Eight missionary couples live in this area. They are Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. John McCann, Mr. and Mrs. Gregg Buchanan, Mr. and Mrs. Lindsay Carswell, Mr. and Mrs. James Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs. Noel Fleck, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford Brown and ourselves. Along with these, and working in full fellowship, are three Brazilian couples; Sr. and Sra. José Matos, Sr. and Sra. Carlos da Silva, and Sr. and Sra. Roberto Ploia.
Work has been going on in Porto Alegre, the state capital, since 1956. The assembly, which was formed in 1961, is the largest in the state. The pioneers of the work in this area were our two brethren John McCann (Sr.) and Henry Wilson. Over the years the work tended to grow on the north side of the city, leading to the formation of two assemblies in the nearby city of Cachoeirinha and one in Alvorada. During 2010 our brethren Wilson and Brown were able to reach out to the southern part where they had two series of meetings. Little interest was shown in the first series, but the second was more encouraging and a few heard the Word. We look to the Lord to bless His Word to them.
Sapucaia do Sul is quite a large city, some 16 miles north of Porto Alegre. Lindsay and Beth Carswell have made their home there for the last 16 years and have labored over a wide area. Our brother commenced a children’s work in a poor area outside the city. Each Saturday afternoon he and his wife go there with some others to teach the children the Word of God. Sometimes up to 40 children attend. Several gospel series have been held in this new area.
Traveling out from Porto Alegre through Sapucaia do Sul, the next city on the route is São Leopoldo. I remember the work commencing there in 1969. After our move to Novo Hamburgo in 1974, we came to have a greater involvement in it. The work proved to be very difficult and growth was slow. Some who got saved were added to the assembly in Novo Hamburgo. After much careful waiting and exercise before the Lord the decision was taken to form an assembly in 2005. There are a little over 20 in fellowship. Last year, on June 13th, the grandson of a sister from the assembly was killed in a road accident. Certain repercussions resulted from this sad happening. The grandfather of the boy, who for years had manifested a grievous indifference to the gospel, in spite of his wife’s testimony, now became interested in reading the Scriptures and in the meetings. He professed to be saved in a Sunday night gospel meeting while his son-in-law was preaching on Acts 16:31. He decided to say nothing about it, until he would “make sure.” Thus it was almost two months later before we got to know about it. This dear man is 64 years of age, but he has been in failing health for years. We do trust that he may be spared to be useful in the work. Already he has managed to bring some people, who had not attended previously, to gospel meetings.
For many years my wife and I have lived in Novo Hamburgo, which is a short distance north of São Leopoldo. The work has not made the desired progress in recent years. Only a few of the children of the believers have turned to Christ. Many who were brought up in the Sunday school have become indifferent and rarely attend. Yet amongst the few who have been saved there are those who give joy. One young couple, both of whom were brought by their parents to hear the Word of God, have shown good exercise to help in the work. The young man has a measure of gift and can make a helpful contribution in the assembly. We know that there are many snares and we trust that both will be preserved in life and testimony. The Sunday school has grown in the last year or two mainly because of the exercise of some brethren to collect and bring children. In recent months it has become necessary to make use of a minibus. These children are from a very poor background, yet they are well-behaved and it is encouraging to hear so many of them saying verses such as John 3:16. May the seed sown bring forth fruit!
The nearby assembly in Sapiranga was formed in 2006. James and Joy Armstrong live there and have seen the work develop. In July a young married lady was baptized and received into fellowship. Perhaps news of just one baptism may not seem so rousing. However, the husband of this young lady has been in fellowship for some years, so to see a couple united not only in Christ, but also in assembly fellowship is indeed a great encouragement. In the last couple of years the Sunday school has increased greatly and numbers in excess of 80 are not unusual at 10 AM on Sunday morning. James and Gregg Buchanan have recently commenced a series of gospel meetings in the Sapiranga hall.
There is another assembly near Novo Hamburgo, in the city of Ivoti. This assembly was formed in 1995 through the labors of Gregg Buchanan and others. There were two series of gospel meetings held there last year. We look to the Lord to grant the increase and to preserve those who profess His name.
The work goes on in several other areas as well. We are thankful for a visit just now from Noel Fleck, who, with Lindsay Carswell, is having a series in Cachoeira do Sul at the time of writing. John and Christine McCann live in Santa Maria where he and Roberto Ploia are preaching at the moment. Gregg and Elizabeth Buchanan serve the Lord chiefly in the Três Passos area, not far from the Argentinean border. Over the last year or so, the assembly has grown as others have come into the blessing of salvation. Carlos da Silva continues to announce the glad tidings in the southern part of the state and José Matos is active in the neighboring state of Santa Catarina where a second assembly was formed in 2007.
We all feel the need of the prayers of God’s people and are thankful for so many who over years have been loyal partners in this important exercise.