Back Home in Castanhal
After spending January to July of 2008 in Santarem, we are so thankful to be back home in Castanhal! It was such a celebration when our whole family was reunited on July 24 back in our own home! The 6 months in Santarem were a learning experience and very worthwhile for our family, but we are thrilled to be home, united, and with a new purpose. Since our return home, God has confirmed again and again that it was exactly the right time for us to come back to Castanhal! We cannot thank Him enough for bringing us back, strengthened, united and with clear direction for our future ministry!
The biggest change that our time in Santarem brought was new direction for our family. After 18 years of serving with Project Amazon, we have made a decision to step out into a new ministry. Pr. Vilton, a very good administrator who PAZ sent to take over the Castanhal Church in our absence, has assumed responsibility of all the PAZ churches here. The American couples who came to Castanhal in the last few years are settled in and ready and capable of taking over our previous responsibilities. During the months in Santarem that we spent seeking the Lord as a couple and family, God spoke to us very clearly that it was His time for our family to move out into a new mission work.
Hope Ministries (Ministério Esperança in Portuguese) is the name that God has given us for the new work that we are establishing. “Hope Ministries” says it all! We are here to bring hope to every last person in Castanhal who feels hopeless or desperate. And we are here to minister – to lay down our lives, to give what we have to those who are hurting and broken. Our eyes filled with tears as we watched the painting of the sign on our mission complex (left). How can God be so gracious to use us, to bring hope to a world that is hurting? Writing the name on our mission wall was our declaration to ourselves, to the people of Castanhal, and to principalities and powers in the heavenlies, that God has called us and given us a purpose and a mission! Our God is a God of HOPE!
Who are the people in Castanhal that need hope? Over the years that we ministered at our PAZ church, there were many hundreds of people each year that made a commitment to the Lord, but never became involved in the PAZ church and then drifted away. We desire to reach these people and many others – to say that there is still hope for a dynamic change in their lives and a chance to be useful! We desire to bring hope to those who have failed – spiritually, socially, with their families, with their finances. We know the God who delivers, who saves, who heals, who brings that miracle when there is no hope left! We know the God who opens the Red Sea before us so that we can pass over on dry ground with our family and little ones! We know the God who is THE DOOR when the human door is locked before us. He makes a way when there is no way! And we desire to share this great miracle working God with every person in Castanhal who feels shut out, rejected, set aside and hopeless. What a privilege – what a mission!
And what about the river people of the Amazon? Many of you have asked if we will still be working in planting churches on the rivers. The answer is YES! From our studies and surveys over the last 18 years, we see that there are probably 3000 river communities in the region surrounding Castanhal. These communities are spread over 10 rivers or geographic areas – one of which is the Moju River. In the last 18 years we were able to plant 15 river churches – 10 on the Moju River and 5 in the ocean area. So, there are approximately 2,985 river communities in the Castanhal region where the people still live in darkness without hope. It is clear that we still have endless opportunities for new church plants – and we ask God that there will truly be more, richer, and fuller fruit! Our desire is to establish once again a church in the city of Castanhal to use as a base for reaching these still unreached river communities. We currently have five communities that we are praying about going into, but we are waiting for clear direction from the Lord for His timing and which area to go into first.
We were very blessed to make one more trip on the Moju River in August to see the churches and believers that God has raised up over the years. Willy and Holly, our friends from Rochester, brought a team of 8 young people to build a dock and bathroom for the medical boat house on the Moju River. We were also able to take them all the way up river to Santa Maria where we held a service at a community where a new church is being planted. We love the river people so much and look forward to opening many more churches in the hundreds of river communities around Castanhal.
While there are many churches involved in our support, the Lord supernaturally provided a covering for our new ministry in Fields of Harvest Church from Baytown, Texas. Fields of Harvest Church has been intricately involved in our ministry with PAZ for 17 years since 1991. They actually helped us establish 11 of the 15 churches that we planted under PAZ sending teams for surveying new areas, evangelism, training leaders, and then building and funding these churches and many, many other projects. Team 12 from Fields of Harvest Church arrived on August 25 with 11 leaders who came to minister to our family and to help us plan for future ministry. Five of their team, including Pastor Dave and his wife Martha, stayed a full month. In October we were extremely blessed to be able to legalize Hope Ministries in Brazil. Our goal is to open the first church under Hope Ministries here in Castanhal in February or March of 2008.
7 Week Furlough
Michelle and I both agree that this has absolutely been the best furlough that we have taken in 18 years of ministry. God’s grace, His underserved favor, accompanied us at every stop and every person we visited with! Leaving Brazil on Oct. 15 with Havilah, we spent the first 2 weeks in La Porte/Baytown, Texas. The Lord worked so beautifully that in 6 days we were able to establish Hope Ministries as a legal tax deductable entity in the US – the 7th day was our 26th wedding anniversary and we celebrated! We spent 2 wonderful weeks in Texas and from there went to Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and finally Rochester, NY. Each place we went we were received with so much love. Thank you, each of you, who opened your homes to us, fed us, encouraged us, strengthened us spiritually and emotionally, and blessed us so richly! It was a time of reestablishing relationships with family and friends, many of you whom we have neglected because of the pressures of a growing ministry over the years we have been in Brazil. Thank you so much for opening your hearts and homes to us!
One of our greatest joys in Hope Ministries is that we have a ministry where our whole family can work together and where the diverse gifts and callings and talents of each one will have a place. Whether our kids are called to pastoring, worship leading, working with children, medical work or social work – there will be opportunities for whatever ministry God puts on their hearts.
Rachel has finished 3 ½ years at Christ for the Nations in Bible and Worship Ministry. The last 2 years she has been adding psychology courses with the hope that she would be able to get a degree in psychology. She is now transferring her credits to a college in Belem (40 miles from Castanhal). All of our children, including Rachel, have decided that college in Brazil is more affordable and will give them a degree in the country where they plan to work the rest of their lives. Rachel can live in Belem during the week but come home on weekends to help us with the new ministry. She is also able to continue in music studies at the Belem School of Music which will be a help to her in worship ministry.
Marçal and Rebekah – have both put their college studies on hold to be able to help full time in the ministry – Marçal as assistant pastor and Rebekah with dance and children’s ministries. Rebekah is also still studying ballet in Castanhal – her dream is to be able to someday use and teach dance for worship ministries, children’s ministries and churches in Castanhal.
Bethany – is also transferring all of her studies to a Brazilian college. She has finished 2 years of nursing in the US and would like to transfer her credits to a university here to continue studying something in the medical field. She also will be able to live in Belem next year and come home on weekends to help in the new ministry.
Christina – has one more year of high school. She and Deborah are thinking of doing their last year of high school in Belem where they would be able to live with their older sisters during the week and take courses at the school of music, but then come home on weekends. Christina is planning to help us with worship and youth in our new ministry.
Deborah – also has one more year of high school. Her goal is to get good enough grades on her college entrance exams to get into the free government university here to study medicine. The high school where she would attend next year in Belem has special courses to prepare students for med school (they go straight from high school right into med school.) She is asking the Lord for a medical boat to use in river ministry when she graduates.
Philip Daniel – is getting good grades in 5th grade. He is in Brazilian school now and likes playing soccer, basket ball and computers and spending time with his friends. We are still working on his permanent visa for Brazil which is the reason he could not travel with us to the US. We sure missed him while we were on furlough!
Havilah – is still doing home schooling – she is in 2nd grade now. Havilah loves playing dolls, being a princess, anything electronic and taking care of money. Havilah says that she wants to be the accountant for our new ministry and hopes that she will be ready for that job by the time she starts college!
Marcos – after 6 years of living with us, our nephew Marcos, 25, is definitely a part of our family! Marcos is a big help at the mission house with his willingness to serve in so many areas of maintenance and upkeep. We are so thankful for God bringing him to us and for the great future that God has for him here in Brazil.
Prayer and Support Needs
Thank you so much for your prayers and continued support for our family! During this time of ministry transition there will be extra costs. Though we plan to use our home initially to start our new church, there will be a need for chairs, a sound system and Bibles for new converts. We are already looking into starting churches in 4 river communities, so there will be a need for boats and a vehicle for travel to communities that are reachable by road. You have loved us, stood with us, interceded for us, and supported us financially for many years! We have seen how God provided so faithfully all these years through your giving and prayers and we know that He will continue to bless your investment here in Hope Ministries.
Scott, Michelle and Family
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P.O. Box 77
La Porte, TX
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Please pray with us and contribute as God directs you towards reaching the Amazon river peoples. May God bless you as you share in reaping the Harvest Field of His Kingdom!