May 2022 Prayer Focus

“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 DeLilleCraig 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 LayneKevin 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.

South America Mission Center, Based in Recife, Brazil.

DeLilles and friends

Craig and Mary DeLille are tangible expressions of Christ’s love to the vulnerable and marginalized. Since 2008, Brazil has been their home where they’ve lived out their calling as part of South America Mission. In Brazil, South America Mission is known as Missão SAIM.

The DeLilles have worked tirelessly—and sacrificially—to demonstrate the good news of the saving grace of Jesus to thousands in communities across the urban area of Recife. But their reach has also extended into isolated communities of the indigenous and rural poor.

Craig and Mary’s passion is for the church to be the church— “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” They believe that the people of God assume a proactive role in God’s redemptive plan. Meeting felt, physical needs, and encouraging the spread of salt and light are catalysts for spiritual transformation. The church’s role in society is to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel through an outpouring of grace and mercy. The DeLille’s work in Brazil has been about accentuating the beauty of the Bride of Christ as they encourage local churches to embody the Kingdom of God to a watching world.

Their robust view of the church and its mission, and the fruit born through their years of ministry make the DeLilles ideal catalysts to develop the South America Mission (SAM) Center. The Center will promote Christ-centered community engagement that leads to wholistic, gospel transformation.

 

Music School, Recife


The SAM Center will be based in the city of Recife, an urban hub of 4 million in Brazil’s northeast corner. Cities like Recife, which are growing rapidly across Latin America, need dedicated efforts to shape gospel influencers for the masses as they swell beyond the capacity of the church to reach them.

While based in Recife and poised for impact on this urban area, the Center’s work of developing church leaders and missionaries will also emphasize the need to go to the isolated, rural places of Brazil that are home to millions. Brazil—the 7th largest country on earth by population, the 5th largest by land mass—boasts more than 340 distinct indigenous people groups in its jungles and dry forests, millions of descendants of African slaves, large Gypsy populations, and marginalized rural peoples.

The Center’s vision is shaped by a strategy to train and develop the most leaders to reach the most people. We maximize this potential by locating the Center in a major urban area that is also a launching point out into Brazil’s remote northeastern region.

The ultimate words of Jesus before he ascended into heaven were an exhortation, known as the Great Commission, for his followers to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”. This work of going and making implies presence and pro-active engagement of the world around us. Unfortunately, and at times to the detriment of the true gospel, churches have chosen to be isolated, inwardly-focused and without accountability. This is true of churches in the US as well as in Latin America, where the logical progression of this posture has resulted in at least appearances of greed and the spread of harmful doctrines like the prosperity gospel.

The hope of the Center is in wholistic, gospel transformation as leaders are developed “to go”, be present in communities, and radiate the beauty of Christ through word and deed. Churches are the protagonists of God’s redemptive action in the world.

Also, the COVID pandemic has brought us into an era of thinking anew about how the church, today, can most effectively awaken people to Christ’s love for the world. The gospel compels us to respond to exacerbated societal injustices, deeper levels of poverty and felt, physical needs that are now more prevalent and chronic to daily life. The Mission Center will partner with churches to cultivate an effective and gospel-centered response to suffering that enhances the church’s witness. It’s a response that reminds us that first, Christ loves us, and cares about the hardships we endure as a result of the world’s brokenness.

Last but not least, individualism, tribalism and material scarcity have forced the leadership of too many churches to prioritize activity that self-preserves and protects turfs. This has been done to the detriment of the advance of the Kingdom of God. The Center will be known for its “We’re better together!” approach and work that facilitates necessary cooperation and collaboration across ministries and denominations.

 

Brazil City Scene

 

Our response is to be “on mission” in Brazil, for the good of the world and the glory of God. Gospel transformation in the hearts and lives of our neighbors is the hope of our mission. And we believe that presence, action, and the testimony of God’s redemptive work in our own lives are the most effective means God utilizes to bring redemption to the lives of others.

 

The next phase of our ministry calls for us to create dedicated space to prepare, equip and train leaders—agents of change—who are steeped in the ways of Jesus and his disciples; people called to “preach good news to the poor…to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed”.

 

Our dedicated space on 7.5 acres, located 30 minutes north of Recife in Igarassu, will focus on training intensives and special events, gospel-centered outreach ideation, and modules geared around the strategic implementation of outreach efforts. We will also focus on soul care through retreats and counseling services. The Center will be known for promoting Christ-centered engagement of communities throughout the northeastern region of Brazil for which Recife is a strategic hub.


♦ Vision
To see wholistic, gospel transformation in Recife and beyond, in the isolated communities of indigenous, of migrant Gypsies, slave descendants, and millions of marginalized rural peoples. Leaders will be developed to engage these communities as the body of Christ.

♦ Ethos
The Center will be known for advancing ministry that engages communities in truth, love and mercy. We’ll also collaborate closely with other organizations and ministries to accomplish our purposes. A few of our partners are: City to City Latin America, Disciple Nations Alliance (DNA), Stephen Ministry, Pioneers, Igreja Batista Sião and Projeto Amanajé.

♦ Strategy/Outcomes
We’re developing leaders—ones on staff at local churches, lay people within, youth who want to make a difference for good and justice, professionals who see a need for transformation in the marketplace. We estimate that the Center will enable us to develop more than 3x the number we have in recent years, jumping from 200 trained and equipped in 2018-19 to 640+ in the Center’s first full year.

♦ Funding
First round funding goal is $250,000. A target purchase price of $135,000 will acquire 7.5 fenced acres already developed with facilities (a main building for events which can also sleep 30, outdoor covered chapel, pool). We will allocate $115,000 for additional construction, including 30 suites used for counseling and care. Estimated annual maintenance and overhead costs are $6,000, with projected annual revenues of $30,000.

 

 

 

Hope in a time of Crisis

Hope in Crisis COVID-19

Dear South America Mission friends and co-laborers,

We hold unswervingly to hope despite the chaos of the times we are living. God kindles our hope through the prophetic voices of Israel’s exile. Zechariah proclaimed that God would “come and dwell in [our] midst” (Zech 2:10). I understand if those who heard his prophecy were doubtful or weary; God’s promise to “dwell among Israel and not forsake [his] people” when the temple was first built 400 years before (1 Kings 6:13) was likely unimaginable at the time of exile.

And we yet have hope today—we see in the life of Christ a fulfillment of those promises and can know for certain that God is among us.

He dwells among us now and we wait with eager anticipation for the day we dwell in His presence. It is in this promise and His faithfulness that we anchor ourselves. This is my message to our missionary team and what I most want you to hear from me today.

I am grateful for each of you supporting the work of SAM missionaries and ministries. Even as these hectic times shift our daily routines and roles, we stand in solidarity with you. It would be our honor to hear from you, to know how you are doing and how we can pray for you specifically in these circumstances.

Our missionary team is developing a “new normal” for being on-mission in these times and in the geography where God has called us.

We’re in countries where the borders have closed and where country-wide quarantines are in effect. The health infrastructure in many places does not have the capacity to manage critical cases. The informal economies in several countries mean that a substantial portion of the population receives their income through public interaction. Please be in prayer for the millions in Latin America who will face these realities. And pray for wisdom for our team, for eyes to see redemptive possibilities that offer peace and hope to neighbors in despair.


Crisis Response Fund

I’ve established a Crisis Response fund at South America Mission to equip and care for missionaries in the coming months. Donations to this fund will be distributed to our missionary team for their use as the gospel compels. They will have freedom to respond to needs that arise, whether within missionary families or in the communities where they serve. Know that your gifts to this effort will directly benefit our missionary team and moreover, mobilize them to be agents of mercy and peace. We realize economic hardship has reached many of you, so we make this ask with great sensitivity. Please give only as you are able and as the Lord leads.

To mobilize Crisis Response funds quickly, the best way to give is online at www.southamericamission.org/crisisresponse.

I encourage you to visit and bookmark this web page even if you decide not to give, because there we will update the content regularly as news and prayer needs develop from our fields of ministry. You can also mail in a check made out to South America Mission with “Crisis Response” written in the memo line (1021 Maxwell Mill Rd, Ste B, Fort Mill, SC 29708).

The directness about the reality before us is paired with our unswerving holding to the hope we profess in the confidence that He who promised is faithful. God is at work as He shakes the nations.

By Grace,

Kirk Ogden, Executive Director, South America Mission