While teaching an intensive class in Fortaleza last month I was asked by a dear friend to pay a visit to a friend of hers. I was so involved with class preparation that this seemed like an inconvenient interruption. But like the persistent widow my friend kept asking me. So I went. On the way I realized that my friend probably wanted me to have some words of comfort for her friend, Rosa. You see, I found out that Rosa had inoperable, terminal cancer and her days were few. This had finally opened my eyes to the needs of both my friend and Rosa. So late Wednesday afternoon we got on a bus and headed to Rosa’s house. “So Lord, what would you have me say to this precious saint of yours?” Like a flash Psalm 16 came to my mind. As I pored over in Portuguese I felt a peace and certainly about God’s direction.
When I saw Rosa she showed the ravages of the disease in her body but not in her spirit. Peace radiated from her like a welcoming warm soft light. I learned that she was going to have a procedure done in two days, but just routine, to clear out her lungs. She showed no signs of anxiety; only trust and faith. As I read the Psalm aloud I inwardly wondered about the references to death. But God reassured me that this was His word to her.
I was asked to pray, which is always a challenge in Portuguese. The more formal speech, like using thee and thou, always trips me up. But it was amazing. The presence of Jesus was so real that I prayed like I rarely have prayed; slowly, clearly, and beyond my ability.
I left feeling encouraged as only can happen when you are in the presence of someone who loves Jesus passionately. I was reassured that Jesus had Rosa’s life in His hands.
You can imagine my surprise when I heard that Rosa had gone to be with Jesus the next Monday. As I looked over Psalm 16 again I rejoiced that He had not abandoned her to the grave. And now, yes, now, she is experiencing eternal pleasures at His right hand. This is our resurrection hope and reality.
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Our bags are packed…again as Gwendolyn and I (Grace) head out to Fortaleza tonight. She and I just got back from a retreat in northern Brazil, where I spoke at a couple of sessions.
Front Row Seats on the Bus
We will be in Fortaleza, in northeast Brazil for 10 days as a part of our theological education by extension. Principles of Teaching will be the class I am presenting.
Tom and Hudson are in northern Mozambique getting to know our Wesleyan work there. Our hope is to see Brazil make a connection with this other Portuguese speaking country. Tom had a bit of trouble getting out of Brazil since his yellow fever shot had expired some weeks ago. They were delayed and had difficulty connecting with the Jesus Film crew they were going to travel with. Once they got to Mozambique they had a choice between taking a three day bus trip or a two-hour flight to get with this group. They took the flight. We have not heard anything from them since they left Maputo, the capital, but we trust all is well.
I did say three continents. Anna, at Asbury University, is a spiritual life assistant for her hall. She loves investing in the girls on her hall and planning the weekly prayer meetings. Last week she invited a missionary family to visit her hall to share about God’s vision for reaching the world. That is the only vision worth having.
We appreciate your prayers as we travel, minister and share the Good News.
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I got into Sergio’s car grateful for a ride home. When Tom dropped me off in this distant part of the city a few hours before, to teach a seminary extension class, our car was making troubling noises. After class I thought I would head to the nearest bus stop when one of my students insisted he would be happy to drop me off.
Settling in for the long ride home I was startled to see a pair of handcuffs on the console. I glanced in the back and saw a cap that said, “Federal Police”. I had no idea what Sergio did for a living so I asked him. Amazed I learned that he is a detective. His job is to investigate all the unsolved cases that are over 10 years old in the city of Manaus. To add pressure to this already difficult job a new law said that these had to be solved in 30 days. I asked him how it was going. He said that it was obvious that God helps him without fail. His partner, a non-believer, once called him the luckiest person he had ever known. Sergio assured him it was because of God’s guidance that he met with so much success.
One day, he told me, he was questioning people in a neighborhood where leads had grown cold. He really needed information that could only be gotten from someone who had moved long ago. Imagine everyone’s surprise, but Sergio’s, when that very person all of a sudden drove up, after years of being gone. Sergio was used to divine improbabilities.
Sergio has a special tactic with Christians that he meets in his line of work. He shares with them that he also is a brother in Christ and quotes a verse from Leviticus that says, if you know something and don’t tell it, you are sinning. This produces unbelievable results.
Sergio has taken several classes at our seminary and he has been uncertain how God wanted to use him until he took a recent class, Principles of Teaching. He became so convicted about the importance of effective teaching in the church that he told his classmates on the last night of class that he feels a call to teach and be used in the church to train and disciple new Christians in his local church.
It is delightful to see how God calls many different people to serve him with their unique gifts and talents. I have witnessed how God has made a detective, on the trail of unsolved murders, into the best kind of sleuth, one who searches out God’s truth and shares it with others.
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