What One Church Can Do
Early in the morning one Saturday, as the stores were starting to open, a group from First Baptist Sidney, Ohio, gathers to wash cars. This is no ordinary fundraising effort; this is a team of volunteer missionaries, led by their Pastor, John Butts (Missionary Emeritus, IMB) – and with the participation of Pastor and Missionary Flavio Augusto Rezende Machado from Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil. Under a hot sun and with the cooperation of many town residents needing their cars cleaned, this team of hard workers raised 700 dollars to help pay the costs of their trip overseas in December, 2018 – ministering alongside Pr. Flavio in his city of Foz do Iguaçu.
First Baptist Church, Sidney, Ohio is a Southern Baptist Church in a rural town that runs between 110 to 150 in attendance each week. They do not let size stop them from being involved in overseas missions.
In fact, this is the second trip they are going on as a church to Brazil. They first went to Brazil in November 2016. During this trip, they did evangelism, prayer walks, ministering to children and adults, and held a special Thanksgiving dinner for the community that was supposed to be for 300 people – but ended up serving 500! They ministered especially in two poor communities – using an appropriate balance between Gospel presentations and compassionate acts. Pastor Flavio shared during training that “although we may never know the full effects of that trip until we reach eternity, people we run into regularly still talk about how much those Americans and their ministry meant to us!”
This next trip, to be held during the week following Christmas into the first few days of the new year, will be an intensive period of work in multiple communities in support of church planting efforts in the region of the Three Frontiers (the border area between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina). They will only have one day for tourism and for most of the young people, a huge hardship – they will leave their cell phones in the hotel safe – so as not to be distracted as they go and minister where the Spirit leads them.
They will work in small teams – mixed with Americans and Brazilians and their translators – to maximize their ability to plant seeds of the Gospel wherever they go. They will use singing Christmas carols in public places to get a crowd, and Pr. Flavio and others will then preach messages of encouragement to those that stop to listen. In these areas, they will encounter Brazilians, Paraguayans, Argentineans, Arabs, Chinese, Japanese, Guarani, and many tourists from around the world.
Having served with my wife and family in this beloved city of Foz do Iguaçu for seven years – including some overlap with Pr. John and his family, it pleases this author greatly to see how God continues to strengthen the partnership between Americans and Brazilians. The light of Christ continues to shine as brothers and sisters from one small US town join forces with brothers and sisters in a city of over 300,000 to spread the light of Christ to those that have still heard or responded to God’s free gift of salvation. What an appropriate Christmas present to give; what an appropriate New Year’s Resolution but to go and share Jesus this holiday season.
If this is what one small church can do for God, what can YOUR church do?