Again, it’s been a while since I last updated my blog and it feels like much has happened since last time. We have continued to have discipleship lunches on Thursday afternoons. A few weeks ago, my friend Novinho (the former drug dealer-turned-evangelist) wanted me to come with him to talk to a man who used to be a pastor but was now using drugs. I have to say that my eyes were opened to the reality of drug abuse in Oitão Preto that day. Novinho led me down a narrow road and into a small ‘house’ were four people were sitting. All of their drug paraphernalia and their drugs were out in the open and they were preparing to take the drugs. One lady was sweating profusely as she had most likely just taken the drugs. I have to say that I had never seen anything like that before and I realized how sheltered I have been to things like this. We talked to the man who used to be the pastor. Novinho shared a word with him about choosing Christ or the world and it seemed to have an impact on him. We prayed for him and moved on to a house a little further up the street. It seemed as though everyone on that street was impacted in some way by drug abuse. We prayed for an older lady who was also addicted to drugs as well as a young woman. The pastor came to the discipleship lunch later that afternoon and he was open to receive prayer, yet he was not willing to change even though he knew that he needed to. Pray that God would have mercy on him and that the Holy Spirit would do a miracle in his life. During this time, a young boy of about nine years old was following us around. Most (if not all) children in the community are exposed to the harsh reality of drug abuse, prostitution and gang activity. Oitão Preto is in need of God’s love and power in a special way.
At the same time, I believe that we are seeing pockets of light shining through the darkness. One example of a good work that God is doing is in the life of a woman named Marcia (whom I mentioned in my previous post). She recently gave her life to Jesus and God has set her free from her former way of life. I have the privilege of teaching her along with two others in the discipleship Bible study that we have recently started. Marcia recently expressed the desire to get baptized and publicly profess her faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone who lives in our house, her family, as well as some other friends went to the beach near her house for a baptism service. I had thought that Herb (our leader) would be the one to baptize her, but before we left he asked me if I would be willing to do it. I had never baptized anyone, but I agreed to do it and I was so blessed and encouraged. It is something special to be a part of someone’s life whom God has set free from darkness and to witness the joy that He brings to their life. My heart was full of joy as I listened to Marcia tell of what God has done in her life.
Last time I also mentioned a young man who gave his life to Christ. This young man is a drug dealer in the community but he has recently (a few weeks ago) decided to follow Christ. I was very excited this week because he came to our discipleship Bible study for the first time! God is doing a good work in his heart and he has a desire to live for God. Pray that he would rely on God’s power and that God would transform every area of his life. I am encouraged that God is doing something good even in the midst of darkness!
I have also had the opportunity to practice my renovation skills over the past few weeks. Our leaders , Herb and Lorelie are expecting a baby any day and there is a real need for another bathroom upstairs. We decided to convert a laundry room into a bathroom and though it has been a lot of work, it is almost finished! I had never done tile before, but I figured ‘With access to Youtube to watch do-it-yourself videos, how hard can it be?’ Well I have realized that I am no professional, but I think that I have done an all-right job for a rookie.
Teaching and preaching keeps a man very busy and I have been very blessed to have many opportunities to teach as well as an opportunity to preach. We have a service here at our house every other Friday. We always hold our services in the courtyard where there is plenty of room. This last Friday I spoke on ‘The Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ’ from 2 Corinthians 4:6. I feel that this was one of my favorite sermons that I have given; there was an atmosphere of worship during the message and God, in His mercy, touched hearts and stirred a hunger to see His glory. God is so good and so worthy of all of our praise! I know that when I get discouraged I need to fix my eyes upon Him.