A strange phenomenon happened to me when I sat down to begin writing this article. I couldn’t decide what to write about. No, that’s not the strange part. I usually sit in front of my computer for quite a while trying to think of the stories or people that I want to tell you about. This month, however, I had several options of things that were equally important for me to share with you. The first is super important to me personally and chronologically happened before the second story so I’ll sum that up first.
In the first half of July, while Izabel and I were taking a week of vacation we received the news that my grandfather, Roger Swaren, a retired pastor of the Pacific Conference, had fallen and injured his neck and head. At the time the news was startling. We had the impression that there was a high chance of recovery. The next Sunday, after spending all day out of the house, I was frantically getting ready for church in the evening, when I checked my email and was shocked when I saw the words “His breathing finally slowed and stopped about 8:45 - 8:50 AM.”
After that, the next few days were a whirlwind of preparing a trip to the States for his memorial service and doing everything I could to help prepare for a group of 14 people who would arrive three days after I would return from the service. I wanted the opportunity to share something about my grandfather and looked forward to the chance to find inspiration by looking at one of his well-used and marked up Bibles. I shared this passage from Psalm 32 during the service:
“What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.
There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Now I say that each believer should confess his sins to God when he is aware of them, while there is time to be forgiven. Judgment will not touch him if he does.
You are my hiding place from every storm of life; you even keep me from getting into trouble! You surround me with songs of victory. I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.”
-- Psalm 32: 1-8
It was privileges for me to be able to grow up watching a man of God live out these verses. My grandfather dedicated his life to “say that each believer should confess his sins to God.” Let me encourage you also to follow the words of David and confess your sins, to make God your hiding place, and to also tell others to put their trust in God.
The second story I have to share with you is related to a previous article that I have written. Some time back I wrote about the isolation that is felt here in Brazil, being the only Evangelical church in this large country. I suggested several ways to reduce the distance between USA and Brazil. One of my suggestions was to pack up and come down to spend some time in Brazil. As I write these words we are two days past sending a group from Circle, MT back to the States after seven days visiting with us, and we wish they could have stayed longer.
We had a BLAST with them! I am so thankful for all 14(!) of them (four over age 30 and 10 under age 20) and the hearts that they all had for service while they were here. I wish there was only one thing that they did so it would be easier to write about that one thing. Instead they had a wide ranging list of activities that couldn’t have been more successful. Their trip was planned around the idea of painting the outside of our church building. Unfortunately, the first day we had planned for working was raining so they initiated other projects that needed to be done.
The group was outstanding with each activity put before them, even better than their performance with the activities were the relationships that they made with the locals. I have been teaching English here in Brazil for over three years and I have learned a great deal about words during that time. I can’t come up with adequate superlatives to describe how thrilled each of us missionaries were about the performance of this group.
Not just this group, but every group that has come to visit while I have been here in Brazil reinforces the need to have a regular flow of groups come to visit. Will you consider to be part of the next group to come visit the Brazil mission field? Talk to your pastor or get in touch with the Evangelical Church Missions office to find out how you can be part of the next Faith Adventures group to have their lives changed here in Brazil.
If you are interested in being part of a Faith Adventure to Bolivia, Brazil, New Mexico, or Liberia, please contact Pat O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org 503.342.3588) for further information. Teams are forming now for 2017-2019.