“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” Anon
Much of our work as missionaries in providing hope and help took place in areas of Brazil that may never be widely known. This picture from the little interior village of Neves speaks loudly to me of our efforts to pass on the story of the love of God in Jesus. In the last blog I compared the message of Jesus to water that was needed to prime a pump to get it doing its job. Now I wish to pass on stories of how some of that priming water worked to change lives.
I must start with Doris who is in the back row on the left. Her studies in Christian Ed. during Bible School prepared her well for the work of starting and teaching a Sunday school. This large group was a success in itself for it was taken less than year after we moved to Neves. I can nail down when we moved to there for Monica is the little girl on the right in the front row and we have her age figured out. As I checked out a larger version of this picture I noticed her bare feet. I suppose at that time we did not know of the parasites that could infect bare feet and one Vernon later picked up.
Now about the people whose lives were transformed through the Gospel. The lady in the back row, 2nd. from the right, is senhora Dna Olinda. Her husband Luiz had been an alcoholic and a gambler so that it was Olinda who then earned about 40 cents a day to care for her five children. She sought help for Luiz from other religions in the village but nothing changed. Then she was attracted to a little hall and the services begun by Rev. Murdo & Isabel Campbell. Senhor Luiz was resistant to her urgings to attend but finally all by himself he went and accepted Jesus as Saviour. God’s grace broke his habits and a few years later he died in the Faith. His funeral was my first ever—but it was a time of hope for the Water of Life had brought eternal life.
Some of her family are in this picture—perhaps it is Marli, the blond girl standing beside Monica. Difficult years zoomed by till we met her again, then a retired school teacher (perhaps a principal as well)and married with children. She with her family has been faithful to Jesus and active in a Presbyterian church in São Paulo. The youngest in the family is, I believe, her little brother Ademar, in the middle of the front row—in this case not looking very happy. He and his family too are now faithful to Jesus and priming the pump for others.
Right behind him might be Marlene, a sister. She came to us when her father died—in fact all the family were split up. Marlene was blond as were all her siblings so that when she was with us, many in her class thought she was a Kenny. At that time Monica was taking music lessons and she passed on her knowledge to Marlene. Later in life she taught school and her talents in music led to her being an organist in a large Baptist church. And in that same church she may still a lay leader helping out with varied ministries and home Bible studies. Wow! More priming water provided!
In the middle of the back row, the blond boy with his face half hidden, I think is a brother Valdir. Our contact with him has been minimal over the years. More important is his firmness in the Faith of our Lord. He too is priming the pump for others. The same goes for Ademar and his family.
Then the oldest in the family is Luiz and I must speak of him though he is not pictured. When Luiz was not yet a young teen, he would sell peanuts or candies in the streets while carrying them on a little piece of board steadied by a string around his neck. Luiz loved music and one day while in the streets he heard the music at a hall and came in to sit and listen–as well as trying to make a sale or two. Through him his mother and children began to attend—and as mentioned in another blog, it was there that his father Luiz gave his heart and life to Jesus. God blessed his son also named Luiz so that he later married a pastor’s daughter Cleide and went on to years later have his own business. What to me is truly marvelous is that Luiz has sung in city-wide Christian crusades, led a church radio program and has made a number of Gospel music tapes and CDs. Luiz later completed the ministerial courses required and has been ordained as a minister. What a story! A little water for priming in Neves has led Luiz to deliver the Living Water to many others. That story is truly miraculous.
Luiz ministers in music in churches and provide with others supervision for church construction.
Back to the picture–the tall chap next to Doris is Nabor and then Octávio, each with their own story. I do recall Lourdes on the left back row who with her whole family began to follow the Lord. She studied at a Bible school for a year. How wonderful to have been touched by our Lord Jesus. And all those children and others from the four preaching points and churches? We trust that along life’s road that many have found hope in Jesus, the Water of Life.