I am thankful (obrigada!) for those who prayed for me and my team as we went to Brazil for ten days. It was a rough start since my flights were delayed and redirected several times; there’s nothing quite like watching your plane fly away without you and having to navigate without language skills, credit card, etc. But once I arrived and met the team (a day late), it was great! God worked out the flight changes, guiding me through airports and staff who spoke little to no English, providing meals and allowing me to have Gospel conversations with two people on the flights. It was definitely a time of trusting/clinging to God, and He proved faithful.
There were eight of us from North America and five Brazilian translators, plus another Brazilian couple. We stayed on a boat and travelled around 11 hours to do ministry in a village along a tributary of the Amazon River. Teams have been there before so this was a discipleship-focused trip. Upon arrival, we learned there was a Brazilian team of about 80 people doing ministry there! Great minds think alike, it seems. For the two overlapping days we had, we joined them. Lesson one of any trip like this is flexibility.
Some things we noticed/learned:
- It is largely a culture of church-goers but many don’t actually know Jesus.
- Some avoid church because of legalism (rules about clothing, music, etc.).
- Many believers do not have assurance of salvation.
- Building relationships is key: spending time with people, working with them, etc., leads to meaningful conversations.
- Being there for such a short time meant we needed to find ways to make a memorable and meaningful impact.
For the next four days, we split into small groups to visit people in the village, build relationships and do discipleship with them. My group (two English-speakers, three translators) ran VBS. We were told to expect maybe 35 kids. We had about 120 in all! This required a lot of adjusting and learning, but by God’s grace, we were able to run VBS twice a day for the kids who were not in school—some had morning classes, while others had afternoon classes. We also did ministry in two other villages.
Sharing the Gospel – 120+ kids got to hear the Gospel multiple times and learn how to share the story with others through beaded colour bracelets. Most of the kids responded with a desire to believe. Therefore, we discussed with them how it is good to keep believing in Jesus. We told them that salvation does not come and go; it is a relationship. While their levels of understanding varied, their enthusiasm was admirable. They were so cute! One said he was going to cry when we left. Pretty sure we felt the same about leaving them.
Integrating the Gospel into normal conversations – By spending time with people each day and meeting with them, we got to share the Gospel with youth and adults alike. We were also able to speak about the assurance of salvation and other issues, as well as equip them with some tools for listening to, studying, and sharing the Word. Amazon Vision Ministries sends teams every year which results in an effective mode of discipleship. The people remember us year by year.
VBS presentation night – This was to show the parents and community what we had been doing in VBS during the week. One of the translators and I narrated as the rest of the team acted out the stories of the Fall and of Jesus. This was a memorable way for all of us to remember the biblical story. We talked about the importance of all of this and invited people to respond.
United team – We were all with one accord motivated to do ministry there and share the Gospel every day. It was great getting to know each other and see God working among us. Even when we felt sick or tired, we still kept going. We became best friends/family.
Fun stuff – Alligator hunting, cool foods (purple potatoes, purple dragon fruit, guava, etc.), cool animal sightings (grey dolphins, pink dolphins, parrots, monkeys).
Toward the end of the trip, the challenge left to each of us was to continue living on mission back home in our daily lives. It’s often easier to travel far away to do this, but what we really need to do is evangelize where we are with those around us every day. Please pray that I will continue this lifestyle here at home.
To read more about author, Elana, and view more pictures from her trip, please visit our October 2018 Hoizon.