During the month of June, three university students from Austin, TX, Jonathan Rodriguez, Steven Earnest and Briannon Trimm, spent the month teaching the Bible in English. This is a great experience for anyone wanting to visit Brazil and engage immediately in evangelism. They were able to share theirs lives and communicate the Gospel. We had around 45 students, many of which visit our church and are going to attend other School of the Bible classes. I asked Jonathan to share his experience:
When I was little, I remember an influential minister in my life stood in front of a volunteer and told him to fall back. When he hesitated, the minister got behind him and said, “Fall back and I’ll catch you.” On many levels, I feel doing LST in Recife, Brazil taught me how I might have better faith.
My team and I trained for months with our campus minister in Texas, but I was still unsure what being in a foreign speaking place and teaching real people English and God’s Word for six weeks might actually be like.
One of the first things we did was walk through Recife with several members of the congregation to hand out flyers. The reception was mixed, but overwhelmingly positive, in contrast to my expectations. Several, in fact, approached our group curiously, and wanted to know what was going on. In fact, I realized, it was my reception that needed to be more positive and in tune with Christ, not withholding because I thought someone was too intimidating, old, or not interested. I learned faith trusts God can work in people and knows they are ready to listen.
During an information meeting we introduced ourselves to our readers with biographical presentations and a few icebreakers.
During this time we began finding common ground and saw we were all merely human. Nothing was threatening about us towards our readers and vice versa. This was further propagated throughout weekly social events where the readers introduced some of their other friends and met with members of the church. Some, in fact, came to church services and others have formed strong friendships with the church family. I learned faith isn’t afraid of other people and knows we are all made in God’s image; God will use every situation to bring about something good.We were in God’s Word daily, building relationships with our readers and exploring Jesus’s example to us through the Gospel of Luke that we might reflect his being in some way. One of my fears was knowing what to say, but this proved to be a complete delusion entirely. The Word truly proved to be the teacher, and the conversation was always motivating. One thing I learned is we’re all not very different. Our struggles and worries are common, but God doesn’t want people to be crippled by problems. God has shown his peace and requires a healthy mindset, focused on walking with Him. Readers expressed feelings of healing and of being inspired and refreshed in their relationship with God. This, indeed, was so meaningful to hear. I learned faith is being assured that it’s God who reaches and teaches all, and that the Spirit causes change and reformation. Moreover, prayer’s power is not to be taken lightly.
There were peripheral activities to the core of a LST project, but these certainly weren’t unimportant. These included visits to a church supported street ministry to the homeless of Recife where we played with the children and helped give food to the poor. These were also nurtured by messages from God’s Word. Another experience was at a ministry devoted to nurturing children living in the slums, where some of our friends from the church family helped. These images were certainly raw, but seeing faith put into action and seeing the response from some of them in turn gives a sense of hope.
Faith tells me it’s not me but God who was, is, and will continue to do work in all readers’ lives and also among our amazing church family.