives of the girls to persevere and continue to grow in their faith. But one thing we do know, Emily loved these girls enough to give of her time and talents to share with them about the only person who could bring lasting hope into their lives, Christ Jesus. We were so thankful for Emily. Our Team represented a microcosm of the “body of Christ”, but God knew that we were missing the part which was needed to speak into the lives of the girls. Emily was that part!
Nicaragua From a 10 Year Old’s Eyes
(Clara is 10 years old and was excited to be a part of her first Go Team trip. She accompanied her mom, Ann.)
Were you aware that being a Go Team member means raising the money to go? Clara began her fund raising at her 10th birthday party. Her invitations to friends mentioned that instead of receiving gifts, she preferred donations and why. These gifts would be applied to the cost of her trip. She then followed up with letters to friends and family members asking for donations. All the while she was recruiting her prayer partners. She was officially off and running, carrying her own portion of responsibility.
God had so much to give Clara. Their first full day in Nicaragua was a Sunday, so the team boarded a bus and headed to church. As they stepped off the bus, they were greeted by the village children. Clara quickly felt the warmth of a tiny hand that grabbed tight, with no thought of letting go. When she looked down, she found a little girl, of about 5 or 6, with big brown eyes looking up. As if they were somehow attached, Clara’s new friend sat on her lap all through church. The original intention of the Go Team were to attend only church, Clara’s new friend still wanted more. Taking Clara in tow she pulled her to Sunday School. Clara had never experienced dancing to the hokey pokey during Sunday School! These were just a few of the gifts of wonderment.
Clara discovered so much about her surroundings. The houses looked like shacks, smaller than her family garage. The gutters were full of garbage that included beds and mattresses, bike helmets, and all sorts of things that nobody wanted. Clara just beamed, with a smile that reached from ear-to-ear, when she told about a monkey spying from a jungle tree. Stray animals roamed the neighborhoods, thin dogs and shaggy horses. However, there were no house cats or kittens. (Nicaraguan cats are much larger in size.) When it rained all the dirt streets and yards became thick mud and watching the women launder their clothes was fascinating. Their laundry room was outside in their small yards and they used a bucket with washboard. These were just a few of the gifts of discovery.
Clara loved playing with the village children. Language was not much of a problem. Smiles and laughter worked just fine. Clara shared the small gifts she had brought from home, getting a variety of responses that meant, “thank you”. These were just a few of the gifts of unconditional acceptance.
As they were getting ready to head home, Clara received, from her new friends, their precious treasures of ribbons, over worn trinkets, and torn well-read books. To Clara, what they had offered was a gift of friendship. She had learned, through God’s tutelage and stories of Jesus, that through service to others, they had made God very happy.
Written by Bobbi Perry
Nicaragua-Sharing My GO Team Experience
Ann had been to Nicaragua before. But the previous trip did not reduce the awe, as she was continually immersed in God’s presence. Ann learned to depend on others, as others learned to depend on her. God is more than amazing, more than awesome and more than special…He is a divine experience. It is pure joy to feel God’s love as He surrounds ALL His people.
Ann’s sisters are teachers, too, and they had joined the Go Team to teach how to “teach”. As Ann stood by, she watched her siblings thrive. Though the three sisters were close, this trip cemented the firm bond of all three. Though you come prepared to serve, you leave being served. You come to teach, and leave being taught. You come to make a difference, and leave being different.
The marketplace had changed from Ann’s first trip. From a busy thriving market, the number of merchants had been reduced by nearly 50%. This, they discovered, was because of the Nicaraguan Government and the choices they were forcing on their people. How do these out-placed vendors make a living, support their family, buy food let alone school supplies? It hurt to even think about it. How grateful we should be to live with independence, liberties, and choices!
Standing on, the now familiar volcano, watching the curling smoke and the clouds, suspended like plumage, Ann experienced a view that many might consider a once-in-a-lifetime manifestation. It shouldn’t be a surprise to look up and see God! Yet, as Ann looked up, she saw the luminous clouds reflecting the molten lava that belched from the volcano below. The lava had turned the clouds to a billowing red. What a sight to behold! God’s continuous beauty is always believable.
God uses us in miraculous ways. Would you please join me in praying for Carlos and Emmanuel? Ann watched her Clara interact with the children that had accompanied their parents to the conference. Many of the teachers lacked childcare, so their children came too. Through this time together, Clara had made a connection with Emmanuel, who had come with his teacher father. Through Clara’s friendship, Ann had the opportunity to personally meet Emmanuel’s father, Javier. While having a “getting to know you” discussion, she learned that Los Carlos, Emmanuel’s older brother, had been hospitalized with Leukemia. The family was terrified! As a parent, Ann could only imagine the agonizing fear of cancer! In fact, couldn’t we all? Javier’s willingness to accept the offer of prayer, was humbling. It was an honor for her to pray with Javier and Emmanuel for Los Carlo’s healing. Ann asks that we all join her in praying for Los Carlos to be healed, for Emmanuel and Javier to share in God’s peace; and that Javier continues to learn how to lead his family. Ann references 2 Corinthians 9:12-13: 12This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the people, 13 but also because of it,others will praise God for your obedience.
Written by Bobbi Perry
Nicaragua-God’s Amazing Love!
Vicki M.’s Story
God spoke to us many times as we prepared for our trip. Even before we boarded the plane, we experienced God’s, first of many, miracles. Because we were wearing our Go Teams tee shirts, we were greeted by another traveler who asked where we were going. We welcomed the opportunity to share our mission. She told us that God had laid on her heart…to offer financial support with the understanding we were to use it as we saw fit. Her generosity warmed me to my core. We were excited to see how God would use it. Three different families felt God’s touch. Essential furniture was purchased for a single mom who had lost her home. Return bus fare was provided for another single mon and her son, who had spent what money they had to come to town. Medicine was purchased for a family with a sick child. God revealed that her generosity was a gift that kept on giving.
We experienced God’s beauty everywhere! The marketplace was mixed with flavors of smells, blazing colors and the lively noise of everyday life. Mountain lakes with jungle greenery and a live volcano, belching smoke, were inspiring. Just stopping to take it all in was a blessing.
Then there were the children who attended our Vacation Bible School! They would make music by singing and dancing, jumping and skipping, mimicking their leader. A boy of about 15 or 16 years would join the children. Because he was the oldest and tallest, he was easy to see. He stole my heart! He had a stunning smile that never faded. He was a deaf mute but would dance with joy and pray with such obvious emotion as his tender tears cleansed his face.
Though this trip was not about me, I am experiencing a closer walk with God. When asked about my trip, I take the opportunity to share our mission, thus allowing me to introduce God to those who may not know Him.
It was hard leaving…I went to give/offer God’s unconditional love. However, I came home with a heart overflowing with the grace of God including love for and from His people. One never tires of experiencing the sensations of God at work.
written by Bobbi Perry
Nicaragua Well-No Well But Many Blessings!
The Nicaragua Well GO Team Trip didn’t go as planned, but we had a very successful and rewarding trip. Our team was to aid with a well drilling project in one of the barrios. However, once we reached Nicaragua, our in-country partner informed us that the community’s well permit had not been approved by the local authorities and that we might have to help construct a house/bathroom. On Sunday we visited the community where we would be working, and we participated in an open-air bilingual church service. We were treated to Spanish worship songs, testimonials, a sermon on God’s Treasure Map for Living Water, and an alter call. After the service, we discussed our team’s willingness to complete the water well drilling project if a permit could be obtained, and we prayed for the community representatives who were to meet with the Mayor in the morning regarding the permit. The well permit was not forthcoming, and our team moved forward with the home construction, bathroom construction, adult hygiene training, and kid program activities for the week. The community area in which we were working was previously a government owned irrigated farmland that had been “subdivided” into 8,000 – 30 by 90 ft homesteading lots. Our team constructed a 15 by 15 foot metal home for one of the families, with an outdoor bano (bathroom). The second part of our team did morning community visits and afternoon adult hygiene and children’s programs. God gave us many opportunities to pray with and for the local residents. While we did not install a water well, I was able to provide some hopefully helpful Nicaragua groundwater information and well construction means and methods materials to our partner, and I collected a water sample from the church’s/community’s sole water source for pesticide analysis. Our whole team was truly blessed by our time in Nicaragua.
Czech Republic Outreach-Kaci Part Two
So good to see Kaci’s face light up as we entered her classroom. What a difference a year makes. During our time at BMA last June, Kaci was almost silent and noticeably guarded against the noisy Americans. In our impact story from last year, we mentioned walking her to her mother’s business after a school pizza party at a local restaurant. She asked us why we would take time to walk with her. This year… she returned the favor by showing up at the train station to see us off on our last day in Frydlant. It was Saturday, a much needed day off from the intense week of studies, but she said she felt a need to take a bus and train from home that morning, which would take two hours to complete the round trip journey. She was all smiles. She told us how happy her heart was that we had come back to spend time with her and her classmates. She echoed the sentiment of other students that somehow this year was so special. The discussions were so richly personal. Thank you Kaci for clearly showing my heart that we made a difference by coming to invest in your life.
Sierra Leone Outreach-Thousands of Opportunities!
There we sat, 12 people from Christ Community Church, on a podium behind a nationally known speaker in Sierra Leone, in a soccer stadium filled with approximately 50,000 residents. After 32 hours of traveling, we had become guests of honor at this crusade… and we had barely been there 24 hours!
We were the honored guests everywhere we went. We hosted a Vacation Bible School for 600 children at 5 churches, we ran an outdoor basketball camp for 60 high school boys who had never played before, and we attended a track meet for 4 different schools where about 5000 spectators/students cheered. We travelled 2 hours on dirt roads (with 9 of us in a 7 passenger car) to visit the least developed province where 40% of local people live in mud huts with thatch roofs. We even heard about the impact of a well our church funded in that community!
The medical team served in a New Harvest Ministry Clinic, seeing 46 kids in 5 hours and 50 adults in 5 hours the following day! Others did registration, weights, blood pressure, and pill counting. Roger worked with a nurse,”Princess” who interpreted and never stopped smiling! The other team members met with 27 Children’s Pastors to discuss teaching techniques, cultural insights, and local challenges. Terese shared her passion for the disabled and their parents. Even as we headed to the airport, we squeezed in a visit to 270 inmates where we watched 37 get baptized in their courtyard!
Our goal was to build relational bridges, encourage the local church and experience God’s love for the world! We certainly succeeded and came home with innumerable precious memories (and yes, a possible future surgical trip…?).
Nicaragua Outreach-Unexpected Blessings
Our team was at the airport getting breakfast before our flight to Nicaragua. A lady approached us with tears in her eyes, saying she needed to be obedient to what God was asking of her. She handed us an envelope and walked away. There was $500.00 in the envelope! The envelope also contained her business card, and we saw that she works for the Cayman Island government. We hadn’t talked with this woman or told her where we were going or what we were doing. Because of the money she gave us, we were able to completely furnish the house we built for a family, buy medicine for a sick child who we were able to pray over, and help a family travel back home after they traveled to the city for their child’s surgery. This family ran out of money and were stuck in the city unable to travel home. Because of the gift this stranger gave us in the airport, we were able to be a tangible blessing to many people and be the hands and feet of God!