Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Leaves In Your Mouth

by Brandon Abbott

I remember as a fifth grader traveling to Montgomery, Alabama for the annual Royal Ambassador conference. Well, I say I remember it. I remember a van ride, a trip to Shoney’s breakfast bar, and taking a picture by a large rock.  (We didn't get out much).

One other thing I remember about the conference is meeting a missionary.  She was serving in some country, the name of which apparently got trumped in my memory by the trip to Shoney's.  She was dressed in authentic native clothing from that area, and she also had this ornamental  jar with a lid and a metal straw.

“Would you like to taste?” she asked.  You have to understand that outside of pizza and cheeseburgers, my diet was limited to Coke and oxygen. So I was understandably skeptical.

“What is it?”

“It’s tea from [insert country name here]. It’s green, but it’s good. You just have to drink it through this special straw so you don’t get any of the leaves in your mouth.”

The phrase “leaves in your mouth” left me with absolute certainty that I would in no way be tasting the tea from the country we speak not of.  But as passionate as I was about my diet, I was even more passionate about pleasing others, especially those kind men who drove four hours in a church van with a group of unruly eleven year olds.

“Come on, Brandon. It won't hurt you,” they encouraged me.  Eventually I relented and sipped the tea.  It was bitter, and strong. And the special straw failed, because I ended up with a slimy leaf snaking across my tongue.  I was mortified. I choked and spit in a very dramatic display of disgust.  To top it off, I ended up with a massive headache and laying down in the back of the van all the way home.

Since that day, I think I built a kind of wall in my mind between missionaries and the rest of us.  I mean, on one hand you have normal people, and on the other hand you have oddly dressed purveyors of poison leaf juice waiting to infect unsuspecting Royal Ambassadors. 

This week, the wall came down.

First things first . . . I have not been offered, nor have I consumed any kind of tea.  Mostly just sparkling mineral water. (It’s a pretty big deal out here in Oberwiesenthal, Germany). And I have seen no one in any kind of authentic native garb.  What I have seen are real people. Parents with real children.  Normal, everyday Christians with real smiles, real tears, and real problems.

Like me, they deal with issues like where their kids go to school, what to make for dinner, and how to fit 25 hours into a 24 hour day.  What’s different is that they happen to deal with these issues in a foreign country among people who are ignorant, indifferent, and even hostile to their God and his mission for them.

As we have worshipped and prayed together this week, I have watched these people, many of whom are lonely and tired and misunderstood, as they thanked God for how He had blessed them.  I watched people who experienced cancer, theft, danger, and isolation, praise God for his healing and provision, his protection and constant presence.

I have listened to them sing as they raised their hands, closed their eyes, and poured out to Heaven . . .

Never once did we ever walk alone.
Never once did you leave us on our own.
You are faithful, Lord you are faithful.

This week, I came to serve missionaries.  And in the process, a wall came down.  I no longer saw these people as strangers in strange clothes dispensing strange beverages. I saw them as people just like me.  I saw people serving God by living out the great commission, no matter the cost.  Then I looked in the mirror and realized that this week, I was their mission field.  Though I came to serve the missionaries, they have served me. 

Leia Mais…


by Grace Taylor

“It is grace, nothing but grace that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren…in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.”
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Community is a loaded word—one that has proven itself instrumental to me and completely invaluable to my walk with Christ thus far, and the relationship I am able to have with other believers. But the way I have seen community modeled out this week among the pioneers and laborers for Christ among the European nations rivals anywhere I have ever seen it demonstrated.  This week, we are honored to serve those who toil shamelessly for the Gospel. While I get to congregate weekly and worship with Brentwood Baptist, the missionaries here often do not have a church family, making experiences like this, of communal worship and prayer, few and far between.

As I stand in the back, listening to the crowded room swell in praise, the words of Psalm 133:1 come to life: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” In fact, it is amazing how much Scripture comes alive when one is involved in ministry. I am struck by the beauty of my surroundings—families who have taken literally the command to “be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)” It is a striking setting, and a small picture of what Heaven will look like.

And the community extends through all age groups. This week, I’m a part of a group of eleven who are loving specifically on students (ages 12-college). There are about 40 students here, who live all over Europe, from Iceland to Austria. My small group consists of 14-15 year olds, which has meant a lot of laughing and stories, even on the first day! As one who is passionate about people, I spent a lot of time today having one-on-one conversations, attempting to hear their stories and gain a glimpse of who they are. How can a room full of what seems like perfectly American teenagers have seen and felt and experienced so much in their lives? They see each other only once or twice a year, but this is definitely a family.  It is so unique compared to any group of students I have ever seen. I have been processing this a lot today, and I covet your prayers for our time with these missionary kids (MK’s). Pray for the ways our team will continue to encounter the MK’s and the future conversations to be had and seeds that will be planted. I already know many friendships will grow from this week. J

And pray for the people of Europe. That they will come to salvation, and that God will send pioneers to labor on the frontier of what He is doing in those nations—to plant and sow seeds for the harvest that will soon be ready. It is with great URGENCY that we must seek to advance the Kingdom.

Two verses that have been on my heart…

“The harvest are plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” –Matthew 9:37

“Be courageous! We must fight bravely for the people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.” –2 Samuel 10:12

Loving this sweet time with fellow believers and the ways I am seeing God move around the world!

For His glory among the nations,
Grace Taylor

“Heil und Rettung kommen allein von unserem Gott, der alle Macht in seinen Händen halt, und von Christus, dem Lamm.” –Offenbarung 7:10
“Salvations belongs to our God, who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” –Relevation 7:10

Leia Mais…

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Not So Far From Home

Written by Darlene Abbott

Best Quote So Far
Okay, best quote of the trip so far is from Station Hill's Carl Wayne Meekins.  He and some others were taking a walk yesterday through a nearby village when they spotted a dog.  Carl Wayne shouted, “Man, I am actually seeing a German Shepherd IN GERMANY! That is soooo cool!” (Smile and chuckle). 

Children and Students
Yesterday (Saturday), all the teams finally arrived by about 4 PM. After a great dinner, we met and were naturally given lots of instructions. Today we decorated the rooms for VBS. They look fabulous! Even the bed babies room is decorated.  So far, the Lord has blessed, and as far as I know we have everything we need (except perhaps enough sleep).  

We're turning in soon so we can be raring and ready to go in the morning with worship and VBS.  I am impressed with the number of youth Station Hill's Student Minister, Brother Yancey, is going to have. I’m so excited about the Bible studies that he has planned for them.  After talking to some parents tonight, so are they.  I think it will be exactly what God wants to say to them. Everyone, please pray against spiritual warfare and for hearts and minds to be opened.

The children’s team got to spend about 45 minutes with the kids tonight, so we went ahead and taught portions of a couple of the songs.  The kids not only sounded great, but they picked up the music and motions quickly. (This is in part a testament to the writer, Jeremy Johnson, who is also with us.) I’m looking forward to watching them the rest of the week.

The Missionaries
The missionaries came in today, and we worshipped with them tonight. It is wonderful to see Christians so hungry for fellowship, for the Word, and for worship. For many of the M’s this is a rare opportunity to worship in their native tongue. In West Germany many of the locals speak English.  Here in Oberwiesenthal, a part of  former East Germany, it is different. This area was once behind the Berlin Wall before it fell.  So it isn't quite as developed commercially, and English is rarely spoken.  It is, however, absolutely BEAUTIFUL.  The village is picturesque – a town square, little shops, and cobblestone streets.

I was privileged to spend time with a couple of M’s this evening, listening to how God brought them to a foreign land. These families are in places so different than life in the states. The culture is raw to Christianity. One M shared they are considered a cult where they live.  As they talked about their challenges, I was so convicted about how little I have prayed for them. I was challenged to get from the M’s specific prayer requests of their needs and situations.  They really are on the front lines. 

Not So Far From Home
I was also dumbstruck at how similar some of our situations are.  In southern Williamson County we know that 85% of the people are not even looking for a church.  One M shared that in their area 85% of the people claim other religions or are not looking for a God at all. They are too occupied or content with their wealth. Sound familiar?  Another M shared about their work with the poor. Jesus said, “The poor will be with you always.” That is true all over the world.

There are real needs in the hearts and lives of these M’s. Please be praying that God will speak and that we will listen as we minister to them this week.  Many of them won’t return to a place where they can just go to church on Sunday to receive more encouragement after a rough week. Many of them won’t have neighbors or friends to hug their necks and tell them they will continue to pray for them when they get home.  Our prayers for them are serious business.  

More to Come
Brentwood Baptist Missions Minister, Scott Harris, will speak tomorrow, with Station Hill Pastor Jay Strother already having delivered two devotionals plus sermons to come.  Last night, in the second of these devotions, Jay flat out gave a mini sermon.  It was great! God wants to love on his missionaries this week, and he has chosen us. After meeting the M’s, I am completely humbled by this realization. And to think I honestly wasn't very excited about this trip when my husband first mentioned it to me.  I’m so glad God turned my heart around. I can’t wait for you to hear what happens after the first day tomorrow.  Someone else will be blogging tomorrow, so stay tuned.

In His Hands,

Darlene Abbott

Leia Mais…

Friday, July 19, 2013

Medical mission journey to Brazil results in 151 decisions for Christ

By Kaylan Christopher, Staff Writer

Our Partnership

Quintanilha Baptist Church – New Building
"Four years ago, Pastor Jonanias—a Brazilian Pastor—took me to look at a piece of property in the City of God in Rio de Janeiro. His desire was to plant a church and he needed help," said Sharon Fairchild, Mission Journey Minister.

Brentwood Baptist responded and entered into a 3-year partnership with his new church plant, Quintanilha Baptist Church.

In June 2011, a medical team traveled to the slum and joined a small group of dedicated church members to host a four-day clinic on their property. At that point, their worship center was merely a pavilion and the crowd waiting to get in lined the streets every morning.

"That year, we saw so many people come to know the Lord using Brentwood Baptist members to minister to physical and spiritual needs," Sharon said.

Members of Brentwood Baptist & Quintanilha Baptist
After the team left, the congregation grew rapidly, leaving them with an immediate need for a new building to house them all. Before we could send a team to help the next year, they'd already begun constructing one by themselves.

This once-small church now continues to bloom and grow in a drug-fueled, poverty-stricken area.

This Year’s Journey
From June 6-15, another medical team was sent for our last year of the partnership. Sixteen people were on the team, and they were the ones who got to see the culmination of what God has done through this church plant over the last three years.

Eye Glasses Team
"The Sunday morning service is the light service in Brazil," Sharon said. "It's the Sunday night service that's packed out. When we were there, there was no room to sit. People were standing in the doorways and at the back windows. It filled our hearts."

In four days of clinic, the team saw 319 medical patients, filled 791 prescriptions, gave 311 people reading glasses, and cleaned the teeth of 128 children. But the best part of all was those who decided to give their lives to Christ.

"There were 151 decisions to follow Christ, including our bus driver!" Sharon said. "This is what it's all about when it's all said and done—lives that are forever transformed. As one team member said, ‘It’s not bad people becoming good. It’s dead people coming alive.’”

Katie – First-Time Mission Journeyer
Answered Prayers
It’s well known that no one was to leave the clinic without being prayed over. Following protocol, one Brentwood Baptist team member, Rachel, working in eye glasses, sat across from her female patient and asked, “Is there anything I can pray with you about?”

The woman launched into the story of how her husband had left home about 10 months ago. She didn’t know where he was. Their family loved and missed him. And their teenage daughter wanted her dad to come home.

Using an interpreter, Rachel prayed with her, asking God to intervene and bring her husband home.

The next morning, that same woman was waiting to talk to Rachel. She’d brought a gift—a pillow that was stamped with “I Love You” in Portuguese. God had answered their prayers.

Evangelism Team with Brazilian locals
The night before, her husband had finally returned home. He asked his family to forgive him and asked the pastor of Quintanilha to pray for him that Sunday.

Sharon said, “You cannot be involved in kingdom work and it not blow you away. That prayer, sent through an interpreter, was heard and answered. He longs to show us great and mighty things just like that.”

A First-Time Experience
Elizabeth Cantrell is a nursing student at the University of Tennessee. Through one of her best friends, who’d gone on the medical trip to Brazil in 2011, she heard story after story of how people’s lives were changed. So she had to go and see for herself.

Elizabeth & Gilmar
“When I saw I could use both my passion for people and my passion for healing people physically, I knew He’d called me to this,” she said.

But it wasn’t the medical team she served on. She was a part of the evangelism team, those whose roles were to share the Good News of the gospel with every patient who came through the clinic.

One day at clinic, Elizabeth met a man named Gilmar. After sharing the gospel with him, he started weeping, quickly speaking Portuguese to her translator. She was sure she’d offended him.

But it was just the opposite. The translator explained Gilmar was touched by the way she spoke, which reminded him of the daughter he hadn’t seen or heard from in 10 years. And he was moved by the gospel, in awe of what Jesus had done, unable to believe someone would do something like that for him.

“There were many other stories of people who heard the gospel and came to know Jesus one day, then returned to clinic the next day bringing gifts to show how grateful they were that someone told them about Jesus,” she said. “It makes me wonder who else is waiting for us to tell them about Jesus—not just in Brazil, but all around the world.”

Leia Mais…