by Abraham Cremeens
If you have read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien you know the alternate title is There and Back Again. The novel, which entails so many incredible stories and fantasy, ultimately describes the unexpected change in Bilbo Baggins from the time he leaves his home until he returns. That seems to be the case for all of us in life’s journey.
Kossuth sent a team of ten to Brazil on May 15. We went there and back again with plenty of stories along the way. I trust we made an impact while there. We helped the Richners and the team by connecting them to the community through English classes at local high schools. We did a bit of construction at a retreat center. We spent time with the church encouraging them in the faith. But I would reckon the ten of us received more than we gave, and God no doubt changed us for the better on our journey there and back again.
We saw and experienced so much. One main impact for me was the reminder that God is doing his work globally. His kingdom advance is so much bigger than Lafayette, America, or even the West. He is drawing people to himself literally from everywhere. I asked the rest of the team to share their takeaways from the trip as well:
When people invest time and effort into other people, relationships are built. (I saw this with the children and the administrators at the schools). Communication happens when people want to and try to understand each other, even when they don’t share a common language. (I saw this with the children and the administrators at the schools, and with the congregation of the new church plant at the Life Center). Sharing / breaking bread with others is a special gift that draws people together. (I saw this during the meals at the Life Center and at the cookout at the Cabins). The love of God heals broken people and broken marriages. (I heard personal examples of this from multiple people there. It’s very cool to witness all of the above. I’m pretty sure all the above are also true in the US.
It is evident that missional work is needed everywhere. It is amazing to see such a friendly/loving people in southern Brazil but not know the love of Christ. It is evident that God is calling his people to him based on the evidence of the Richner ministry. Traveling to Brazil helps me to understand God's love and His work in a new way every time I go. We were encouraged by Rob and Linda's involvement in their retirement years. It is something Alice and I are starting to look at.
Even though the food was very delicious, I still have to say that my favorite part of the trip was the amazing people we met: Randy, Cindy, and Jason, Pastor Diego and his family, and Brazilian church members who share a passion for Christ and seeing him glorified in Brazil.
I'm really thankful for the opportunity to visit and build relationships in Brazil. I enjoyed getting to know the Kossuth missionaries and teaching English to countless Brazilian high school students. It was very cool to experience their culture and to be greeted with warm hugs! Throughout my time there, I thought about how many people have never heard the name of Jesus and are in need of a Savior. I really enjoyed the Sunday evening service where we heard Christ's name be magnified in both English and Portuguese!
The location, language, life circumstance doesn’t change the deepest need of the human heart, or the brokenness that we all in some way experience. Better yet, the good news doesn’t change either. The gospel of Jesus transcends those so powerfully, I can (in a way) form a friendship with someone I can barely speak to. To me it speaks of the vitality of the gospel. It’s not just man made (Galatians 1).
I thought it was cool the connections we made with people when we could hardly speak the same language. For example the little twin girls were so much fun and I loved playing with them even though I couldn’t understand anything they were saying 😂. I loved being able to teach at the school and get to know all the kids, I’m so thankful for the connections we were able to make.
We made some friends there and had lots of fun. We got to learn some Portuguese words, too! Rice is one of my favorite foods and I got to have it at every meal.
Liam and Hudson
I was reminded of the urgency of gospel work among the unreached. I left thankful and encouraged by the Richner’s consistent labor of multiplication and discipleship. The people of Brazil are just as beautiful as their landscape, but they are in desperate need of Jesus.
We will share more at the Family Gathering this Sunday at 6:00 pm in the auditorium. Let's give thanks to God and ask for his continued grace on the church in Brazil. God is doing some incredible things.