Every year since 2007, teams from Northern Virginia have been visiting the community of Benevides, Brazil, working with a ministry called Creative Hands. Creative Hands works with families living near a landfill.
Our mission is to support the ministry of Creative Hands through community service projects and the gathering of material they can use throughout the year.
This year, the team will be working to build two houses for two families in the community.
In addition, the team will host a week of day camp for families to attend. During the week of camp, we’ll offer soccer clinics, sports activities, arts and crafts, workshops, and vocational courses. Our hope is to provide a safe and warm environment for families to grow both as individuals and as a unit. We desire to encourage them in the love of Christ.
One group of team members will be in Brazil from June 28 to July 7, where they will be hosting family camp and constructing a house. From the 7th to the 16th, a second group will be constructing a second home.
Help with supplies
If you’d like to financially contribute to camp and building supplies for this trip, you can give online. Be sure to designate “Brazil Building/Camp Supplies.” You can also drop a check in an offering box at church, with “Brazil Supplies” in the memo line.
Last week, we shared a report from the Pioneers mission agency about Don Richardson and his family, whose years of faithful service saw the Lord bring the gospel to cannibal tribes in Indonesia. This incredible video documents the legacy of God’s grace to the Sawi tribes when Don and his three sons, Steve, Shannon and Paul, went back to visit the Sawi to see how they were doing.
It was 50 years ago, when Steve Richardson was 7 months old, that his parents Don and Carol Richardson moved deep into the jungles of Papua, Indonesia and made their home among a small tribal group called the Sawi. His dad learned the language and his mom treated the sick, all with the purpose of telling the people about Jesus.
The Sawi were headhunters and cannibals. They lived in a constant state of war and they did not respond to the Gospel as the Richardsons had hoped and prayed. As time passed, his parents began to wonder if the gospel would ever take root. They were faced with the decision to stay or leave. Finally, Don explained to the people that if they kept fighting they could no longer stay. The Sawi were desperate to keep them around, so they finally agreed to make peace with each other. In order for that to happen each Sawi, village gave an infant, a baby boy, to their enemies. This child became known as the “Peace Child.” It was through this unexpected exchange, ingrained very deep in their culture, that his parents were given a unique, perfect opportunity to explain to them that God sent His very own “Peace Child,” Jesus, to make peace with us.
Twenty-five years later, Don and his three sons, Steve, Shannon and Paul, went back to visit the Sawi to see how they were doing. It was an amazing reunion. The people rolled out the red carpet. Hundreds and hundreds of people from five tribes came to welcome them.
Walls have been broken down by virtue of the Gospel’s impact on the Sawi people. They are sharing leadership in the church services, they are intermarrying amongst tribes. Where once they were constantly fighting, they now love each other. It is no longer a place of war but a place of peace. It is a safe place to live now. In an obedient step of faith by Don and Carol Richardson 50 years ago, a legacy of God’s grace is truly visible. People who used to be mortal enemies now see themselves as almost as one. They share a sense of significance.
The villages are committed to staying faithful to the Gospel. The younger generation is really thriving. They have lots of challenges but they are aggressive in progressing and making an impact on others around them. What an incredible privilege it was for the entire Richardson family to join God in His journey to the nations. But they can’t help but wonder how many other people around the world are still waiting to experience what the Sawi’s experienced – hearing the Gospel?
Steve Richardson became president of the Pioneers missions agency in 1999, after serving as a missionary to one of the world’s largest unreached people groups in the world. For more than 35 years, Pioneers’ passion has been to see God glorified among those who are physically and spiritually isolated from the gospel of Jesus Christ—from Bedouins in the deserts of North Africa and animist villagers in the jungles of South America to secular humanists in Eastern Europe and middle-class Buddhist urbanites in the sprawling cities of East Asia.
RBC currently supports 13 missionaries with Pioneers, all with the passion of sharing God’s Word to the lost. Would you take a minute to thank God for the work He has done in the Sawi tribes and in the lives of the Richardson family? Please also pray with us for our Pioneer missionaries across the nations.
Adapted from a letter published to staff of Wycliffe USA from Bob Creson, President and CEO.
Translator Lee Bramlett was confident that God had left His mark on the Hdi culture somewhere, but though he searched, he could not find it. Where was the footprint of God in the history or daily life of these Cameroonian people? What clue had He planted to let the Hdi know Who He was and how He wanted to relate to them?
Then one night in a dream, God prompted Lee to look again at the Hdi word for love. Lee and his wife, Tammi, had learned that verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels. For almost every verb, they could find forms ending in i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?
Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, which included the most influential leaders in the community, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone. “Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said. That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.
“Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?” Everyone laughed. “Of course not! If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.”
Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God ‘dvu’ people?”
There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded. “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”
One simple vowel and the meaning was changed from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you, based on Who I am. I love you because of Me and NOT because of you.”
God had encoded the story of His unconditional love right into their language. For centuries, the little word was there—unused but available, grammatically correct and quite understandable. When the word was finally spoken, it called into question their entire belief system. If God was like that, did they need the spirits of the ancestors to intercede for them? Did they need sorcery to relate to the spirits? Many decided the answer was no, and the number of Christ-followers quickly grew from a few hundred to several thousand.
The New Testament in Hdi is ready to be printed now, and 29,000 speakers will soon be able to feel the impact of passages like Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, ‘dvu’ your wives, just as Christ ‘dvu’-d the church…” I invite you to pray for them as they absorb and seek to model the amazing, unconditional love they have received.
Around the world, community by community, as God’s Word is translated, people are gaining access to this great love story about how God ‘dvu’-d us enough to sacrifice his unique Son for us, so that our relationship with Him can be ordered and oriented correctly. The cross changes everything! Someday, the last word of the last bit of Scripture for the last community will be done, and everyone will be able to understand the story of God’s unconditional love.
Marcelo and Holly minister with Open Arms Worldwide in Assis, Brazil. In 2012 they felt the call to change their ministry and move north to Belem, Brazil to work alongside RBC-supported missionaries Lynne McLeavy and Bete Cordosa in the Creative Hands ministry. This ministry focuses on the men, women and children that live the Flowers Estate, which is actually an area near the dump. In late January, Marcelo and Holly traveled 5 days north with all their belongings and arrived at Bairro dos Flores, or the Flowers Estate They were able to look at a house to live in the day they arrived and thankfully they were able to purchase the house and move in 2 weeks later. Owning their own home will communicate to the people that they are there for the long term. This will be huge in developing relationships with the people of Flower Estates. It will also offer a safe place to store ministry supplies and it is large enough that they will be able to host short-term missions teams that come to help minister throughout the year thus reducing the team cost.
Marcelo will be caring for the church that will officially started the first Sunday of March. This is the first time this area will have a church. The people from the dump are shunned from other local churches as outcasts. As they prayerfully consider the needs of those who frequent the services, Marcelo and Holly will look to develop additional facets of ministry that will best meet the needs of the church attendees.
Marcelo will also be starting a soccer school which will operate throughout the week for boys, teens, and men. They are prayerful that the school will be a vehicle to specifically minister to the boys and men of the community, sharing the gospel and developing discipling relationships. Marcelo and Holly will assist in the Saturday Bible Clubs, where children and teens gather weekly to participate in group activities and hear from the Word. Holly will be helping in the half day preschool that functions from Tuesday to Friday.
Holly is also excited to be the liaison between their ministry and Word of Life—a local Christian school—where 15 children from Bairro dos Flores are attending, having been sponsored by faithful brothers and sisters from the States. Holly will also be working with a teen servant group called BOPE. Their prayer is through every activity, they point others to Christ.
The longer they are there and the more they get to know people, the more thrilled they are about the opportunity of being there. They hope and pray that wherever the Lord leads them in life, they never lose the excitement of hopeful anticipation that they have knowing they serve a God who has the power to transform lives.
Though your sacrificial giving to RBC, the Missions Committee was able to significantly help in the moving expenses and with the cost of purchasing their home. The Missions Committee was also able to increase the monthly support of Marcelo and Holly. We pray that God will greatly bless their vital ministry as the gospel of Jesus is lived out in Bairro dos Flores. Please pray with us for them.
On Saturday, February 16, the sixteen-person RBC Missions Committee met for 10 hours to review the 76 international missionaries that RBC supports. (The committee will review the 136 national missionaries that RBC supports on March 10.)
Each year, the Missions Committee sends each of our missionaries an update questionnaire so they can report on their finances, their accomplishments for the past year, their goals for the coming year, their prayer concerns and their children’s needs. Every committee member thoroughly reads through these updates prior to the annual review and comes to the meeting prepared to discuss each one.
The consistent theme of all the updates is that our missionaries need our prayer support more than anything else. The RBC missionary family is experiencing some painful things, both in ministry and in their personal lives. Several have grown children with marital problems and looking towards divorce. Some have children with medical needs. Some have elderly parents with issues and they are far away. Some of them have some serious health issues themselves. There are issues in their ministries. They all need our consistent prayer.
After determining the financial position of the missions budget, the committee looks at each missionary’s support shortage, if they have one. The committee always considers the needs of those missionaries RBC has sent out first. Praise God, the missions fund had enough money to give $1750 in increases to 28 of our missionaries. The committee was encouraged that the average missionary we support receives 89% of their current support need. This is an increase of one percent over last year.
The committee also looked at other issues facing our missionaries beyond financial needs. The committee will address these issues and needs over the course of the next few months. As well as thoroughly examining our missionaries, the committee also reviewed the policies that guide the missions program and discussed updates and/or changes to some of those policy guidelines. Any changes or updates made to the policies will go to the RBC council of elders for their final approval.
The most important thing the committee accomplished at the annual review was the extended time spent in prayer for our missionary family. The committee prayed through 18 pages of prayer requests we received through the update questionnaires.
If you do not yet have one an RBC Missionary Guide, please stop by the Welcome Desk in the lobby and pick one up and begin praying for our missionaries. They are in some serious spiritual battles, and many serve in some seriously dark areas of the world. Your prayers are essential as they bring forth the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations.
If you have any questions about missions at RBC, please drop us an email at email@example.com.
Give thanks to God with us for Mark and Esther, who are the newest members of the RBC-supported missionary family. They minister in their native country of Zambia.
Mark was born in a religious and church-going family, but they did not know the Lord as their Savior. He indulged in sinful habits and was tormented by evil spirits. He was taken to witch doctors for treatment, but it was all futile. His mother eventually accepted Jesus as Lord, and through the influence of her changed life, Mark accepted the Lord in 1980 and was freed from the torment of the evil spirits. Since that time, he has become a strong witness for Christ.
Mark joined AFCI (Ambassadors for Christ International) in 1986 as a team evangelist. After receiving further studies at a Bible Institute and developing the ministry, he has since become the Country Director. Mark and Esther are involved in organizing and conducting evangelistic gospel crusades, Christian leadership seminars and revival meetings in both rural and urban areas of Zambia.
People in Zambia are very open to the Gospel. Zambia is a very poor country with 86% of the population living below the poverty level. About 40% of the people do not have access to clean water and 50% of the children are malnourished. The AIDS crisis overwhelms the health services and the economy. Most of the children who are orphaned due to AIDS. Almost 75% of Zambian households care for a relative orphaned by AIDS. Illiteracy in rural areas is close to 90%. Christianity is widely accepted even in the public institutions, and freedom of all religions is practiced. Zambia is landlocked country and is relatively stable and peaceful but is surrounded by countries rocked by war and strife.
One out of every four children in Zambia in an orphan. Abandoned by his father at an early age and growing up in a broken home, Mark developed a great compassion for the vulnerable children in Zambia. Part of his ministry today involves helping orphans, especially in helping meet their educational needs. Mark has also formed and developed a group of 26 leaders a cross the country that meets periodically for mutual encouragement and growth.
Mark and Esther also have an ongoing pre-marital counseling program and conduct regular Family Life Enhancement Seminars for married couples. They seek to train others who can offer the same type of training and counseling as solid families are the real key to the future of Zambia.
Please pray for Mark and Esther and their three children (ages 15,13 and 11) as they boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus in Zambia.
As we ramp up for our annual missions conference, we have the great joy of giving thanks to God for Andrew & Ruth Murray this weekend during our worship services (November 4). Andrew & Ruth are long-time RBC missionaries who are retiring from the field after many years of faithful gospel-centered service in Papua New Guinea.
The video above is raw footage showing them delivering printed New Testaments in the native language of the Nimo tribe early in 2011. For the first time in history, the Nimo people are able to read the Word of God for themselves.
When Andrew speaks to the Nimo people in the video, this is what he says: “Today is a very important day in the history of the Nimo people. God’s word is always the same. If God’s word stays in your string bag, it has no use. When you read this New Testament, you will learn God’s talk to strengthen you. We can’t work our way to heaven, but God’s word shows us the way.”
This short clip is the culmination of many years of faithful ministry and Bible translation. We praise God that Christ is being made known to the Nimo tribe. We praise God for the faithfulness of His servants, who heeded His call to the field and labored in faithful, obedient love to their Savior. May Christ be glorified as we celebrate what He has done in and through Andrew & Ruth.
We’re introducing this song, The Church, as part of this year’s annual missions conference. Get info and get engaged in what God is doing throughout the nations: http://rstbl.ch/theworldiswaiting
We are the change the world is waiting for
We’ve got a love the world is desperate for
We will lead and take to Your streets
Now’s the time for us to rise
And carry hope and let love shine
And show this world that mercy is alive
Now’s the time for us to rise
And carry hope to hopeless eyes
And show this world that mercy is alive
We’re not afraid, we will abandon all
To hear Your name on lips across the world
We will run in the wake of Your love
Fill our hearts with Your compassion
Let our love be active here
Fill our hearts with Your compassion
Let our love be real
See more Green Room Sessions here: rstbl.ch/PrUkYS
In early October, a team of five from the RBC went to Brazil to partner with Mike Meyers, RBC Children’s Ministry Associate and founder of Open Arms, in an event called Voz e Vida. Voz e Vida, Juntos Pelas Crianças (Voice & Life, Together for the Children) is an annual benefit concert held in Assis, Sao Paulo, the base city for Open Arms in Brazil. This gospel music event seeks to cross over denominational lines and bring together Christians to reach every child with the gospel of Jesus Christ through the work of Open Arms. The event also has gospel proclamation component both within the concert itself as well as throughout the promotion phase leading up the concert during radio, television and newspaper interviews. From Mike & Patricia Meyers:
Whenever we engage in short term missions, the question arises about what kind of impact was made and whether or not it was worthwhile. Let me answer that question here. In the space of two weeks, we were able to share with the city of Assis, Brazil about the work that Open Arms has done and is doing among the children of this city and throughout the region in the name of Jesus, via radio (nearly a dozen interviews, four of them with the guys from the band), television (2 stations), newspapers (3 papers published 6 quarter page stories), the schools (2 grade schools, 1 technical school and one university) and all culminating in a concert before a very enthusiastic crowd.
This massive exposure was in large part due to the participation of five very humble servants of Christ from Reston Bible Church. Erik & Elisa Palmer, Jesse Trask, Brian St. Andre and Carter Keeton took Assis by storm and left here with a city full of new friends, and fans. Besides their busy promotion schedule during their week in Assis, they came prepared to work with our kids at their schools and in a Children’s Day party which was to be held on October 12th. The party got rained out but the team still was able to minister to 600+ children in two of the public schools we are partnered with.
The gospel was preached in word by our team and in deed by the RBC Five. Their example of joyful, sacrificial service, not to mention the music which was an immediate hit, has opened doors for the ministry more than we could have imagined. Since they left, our staff and I have been running non-stop responding to new donors, volunteers and business leaders who want to get involved in what God is doing among the children here.
On behalf of the staff, volunteers and children of Open Arms in Brazil, we have only thanks to give. Thanks to God for bringing this event together, thanks to Reston Bible Church for standing by this ministry and sending your very best to us, and thanks to the team for encouraging our staff here with their music, their laughs, and their example.
Mike & Patricia Meyers
From Chelsea, our missionary in Venezuela:
“We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life—those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.” – Oswald Chambers
Now that the exciting adventure of living in a foreign land has worn off, and this is my day-to-day life, I wonder how much longer I am going to be in Venezuela. It is nice that I can commit one year at a time as the Lord graciously leads, but every year seems to have its own challenges. This year, I think the challenge will be persevering in the valley. It seems to be a dry season for me as far as God’s work goes, and I don’t seem to have much zeal for ministry. I am sharing the Gospel and discipling others out of sheer obedience rather than passion or holy delight. I am thankful for Oswald Chambers and his writings, for God often uses him to speak to me right where I am. Recently, Chambers has helped me see that the valley is not necessarily a trying circumstance, but the “ordinary things of life.” The above quote was extremely eye-opening for me and comforting at the same time. I am not sure if what I am experiencing is missionary burn-out or not, but I am beginning to see that it doesn’t really matter. I must believe that if I am abiding in Christ (which I am), my obedience through this dry season has a purpose and can glorify my Father just as much as when I am on top of the mountain.
Would you take a moment now to pray for Chelsea? Pray also for her ministry and for Venezuela as the Gospel continues to go forth in that country.
From an RBC missionary at work in Slavonski Brod, Croatia:
One bright spot from this past summer has been the surprising response of Slavonski Brod youth to the gospel. As short-term teams came and went throughout the summer, we held a number of outreaches and Bible studies for Croatian teens. A few teens have stuck around and shown great interest in spiritual things. Until the end of the summer, a group of 6 youth formed a core group that came together regularly for both social outings and for times of Bible study. One of these 6 placed her faith in Christ in July. Three others have shown that they are close to making a similar decision to become followers of Jesus.
Please pray for these teens. The start of school has presented challenges to the momentum that was going during the summer. Other commitments are causing some to scale back their involvement with the group, and we see each other less frequently. Pray that they would continue to be interested in spiritual things despite the busy, demanding schedules of high school students.
Would you take a few minutes right now to pray for our missionary, these teens, and other gospel seeds planted in Croatia this past summer?
This summer, a team of 20 students and adults went to Slavonski Brod and Nova Gradiska, Croatia to work with RBC missionaries Garret Prestwood and Darko Mikulic and the Pioneers Team that Tony Pedroni, RBC’s Shepherd Groups pastor, used to lead. In these cities, we did a Kid’s Club (think outdoor VBS) for younger kids, and ran camps where we taught Croatian teens how to play baseball. God was amazingly gracious to us, bringing out the perfect number of participants and providing us with great weather, even though the forecast was bleak. The videos below will give you a glimpse of what these events looked like.
Through these events, we were able to build relationships with many Croatian students. In the evenings, we would meet up with the friends we had made in the town square and hang out in small groups. It was in these times, I saw the Lord so powerfully work. Our team would regather late at night, and the stories were just amazing of how this student got to share their testimony of how God has changed their life with two Croatians, or how a Croatian opened up about the struggles in their life and we got to share about the hope we have in Christ. Every night we seemed to have another five stories of God at work.
I have had the privilege of being a part of many overseas missions trips, but I have never before seen the Lord open up so many opportunities for His Word to go forth in personal one-on-one relationships as I saw this year in Croatia. We were truly blessed to be a part of God’s plan and work in that country. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement along the way.
Please continue to be in prayer for the many seeds planted in Croatia, the new believers to be connected with the body of Christ, the students still exploring their faith with the long-term missionaries there, and for our teens to catch a vision that conversations about God can happen not just when we travel halfway around the world, but wherever God has placed them.
Our missionaries in Africa, the H’s, have spent years learning the language and culture of a particular tribal people group in the Mozambique area. Recently, they were able to begin teaching the Bible chronologically from creation to Christ. Last year, several tribal people trusted Christ as their Savior for the first time in history.
The H’s missions agency recently sent this report from a tribal man there who accepted Christ as his Savior:
“I believe there is only one God. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. I believe that He send His only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for my sin. He saved me! He is the Redeemer. He is my Redeemer.
“Now, I am not afraid of death anymore. Sure, I am afraid of the pain and sickness and what that can do to this body of mine, but this is only temporary. Now I know where I am going when I die. I know the footpath to God. I know I will be with Him one day I am going to Heaven!
“There are only two footpaths in this life: one goes to God, and one goes to the eternal fire. I have found the right path, the one that leads to God! I am saved!
“Thank you so much for coming to tell us this. I did not know the right way. Now I know! I am saved!”
Please continue to pray for the H’s, for this tribe, for the new followers of Christ there, and for many more to come to know Jesus and make Him known.
Six years ago, Eduardo de Mello Ribeiro was released after serving 18 months in a juvenile detention facility in Brazil. He was saved by Jesus from a life of violence and crime. Shortly after his release, he began volunteering with Open Arms in his town. Open Arms Worldwide is an RBC-supported organization that mobilizes, prepares, equips and aids Christian leaders and volunteers in implementing transformational, faith-based, children and youth outreach projects among the world’s poor.
Today, Eduardo is a full-time missionary with Open Arms in Brazil. He has started three outreach projects, has led countless young people to faith in Christ and also works as a counselor with men struggling with chemical dependency. In 2011 Eduardo, after years of stubborn perseverance, succeeded in opening a door for Open Arms back into the facility where he served his time. He put together an “A-Team” of Open Arms volunteers and began ministering to the boys (between 12 and 18 years old) in that facility.
It is my great joy to have walked with Eduardo over the years and I anxiously look forward to his reports. Last month was a special joy. Let me share with you some details from a recent correspondence with Open Arms:
“In early July, twenty-nine (29) new inmates arrived at the facility. On Saturday, July 15, during a visit from the Open Arms team, Eduardo was blessed to lead twenty (20) of those young boys to faith in Jesus Christ! He and his team are now actively discipling them in the Word. This is what we all are laboring for, friends. This is what our prayers and gifts each month mean in the lives of real children. God is using you to change the future of these young people. Praise God! I give thanks to Him for each of you and your faithfulness. May we all never tire of doing good!”