REJOICING IN HEAVEN CONTINUES
Tatiane was baptized December 27! She is the teenager daughter of Ademir and Marcia, graduates from the Bible Institute of Southern Brazil. Pray for this family as they are helping to lead the church plant in Fazenda Rio Grande.
During the month of January the church leadership here asked me to outline four sermons for the church from the Book of Matthew concerning evangelism. I preached two of the lessons and two other brothers finished the series. My help gave a little relief to the regular preachers during the summer so they can take a break. One of the lessons I did was concerning the call of Matthew and his first action as a follower of Jesus. He prepared a meal in his home then invited his friends from work and also Jesus and the other disciples to eat together. By having a meal he made the first connection between sinners and the saved that would lead to knowledge about how to follow the Master and eternal life. I was amazed at the application by the members. Right after worship a sister came up and said, “Today is my birthday and I am having many family members over for a meal and dessert. Can you and your family come? I have also invited other Christians to come and meet my family.” New contacts were made for possible Bible studies. During the week another brother called and said they he was hosting a meal at the building. He invited about ten of his neighbors to worship and to the meal and also invited about ten members of the church to eat together with them. More contacts were made for possible Bible studies. The next Sunday another member invited our family to go to a birthday party for her granddaughter and since there would be lots of non-Christians there, she invited brothers and sisters in Christ to participate in the fellowship as a first step to leading someone to Christ. Pray for fruit to come from these “Matthew Meals.”
During the summer month of January, instead of having our regular weekly small group meetings around the city, the groups take a break and there is a Wednesday evening prayer service at the building.
On January 25-26 there was a Men’s Retreat for small group leaders and those we want to influence to participate. A family in the congregation purchased part of a Bible camp and it is a great place for retreats. About forty men came for the weekend meeting. We prayed, praised and played together. Two of our evangelists, Mauro and Ramos, gave several motivational lessons. One of the highlights was the experience given to everyone on how to write small group lessons. The forty men were divided into groups of four or five. Each group had a small group leader involved with inexperienced brothers. Each group was given a text to study, talk about and produce a small group lesson. We had about three to four hours to work on the lesson together. The men learned about context, asking the right questions about the original meaning of the text, then moving on to how to apply the text. The final step was putting this Bible study into question format ready for small group use. By the end of the retreat, the men had produced a new series with eight lessons about the difference Jesus makes in our lives. It was emotional at the end, as each inexperienced brother was asked to stand and share one thought about how he felt with this experience. Men that had never stood to speak in public rose with encouragement and courage and shared thoughts beyond our imagination. God is so good!
The small congregation in Guarapuava has been saddened and has rejoiced. Last month a young teenage sister passed away suddenly. The day before one of the member’s non-Christian mother passed away. This month another sister in the congregation lost her non-Christian sister to death. Then another woman that the congregation was evangelizing suddenly died. Pray for their comfort!
The good news is that these new converts in Guarapuava have been sowing the seed. They have set up studies with seven people in the past year. One finished the lessons and stopped, but the seed is in her heart. Three others started and quit. Another studied through the lessons and is counting the cost. Pray for him, Tuca struggles with alcohol. Two others they taught were baptized January 19. Brandinor and his teenage daughter Sabrina are now citizens of the Kingdom. Sabrina’s mother was counting the cost when she had to go to the hospital for a treatment and died there. A member of the congregation called me with the good news about their decision to follow Jesus and asked if I would go and baptize them. I told them I could come, but that they could do the baptisms. They had never baptized anyone before and were unsure of themselves. When Ree and I arrived (January 18-21) we met at Brandinor’s house, had a Bible study about perseverance in following Jesus as a disciple, then I explained to the men what to do and say. We walked down a dirt road, pushed back vegetation and tree limbs that took us down a little trail to a creek that flows into the Jordan River near their house (yes that is the name of the river . . . Rio Jordao). Jhonatan baptized Brandinor and Antonio baptized Sabrina. What a great day for the Guarapauva chuch! Antonio will now teach them a series of lessons to help them grow in Christ.
Where did these contacts come from? Antonio and his wife Viridiana always have “Matthew Meals” for family and friends in their home. While we visited in Guarapuava we visited in five non-Christian homes to make new contacts for Bible studies. Pray for the families of Josemar e Mara, Josenilson e Meri, Celso, Juarez e Sabastiana as the Christian Family influences them with the Word. I also preached on Sunday during worship.
I have been swamped writing new material. I will be teaching homiletics to the Curitiba men next month and also an intensive study on Spiritual Leadership in the northeast of Brazil. My calendar also has four to five more intensive studies at three preacher training schools planned. This past month I also celebrated another year of life. Thank you for all those cool birthday cards! Ree and I have been taking our walks for exercise a few times a week and I have even begun to run again. I had to stop running for three years because of my lower back, but it seems to be fine now. Naiane is enjoying the break during the summer. She has been inviting and helping to pick up her friend and her friend’s grandmother to go with us to Wednesday evening prayer night. In March Naiane finally begins her cooking school in Curitiba.
Serving Jesus Our Master,
Alan, Ree and Naiane Nalley