Thursday, October 20, 2011

In the Garden...

A morning spent traveling to Bethlehem and Jerusalem... Although Israel's landscapes and skylines have drastically changed since the first century, one thing hasn't... dirty feet! You can be sure that if you're wearing flip flops or sandals in this country, you will have to come home and wash your feet!!!

As the wind blows the dust across the country from side to side, you can't help but ponder on the moment Jesus washed the disciples' feet and what an honor that was.

On top of the Mount of Olives, you stand and look out to a perfect view of the sealed Eastern Gate and rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus will return and split that Gate open! Come, Lord Jesus, come... We walked to the Garden of Gethsemane and sang about the blood of Jesus knowing that our story as believers doesn't end with His blood on the cross, but His resurrection!

Leia Mais…

Friday, October 14, 2011

Beginning with the End...

Today, we began our day at the place where we, believers, know it will all end... Tel Megiddo, known to us as Armageddon. This hill overlooks the Valley of Jezreel, a fertile land in between Mount Carmel and the Jordan Valley. There are several cities on top of mountains that overlook onto this valley, Nazareth being one of them. Just imagine, Jesus grew up having a clear view of this valley and knew His final return would be here as well.

Then, we went to Capernaum. Here, Jesus began His ministry after having been baptized by John the Baptist. This is where, He stayed with Peter and healed the paralytic after he was lowered into the house. Jesus forgave the man's sins while the Pharisees and teachers questioned him for having that authority. Then, Jesus asked them, "which is easier to say, 'your sins are forgiven' or 'get up and walk?'" Then, He told him to pick up his mat and walk. Have you ever wanted something from Jesus so badly that it was easier for Him to forgive your sins than to grant you the healing you needed?

Upon the Mount of Beatitudes, we read Matthew 5-7 before heading down for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee as we imagined Jesus calming the storm or telling Peter to cast his net on the other side. I assure you, none of us walked on water, although it was tempting to try when we put our feet in.

The Lord has been good to us. We are thankful for His love and provision as we continue to seek Him. Blessed are the pure at heart for they shall see the face of God...

Leia Mais…

Israel Day 1 - Antipatris

Antipatris was a city built by Herod the Great and named in honor of his father... This city served as a fortress and major strategic points in battles between the Egyptians, Israelites and Philistines in the Bronze and Iron Age, until it fell into ruin prior to Herod's rebuilding. The city was destroyed by an earthquake but that doesn't mean that 2000 year old roads wouldn't still be there, does it??? Cause they are...

From Exodus to Peter, many of the ruins and the roads have withheld the battles of man and the battles of natural disaster which is a perfect comparison to the withholding of our lives in God's hands. Not to mention, the glory or demise of one era was the foundation of another era. Ruins are constantly built upon because of their secure foundation.

How much of that is true in our lives? No matter the battles our lives endure, a firm foundation in Him will only leave ruins that people will stand in awe of and come from thousands of miles away to see... And others in the family of God get to constantly build on top of. Sing this with us... "The church's one foundation is Jesus..."

Leia Mais…

Thursday, October 13, 2011

South Africa Wrap-Up

We are all back in the States now, but I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on what happened the last two weeks...

First, after we finished the Holiday Clubs on Friday we still weren't finished. On Saturday, part of our team headed back to the U.S. But the other half stayed for a few days to do more things in Cape Town. We spent Saturday morning and lunch with the Life Skills Educators and local volunteers who worked at each of the locations during the week. We all played paintball. It was so much fun! It was my first time (and may other's as well) to play paintball. Our BBC friend, Joey Lankford also played with us and was ruthless! I have bruises to prove it!
Despite the pain it was a blast of a way to end the time with the folks who work year-round with Living Hope. We had lunch together and spend more time visiting together.

Then the 10 of us who stayed the extra time were able to other things throughout the weekend to see more of South Africa. David and Jaina were able to do separate overnight stays in one of the townships. I know that was a neat experience for them to hang out with families who live in the communities in which we worked all week.

In looking back over this mission journey, I continue to be amazed at what God does when people make themselves available to be used by Him. Our team of 19 was a mixture of folks from different life stages, backgrounds and careers. Some had traveled extensively and for some this was the first time out of the country. Yet, God used each one in a unique way to build His Kingdom.
I am very thankful for the servant attitude by the team members. We really had no issues with personality conflicts, complaining, someone not doing their part and some of the other issues that can happen when you have this many people serving and living together for two weeks. Also, I feel they really served the Life Skills Educators in each community. Our team's role in the setting with Living Hope is not to go in an "run the show." Rather it is to come in with resources and support to help the folks who work there all year do the job. This was done well by each team and I hope that lasting relationships were formed between our folks and the Life Skills Educators.
We know of at least 8 children and teens who professed Christ as Lord and Savior during the week. Please pray that more come to know Him in the weeks to follow as the Life Skills Educators resume regular Kid's Clubs each week and follow up on the Holiday Club experience.
I am grateful for being able to be in South Africa for a fourth time and to be a part of God's work there. This year one of the main things that I learned is the value of commitment and consistency in relationships. It takes time to establish trust with folks (especially when you only show up 1-2 weeks a year). There are pretty distinct racial lines in South Africa--even with apartheid gone. For four years I have worked in a "black" Xhosa-speaking community. This white girl is about as far from a black Xhosa person as there can be. : ) But somewhere along the four years of our teams being there, God has done something. On Thursday night we had "family night" in our community where the children shared with their family members what they learned during the week. At one point, the Living Hope team leader shared a word of thanks to our team for being their for the week. She told the congreation (all Xhosa folks) about our BBC team and said, "they are white but they understand us." It was at that moment that I better realized that God had broken through racial and cultural lines and used two very different groups of Christ-followers to proclaim His message of truth and salvation to this community!

Praise God for all that He did during October Holiday Club in 2011!

Leia Mais…

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 5: Connecting with L-I-F-E

Our final day of holiday club began with lots of sunshine and warm tempatures. I have been serving in the Overcome Heights township and most of our club is held outside. Before we even arrive the kids start coming and today at least 20 children were there to greet us. They were excited. Not only is it a beautiful Spring morning but they know us better after 4 days together. They know the songs we will sing. They know the motions to the songs, the bible stories, the crafts and fun games that are also going to be part of this final day. To top it off it's parents day at our site and they are eager for their families to come and see what they have been doing all week long.

Our Life Skill Educators immediately begin playing music and the outdoor games begin. Within 30 minutes there are 105 children playing, singing and being loved on by BBC folks and the LSE staff. There are 5 of us in all but we work together as a team and are each motivated by one goal: to connect these children to Jesus Christ.

Amy Carter, BBC Childrens Minister and our superb team leader prayed this scripture with us this week: Psalm 78:4b 'we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.' This is our goal; both American volunteer and South African Life Skill Educator.

The children are more enthusiastic today than any other day of the week. They sing in earnest and strive to remember each word and movement. They are eager to answer any questions the leaders ask and listen intently to the bible stories. It's the final day of this Big Apple Adventure and they know this.

This is my 5th year to serve in Cape Town with Living Hope. My 5th year to come with Brentwood Baptist to serve alongside Living Hope staff in their goal to break despair and offer hope to all in the name of Jesus. I continue to be called to this place because of the incredible evidence I see of the Holy Spirit changing lives both here in South Africa and also through the lives of those who come to serve.

I've worked in the same place all three years; with the same young adults who are the Life Skill Educators, most of who are in their early 20's. Their spiritual growth and increased confidence in their abilities to lead these children is a direct result of their commitment to the Lord.

Our entire group from Brentwood debriefs each evening and Friday nights are always my favorite. Each person is asked to share how they sense the Holy Spirit has worked in their lives through this week of service. It is powerful to be a first hand witness to what the Lord is doing in so many lives.

A mission trip experience is hard to describe in such a brief space. New friendships have begun, fellowship has been enjoyed, the beauty of a new country has been discovered. But most important children have been introduced to Jesus, teens have been challenged to commit to Jesus and adults are becoming sold out for Jesus. My invitation to anyone reading this blog is to please come experience it for yourself!

Leia Mais…

Day 4: Connecting with Others

Thursday was another full day for all of us here in South Africa. After spending the day with some fabulous children and teenagers in Masi, Oceanview, Overcome, Red Hill, and Capricorn, we invited the parents for a celebration night. These family nights are a great time to get to know the children more by meeting their families and seeing them share their gifts with everyone.

I was fortunate to get to see the Masi family night on Thursday night and then be a part of the Overcome celebration on Friday. Each of these times was a great time full of singing and dancing.

When my group entered the Masi family night, we were surrounded by happy children dancing around and enjoying time with their friends. The prayer that opened the night was heartwarming, and we felt welcomed and a part of their community throughout the evening. A great part of the night was seeing the parents get up and try the dances that their children had learned all week. The kids were cheering their parents on and trying to coach them on the motions. It was a fun time!

At both the Masi and Overcome family celebrations, the children showed off their songs and dances and impressed their parents with all that they had learned this week. A great moment in each of the celebrations for me was seeing the teenagers come forward and recite their memory verses for the group. Teens, who had been shy all week, came forward and proudly shared with everyone what they had learned about the gospel.

It was awesome to see children so proud of all that they had learned and we were glad to be a part of it all. After the Overcome celebration, several children came up to me and introduced their mothers to me. It was great to hear these parents say how happy their children had been all week and how much their children were enjoying the Big Apple Adventure with the white people! Spending time with these children has been a blessing, and it was an added bonus to get to know their families and watch them perform in their communities.

--Paige Stillwell

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 3: Connecting with Trust

"For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him, should not perish but have eternal life."
One of the most familiar verses to Christians, but believe me it takes on a whole new dynamic when the words are set to a rap song. : ) Today was a great day of Holiday Clubs at all locations. More kids than Tuesday and lots of energy from staff and volunteers. We talked about Connecting with Trust and communicated about salvation through the story of Nicodemus and Jesus. We know of 17 children and teens who committed their lives to Christ today! We trust that the Gospel was clearly communicated and seeds were planted for many other kids. Pray for us as we still have two more days to keep the conversation going and see what God does.

The VBS song for today was a rap to learn John 3:16 and the ABCs of becoming a Christian. The kids LOVED it! Rap is not my choice of music style but this particular song is so effective in helping them learn the Scripture that will hopefully be hidden in their heart forever.

We also had a special treat tonight with having the Lankford family join us for dinner. Many of you may know Joey and Courtney and their 4 children who moved to Cape Town almost a year ago. We have seen them several times and our "handyman" team is working with Joey every day at the Living Way campus. Tonight they shared about their God-journey of getting to Cape Town. Great encouragement and challenge from them to hear about they have trusted God to lead them to this place of ministry.

Please pray for Holiday Club on Thursday as most of our locations will have a "family night" in the evening. We really want to connect with the family members and let them know all the great things about God that the children have been learning.

Two days left to go!

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 2: Connect with Love

Team Overcome reporting today. Our story today was "A Woman responds in Love" (the woman washing Jesus' feet). Our team had the opportunity to experience a similar story. Melanie, Paige, and I showed up to our location this morning with a bit of a surprise. The community uses the area where we are working as the township trash collection and this was not cleaned up at all this morning. Without hesitation, Sandile, one of our Life Skill Educators (who works for Living Hope), grabbed a rake, trash bags, a pair of gloves, and we got to work. Melanie and Paige helped out with getting club started while Sandile and I played trash men for a couple of hours. I finally got around to asking Sandile if this was something he was supposed to be doing. He responded by saying the ladies who are paid to do this do not get paid enough, so he was going to do it for them. He said, "Dustin, I must take care of my community." At that moment, I realized our Bible story was being played out at Overcome. Like the woman washing Jesus' feet, Sandile responded in love and I'm so thankful to have been a part of this. Hundreds of other Overcome residents walking by the Living Hope location saw a Living Hope Life Skills Educator picking up their trash. The community knows Sandile and Living Hope are Christ followers, and Overcome got to see Christ at work when they walked by today. Also, the kids who know Sandile as a leader got to witness this servant action before they were taught the bible story about responding in Love!
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Leia Mais…

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 1: Connecting With Faith

Start Spreadin' the News! The Big Apple Adventure has started in Cape Town!
Today we began the first day of "Holiday Club" (it's not called VBS here) in 5 different townships. Reports from all sites were great and things seemed to run smooth for both the morning children's clubs and afternoon teen clubs. For all 5 sites combined there were about 550 in attendance and we hope there are more on Tuesday (after they tell their friends about it!).
Today we helped the children and teens learn how to connect with FAITH through the story of the Roman Centurion who believed that Jesus could heal his servant. Each team helped explain what it means to have faith--to believe and trust in something even when you can't see it.

Also, the dynamic duo of a "handyman" team (Bill & Michael) got started on building a shed on the campus of Living Way. According to them, it was quite interesting to try and put posts in the ground without concrete and just use sand... : )

A fun little thing that happened for me (Amy) today in Masi. I was walking out of the location where we did our morning club and heard someone yell my name. It was children in the street with whom I had been with on previous mission journeys to Masi. They did not come to club today but will hopefully be there on Tuesday. One of them was even wearing an Outrigger Island t-shirt from the first time we did Holiday Club in 2008! For me, it was a little reminder from God of the impact that can happen with children even when you make a commitment to be with them for just one week out of a year!

Tuesday we will teaching about "Connecting with Love" through the story of a woman who showmed much love for Jesus. Please pray for the children to return and to bring friends with them and they will understand what God's great love is all about!

--Amy Carter

Leia Mais…

Sunday, October 2, 2011

South Africa VBS & Handyman

Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa!

The group of 20 arrived safely and dived right into our preparation for Vacation Bible Study. We have met, eaten and trained with the Life Skills Educators of Living Hope led by Danielle Schneider (former Brentwood Baptist member). She also gave us a tour of the Living Hope facilities. A small group visited the Living Way and helped Joey Lankford with ground maintenance and planted 768 tomato plants.

We have five teams who will branch out to five locations this week. We visited each location and prayed for the group members and the location. Today we were greeted by a group of precious children in the Township of Red Hill who could not get enough hugs or attention.

This morning (Sunday) we visited the King of Kings Baptist Church and got to hear Brentwood Baptist's Missions Minister, Scott Harris, preach! From here we drove over to the Masi Baptist Church and hear them worship in the language of Xhosa. We didn't understand of what they said but the Holy Spirit was alive and present.

This afternoon we travelled to the south western most tip of Africa--The Cape of Hope (and passed by baboons, ostriches and zebras) I was reminded that we are bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth!

Please pray for strength for us and that God would fill us so full of his love that it would spill over to each one of His children who attends.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Post...on the Last Day :)

We are sitting in the airport somewhat exhausted from our week. We arrived Friday, July 22 without delay. This team has done an outstanding job navigating cultural challenges and leading the largest VBS since we began our partnership with Clearwater Bay International Baptist Church. Our hosts, Janice Chung & Thomas Schewior mobilized the local volunteers, secured the facilities, and handled the VBS pre registration. This allowed our team to arrive at the facility on Saturday and begin set-up, followed by a smooth start to the VBS on Monday. With many more kids than expected, registration was slightly chaotic, but we solved those logistical problems and the rest of the week was a breeze. We had four children that we know of respond in faith to the gospel, and two unchurched families came to the VBS family service yesterday at CBIBC. An additional jot this year was the ability to provide a coach for the ICM kids to come to VBS as well. This was made possible through the Brentwood Kids' VBS offering received just two weeks ago. To learn more about the ICM ministry see their website here.

Our plane will soon board so this post will be short. When we arrive back in the States, we will update our post with some pictures and other news from the trip. Bottom line, the team was great, the host church was great, and above all God is great.

Leia Mais…

Warsaw, Poland — Service in Otwock

Greetings from Warsaw, Poland!

We arrived safely on Friday afternoon to cool tempartures... a welcomed change from the Nashville humidity! We've spent most of the weekend getting acclimated to the area and planning out our upcoming week.

We traveled down to Otwock, a suburb of Warsaw, for church service this morning. There is a growing Baptist Church located there and we were invited to join them for service and a baptism. After a brief time of worship and message, we all loaded up into cars and headed to a section of the Wisla River for baptism. There were 5 young Poles being baptized today. No one on our team had ever attended a river baptism so it was a special treat!

One of the things that struck us was the worshipful atmosphere that was on the banks of the river this morning. People were excited to see new members of their church making a public confession of faith and being obedient to God's word.

(video courtesy of Chelsea Bennett)

There was also a unique moment during the baptism. Some of the church members were standing on a bridge watching the service when some people in the community were walking by. Here in Poland, adult baptisms are very rare so we're sure that it was a curiosty for these folks as they strolled by. We can only pray that it might have raised some questions in their own lives about what this local church is doing in their community.

We returned to the church for some more worship and then had an Agape Lunch (a.k.a potluck!). We enjoyed sitting around the tables sharing a meal and getting to talk with our Polish brothers and sisters in Christ.

Attending church services with the Poles this morning reminded all of us how much God is alive and working in Poland today.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Traveling down the Amazon...

Time seems to fly by when your on a boat travelling on the Amazon!!! There is only one day left then we will be flying home. Please pray specifically that we have the opportunity to use our last 2 days wisely. Pray that God multiplies the glasses and we have just the right prescriptions we need for every person that needs readers. Pray that we have enough vitamins and medications for each person that needs our care. Pray that we have divine encounters that show Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Pray that we not grow weary in all that is before us. What a comfort it is to know that so many are pray for each one of us and that God’s hands hold us firmly.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Amazon Team arrives in Manaus!!!

"You are spending a week on a boat on the Amazon???" "You're crazy!". "Wish I could come with you". "Don't get eaten by piranas or anacondas!". When you tell someone you're going to the Amazon there is never is a lack of response. Some think we are crazy, others are so jealous they aren't with us. Our team is a group of 12 people of various ages and backgrounds excited about the journey before us. We signed up for this trip not merely to have an Amazon adventure but because we want to experience another culture, serve others using our gifts and most importantly to have a chance to share the gospel and be involved in God's plan for the nations.
We are working with a local Brazilian church that has a boat ministry to the many village communities along the Amazon River. Please pray for the local church members, our translators as well as our team.

We will be spending 6 nights on a boat. We will be stopping along villages down the Amazon to provide free medical care, medicine and eyeglasses to needy people. We will also get to play with kids and interact with people. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel and for hearts to be open

Leia Mais…

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: WE'RE HOME!

We're home! It seems like we've been gone for 10 months and also 10 days. It went on forever and seemed like a dream—all at the same time. God moved. Lives were changed. We were changed.

Before we left for Rio, during one of our preparatory team meetings, Sharon Fairchild presented us with a Brentwood Baptist Missions Training & Education Manual. It gave us tons of information to prepare for the trip, including a section called "Reentry & Debriefing."

What's funny about this is that I barely skimmed through it before we went. I was confident I wouldn't have a problem re-entering my own culture and adjusting appropriately. That, my friends, couldn't be farther from the truth.

The booklet says, and I quote:
"Something has changed very dramatically while you were gone. YOU! Now you may experience re-entry shock, which is the unexpected confrontation with the familiar. You may find yourself wondering: Is everyone feeling the same way I am? How do I share what I've learned? How should these changes affect me?"

Ya think?! That lady knew exactly what she was talking about.

Today, as I ease back into American culture, I'm personally finding it difficult to return to normalcy. I find myself wanting to go back to the place where I saw God move, to the people who soaked him in, to the family of believers who embraced us. But that's not reality. This is.

Back at home, here's what we can do:
  • Cherish the moment and understand that our explanations of the experience may be inadequate to actually being there and seeing it. Just like Mary "kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often" (Luke 2:19, NLT), so can we rejoice in what God did and relish that moment with Him.
  • Be thankful for the experience and grateful for where God has placed us right now in life. I may not be called to sell all I own and move to Rio to minister full-time (like I kind of want to do at this very moment), but I can serve the least of these right where I am. A good friend reminded me of this: "When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required" (Luke 12:48, NLT). We live in a pretty, clean, manicured, middle- to upper-class area of the world. Without feeling guilt for what we have, we're to be grateful God has divinely placed us in this place at this moment in time, and with that blessing comes responsibility and action. That should be one reason for taking some action around this joint.
  • Share, share, share about your experience and what God did in the lives of others and you. Sometimes it takes flying across the world to move us spiritually and shift our worldview. However, in either place—at home or abroad—God has a heart for the poor, brokenhearted, and captives. When you spend time with them, serve them, and love them well, then you'll see Jesus face to face and walk closer to Him in obedience.
Thank you to all who covered us in prayers. They didn't go unanswered. The kingdom was expanded. Lives were transformed. We experienced sanctification. And His name was lifted higher. To God be the glory for all that happened in Rio de Janeiro!

Christ is all,
Kaylan Christopher

Leia Mais…

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: Day 8

This week...
144 people requested that a church member visit their home.
158 people requested to be placed in a Bible study.
196 people made decisions to follow Christ.
202 fluoride treatments were given to children.
402 people received eye exams and glasses.
596 people went through our medical clinic.
1,629 prescriptions were filled.

This is the end. Today was bittersweet. We embraced the least of these as they filed through the clinic—sharing Christ, healing wounds, giving sight. And we embraced our Brazilian family as we left in tears.

At the end of the clinic, we participated in a sort of closing ceremony. Raja O'Brien presented a love offering to the young 3-year-old church and Pastor Wellington. Then Ken Gross stepped up to give Pastor Wellington a stack of all those who wanted to be contacted by the pastor and church.

Many people who came through the clinic didn't recognize our host was a church sitting in the middle of their own neighborhood. And, anyway, Pastor Wellington said most of them would've never darkened the doors of a Baptist Church had they known.

Along with the church members, we were all able to shed a new light on the place. Once those in need entered the clinic and saw that our love was genuine and our care for their lives was sincere, many responded with gratitude and interest. Today, we're sad to leave behind so many that we can't journey on with, but the work will go on. The church is picking up where we left off to reach their community for Christ.

Portuguese Version:
Por tudo o que tens feito
Por tudo que vais fazer
Por tuas promessas e tudo tudo que és
Eu quero te agradecer
Com todo meu ser
Te agradeço meu Senhor...
Te agradeço por me libertar e salvar
Por ter morrido em meu lugar
Te agradeço
Jesus, te agradeço
Eu te agradeço
Te agradeço...

English Version:
For all that you've done, I will thank you
For all that you're going to do
For all that you've promised
And all that you are
Is all that has carried me through
Jesus, I thank you
Thank you for loving and setting me free
Thank you for giving your life just for me
How I thank you
Jesus, I thank you
Gracefully thank you
Thank you

During our last debriefing session as a team, I think Kara Herblin said it best in her devotion: "No, we couldn't understand every word they said. And, yes, we needed a translator to help us communicate. But the Lord was our translator for love."

By the way, remember the story on the Brentwood Baptist website about 10-year-old Cameron Powell who raised over $600 for Portuguese Bibles for our summer mission journeys? Here's the fruit of his labor. Some of the kids signed a soccer ball for him and another man went to each of our team member's and had us sign his New Testament.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: Day 7

Leia Mais…

Rio Medical Mission Journey: Meet the Pharmacy Team


From Franklin, TN

What do you do back at home?

I'm the Catalyst Minister for Kairos at Brentwood Baptist Church.

Why did you decide to come on this trip?

Because Scott Harris begged me. No, I really came on this trip because I love the people of Brazil. I was here in 2006 and fell in love with the people. When this trip came up, I felt God's calling on my life to return.

What was your favorite part of the day?

I have fun with the patients when they come by for their prescriptions. We're dancing, singing, and waving at them. We have fun. And, also, spending my 32nd wedding anniversary with this team.

What are you most surprised to see come out of this week?

I do think it's really fun to be an eyewitness to what God is doing around us, not only in the new church and the people that we've attracted to the clinic, but also to the things that are going on in the lives of the team members and how I see them changing right before my eyes. It's transformation that only God can do.


From Texas

Currently lives in Franklin, TN

What do you do back at home?

I'm the Editorial Manager (writer and editor) at Brentwood Baptist Church in the Communications Ministry.

Why did you decide to come on this trip?

Because God created me to write and I want to tell the stories of God and his people all over the world. I've been praying for the opportunity to do this for about a year now. And he answered by opening up the chance to be on this trip to Rio.

What was your favorite part of the day?

Talking in-depth with two interpreters—Cecilia and Nilton—and hearing all about their stories, their families, and their jobs, and how they came to know the Lord, how they learned English, and how they're reaching Brazilian people.

What are you most surprised to see come out of this week?

The unity of Brazilians and Americans bonding over our love for Christ through worship, conversation, and service—even though some of us can't communicate in language with each other. My whole perspective has changed on the world and God's people around the world. I'm blown away by the warmth and kindness of these people. My love for these people already goes deeper than I can explain, after only one week with them. Also, visiting the leper colony this week and learning so much about it as it relates to Christ's love, compassion, and healing in our own lives.


Born in United States

Raised in England

Lived in Brazil for 27 years

Current resides in Brentwood, TN

What do you do back at home?

I'm the Missions Project Coordinator at Brentwood Baptist Church.

Why did you decide to come on this trip?

I love Brazil. I love the people. I love the ministry. And any opportunity that God gives me, I'm going to take it.

What was your favorite part of the day?

Holding the babies.

What are you most surprised to see come out of this week?

Yesterday, meeting the 9-year-old boy who just got saved named David and talking with him. The unity of the team and the excitement and the focus of the church plant of the church people…I think it just came together to make an incredible team effort.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: Day 6

21 people requested home visits.
22 people requested to be plugged into a Bible study.

32 people made decisions to follow Christ.

35 children received fluoride treatments.

61 people received eye exams and glasses.

92 people were seen in the medical clinic (50 adults and 42 children).

218 prescriptions were filled in the pharmacy.

It's called Wacky Wednesday for a reason. That because this day, in the middle of the clinic week, was extremely different from all the rest.

Today, we were open for business from 9:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The word is now out on the streets and more people are stopping by to receive medicine, glasses, and teeth cleaning, and to hear the message of Jesus.

After closing up shop, everyone loaded the bus to stop by the leper colony that a recent Brentwood Baptist team visited a few weeks ago. While there, they planted a beautiful garden, poured concrete for a sidewalk, laid sod, planted flowers, and more.

The colony was established in the 1920s. Back then, lepers were ostracized from their family and friends. A glass wall in each home separated visitors and lepers. It was segregation at its worst. Until it was open to the public in the 1980s, the lepers living there weren't to be touched for fear of passing the disease on to someone else.

Here's the current reality that doctors have come to realize: this disease can't be transferred with a touch. It's not contagious like a cold. It's caused by a germ similar to what causes tuberculosis that develops from living in close quarters every day with someone who's affected.

If detected early on, a cocktail of antibiotics can cure it. However, if left untreated, it can destroy the ability to feel pain, so lepers have a higher risk of injury and infection. And, the longer the disease is left undetected, the more likely that person will develop deformities—noses shrinking away, earlobes swelling, blindness, fingers and toes disappearing, and eventually losing hands and feet.

Leprosy is a disease that affects more than 12 million people around the world, and Brazil has one of the highest rates. This statistic is attributed to the extremely crowded areas where people live in the slums, the lack of food, and the waning immune systems that come from unclean water and sustenance.

At the leper colony where Brentwood Baptist worked, we got to meet two women: Terazina and Angelique. Living among 5,000 other residents, they both paint for a living—flower pots and canvases. And their spirits are incredibly beautiful.

While the rest of the country abandons and ignores the least of these, believers in Brazil and Brentwood Baptist have embraced them.

The New Testament is full of stories that paints pictures of Jesus' compassion for lepers. For example, in Matthew 8, a man with leprosy approached him, knelt before him, and said, "Lord, if you're willing you can heal me and make me clean."

Jesus wasn't repulsed. He didn't shy away. He reached out and touched him and said, "I'm willing. Be healed." Then the leprosy instantly disappeared from the man's body. There's another account in Luke 17, and Jesus tells his disciples to do what he did and also heal the lepers, found in Matthew 10.

Amy Fairchild, a nurse who's been here just as long with Sharon Fairchild, her mother-in-law, mentioned a particular book yesterday after we left the colony called Gift of Pain, co-authored by Philip Yancey and Paul Brand. It chronicles Dr. Brand's experiences with leprosy patients in India and the United States. In the book, he talks about the mystery of pain and its importance in our lives.

The bottom line: pain isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes the numbing produces decay and death in our lives. Sometimes the pain is a reminder of danger or the fact that we need the help of another (i.e. Jesus Christ). God uses pain to refine us and awaken our senses to what's happening through different things: a numb perception, a scarred heart, an emotionless existence and reaction to the world around you.

Romans 8:28 says, "All things work together for good to them who love God." The Greek original text translates this: "In everything that happens to us, God is working for the good of those who love him." If we believe Scripture, then we believe that to be true all the time. If God is good, he's always good—no matter what. If God is faithful, then he's always faithful—whatever the situation. Even in the pain.

Most of the people we've seen at the clinic this week have come in for some sort of pain, sickness, or irritation, and almost all of them have also shared the pain that's been brewing in their hearts and lives. And we're introducing them to a Great Healer, one who has each day of their lives planned out.

Who better to know the kind of pain their going through than a Father who gave up his only Son and a Son who died for the sins of all?

Other pictures from the day:

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Rio Medical Mission Journey: Meet the Eye Team

Meet the Eye Team at the medical clinic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week! They're fantastic.

From Brentwood, TN

What do you do at home?
I'm retired and I'm a career, life, and financial coach. Before that, I was a healthcare executive.

Why did you come on this trip?
You want the real answer? Because Raja said I had to come, and I felt called to come. I felt like this was an area where I could be of service. I think this is my third mission trip to Brazil. My first trip, which wasn't a mission trip, was in 1969. I spent a month here with the goal to learn Portuguese, but everyone wanted to practice their English, so that was easier.

What was the most exciting part of your day?
I think they came in pretty nervous, unsure what was going to happen and very shy. By the time we got them fitted with glasses, they opened up and their smiles began to shine. I was able to share the love of Christ with them and how I hoped they would take that smile and let others see it as well.

What have you looked forward to most this week?
We've got two days left in the clinic, but I want to stay on the real high. Our whole trip has been effortless for me. As a team, we've gotten along so well. There haven't been any complications. For this eye team, primarily three of us did testing and dispensing, with the exception of the fourth who directs traffic and jumps in for some backup. We've seen an incredible number of patients and we don't feel rushed at all. We're very efficient and we get along. We have one person, Alecia, who's on her first trip and it's been like she's done this forever. I think we've done some good work fitting people with glasses and I hope that continues.

From Brentwood, TN

What do you do back home?
I'm a senior sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Why did you come on this trip?
This is my third time to come to Brazil and I was hooked from the first trip, so this is a great return trip for me.

What was your favorite part about working on the team today?
It's always about the people that we meet during the day and the stories that we hear from them. There's about three that stand out in my mind:
  1. One was a 95-year-old lady. She was so sweet and we had so much fun with her. I said, "Do you realize in five years you'll be 100?" And she laughed. And I said, "Are you going to throw a party?" And she laughed. It was just great to celebrate her long life and loving the Lord.
  2. The saddest moment of my week was meeting a lady who's 44 years old. She has twin 13-year-old sons, a 37-year-old son, and a daughter and son-in-law in between there who are both addicted to crack. She had just had surgery herself. Her husband had left the family because of the situation with the crack addiction. She felt like she needed to go get a job to support the family—and it just broke my heart. This lady was already a Christian. At the end of the day, I took my interpreter and we went to Pastor Wellington and I told him about her. He looked at me and said, "We have so many people like that in this favela all around us. I promise I'll go to her home and visit her and get her involved in a Bible study."
  3. The third lady I don't remember much about her, but at the end, she said, "Thank you for the attention." People just appreciate you taking the time to listen to their stories and pray with them. And with the eye team, every now and then, we get the opportunity to present the plan of salvation.
What are you looking forward to most this week?
It's the same. At lunchtime, I love going around and watching the children play. I love getting to know my interpreter and the other interpreters on the eye team. There's a lot of interaction between us. It's always about the people. There's one special lady on the cooking team. She came by and I fitted her with glasses. The pastor came by and I fitted him with glasses. I asked him if he had the love of Jesus in her heart and he just died laughing. Another little girl comes by every day and wants her picture made with me. Brazilian people are just so warm and kind and loving. They just love us giving them our time. The free glasses are wonderful, but I think they love the rest of it more.

From Nashville, TN

What do you do back home?
I'm an interior design for an architecture firm in Brentwood called HR Design.

Why did you come on this trip?
Because God told me and told me and told me and there was really no doubt about it.

What was your favorite part of working with the team today?
I've taken for granted eyesight. I'm 20/20, so being able to help people so they can read their Bibles. That's all they want to do is read their Bibles. The fact that they put on those glasses and say, "Oh my's perfect! It's perfect! I can read." It's great to see the smiles on their faces. Also, working with my interpreter. She's helped me so much to learn Portuguese and hold the very front end of a conversation with everyone who comes in the clinic.

What are you looking forward to or expecting from this week?
I was surprised to see how much I have bonded with the people at the church that we're working with. I didn't think I would bond as quickly as I did. And I wanted to get a broader perspective of what's beyond my walls of comfort at home. I'm really looking forward to Friday when we get to hand out all the gifts.

From Hendersonville, TN

What do you do back home?
I am a self-employed painter and handy woman. I do electrical, plumbing, and tiling.

What did you come on this trip?
My first trip was in 2000 and this is my 12th trip. Sharon asked if I could come down and spend a few weeks with her, plus my team from First Baptist Hendersonville is coming down next week to serve. I said, "Let me pray about it." The Lord said "yes" and my husband said "yes," so I did.

What was your favorite part of working on the team today?
What I've been doing up until today is herding people and making sure they come in and out like they should. Today, I actually sat with people and fitted them for glasses, and I got to share with every one of them. I was telling Sharon I made five ladies cry because when I asked them if there was something I could pray with them about they always say "their children"—a son that's in drugs, a daughter who's living with her boyfriend, or a husband who's an alcoholic. I could relate to having a son being involved in drugs and alcohol because my youngest son was for a few years. I would tell them as a mother I knew how their heart was feeling because my heart was broken when my son was doing that, but if you raise them and train them in the Word, then they'll come back. I was telling them it's not always in mama's time, but in the Lord's timing. It was good to share that with them.

What have you looked forward to most this week?
Working with your team. I've known Raja and Kevin and meeting the rest of your bunch. This is the third different team I've worked with since I've been down here—each one of them has been great and different. You all have been a joy and blessing to me. You all are so easy to get along with and so helpful and smiling, and it's easy for me to blend right in. Yesterday, Royce asked me if we had any 4.5 glasses. I said, "I've never seen any 4.5s, but I'll turn around and look." I did and there was one pair. That was a God moment for me because I've never seen any of those before. For me, personally, I've enjoyed getting to love on those babies, sing them to sleep in English, singing "Jesus Loves Me."

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