Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you for your prayers and support. They are greatly appreciated.
We have been in the midst a whirlwind month, but wanted to give everyone a small update. This has definitely been one of the most memorable and enjoyable months I’ve had since my arrival to Brazil two years ago. It started out with a trip to the city of Portel to meet up with a short-term mission team out of my home church, Vineyard Church of Delaware County. From the moment we met up with the team, it felt like a breath of fresh air. It was so nice seeing some familiar faces and to meet some others for the first time. This team was led by my good friend, Michael Hansen. For those of you who know Michael, you know that it is an understatement to say that any team led by him will be fun. The whole trip was filled with laughter. Denise and I could both sense a weight lifting from our shoulders during this trip. It is true what they say: "laughter is sometimes the best medicine" (unless you have diarrhea)….
Goofing off with the VCDC team
Some of the VCDC team with Brazilians
The ministry during this trip was also monumental. I saw two themes on this trip: proclaiming the Kingdom of God and the simplicity of the Gospel. Most of the trip was spent on a boat and the lead missionary in Portel, Richie, focused primarily on bringing us into new areas where he had just recently made contact. Many of the people we encountered didn’t have much (or any) biblical knowledge. There was a conscious effort to simplify our message for them. What many of us were reminded of was how powerful the simple Gospel message is, that we don’t need to be master theologians to impact people’s lives. We just need the Holy Spirit. We saw many conversions and people lives changed. After two weeks on the river with the VCDC team, it was sad to see them go, but we built some strong relationships that we know will continue for many years.
Denise translating for our good friend, Dan, for a service on the boat
Denise leading worship with Michael and Ramon in a small community outside Portel
Denise and I with our good friend and fellow missionary, Phil, sitting on a porch in a small community
We didn’t have much time to recover from this trip. Within 17 hours of returning to our home in Altamira, we were headed back out on the river with the Alive Vineyard team from Newark Ohio, led by their Senior Pastor, Steve Osborne. Prior to this second trip, Denise and I were a bit unsure whether it would be wise to go out with a second short-term team so soon. Going out on the river on one trip can wear you out and starting the process over with a brand new cast of characters felt a bit intimidating, especially since Denise and I had never met one single member from this team prior to this trip. But within one day of our first encounter with the Newark team, we were both VERY happy that we agreed to participate. We felt a connection to the team right off the bat – like we’d know them for years! Their passion for Christ and desire to share the Gospel and God’s love was such an encouragement to us.
A few shots from the trip
While in Brazil, the Newark team had a two-fold focus. The first was a series of teachings they prepared titled "Come Follow Me". They held two-day conferences in Altamira and in the city of Gurupa based on this material. We also made multiple stops in other communities and cities to teach this material. "Come Follow Me" is a very teachable, down-to-earth approach to the basics of following Jesus. The teachings were based on writings by the author David Platt. We saw the Holy Spirit do some amazing things. After each teaching, there would be an opportunity for prayer. The people really responded to the message and we saw many decisions to follow Christ
Newark team ministry time
A Vineyard Church that was planted in a small community years ago
The other focus the Newark team had was for children. They offered a number of activities for the children in each community we visited. What we have found here in northern Brazil is that many church plants and much church growth starts with the children. With both of these river trips, it is always the children who are first to greet us when stepping into new territory. After making a connection with the children, the rest of the family will follow suit and slowly warm up to us.
Me with a little boy in the community
Newark team doing activities with children
Newark team with the children
We are now back in Altamira. We will be here for about three weeks until we leave for a short trip to our future home of Macapa to do some house-hunting and continue to prepare for our move there. Joining us on this trip will be our good friends, Cleide and Allison, who will be looking into some schools for Allison’s continued education. We are very excited to catch up with pastor Felipe and Uana and the rest of our Macapa family.
We are also excited for Intervinha (our Northern Brazil Vineyard Conference) next month here in Altamira. Vineyard folk from all over the northern region will be attending. Denise and I are in charge of the music for the conference. We have a lot of preparation ahead of us. Also, my dad is one of the guest speakers for the conference AND my nephew, Emerson, will be joining my dad for the trip! Denise and I are so excited to spend some time with them!
Please pray with us as we get ready for our move to Macapa. There are many details that have to be taken care of. All of our possessions, including our vehicle, will have to be taken by a barge on the Amazon for this 200-300 mile trip.
Finding a house that we can afford in an area that is reasonably safe would be something else we’d love you to pray for.
There will be many financial expenses, both in the move and in becoming base leaders in Macapa. We have been strongly encouraged to increase our monthly support. Won’t you please pray about that as well?
We couldn’t be doing any of this without your support, financial, relational and through your prayers. Thank you!
In His Service,
Christopher and Denise