Avid readers of this blog know of my love affair with Brazil, Thomas & Agnes Schneider, and Porto Alegre. I’ve taken 7 trips with countless teenagers ministering with Word of Life visiting school campuses, teaching the finer points of American football, teaching English, and even doing some basic construction work. It’s a 10 plus year relationship that we’ve developed. This summer, we are taking a brand new set of students back to Brazil for English camps, more school visitations, and a church retreat to help area churches in their student ministries.
Why do we keep going back?
Word of Life’s mission in Porto Alegre is to reach this generation of students with the gospel of Jesus Christ so they can reach the next one. The southern part of Brazil is called the Missionary Graveyard, highly influenced by the occult and voodoo. Most ministries don’t make it because it takes so long for the locals to trust outsiders. Of course, Thomas and Agnes are insiders – born and raised in this area of the country. Combine that with over 20 plus years of ministry in the same area, they’ve earned the right to be heard. In last 4 years, we’ve seen more Brazilians come to know Jesus than the 15 before it. That’s just one of the many benefits of long-term partnerships in missions.
The other reason is the model of WOL ministry – to build relationships with teens, to introduce them to Jesus, to disciple them so they can go back home and introduce others to Jesus, and to do this while serving the community in Jesus’ name. Sound familiar?
What’s on the docket this year?
The culture and schools are really pushing their kids to learn English. A student that can read and speak English has such a large advantage over everyone else in terms of future jobs. Yet, very few people speak English. When Americans show up, the demand for their time to teach English is so huge that we are often give access to public schools that would be unheard of stateside. We will often visit 2 sometimes 3 schools a day in the Porto Alegre area (3.5 million population) and we’re allowed to talk about pretty much anything.
This give WOL access to the public schools to offer adventure camps, English classes, and sports camps to these schools. WOL is very clear they are an organization that loves Jesus and at every event and camp, the gospel is clearly communicated and the students given an opportunity to respond and ask questions about Jesus.
Because WOL also works and train area churches in how to work with students, any student that makes a decisions, they are able to connect this student to a local church that will further disciple that student. Plus, throughout the year, WOL offers churches youth retreats to help further deepen their relationship.
This trip – we are visiting schools helping WOL build these relationships AND on the weekends we will be helping to run their church retreats.
How To Help
* Pray for these ‘rookie’ students.
Taking mission trips with teenagers is always an adventure. But normally we will have a veteran or two to help “herd the cats.” What would take me 2 or 3 tries to communicate to a student as to what to expect only takes another student once. A veteran student leader is worth about 2 adults on a trip like this. We don’t have any this trip. It’s not a HUGE issue but I do feel like I’m traveling without a security blanket.
* WOL Missionaries
This year has been a huge year of transition for WOL. They have been given more access to more schools, have ministered to more students, have more opportunities with TV with the same amount of staff. They have started an intern program for students between high school and college. It’s a time of great growth but also great change.
Amy and I are both going (kids are NOT). Fortunately for us, our home church is sponsoring Amy’s trip since she is the trip leader. That just leaves me to raise my money to go – $2000.
Here are a couple of ways you can contribute:
Send check to Western Hills BC , Brazil in the memo line
c/o Grant English
2900 SW Auburn Road
Topeka, KS 66614
PayPal — leave me a comment and we can work this out.
* God’s Favor
For the first few years of this trip, we saw next to nothing in terms of response to the Gospel. Then IT happened. I have no way to explain over 100 teenagers accepting Christ in one weekend where two languages were being spoken. Acts?
We’ve been seeing the same kind of build up the last couple of years. Lots of relational building with schools and churches, lots of questions and dialog. This trip feels like this same kind of explosion could take place. Am I just being hopeful or really listening to God? Not sure, time will tell.
I do know this, nothing happens of God without the hand of God. We can go and do all the right things, the right way and nothing happen if God isn’t in it. And that’s the prayer of myself and the team as we move forward.