We had an exceptional team from the US visit us in October through December. They came through an organization called Let’s Start Talking. This mission organization sends people all across the globe to teach the Bible to English students. We received three different projects this year. Each group shared the Gospel with English students from the community. I’ve asked some of the team-members to share their experience. Here are their stories…
We arrived in Recife midday Friday, October 25th. We received a warm greeting from Josh and got acquainted with the beautiful and historic coastal city of Recife. We enjoyed dinner that evening with Mike, Aureni, and Josh and learned more about the work of the Boa Vista Church of Christ and the Escola da Biblia.
The next day on Saturday, we held the LST reader information meeting with 22 readers in attendance. Most of them had heard about the English conversations with Americans through social media, email, and personal invitation and were eager to sign up and begin the sessions.
On Sunday morning, Chris and I led the English Bible class and we were thrilled that several of the attendees from the previous day’s meeting came to the Boa Vista Church for the first time. Our reading sessions began Monday at 9:00 in the morning and ended at 8:30pm and continued each day until Thursday.
We were very impressed with our readers: each one had a good grasp of the English language, making it easy to converse with them on almost any subject. They desired was to become more fluent in speaking and reading in English. However, as we sat across from each reader and opened the Luke workbooks, the conversation centered around Jesus and his life and teachings.
A few of our readers were new Christians and seeking to bring their family members into a relationship with Jesus. Most of them had a loose affiliation with the Catholic church. Some of the conversations that left an impression on me were those who had never read the Bible on their own and wanted to know where to start or had never prayed a prayer outside of the Catholic church. Some asked if we believed Jesus was going to return. Did they have to attend the Catholic church all day Saturday and Sunday, as their grandmother did? Why did Jesus tell his disciples not to tell anyone who he was? These were great conversations that allowed us to share our faith with our readers.
On Friday, Aureni and Ana, the orphanage director, drove us out to Lar Mana, the orphanage that the church operates. The children are well cared for in every way. We were very impressed with the dedication shown to the operation of the orphanage. It is well organized and many church members volunteer regularly.
We had a party for our readers on Saturday afternoon, which was also the day my husband had to leave for the States, but my other LST co-worker, Suzie Saffell, arrived! She was there just in time for the party which was well attended and was a fun time of fellowship with our new friends. Suzie and I led the discussion the next morning in Bible class and enjoyed worshiping with the Boa Vista church afterward.
Our reading sessions began again on Monday as Chris’s readers transitioned over to Suzie and we continued discussing English vocabulary and life lessons from Jesus’ life. We said goodbye to our readers on Thursday. We made lifelong friendships and we know seeds of faith were planted. We were so happy that another LST team would be arriving in a few days to carry on the work we had begun. We also know that the Boa Vista Church and the Escola da Biblia provide opportunities for the readers to keep learning more English and more importantly, continue learning more about Jesus.
I have had the opportunity to participate in previous LST projects to Brazil and Chile. As an LST volunteer worker this Recife project is, by far, my most rewarding and enjoyable experience. Two reasons for the outstanding experience:
(1) The great diversity of readers that I was able to engage with, and
(2) God presented the readers and me with incredible opportunities to extend the life conversations in English.
One of the first readers I met told me about a life-changing experience he had when he was in his late 30s. Currently in his late 40s, he says this experience was God intervening in his life to convince him to change his lifestyle and his marriage. This conversation occurred after reading the first three lessons in the Luke study workbook. It probably had a significant or greater impact on me as a worker than the reader. In addition to this conversion story, I was able to interact with readers just like me – people involved in software development in Brazil and one active Brazilian Air Force person. God brought me people who I could easily relate to and help improve their English proficiency.
I was somewhat surprised at the advanced level of English proficiency that I encountered among my readers and the diligence with which people committed to improving their English communication skills. I love the Brazilian people and I respect their desire to know the truth and be engaged with as many different cultures as possible!
It was an honor to be able to meet the kind people of Recife. Our hearts will never be the same because of the impact our readers at Escola da Bíblia and the Boa Vista Church of Christ had on us. We held reading sessions where English was taught through Bible stories.
Conversations were birthed from the passages read that allowed us to connect on a deeper level. Our team loved having reading sessions because we saw how the scriptures came to life in the hearts of our students. The overflow of conversations allowed for testimonies to be shared and a common ground for the love of Jesus to be shared. Even those who weren’t Christian enjoyed the conversations of Jesus and we believe that seeds of faith were planted. Our classes were filled with laughter, joy, eager learning and deep connections.
We also had the privilege of visiting the children at the orphanage of Lar Maná and it was life-changing to witness how loved and cherished they were. We also threw parties for our readers with fun games and activities. It was so much fun connecting with our readers.
On our last night in Recife we had delicious Açai at a restaurant with our students and played at the beach. These memories and friendships we made will forever be ingrained in our hearts.
We thank Mike and Josh Pruitt for allowing us to be able to come. We also thank our students for accepting us with open arms and sharing their love for Brazil and Jesus Christ with us. The Let’s Start Talking Recife team of 2019 are so thankful that we got to be a part of this mission trip and we will never forget the wonderful time we had in Recife sharing the love of Jesus.