The following are excerpts from our most recent prayer letter. You can read the whole thing here.
The past month and a half has been for us–without a doubt–the most difficult of our ministry since we arrived in Brazil. Our walk through the valley began on April 2nd, when our beloved co-worker Francisco Bezerra was killed by a stray bullet.
On the following Sunday the church voted unanimously for me to assume the pastorate of the church. I jumped into this role with both feet, determined to carry on the legacy of my departed friend. We had the full support of the pastor’s family as we began our ministry.
Or so we thought…
After two weeks, events took place (too lengthy to write in detail here) which made it clear to us that the family of Pastor Francisco wished to place his oldest son in the pastorate of the church, by virtue of the fact that he had accompanied his father throughout his ministry. Numerous attempts to sit down and talk with the son were rebuffed, and in the meantime a highly successful campaign to undermine our ministry was carried out by the family.
It came to a head in a conversation with Pastor Francisco’s widow, in which she left no doubt as to her goals for her son.
Itacyara and I realized at this point that if we were to press the issue it would divide an already hurting congregation. So, with great sadness, we officially resigned all our positions at the Kerigma congregation, effective last Saturday.
The days leading up to this decision were emotionally wrenching for us, as we found ourselves at odds with a family we have known and loved since before we were married, and because it forced us to leave a congregation which we have grown to love deeply over the past year.
The next couple days were of uncertainty. Since shortly after we arrived in April of last year we had fully embraced the Kerigma project, believing that God was directing us to help bring the church to graduation. When Pastor Francisco died, we embraced the project even more, believing that God had given us the task of moving the church forward in the midst of the tragedy. Now that it had all ended, we were at a loss.
The two other Regular Baptist pastors here in São Luís were very supportive, and began to offer ideas. We discovered that there was a group of individuals interested in beginning a work in a neighborhood on the other side of the city. On Thursday we went with them to visit this neighborhood, and came away greatly encouraged. Some of the things we found:
* A family from one of our churches, willing to serve as host family.
* An elementary school that has been made available to us for work with children on the weekends.
* A piece of land, donated by the above mentioned family, for the eventual construction of a church building.
* New residential areas projected for the area, giving potential for growth.
* A team of people with diverse skills, eager to embrace the project.
On Wednesday we will be meeting with the team to plan our next steps, and we hope to have exciting things to share with you in the near future.
Though there have been dark days as we walked through this valley, God has repeatedly shown Himself faithful, and never once has our commitment to the work here in São Luís wavered.
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