Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ambassadors for Christ’s Sake-Part 2

Here is part 2 of the latest news from Paul and Becky Abel.

Our summer camp season was wonderful!  Following a month of heavy rains God blessed us with a week of sunny weather for the children to enjoy camp at the ARCA. Once again we had a great group of counselors investing in young lives.  "Bible Explorers - Discovering Treasures in the Word of God" was our theme for the week.  It was fun to have Matthew home for camps this year.  A couple of weeks later we had our annual youth camp with youth from churches all around our state and even a group from Vitoria, 1000 miles away. The rain didn't stay away this time, but we were thankful for the great attitude of the campers and the wonderful way God used the theme "Come and Live" to draw people to Himself.

 We have had some projects completed at the ARCA in 2013. We are happy to have new metal frame bunk beds in all the rooms.  We also purchased the house where Carlos and Yara used to live to remodel for families and speakers to use. Paul supervised the building of three concrete stairways for easier access that came in really handy for our Passion Play this year.  God blessed us with perfect weather for the 3 nights of the outdoor presentations. We had about 1300 people in attendance.  Getting ready for the play we had several fund raisers which are great for building community.


Another big event that Becky was in the forefront of planning was the Annual Women's Congress.  This year we had 160 participants, and we had it at a big conference center right on the beach. Fun!

In the midst of all the busyness of the big events we had a BIG SCARE when Yara had a terrible motorcycle accident on March 5.  She was thrown from her bike and suffered an accident that only 80% of victims survive.  She has successfully made it through two high risk pelvic surgeries and is held together by external metal rods.  She also broke both wrists (another surgery) and four ribs and has a terrible wound on her right thigh which is healing up nicely now.  Yara has been flat on her back needing constant care for these past seven weeks. About ten days ago we found out that she had the beginnings of pneumonia, too.  We've done lots of running and lots of praying. It's been neat to see people come together to help in so many different ways.  She still needs our prayers so we ask you to join us in remembering her before the throne of grace. Wednesday I will be taking her in for more x-rays and a visit with the surgeons to see how she is progressing.

We had some great family times during this year as well.  You may remember that we were all together for Andrew and Alexi's wedding.  We see the girls at least once a week and enjoy having the grandkids here whenever it works out. They love coming to the farm and riding horse.

Although we haven't had much time to prepare yet, we are planning to come to the U.S. on furlough this summer, arriving the beginning of June and returning to Brazil October 3. As soon as our schedule is in place I'll send it out.  We hope to see as many of you as possible.  Once again we thank you so much for standing with us in prayer and financial support. Together we are making a difference in the world as we allow God to use us for His glory.

In His precious name, 
Paul and Becky

Editor’s note:  If you missed Part 1, you can read it here!  You can read the entire newsletter here on the World Mission Page of the AFLC site.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ambassadors for Christ’s Sake

Editor’s note:  This is the first in a 2-part series on the news from Paul and Becky Abel.  Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2!

The God of our salvation who has blessed us abundantly is the One who renews our strength day by day to do His will.  Only He knows the real story of our life and ministry here in Brazil.  If you would spend a few days with us you might get a glimpse of the many facets and responsibilities involved in our missionary outreach in this place. We are ever-grateful for the trust our supporters have invested in us during these 28 years on the mission field.  By faith you have believed that God is using our lives to bless others and lead them in the ways of eternal life.

Sometimes the immensity of the task and the demands of knowing so many people and being involved in so many ministries tire us out.  We have had one big event after another to plan and execute besides all the daily responsibilities of the local church ministries.  I could easily write volumes about the happenings of each week, so it seems next to impossible to relate what's happened in these past months. I just have not been able to get down to writing and communicating with you. We're so glad that your prayers and support have not been as "spotty" as my letter-writing!  You can have a little idea of some of our activities by taking a look at a few photos I will include here.  Our prayer is that we may be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading in each situation as we testify of the love of Jesus and reach out to help people be reconciled to God.  We are ambassadors for Christ's sake as God makes his appeal through us -   2 Corinthians 5:20.

Perhaps our biggest joy is having our son Matthew home again as a short-term missionary. He has been a great asset to us here.  Hopefully, you have read his updates (he's been better at writing than I have been).  We are also so thankful that son Andrew was able to make a quick trip to Brazil to help us with the Passion Play again this year (we actually wonder if we could do without him).     We now have another short term helper with us for four months, Britton Unverzagt.  These three young men have made our work more fun and more effective.  We have realized again how much we have missed our children in doing ministry since they left home.  It's been a special blessing to have our sons back for a time.

Paul and I enjoyed travelling to some Free Lutheran churches in other cities to encourage the members and do courses for couples and youth.  We were in Campo Grande in September, Iguaçu Falls in December and Vitoria in February. We also went to Campo Mourão for graduation and a meeting with the other missionaries. We are pictured below with Jonni Sliver, and Jonathan and Tamba Abel.

This year we have a student at the seminary in Campo Mourão who is doing very well after successfully completing drug rehabilitation last year in Curitiba. Alex is pictured (2nd from the right) with some of the Bible School students and Pastor Iran (far left).

Monday, April 22, 2013

What is God’s Chosen Path?

Editor’s Note:  The Wagner’s 3-month training time is drawing to a close.  Please continue to pray for them as they return and finish raising their funds.  Their plans are to go to Sierra Leone in October to work full time.  You can read their full newsletter here.

imageAnteré! (Good afternoon!) Greetings from Ghana, where we’re attending a 3-month Africa Training Course held by experienced LBT missionaries. We are so grateful to LBT and these missionaries for investing so much to help our transition to life and ministry in Sierra Leone later this year.

We have had opportunities here (that we wouldn’t normally) to observe varied beliefs and practices, like visiting a traditional diviner:

He humbly sat there, telling us of his practice and beliefs, claiming that he “feared no one but God and only wished well upon others.” He’s a diviner, a fortuneteller and counselor, and others like him can be found in nearly every community across West Africa. Animists (spirit worshippers), Muslims, and even Christians come to him in concern or desperation. “What should I do?!” “Why is my wife not bearing children? I will soon be told to take another.” “Why was my harvest unsuccessful? Who has cursed me?” “Please, make this person fall in love with me.”

Divination is a practice of African traditional religion, but this man also claims to be a Muslim. He attends the village mosque daily and uses the Quran (Koran) for guidance to help people, Muslim or not. He was taught and trained by his father and has already begun teaching his son. He believes he’s following God’s chosen path for him and feels honored to be able to help so many in need.  Please pray that the truth of God’s word and of Christ would light this man’s life and the lives of those in need.

❤ Josh, Ruthie, & Elijah

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On the “Home” Front

imageAfter four months with a very full house, the Miriam Home has calmed down. From the beginning of November to the end of February we averaged 24 children in the Miriam Home at any given moment. These months are Brazil’s summer vacation for school, so we had a lot of children full of energy and with too much time on their hands - you can imagine that everyone was pitching in to keep order!

In March the family situations for a lot of the children were resolved and the kids started leaving, until right now we have just seven children in the house (another extreme - this time lower than normal).

After a 1:12 house mom to child ratio (or 1:24 at night!) 1:3 seems pretty mild, but there is a special blessing in this   quieter moment. All of the children presently in the house are here because their families are more complicated and it will be a while before they join family members or are     released for adoption. The blessing here is that we have a lot longer to be able to pray over and minister to these young lives.

Let me introduce you to our gang, starting with the youngest.  Emily and Nicholas have been with us for several months, and both have blossomed since they arrived. Emily came to us because of extreme abuse and arrived terrified of everyone. As time passed she grew to trust, first the house moms, then the rest of the staff and the other children. She has shown herself to be a loving, very bright, precious little girl. At two and a half she is growing more and more confidant. We are praying that our little angel will carry no memory of what happened before she came to the Miriam Home and that the Lord will open the doors for her to be adopted in to the family He has chosen for her.

Nicholas is the same age as Emily, and has been here since November. He is with us because his mother has a serious drinking addiction. Though she says she loves her little boy, she loves drinking more and would leave Nicholas for whole days at a time. It has now been more than two months since she has come to visit him or even call to see how he is doing, Praise the Lord, Nicholas knows he is important us!

Editor’s note:  You can read about the other children who are currently at the Infant Home here.

He Is Risen!

He is risen.   He is risen indeed!

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. " 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Christianity centers itself upon the very public, observable death and resurrection of Christ. Christianity is not a secret, mysterious, or phantom knowledge like most other belief systems. Christianity is not simply a series of teachings. No, Christianity IS Jesus. We celebrate the God of the universe entering into our real time and space. We celebrate an actual public event that belongs to the record of History. We celebrate the Resurrection. This is what separates Christianity from all other belief systems.

How glorious is it that we can base our faith on something objective and historical. Despite our emotions and the subjective spiritual games we play with ourselves, we are instructed to look to the cross of Christ. There, we find our deepest problem -sin- being taken care of. There, we find God’s clear message of love and forgiveness. There, we find hope for the present and the future.

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

Our Lord’s resurrection is the truth and hope we are able to rejoice in not only in this season, but throughout all of our days. This is the truth that sustains us in, and carries us through our difficulties. This is the truth that continually reminds us of forgiveness. This is the truth that set before us the glorious reality of eternal communion and restoration with Christ.  May the truth and reality of Christ’s resurrection create and strengthen faith in your hearts and minds.

In His Grace,
Andy, Monica, Moriah, Isaiah and Josiah

Editor’s note:  To read the entire newsletter, please click here.