A Report of the Work of the Lord in Brazil.
Many times during the 32 years that we have spent in this part of Brazil, our hearts have overflowed and found expression in the words borrowed from another context: “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” The first few years around Descalvado, in the state of Seo Paulo, were lonely and difficult days. There were times when we opened the rented hall hoping to have a Gospel meeting, only to go home again disappointed as no one came along to the “meeting.” As the futility of our best endeavors became more and more apparent, we began to learn the important lesson that, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” How true are the words written so long ago: “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Ps 127:1).
There is always the danger in barren times, or in times of sowing, to think that a change of method is the answer, yet a moments reflection will surely remind the servant of the Lord that he was sent to preach (Mk 16:15). There can be no doubt that this is still a stumbling block to some, and foolishness to others, yet it still proves to be the very power and wisdom of God. How often Gods ways surprise us. The first souls saved in this area were not saved in Descalvado, but in Santa Rita, a town lying some 20 miles north of us. In an unexpected way, we were brought into contact with a couple from that town who immediately opened their home for meetings. It wasnt long until God saved them both. Now, some thirty years later, they are both in happy fellowship in the assembly in Descalvado where they now live. One of their three sons is saved, and, with his wife, is also in the assembly here, but we still pray for the other two young men, still unsaved, yet still willing to come at times to gospel meetings. We have never seen any more saved in Santa Rita. Today there are 34 in fellowship in Descalvado, induding some elderly saints, but there are normally around thirty present on Lords Day morning.
Over the years, the gospel has been preached all around this region, and God has been pleased to work in grace. We can say of the assembly here that “from you sounded out the Word of the Lord,” not only in their own town, but also into the regions beyond.
And God was working. During the seventies, two more assemblies were planted, and both have gone on well. The first of these is in a town called Ibat. It has carried on steadily over these years, and today has grown to about 24 in fellowship. The assembly in Pirassununga, planted shortly after Ibat has grown more, and is giving us much joy. Most in this assembly are young married couples with young children, but they are tireless in their efforts to take the gospel into the whole region around them. It is not unusual to see a dozen or more unsaved adults at the gospel meeting on a Lords Day evening.
In the early nineties an assembly was planted in Santa Cruz das Palmeiras, another nearby town. Work had started there through the testimony of a salesman, in fellowship in Descalvado, but working occasionally in Santa Cruz das Palmeiras. At the first meetings there was a six weeks series in the tent in 1983, and when those meetings finished a weekly gospel meeting was carried on in a rented room. Later on in the nineties yet another assembly was planted in a town called Casa Branca, about 13 miles beyond Santa Cruz das Palmeiras.
For many years we have been sowing the seed with very little apparent fruit around the large town of Leme, but now we have been reaping during this last year or more, and 8 believers have been baptized. They go to Pirassununga on Lords Day mornings when possible. More have been saved recently and they are planing to baptize some more this month. We expect to see them meeting as an assembly
Another town where some fruit has been gathered is Porto Ferreira, where 5 have been baptized. A small Hall has been built there, and a weekly gospel meeting carried on, and we would value prayer for further fruit that we might soon see an assembly there also. Much sowing has already been done in many other towns in this region, but we still wait to see the harvest even as we continue sowing.
One more fact should perhaps be added to complete the picture. Our brother and sister Andrew and Alison Renshaw from Manchester, England joined us here in the mid-nineties, and now live in Casa Branca. Also, God has raised up locally some that He has thrust forth into His harvest field. Two young couples from Pirassununga assembly have recently gone forth taking nothing of the Gentiles, and some time before them a young couple and a single brother from the Descalvado assembly had taken the same step.
As we look at these little assemblies we are very conscious of their weakness and shortcomings. Yet as we see them shining amidst the darkness of this very populous region, we can see the grace of God and our hearts are glad. Once more we would exclaim: “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” Your prayers for their preservation in difficult days would be appreciated.