One of our goals here in Porto Alegre is to re-plant the church that was started upon our arrival in 2007.
We would like to fill you in on a few of the details (below):
1) We look to build upon a lot of the good that has been done and the seeds that were planted over the past few years. We initially planted the church in 2007 and I handed over the leadership of the church that led the body of believers during this time. However, the church took a pause in January (2016). Thus, we have been spending our first month re-connecting with those that attended or visited the church over the years and have been encouraged by the questions and eagerness of those looking to continue to learn more about Jesus.
2) At this point what are the specific plans?
We look to hold various events gauging interest for the vision. As such, we will be holding prayer and worship meetings in houses throughout the region (the first one is this Sunday evening), women's brunches, and bible studies, etc. - over the next few months.
At some point during mid to end of 2017 we look to rent a permanent space in the city to hold church services. in fact, we looked a rental yesterday - it was a former pub. It had a nice area to hold a church service but no rooms for children's ministry, so we will continue to look. We would like to use a building several nights a week for various events to serve the community even outside of the Sunday service.
3) What about the name and style of service? We are looking to find a name that is both specific to city and our mission of serving the city and trusting upon Jesus to do - all the while staying true our roots in ministry and distinctives. Our message will be to preach the Gospel, teach the Bible (chapter by chapter), make disciples - and send them outside of the walls of the church to be a blessing to the city. Also, we look to have worship that is meaningful and directed and focused toward God alone. Ultimately, our supreme desire is to know Christ and to be conformed to His image by the power and work of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing better than having a personal relationship with Jesus.
Therefore, we would like you to pray as God leads us in the next few months. We do look forward to updating you as along the way! And if you have any questions please feel free to send them our way. Blessings. J/D
It was a few days before the New Year and I ventured approximately 1,200 kilometers down highway BR 101 from Santos to Porto Alegre. Upon arrival, I quickly got to work setting up everything in our rental house located in the south zone of the city and attempting to unpack our 13 plus suitcases encompassing all our belongings. Carol and the kids would arrive approximately 8 days later and I wanted to have everything ready for their arrival. We were thankful that the owners of our rental home left a significant amount of furniture in the home. However, there was still plenty to purchase including all kitchen appliances. Therefore, in the days following I ran a lot of errands; everything from switiching the utilites into our name, purchasing a local phone plan, discussing job opportunites, and cleaning the house that had not been lived in for at least 6 months, not to mention - finding a way to get rid of that line of ants in the house, and so on.
During this time, almost everyone I spoke to was extremely kind and helpful. Generally speaking, most would ask me where I am from (and I am thankful my portuguese is to the point that I can not only understand them but thoughtfully respond in conversation). I would indicate that I am American, but what came after is what caught me a little by surprise. The following question went something like this:
"So many people here would love to move to your country and you just moved your family here? So, why exactly did you move to Porto Alegre, Brazil?"
The reality is -> this is not my first time to live in Brazil or Porto Alegre. (We lived here from 2007 to 2010.) We truly love the city. We enjoy the local food. The weather and its four seasons including the beautiful trees with green foliage lining the streets (there is a street in Porto Alegre that was voted the most beautiful in the world in 2015, you can see here). We enjoy the kindness of its people. We even enjoy the rain (after living in the desert in Arizona during the last 3 years).
The reason we are here? We want to be a blessing to this city. We want to work and play in this city. We want to show people from afar (via pictures and story) the the good the city has to offer. We want our kids to enjoy it. Yes, we are missionaries and we know that the best way to start to be a blessing inside the city is to embrace it and be a part of it. We do not want to complain about the negatives but lift up the positives.
The reality is there are many that have called this city of 1.5 million their home for their entire life and are scared of the violence and political uncertainity as well as the econonic crisis here. However, we do not want to complain about the negatives but lift up the positives. We know that God has called us here to be a source of light in the city and we know that there churches and others doing good in the city and we are not alone in this cause. However, Porto Alegre continues to rank as the capital city in Brazil (there are 26 states) with the least amount of evangelical Christians (just 11% of the population) according to a recent survey in the national magazine Abril. In addition, it is at the top of the list in terms of most people frequenting worship houses of the Umbanda and Candomblé religions (African religons with an influence into witchcraft).
The reason we are here? Well, it should be the same reason why you are living in the spot God has called you. To live life and serve Jesus. To love and serve everyone you come contact with // with absolute joy. To make your days count and to count your days.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12: 9-13
In America, when a new president is elected and takes office a plan is put forward as prepartions are made in anticipation of big changes at the White House. Consequently, normal practice is for the president-elect to announce a plan of what his (or her) first 100 days in office will look like. What is the plan for action? In the same token, we are less than 2 weeks from our family arriving in Porto Alegre and would like to give our action plan as well.
1. On November 26th -> We left Phoenix on a big airplane (as Levi called it), and arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil - the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (The trip went extremely well. You can read more about it in the post below.)
2. We have spent 5 weeks with Carol's family, and will conclude our time spending the Christmas and New Years holidays here. During this time Carol and I have visited Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil. This is the city we will move to permanently. We looked for an house (and found one), a school for the kids, and we visited with those we know there to share our vision for future ministry. I have also used this time to brush up on my portuguese. I can definitely get by, but it needs to be refined.
3. This Thursday (December 29th), I will drive down to Porto Alegre from Santos. It is approximately a 12 hour drive. I will buy appliances for our rental home and get all the utilites turned on and in order before Carol and the kids fly down on Friday, January 6th. The school year starts mid-February and runs through December with a winter break in July. We are super excited to start life in Porto Alegre.
4. Feb/March 2017 -> We look to start informal weekly Bible studies in the city and will start to gauge interest in where exactly we will look to re-plant a church in the city specifically. Our plan is for John to teach a single bible study several times a week in homes in and around Porto Alegre for throughout 2017 - in addition to special times of devtionals, prayer and worship.
5. Late 2017 -> We look for seeds to start to grow and develop with a growing church body and to rent a meeting place to have church services. (Our hope is that as we pray and study the bible in various points of the city - we will be able to consildate various bible studies into a larger group by years end in 2017) and formally launch the church by the end of 2017.
6. 2018 and beyond -> The vision grows. We look to have a healthy church body seeking to mature in Christ. Serving the community at large by focusing on the work of Christ. Including, serving the city through a host of outreach minsitries. Some of which we have done before (orphanges and street evangelism) and others (a school of ministry, etc.).
We are excited to announce we arrived in Brazil! It has been 10 days since our arrival and we have already accomplished much so we would like to fill you in on our happenings.
We were extremely busy in the days before our departure as we spent much time packing all our personal belongings into thirteen suitcases and saying our goodbyes to those we became close to in Arizona. We had a garage sale the Saturday before, sold our 2 vehicles, and we were blessed with some amazing ladies that voluntered to help clean our rental home after we left. John worked until the day before Thanksgiving and we were invited to eat Thanksgiving dinner at the house of a family from our church in Phoenix - it was a great time of food and fellowship. And on Black Friday, we were off to Sao Paulo via Houston. The kids did great the whole way there and Levi (4) slept most of the way. All the flights were on time and all the bags made it as well. In other words, the trip could have gone better. We really appreciate all of your prayers!
Upon our arrival at the Sao Paulo airport, we were blessed to have Carol's brother meet us at the airport. I got to drive his car through Sao Paulo as he drove a truck full of our luggage to Santos which will be our home base for the next 4 to 6 weeks before we transition to Porto Alegre. Santos is a city with a historic downtown center and beautiful coastline. It is also home to the largest port in Latin America. Being now the first of December, summer is arriving and the temperatures are rising including humidity, which we have not seen in years after living in the desert in Arizona. We will spend time here visiting with Carol's family and going back and forth to Porto Alegre before to look for a place to live, school for the kids, etc before our move in January.
We invite you to visit this site frequently as we will post updates from Brazil including; family updates, ministry updates, devotionals, and more. May God bless you. J/D.
“One without the other causes a lot of pain and reduces the effectiveness of ministry.”
2) Absolutely No: Complaining, Being Critical, or Comparisons
3) Absolutely NO Excuses
4) No Newsletter Pressure
If someone were to ask the following question, what is the absolute best part of being a missionary? I would have to say my answer would be sharing the message of grace, truth, & love to someone who has never heard the name of Jesus (and repeating that over and over again). A close second would be discipling a young believer. Also, training Christians to become leaders themselves is high on the list. On the other hand, the least desired part of being a full-time missionary is -> fundraising. However, as we prepare to leave and re-plant ourselves in a land 5,914 miles away, I have taken a slightly different approach to raising financial support for the family and ministry. I feel God saying just simply share the vision and give anyone who has ears to hear an opportunity to respond. We hear the example of several in the New Testament that gave to support the work of Jesus and His disciples including Suzanna seen in the gospel of Luke 8:3. It has been to share the encouraging message of the gospel to those who are willing to hear right here at home before we leave. At the same time, the Lord has spoken to me some encouraging words, which basically are -> make sure you give all those you know an opportunity to share in the vision for ministry you have been given. Why? So that those who have heard could pray or help send through giving. We understand that God has not called everyone to support us or any other missionary financially. However, we have run into people in the past that have said, "if I only had known of the need." Therefore, we believe God has called some to go and some to send. The apostle Paul said to the church in Philipi regarding their support of his missionary journey, "not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit." (Philipians 4:16)
During the past several weeks we have been given the opportunity to share our vision for ministry and missions. We have done so in our local church, on social media, and with friends and family. In the midst of the discussion, we are generally asked the question, "how will the bills get paid when you all are serving as missionaries?" In response, we would first like to share specifically what the need is:
There are some upfront costs when relocating a family from one continent to the next. Thankfully, we were able to use some airline flight miles to book 5 one-way tickets from Phoenix (via Houston) to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Therefore, the majority our one time needs will be buying a car, furniture, and initial housing costs. It is difficult to put a price tag on these items but any amount of initial support will go a long way to helping this cause.
1. We are currently running a campaign from Bonfire.com selling t-shirts to help raise some initial funds for the above: You can purchase a t-shirt by clicking right -> here. Half of all the proceeds will benefit the ministry.
2. We have once again aligned with a great missionary facilitating organization in Missionary Companion Ministries. They will handle all the financial logistics for those looking to support us financially. If you would like to give financially you can read more on the Support page on this site or click here . You can also give online at missionarycompanionministeries.com/donate (Account #4041).
Furthermore, We have determined for the upcoming calendar year (2017) our monthly need will be around $3,000 per month. This amount will cover items such as rent, food, gas, health insurance, school for the kids -> as well as funds set aside for ministry opportunities. We look to obtain the goal of reaching a consistent amount to cover these needs by:
1. Reaching out to those willing to commit to give on a monthly basis for an extended period of time.
2. Seeking to work on a part-time basis either by:
a) by finding locally based employment or
b) working at home in an online capacity
I am often reminded about the worry my wife Carol and I had during her first pregnancy. We had been married just one year and I had recently graduated from college. One day we read a verse together that inspired the name of our firstborn, Lilly Joy:
"Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." (Luke 12:27)
Jesus would go on to say a few verses later if God can provide for the flowers of the field in such a way -> will he not take care of us? And He called upon all of us to have Christ-like faith that He will provide for our needs as He sees fit whether physically or speaking speaking. J/D
Last night we hosted a Bible Study in our home here in Phoenix for our local church, Calvary Chapel Desert Hills. It was a blessed time as John taught the book of Philemon. Carol made a delicious chocolate banana bread and we had sixteen or so people praising the Lord in song as well as prayer. The night reminded me of the last time we were serving in Brazil. It was such a sweet time.
"Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise..." - 1 Chronicles 16:23-25