Monthly Archives: November 2017

Trusting in Providence and Prudence

“For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his plans.” Proverbs 5:21

I’ve touched before on our total unpreparedness for Brazil and how it all worked out. I am not sure just how much we trusted in God watching over us, perhaps more in our own ability and prudence in any situation.

In 1955 the planes all used the piston engines with props. It was an incredibly slow trip with our baby but the airline let us keep baby formula for her in their frig.

(This is an edited review from other postings.) We went to Brazil but we had no one to meet us. We could not say one word in Portuguese and that was so important for not many there speak English. We had no Brazilian money and Canadian money was not often accepted. We had no sure idea of the city where we were going so it seemed we were marching off the end of the world. Strange? We went to Brazil as missionaries living by faith–some might call that foolish gambling.

Here is the Musselman family, one of the two couples we met on the plane to Brazil. You may not see their wings–they are just folded out of view.

 

 

What happened is that God sent his angels to keep us not only safe but get us ready for his work in Brazil. Here is what happened. When our prop plane took off from Porto Rico after refueling, two other couples boarded with each having small children. They were Mennonite missionaries going to Brazil and when they found out our predicament they offered the help of one of their families in São Paulo. These folks helped us through customs, and then explained that  Campinas, the city with a language school was too far away to take a taxi. They did get us to the bus station and paid the taxi fare. They bought our tickets, escorted us over an hour away to Campinas and there arranged a modest hotel.

Not only will I ever respect and appreciate those Mennonite missionaries but when I think of the chance of them meeting us at that airport—it seems now an impossible situation. You see, they had missed the plane the day before. We all could say it was just chance. Perhaps, but what a wonderful chance—for us better than winning the 649 lottery. When incidents happen like that again and again and again, I can only say that God’s angels were there all that time. Not just all the time but working overtime. Wow.

 

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Trusting in Providence not Prudence

 

 

 

The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and yet has time enough.” Anon

I’ve always wondered why Doris and I ever went to Brazil for in many ways it never made any sense. We knew no Portuguese, had no Brazilian and little Canadian money, knew not one person in Brazil, nobody to meet us there and had no idea where to go when we arrived. In any case I do believe in God’s guidance. An article by Myrto Theocharous in Christianity Today, “Prudence is Overrated” fills in the blanks about our family and missions.

If Doris and I had been prudent, we would never have considered going to Brazil as missionaries. But that might have set us to wasting the biggest and most dramatic adventures in life. We had every reason to think twice about venturing into something for which we were totally unprepared. Prudence would have nudged us away from the drama of ministry in Brazil.

The Picture: Elsie and Sparling Craig with grandma Craven and of course Doris. Pa Craig said after we left on the plane in Ottawa, “We’ll never see them again.” Common sense was with him.

With a little baby, Monica with us it is obvious we could not live on a São Paulo street corner so that prudence might have paralyzed our spirits. We’d then have said “no” to what later proved to the unfolding of perhaps the greatest period of our family’s life. I was just out of seminary, both of us young and confident and me with no experience in ministry–not yet dry behind the ears. But dropped into the interior of Brazil forced us to grow up, to learn to fit into that society and into Christian ministry. We learned lessons in weeks that otherwise might have taken a lifetime to imprint on our thinking.

It is true that the secular society of to-day claims control of what we might call the good life. That would include income, health, prosperity, marriage and life’s comforts. In other words the world around us demands power over our future all in the name of prudence. The world promises that if secular ideals manage our lives then everything the world offers will fall into one’s lap. The secular mind sets the rules–prudence is the way to go.

Doris and I had many reasons to be prudent instead of listening to God’s call. Doris had her R.N. with added studies in psychiatry; I had my M.Div that with even with little experience might have given me a prospering church somewhere. Between us we could have been quite secure in every way. Prudence pointed the way.

But God claims this world as his own, first through creation and then through the price He paid at the cross. So when Doris and I both felt deeply the divine call to a totally unknown future in Brazil, we trusted implicitly that he had control of the future. God’s control of the future—our future—encouraged us to place our bets on His future for us. Added in were risk, adventure, imagination and change.

Vernon was born in Brazil and here is making friends with a neighbour boy. Perhaps if Doris had known the difficulties of that birth we might have thought of returning to Canada. It might have been quite prudent.

 

There is always the sense of risk in God’s call. Even with all the faith we can muster in God’s leadership, still it is terrifying to rely only on trust in Him. That is so true from the moment He first calls for us to follow Him. It is true for all of the Christian life so that often prudence must be cast aside.

That faith in God’s calling to Brazil meant that we understand His control of our future. We believed that our family with all its unknown circumstances were in God’s hands. That fact becomes evident as you have read this blog, the story our time and ministry in Brazil. Every obstacle had a solution; every heartache and frustration had a consolation. As I put this blog down on paper the mystery and wisdom of God’s guidance stand out in “bas relief.”

I now see that prudence was never the way to go. To trust totally the future into God’s hands may not be wise according to our world. But it is both the smart and most successful way to live. My experience in this life tells me that I can trust God for all eternity.

An old hymn says it better than I ever can. “Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go;  Anywhere he leads me in this world below, Anywhere without him dearest joys would fade, Anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid.”

P.S. I have more pics but WordPress apparently has limits. RCK

Beautiful Children and Cities


 

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

We cannot forget the children—how wonderful and charming. Our churches reach out to them with church programs, schools and other efforts to encourage them along life’s way—a route at times that families and their children find difficult.

The Volunteers in Service Abroad have worked with our bishop José Ildo de Mello and our valued friend and contact Luiz Roberto da Silva. Here we are making plans for the work of just one of our groups that have visited and worked there—with those children, youth—in fact everyone we’ve been able to touch.

 This picture is of Dan Cooke part of our VISA group and young people from the youth group of a congregation that our VISA group was helping with the food gifts 

The city of São Paulo with its twenty-three million is divided into many suburbs each with its skyscrapers. So from any high point it seems so endless and strange. See what I mean with a partial view of Praça da Sé in downtown São Paulo.

And then there are the beaches of Santos and Sao Vincente, that are down over the mountains to the ocean. But when a person gets down to street level it is so different. If I remember correctly a street, named São Bento is part of the center of the city and closed to traffic, and open for people and shopping. Generally São Bento Street is great for shopping even though there are malls in all of the suburbs.

Then there is few places in the world more attractive than the beaches of Santos and São Vincente–and they are less crowded than Copacabana.

All Brazilians have some artistic blood flowing in their veins and it shows in this city. Even in the center of the city where a meter of soil is worth its weight in gold, the city fathers have left space for parks that include beautiful palm trees.

But no matter the beauty of their parks and skyscrapers, it is the people that are truly beautiful. No doubt during the Olympics you heard lots of negative things about this country—even the impeachment of their president. But I want you to see and remember the people—so wonderfully kind and welcoming to those of us who stumbled along with Portuguese.

The beauty that last beyond anything in this world is the beauty and with it success that is built into the lives of children–and we do not forget the adults as well. That all happens when Jesus, the Saviour is master of a life.

P.S. I’m having trouble with my blog on WordPress so I ask forgiveness with errors and problems. RCK

 

Caring Pastors and Leaders

This is one blog in which there may be more pictures than usual for the title tells me that I’ll have too many pictures of wonderful Brazilian than I can possibly include. And there were so many pastors and leaders of whom I never did get around to taking pictures. Remember this, back in the 50s it was so much more complicated and expensive to use film for cameras

Pastor Dorivaldo Masson holds in his hand the check list for Basic Food Baskets that were being distributed to the poor in a church planting project. If my memory is correct, the lady on the left gives leadership to the folks in this rented hall–the other lady is a destitute woman of Indian origin.

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Midori and Takero Oshima pastored among the large Japanese population in Brazil–and Mika on the right, as well a great friend. Wonderful dedicated Christians.

This is pastor Antônio of our Rio Preto church a few years ago when we visited with a VISA team. He helped support himself with a small clothes production business. God bless all these folks who do so much to build the Kingdom of Jesus.

WordPress has stopped functioning properly so that dragging pictures into the blog is almost impossible–and then I can’t drag them to the place I need them. If the problem is straightened up this week, I may add to this piece. In any case I want to say that I have highest regards for these friends who Brazil, for their extreme sacrificial work for the Kingdom of Jesus.

Roy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Competition on the Roads

 

Sorry, but most of the pictures I could not paste and even those,  I could not shift to where I wanted them. The one above is with me checking out our VW van that would not run, happened in Rio when some crook plugged the gas line. The guy came to offer his help and of course to get paid but I understood the hanky-panky involved and quickly made the right connection, then drove off.

The next picture is of Vernon in Neves–if I have it correct. Sorry again but WordPress is not up to par. No danger on that road.

“The only real risk is the risk of thinking too small.” Frances Moore Lappe

During travel in São Paulo one day I noticed two motorcycles lying in the middle of four-lane traffic with the cyclists apparently unconscious. What a sad scene! So many of these bikers make a living by delivering parcels and mail around this city of some 23 million. Traffic is heavy and these bikes speed in between cars even when there is little space. Accidents do happen–too often.

Of course Vernon was safe on his trike while we lived in Neves for half the traffic was made up of horses and carts.

 

Seldom do we see a horse and cart competing with cars for a bit of the road in the big cities—though of course the law lets it happen. Any chap with the reins in his hands needs to be given a hurrah for his courage—not so much for his wisdom.

This VW bug saw its last day trying to manoeuvre and compete in the traffic. We saw it after we had distributed food survival items to the folks that came to the church planting project from a favela. Those who lived there—os favelados—wanted us to come to their homes to pray with and for them. And it was behind this poor home that this VW sat, so very forlorn.

There are so many cars on the streets of São Paulo city that the law is that one day vehicles with an odd numbered plates may use the roads. The next day the even numbers get the right to pull out from their parking spots. Police are often at an intersection getting the plate number of those with infractions. I know one couple who bought an extra car just to get a different plate number. They each had to have a vehicle ever day for work.

It is not that the engineers have not tried to keep building roads but the population grows so quickly. To see what they have done—that was back before we went to Brazil in 1955—they built a highway through the mountains from São Paulo down to the port city of Santos. One tunnel on that road is 3416 meters long, another is 2083 meters and another yet a little shorter.

Now the words of Jesus come to mind, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by me.” The way to God is through Jesus and scripture in other places explains that this is so because Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross. A person may be afraid of this “narrow way” that Jesus mentions. But remember also his wonderful promise for he says, “Come unto me all ye that are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest. The way, or we call it the roadway, is so much easier than we might ever have imagined.