It was a few days before Christmas in 1996. Dan and I had been working with a struggling Free Methodist church plant in NE Brazil and the pastor had just quit. We were crying out to the Lord to show us how to bring health and stability to this fragile ministry when we received a phone call from a complete stranger.
João was calling from the distant city of São Paulo and said that he and his wife were members of the Free Methodist church there. He went on to say that his son was struggling with respiratory problems and that they needed to move to a drier climate. “Could you, by any chance, use our help in your work?” It was all I could do to keep from screaming into the phone, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
The next year, João and Cida and their pre-teens, Tamaris and Filipe, moved up to Petrolina. The Lord used them in many ways to build up and encourage the churches in the northeast. João began as a lay leader and later assumed pastoral leadership of the Areia Branca FMC.
These memories have been especially strong almost two decades later because João’s son, Filipe, has recently moved to Brasília in connection with his job and has offered his services to our church planting team. Filipe is a gifted musician and a wonderful addition to our worship services. We feel honored that the Lord would bless our lives not once, but twice, through the servant hearts of this dear family – and both times just before Christmas!