“If the Lord wills” James 4:15 (ESV)
Religious language and biblical concepts permeate Brazilian culture, but none quite so prevalent as the words “se Deus quiser”, the Portuguese equivalent of “if the Lord wills” from the book of James. Christians and non-Christians alike refer to the will of God as a powerful force that determines what happens or doesn’t happen in a given situation. As is often the case with a constantly repeated phrase, “if the Lord wills” has drifted quite far from its original intended meaning. Whereas James was admonishing believers not to arrogantly announce their plans or intentions as if God had no say in the matter and instead to be ever cognizant of their utter dependence upon Him for their every waking moment, the Brazilian context is quite a different one indeed.
It is quite common to hear someone utter this phrase as a sort of prayer, seeking God’s approval or blessing upon a plan or personal desire that has already been decided in one’s mind. Or perhaps a particular action or outcome is not desirable. Then a person will use this phrase as if to say “I am not inclined to work towards this outcome. It will only happen if the Lord makes it happen”. Neither of these scenarios suggests a pursuit of or contentment with the will of the Lord above the will of the individual. At most, it is a recognition of the power of God to frustrate the plans of man with no comprehension of the fact that the Lord’s will for all of humanity is infinitely better than our own.
This is one of the many challenges mission agencies face in nations where the vast majority of the population has already been “evangelized” making it difficult to introduce biblical truths that are not easily incorporated into the original understanding of the gospel. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts and minds of the Brazilian people to a deeper understanding of and trust in the will of God. We also pray for a shift in worldview which leads to a true manifestation of the kingdom of God as the only desirable outcome and not simply a choice among many.
1. Pray for Pastor Alcimar and Geiciana. Pastor Alcimar is a graduate of the Center of Formation of Leaders in Cruzeiro do Sul, Brazil. He is an effective pastor, shepherding well the two congregations with whom he has served. He is gifted in disciplining others and in communication. Pray for him and his wife, Geiciana, as they juggle work, school, and ministry. They would appreciate prayer for the building of a more adequate church in their new location.
2. Pray for the Ammi Training Center. The Ammi training center provides indigenous pastoral training to the many tribes scattered throughout Brazil’s Amazon region. Students come to the Ammi campus where they live, study, and serve for eight months of the year. The Ammi staff is multi-ethnic and participates in all aspects of the students’ training. Students train in scripture knowledge and practical life skills such as agriculture, health, and sanitation.
- Pray for missionary Vera Bergson who coordinates classes and academic activities.
- Pray for first-year students who endure the challenge of traveling and adjusting to the training center, while also often learning Portuguese in the process.
- Pray for one young lady in particular who decided to repeat the first year to better understand Portuguese.
- Pray for second-year students as they continue studying and learning to engage with different cultures.
- Pray for third-year students who will be graduating this year. Pray that God will guide their next steps as they seek opportunities to apply what they learned during their time at Ammi.
- Pray for the other missionaries and Brazilian staff serving at Ammi.
3. Pray for Village Visits. The students at Ammi have been practicing sharing the gospel through oral stories using visual images to accompany their descriptions, rather than reading off a script or including a literacy component since oral communication is frequently how information is shared in many indigenous communities.
“You bring the culture of God, not of your village, or of Ammi.” – Ammi Staff
This challenge was shared by one of the teaching missionaries during a week of training for the indigenous students at Ammi to prepare for their missions trips to other indigenous communities during the last week of April.
Praise God for this opportunity the students had to share the gospel and the kingdom culture of God. Please pray for continued wisdom and discernment as they try to adapt to sharing the good news with an indigenous community that is unlike their own culture. Pray for continued opportunities for them to grow in sharing their faith.
4. Pray for Women’s Fellowship at Ammi. Every Thursday the student and staff women meet to have a devotional and to learn a skill like cooking or crafts. This is a sweet time of fellowship for these women. Pray for deep friendships and community.
5. Pray for the Callahans. Tim and Mindy Callahan arrived in Brazil last fall. Pray for them as they are finishing their language learning in Cuiaba and preparing to move and begin ministry at the Ammi Center.
6. Pray for Callahans and their church relationship. Tim and Mindy are building a home at Ammi for their future ministry. Their church, Crossriver, in Cuiaba has a ministry that serves their community on weekends and holidays with a home-repair ministry. In April, their church sent 35 people to help plaster the interior of their house. This partnership is a great example of SAM’s desire for generous collaboration as the Brazilian church supports the work of Ammi. Pray for Crossriver Church and this service ministry and continued partnership with Ammi.
7. Pray for the Sengs. Retired missionaries Wes and Trudy Seng continue to serve Semirata, an indigenous training center in Iranduba.
“We are both teaching and loving the classes. The students are eager and have finally lost their timidity so they ask pertinent questions and seeing the light come on in their eyes is priceless.
Both of us continue to be involved in the community around us. Wes has discipleship Bible study times with different truth-seekers; I am teaching the book of John in the local church to the ladies and that has been a joy. One former prostitute confessed, “I just don’t know if I am saved!” Another one tearfully admitted to a drinking problem. I am thrilled that they have come to the place of acknowledging weakness instead of posturing pious religiosity because this is when Jesus can step in!”
Pray for Wes and Trudy to finish well, teaching the Bible with love and clarity. Pray that God will give them His strength, wisdom, and thoughts.
8. Pray for Paul serving with the Recife soccer ministry. Paul is a ministry partner from Latin Link who has served off and on in Recife for 15 years. He is currently serving with the Vale do Senhor soccer ministry in Recife. On May 21 and 22, he will be taking a group of 16-17 year old boys to our SAM Center as a time of rest away from training. Please pray as they spend time in the Word and in sharing with one another. Pray that Paul will be able to continue to walk alongside them and encourage them as they press deeper into their faith.
9. Pray for the rainy season in Recife. Rainy season is coming up. And whether you live at the top or the bottom of a hill, heavy rain stirs up some trouble.
The homes in the altos (heights):
Communities up at the top really struggle against land erosion, including damage to their homes and foundations. You’ll see slabs of concrete or thin black tarps against the widening dirt ledges. Houses even occasionally fall off the edge of hillsides, and often there are casualties when that occurs.
The families below:
Communities at the base of hills often get flooded by two things: water and waste. Trash pileup in the altos flows down with each first heavy rainfall. Streets, fields, and many houses fill up with water. I’m sure you can imagine the complications that can cause for a family. Transportation, jobs, food, safety, property and possessions, electricity, and ironically water supplies can be negatively impacted.
There have already been some fatalities within these communities this year due to heavy rain. Please pray that rain brings its blessings while keeping these communities from more harm or loss. Pray for missionaries and ministry programs as they serve and respond to the needs around them.
10. Pray for Craig and Mary DeLille. Craig and Mary will be on HMA (Home Ministry Assignment) from mid-May to mid-August. Please pray that during this short period of time, their HMA will be productive and provide time to rest and opportunities to visit with family, friends, churches, and supporters. Pray for the logistics of their travel, car, and transportation needs, and a schedule that works well for everyone, especially during the summer months.
It’s hard to be away from hands-on mission work. They are very grateful for missionaries and leaders who serve alongside them. Please pray for their colleagues and all of the mission work that continues in their absence.
Praise God for their new grandson, Asher Sebastian Hindes. “We are looking forward to some family time and soaking up every minute with him. He is a precious bundle of joy.“
11. Pray for Emily Layne. Kevin and Emily Laynes’ kids started school at a local Christian school in Recife. The school has a heart for ministry and a strong English program. Emily has had the opportunity to lead the devotion in English on Wednesday mornings.
She usually focuses on one verse where she walks through it word by word and helps the class define each individual word. Then they talk about the application of the passage.
This has been an opportunity to share her faith with the class, challenge students that are believers, and instill valuable Bible study habits when reading scripture.
Pray for more opportunities to partner and support the ministry and families of the school.
12. Pray for Aguazinha. Joel Kearney has been involved in starting a new soccer ministry in an adjacent neighborhood called Aguazinha. Pray for this new ministry as they build relationships with the boys in the neighborhood and seek to use soccer as a form of building discipleship relationships.
Pray for the health of the community, located adjacent to the region’s largest landfill.