Pedra Mole, Sergipe Brazil
Sunday May 18, 2014
From Phil Mark:
Pedra Mole is an interesting village of about 500 people. The people are fairly friendly, but sadly they are closed to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a heavy presence of evil and demonic influence here that I have not experienced in a long time.
Let me back up and cover the journey so far. When we arrived in Pedra Mole on Friday afternoon we settled into our lodging – the church. It is basically a house, the church meets in the living room, and we sleep in the bedrooms. The accommodations are typically Brazilian and we are adjusting to them fairly well. We are in the rainy season, which means we get rain off and on throughout the day or night. It is a beautiful area with some truly beautiful people.
Sadly, it is also a dark area. We quickly learned that the area is not very responsive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There have been incidents of demon possession and there is an active group practicing witchcraft. There is also a very corrupt priest running the Catholic Church right down the street from the Baptist Church. Last night (Saturday) we showed the Jesus film in the middle of town and no one publicly responded to the invitation. In fact while we were giving the invitation we had a truck drive across the back of the audience. Then while we were praying a guy on a motorcycle decided it would be fun to drive up and down next to us. Another guy got in his car and started his radio playing at full volume. It was really interesting, to say the least. But I was reminded that when God begins to move, the enemy goes on the offense. He does not want anyone to follow Christ. We are pretty sure that there were one or two who, while not publicly proclaiming Christ, prayed to accept Christ. Only time will tell, God knows for sure. I do know this, His word never returns void. Someone was touched by the Spirit and we are just going to have to wait and see how God develops them.
We had a great day in the first village as we went to prayer walk and seek out persons of peace. We had barely gone a couple of blocks when we heard a house playing evangelical songs of worship. We stopped and discovered a fifteen-year-old woman who invited us in. We shared the gospel and while she was listening her mom and a friend of the family came and listened in. While none of them were willing to accept Christ, the friend was willing to open up her home to us to hold a Bible study.
Today Jerry will be teaching the children their lesson in the morning and I will be preaching to the church this evening. This week we will be putting most of our focus on the two surrounding villages as the Spirit is leading Ethan in that general direction at this time.
Phil Mark and Jerry Smith departed this past Wednesday, arriving in this NE region of Brazil on late Thursday afternoon, May 15 as an “inception team” to lay the foundation for a new Gospel work in two specific villages about 120km from the capital city of Aracaju. After GMS Founder, Rex Briant spent some time in the region back in late February, it was evident we needed to begin a work in this area, alongside church planters Ethan and Renee Rigdon and Ruth, a Brasilian Missionary. The goal is to share the Gospel and develop new believers into discipleship multipliers and Gospel spreaders….just like the Book of Acts.
We will post some pics along the way, hoping to update as often as possible as reports come in.
Field report from Jerry Smith
Saturday May 17, 2014
When we arrived in Tabato this morning and walked all of one block we approached a 15 year old girl named Esadoea. Her picture of Jesus was distorted due to Catholic influence, Jehovah witness and who knows what else. We were invited in where Phil shared his testimony and presented the gospel. During this time her brother, mother and mothers friend Evonee wandered into earshot and engaged to a degree. They were all open but Evonee demonstrated a desire to host Bible study at her home next Tuesday. Right now 5 those 4 plus 2 others (one bar keeper and a relatively young widow) have said they will attend.
We did not walk but a block when we ran into Evonee’s cousin who was visiting from the other target village. This young man, probably late 20’s early thirties is potential person of peace in his village.
Right away and ever since that moment I have just begun to really get a glimpse of the depth and severity of Matt. 9:36-38. WOW, when I truly looked to the fields while in the presence of God He just opened up the Word in a whole new way and showed me how great the harvest really is and truly how few workers there are.
There is much more He showed me regarding not so much about this work but just solidifying the whole CPM concept as the approach the Bible points us to for many reasons. Making it so much more real than what we can get out of a book. Now it is something I have experienced and touched on a level I didn’t get from any studies or even in Cape Verde. I pray my words express my heart somewhat but I feel like they are falling short. So Grateful to Him for this day. We’ll speak to you soon.
Yours in Christ,
Cape Verde, Island of SanTiago, West Africa
April 9, 2014…this will be our final post and update on our website for this team. We will continue to add updates on our Facebook Page through tomorrow.
From Sabrina Lowe, Woodstock, GA:
Cape Verde is a majestic place one moment you are in the mountains while the next moment you are looking over a beautiful beach. This terrane makes me reflect on my life. One minute you are sitting a the deepest valley wondering and praying to be delivered. The next moment you are at the highest peak of the mountain peering at the beach. You are left wondering is this what Heaven looks like?
April 7, 2014…giving the team a much needed day off today. Heading to Terrafal, a village on the north shore of the island for a day at the beach and relaxation. Pray for our travels today and just to simply be able to open up our hands and release ourselves to the Lord today. Will post some pics tonight here and also on our Facebook Page.
April 6, 2014
From Cissy Smith, Port St. Lucie, FL:
Just when I keep thinking one day is better than the next, God shows up in such a way that puts the other day to shame! Everything that we have been preparing for and praying for has been manifesting right before our eyes as we step into these villages…open hearts to the gospel! I feel as if I have seen the book of Acts played out right before my eyes! I came here w/an expectation of seeing God move, but the Word of God says “My ways are not your ways,” as I saw when we were sharing in San Felipe w/ a mother & daughter who were not quite receptive to the gospel, but had a lot of fish to sell. I told them I would pray that they would sell all their fish. As we headed back to where our van would be picking us up, Alan’s group showed up and as we were sharing about our day he shared w/us about a mom and daughter who had sold all their fish!! The mother told Allan that wasn’t normal! The seed was planted & I have no doubt God will use that seed to produce fruit in a way I cannot fathom! I am daily reminded of my weakness, but His strength…my sin, but His grace and my family, but His call on my life to do missions. The testament of God’s love I have seen every single day in these villages & among these believers here has broken me in a way I will never look at my neighborhood, my grocery store, my church, or my family the same again!
April 5, 2014
From Alan Ventress:
Each team member has fallen into a personal routine of reading, journaling, exercise, prayer or other quite time each morning. This helps us process all that the Lord is presenting us and prepare us for the coming day. Several team members awoke and met this morning for exercise. The streets are normally filled in the early daylight with locals retrieving water or getting a first chance to sell some produce, but Saturday is apparently a little slow even here. The early delivery of fresh bananas and papaya are always a treat for breakfast.
The team left the hotel this morning after breakfast for a full day in the interior of the island. Before leaving, we gathered together for some time with His word in Ephesians 6:10-18 to prepare ourselves for the battle of the spirits that lay ahead.
We loaded into the Hiace (van) and headed out to the town of Orgaos. Half of the team detoured to the village of Rubon to meet up with Pastor Elton who had a team already mobilized. He was giving haircuts to young boys while several teams had started evangelizing. The Holy Spirit had already prepared fertile ground and several men and women came to Christ. At least 2 homes offered to host Bible studies. For the first time in Cape Verde, we encountered many crops being harvested (tomatoes, squash, beans) as this village apparently receives more rain than the other places we have visited. We sat among the townspeople as they sorted vegetables, washed clothes and performed Saturday chores and many listed and responded to the Gospel. There was no apparent Gospel movement in the town of Bubon until today.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team was having a similar impact on the village of Orgaos, also in the interior of the island. They had visited local shops, homes, and even a bar to share the Gospel and inviting everyone to an event the church was preparing that afternoon. The teams reunited for some fellowship before being treated to a wonderful lunch prepared by some church members. The Terra Branca congregation prepared a local school building to show a film of Jesus in the native Creole tongue while our team continued to disciple inside homes and invite the community to the event.
Our young team members joined the Terra Branca worship team (which is made up entirely of teenagers) for an interpretive and choreographed dance routines set to Brazilian music. It was an amazing display yet again of how the Gospel message is not restricted by language or geographic barriers. It was a blessing to stand back and watch our team integrate seamlessly into the local body of Christ.
The day was long, but the team continues to be energized. We returned to the hotel for dinner and fellowship.
April 4, 2014
Spent the day in the village of Achada Ponte, celebrating this group of Believers becoming a Church! This is one of the earliest works that was begun and now it has a core of Followers that will be the workers to reach and disciple their village of 800 people. As a part of the announcement and celebration, we saw six more Baptized in the ocean. This is a fishing and farming village and it is close by two other villages that share resources for food supply daily. Having a core of Believers in Achada Ponte will create a influence and ministry to these two other villages soon. Actually, one of those that were baptized is from one of these villages and since there is no group there, he walks to Achada Ponte for fellowship and Bible Study.
It was cool to see Alan Ventress lead in the baptisms. He and Pr. Emanuel and Elton were out in the ocean together as hundreds watched. Our walk down to the beach area was CRAZY! We literally were descending down through cliffs and rocks (goat trails) to get down to the beach area. This is what they do every day…our team marveled at just what these people consider to be normal…we would consider to be a hassle. They work as hard as we do…even harder, yet they let nothing stand in their way to spend time with each other and when it comes to worship…they turn on a dime and make anywhere they are, a place to worship God! I have heard many times, through our team members, that we are getting more from them than we could ever bring to them! All of us are being changed daily by their heart for prayer, fellowship and worship!
We are spending each day together as a team, sharing the things God is showing us and how we can apply what we are engaging here…at home. This time has awakened “capacities” God has given each of us, yet we don’t use those capacities at home. This is not a project, we are not building or painting buildings, cleaning up rooms…we are building relationships…as we ought to at home! Some are seeing for the first time, what it is like to intentionally seek out and pour time into another person each day.
Today (Friday) is a bit different for our schedule. Some will go door to door in an area of Praia while others will stay back and prepare for some special events we are doing this Sunday. Marti and I have been asked to share our story and speak to 25 couples tonight, that are living together, new to the Gospel, new to the fellowship of the Church and are beginning to be discipled into a marriage covenant over the next two months. What a privilege!
April 3, 2014
These updates we are posting at times are from the day before and some are “real time”. Yesterday morning (Wednesday), we went door to door again in a neighborhood where some church members already live to encourage and train them in sharing their faith and how to start discipleship groups. Upon arrival, my group got split up when a lady called us over to her house. When we walked over to her, she invited us into her home where we met her husband, two sons and daughter. As we sat, we began to share why we were there, using the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8 to illustrate how God sends messengers to witness to specific people. God’s Spirit began moving strongly as we continued to share our testimonies and the Gospel message.
An invitation was given because it was very clear the Spirit of God was present and there was no ought all of this family was fully engaged in their hearts. All but the little daughter (less than 2 years old) wanted to pray to receive Christ! Salvation came to this whole home! As they began to pray to receive Christ, a huge rush of wind came through the window…and then there was total peace as they thanked God for saving them. I cannot do justice with these words, as to what the gravity of that moment brought to all of us…those being saved and those of us sent as messengers to share the Good News.
We assigned immediate followup Bible Study in this home, beginning this week. They will now meet weekly with trained Believers to grow and learn how to read the Bible and also how to reach others around them. I cast a vision for them to possibly be the future leaders of a grip that could meet weekly in their home to study the Bible. They got excited about that! It is critical to begin showing new Believers that they can have a role in Kingdom work right away. God has not called anyone to be a spectator in the Kingdom of God! This family will be trained to engage their lives and others daily!
Our team meetings are getting longer simply because of the stories each of us are bringing to the table each day! God is working in a huge way to encourage us in our own walk and faith, causing us to examine our own lives as missionaries to our own nation. It’s critical for us to allow God to work in these days, to bring clarity to our role each day at home…in our work place, schools, homes, etc. Everything we do here, must be translated into our lives at home!
We head to a interior village for the rest of the day for Baptism celebration of eight new Believers and spending the day encouraging the work there. We won’t be back till late tonight so this will be the last post until tomorrow. Pray for us as we travel to the interior and as we work together with Cape Verdian Followers today. Our team is being so ministered to by them!
April 2, 2014
This is from Joni Wasmund, Lindenhurst, IL
Today (Tuesday), God showed us His hand of Providence in 2 villages, Parmeraju Grande and San Trope’. Half of our team, 6 of us, went to the village of Parmeraju Grande in the morning to knock on doors and talk to those with receptive hearts about all that Jesus has done to change our lives and to share the Gospel message with them. Our visits are about relationship building first and sharing the Message clearly so they truly understand what the gift of salvation is before they commit their lives to Christ. We found many hearts to be receptive and rejoiced over these lives that God provides for day in and day out amidst the squalid living conditions surrounding them. Goats, chickens and pigs provide food staples for these people and although we see their lives as tremendously difficult, this is their culture.
Upon approaching one home, we were led inside by one of the men because the woman he wanted us to speak with was chair-bound. After sharing my story with her and another sharing the Gospel message and praying with her, I asked how long it had been since she walked. She’d been diagnosed with a disease 5 years ago and stopped walking 2 years ago as a result of what she’d been told about the disease. Her legs appeared to be strong, not atrophied, so 2 of our team helped her to her feet and walked her up and down the hallway, one on either side of her, holding her up and repeating “left, right, left, right”, to re-train her to walk. When she sat down, she asked if they could do it again. This time, she was led outside and 1 of the 2 released her so only 1 was holding her up. She reached for the other hand but was encouraged to walk, not shuffle, and by the time she sat down again, she realized that she CAN walk. It’s just that no one knew they could help her; it was easier to just leave her to sit in her chair and assume the diagnosis took away her ability to walk. This was pure Christian ministry — her legs are strong, she only needs someone to spend time with her to learn to use them. The hand of Providence.
On the way to the 2nd village, San Trope’, we were excited to see where the church of Achada Mato now meets because this was the village we worked in last year where only 3 believers were working to fulfill the dream of a church there. Not only do they have a church, but it’s re-located 3 times as it grew to the current core of 50 believers! Praise God for His hand moving in this village!! When we left last year, Bible studies had started and exploded! We were tremendously blessed to see the work of the church discipling others and how it has been multiplied there.
With 6000 people living in the area of Achada Mato, a church plant is now being prayed for in San Trope’ so that’s where we spent yesterday afternoon. After speaking with 2 sisters in their home, sharing and praying, we found a dozen sweet, precious little girls who couldn’t get enough hugs and kisses and kept coming back for more which we gladly obliged. While their family members listened to the Gospel message, we played and sang with them and again, marveled at God’s hand of Providence in their lives. He is protecting and preserving each one of them and has placed them in a spot where we are praying for another church to be planted. What an amazing privilege to be part of. Thanks be to God for the work being done here.
March 31, 2014
A day of evangelism in an area around the Church in San Felip. Team was broken into 4 groups, along with local Believers, going to door to door to share the Gospel. There is a strong need to train the locals to not only share Jesus but also create a “doorway” to begin immediate discipleship as people come to Christ and also for those that are very interested and open, yet have not made a decision to follow Christ. The “western influence” we taught many nations over the years, to share Christ, give an invitation and then hope someone follows up or that they make it to a church is evident since Brazil is working here now as their “mission field”. We taught them this! Our team is very active in instilling the discipleship process into these evangelism pushes. It’s critical or you end up with a bunch of people saying “Yes” but not DOING “Yes”!
I tell everyone, “The Gospel movement is not measured by how many hands are raised during an invitation, but how many are walking in obedience to Christ.”
Just wanted to give a short update this am since we will be out till this afternoon in the field. We have a busy week of work and travel but will try hard to keep the updates coming. Hannah, one of our team members will be posting on here this afternoon to update folks on what she is seeing, hearing and doing.
Blessings to our families, friends and prayer warriors!
March 30, 2014
Great day of worship today! Started at the Church at Terra Branca to introduce the team to the Believers, Alan giving a greeting to the Church. Then we went to the Beach for Baptism where I and Pastor Emanuel had the privilege of baptizing 16 in the ocean as the Church assembled to celebrate the event. Baptism is a huge step here, it creates the “visual and identifying division” of dying to the old ways and life, and now walking and identifying yourself soley as a Follower of Christ to yourself, your family, friends and the nation.
We have two incredible with translators, Migel and
Phillip…both pentecostal in heart, which we love because they bring such enthusiasm when the Word is preached and prayer is occurring. They are with the team full time and we have several others join us when we are out in villages and working among and along with the Cape Verdians.
Sunday night, I preached at the Church in San Felip. It is a newer church that was birthed two years ago with 6 Believers, now the house is full when they meet 3-4 days a week for worship, Bible study and fellowship. Rebecca Griffin shared her testimony before the church and really did an awesome job in sharing her story of life and conversion to Christ, and challenged the church greatly to reach the lost.
The team is in good spirits today. We are working well together. It takes a few days to get your “senses” all line with the new sights, sounds, smells and a culture you have never experienced before. All are doing great in this. The biggest challenge each day for Alan is the “de-briefing” which is “how to internalize and learn and apply in your own life” what you are seeing and doing on the field.
More later. We covet your prayers now more than ever. We will be pressing into new areas with the Gospel this afternoon and I am certain the enemy is now awakened to our efforts.
Blessings, and grateful!
March 29, 2014
From Alan Ventress:
The team arrived at the hotel in Praia, Cape Verde around 6:00 AM. We got some needed breakfast and rest before getting the day officially started at 11:30. We met with Pastor Emmanuel and were introduced to our two translators, both believers with incredible testimonies. The staff treated us to roasted chicken and tuna for lunch as Pastor gave us an overview of the spiritual landscape of Cape Verde along with how God is working in the country.
After lunch, we packed into 2 vans and headed to the small remote village of Achada Ponte where a small body of believers is making a big impact on the community. This village started with a believer, a family, and now has a thriving body of Christ. We arrived to find a small structure where the family has transformed their modest home into a place where the church can meet. We worshiped with dozens and dozens of children and followed with an amazing time of encouragement and prayer with a body of believers that has grown with amazing strength over the past year. At least 6 will be baptized this week and they are already sending themselves into other communities as the Lord is leading them to work for His glory. As a group, we represented 7 nations supporting each other in carrying out God’s purpose for our lives. It was a reminder that His work is without boundaries of language, color, geography or social status. We heard several testimonies of new believers strengthening in faith while being confronted with persecution and cultural distractions (often walking for hours to study their Bibles together).
The group arrived back to the hotel with enough time to freshen up briefly before heading off to dinner and well deserved sleep.
God has pulled together an amazing team in this trip and it is exciting to start to see how the group is already encouraging one another to carry out His work.