It has been a difficult, yet encouraging and growing season for us serving in Belém, Pará, Brazil. I sometimes think about how hard it was, almost 4 years ago selling almost everything and stepping out into the unknown, not knowing where we were being called to, like Abraham. Many of you know our 'missionary training' story...we sold it all, with great urgency from the Lord, and moved onto a sailboat for almost a year where we waited for God to show us our first 'mission'. Looking back on our boat experience (the one where we were completely crushed until we felt as if we could endure no more), I realized we were our first mission field. We needed a time of breaking to move forward, a time of refining...and we've been experiencing that a little now. The verses that have been coming to mind lately are 2 Corinthians 4:8 "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair..." and Isaiah 42:3 "a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice." For the many who have prayed for us in this difficult time we have felt your prayers...they have really carried us.
Our stress and difficulties come from the intense spiritual warfare we experience here being on the front lines of this intense spiritual battlefield. Our work with the drug addicted, individuals involved in prostitution/human trafficking, and people in other dark areas of life bring us to Satan's playground, and we go willingly and we go with an abundance of love and joy serving them. It is not without hardships though. To use warfare terminology, we have been taking intense hits...except these hits from the enemy are internal. We have, at times, not gone to battle wearing the full armor of God...at times forgetting our helmets of salvation, our breastplates of righteousness, etc... and, of course, the attack is even worse then; however, as hard as these times have been, we are so thankful to be able to serve the people here. It has been very hard starting these ministries from nothing, but we are SO thankful for all the wonderful people the Lord has put in our lives to help the new church and its ministries...without them and their endless help and encouragement our work here would be even more difficult. We are also immensely thankful for our supporting churches back home who have been faithfully laboring in prayer for us, and often checking in to encourage us.
So, what exactly have we been doing the last couple of months...
Our church services at Calvary Chapel Belém, have continued in the park uninterrupted each Sunday since November 19th, amidst marching bands, protests, torrential downpours, 'fiscalização' workers, and the ever present random guy who's already had 'too many' at 10:00 am. We've taught through the book of Romans, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, which took 6 months, and we are on to the Gospel of John now. We have a regular group of people attending each week, and we always have a crowd who stop and listen, take pictures and videos, and more weeks than not, we have a few people respond to the Gospel. God is working through this effort, and we are seeing people who may have never stepped foot into a church building, hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All the Glory to God! Kyle has been working on our church's discipleship book, along with the help of Kauê a faithful brother in the Lord, that is used in our men's and women's discipleship classes. The men's discipleship class is going well and each week is a time of learning and growing for all involved. Krista and Sarah, another faithful helper, will begin the women's discipleship classes with the women this coming Monday. The street evangelism outreach team, lead by Kauê, goes to the streets/'bars' each Friday and is beginning to see fruit from their faithfulness, and we saw one of the young men that had been ministered to attend church...a huge step from where he was. Our church has also started a new ministry working with the Venezuelan Refugees located here in Belém. These particular refugees are from an indigenous Indian tribe called Warao. We recently collected hygiene items and made hygiene kits (tooth brushes, shampoo, etc) for 80+ refugees and handed them out to the refugees who reside in three different houses in a very dangerous area of Belém. We, as a church, have committed to caring for these individuals souls and pray that the Lord will bless us with a safe place for them to live and other workers to help in this ministry. We go to their 'house' (owned by a prostitute 'madam', and surrounded by drug addicts and dealers) every Thursday afternoon. Our desire is to create relationships with these individuals and lead them to Christ (all of our ministries have the same heart, which is relationship growing with others to point these people to Jesus). This particular work has been challenging as none of them speak Portuguese and only a few speak Spanish. The majority of these individuals speak their tribal language, Warao. We now sit with them every week and bring them beads and other jewelry making items and make jewelry with them (they are the experts we just learn from them), this way we can develop a relationship with them and they can sell their jewelry and get away from begging on the streets. We have found an audible New Testament in their tribal language and we listen to that as we make jewelry with the women. We will soon begin to use our time to help teach the kids Portuguese, help with their fine motor skills (holding pencils, etc...) as well. We ask for prayer in this new work, for provision, guidance, and more workers.
In March, and again in April, our ministry Proverbs 24:11 (the prostitution/human trafficking ministry) joined with the Bible Society Boat, as well as with other churches from the US and Sao Paulo, and a local University with medical students, and traveled up the mouth of the Amazon river. These were medical mission trips where the accompanying churches, and medical students, and missions group provided much needed medical and dental services to the river communities who have no resources/or money for such things. Our team was blessed to be able to speak to the crowds about human trafficking prevention and share the Gospel. We also used our time on these trips teaching them about the Gospel by using the Gospel bracelets, and this was a huge blessing for the 100+ kids we worked with while on these trips. The Proverbs 24:11 ministry continues to go to to the streets near our church every Thursday night as we outreach to the men and women involved in prostitution. We have been able to meet the same individuals almost regularly and grow our relationships with them, and we are beginning to gain more insight into their lives as they recognize our teams and trust us more and more each week. A few weeks ago there was a transgender man working on the streets as a prostitute who, at first, was a bit standoffish towards us, and gave us a fake name, but when when we began sharing who we are and why we're there he immediately changed his attitude, gave us hugs and told us his real name (something he said he only gives to people he knows) and told us he had heard of us and seen us around on other nights. We have had many encounters like this as these individuals recognize us, or have heard of us...often they will find us and walk over to us for prayer, and their prayers always, always include protection. So, please pray with us for these individuals for their protection, deliverance, and their souls.
Aidan and Liam are continuing to adjust to their new Brazilian school. They are getting pretty advanced in their second language, Portuguese, and we are extremely proud of how flexible they have been in all of this, and how hard they are working in their new school. Aidan was recently accepted into the Calvary Chapel Hungary Bible College summer discipleship program (their 6-week program this summer for teens), as well as their Summer of service program (30 day program for teens to serve at the conference center during conferences/retreats). He is really wanting to attend the 6- week discipleship program and has even received a partial scholarship, but the remainder cost and flights are very high. We have to inform the school by May 31st, next week, if he is able to attend or they will need to give his spot away. Please pray with us that should the Lord desire Aidan to go to this program that finances will become available soon in order for us to send him.
-Pray for our missionary visas to be extended.
-Pray for finances by May 31st for Aidan to travel to Calvary Chapel Bible College Hungary for the discipleship school (about $2500 needed for flights and outreach expenses for his time there).
-Pray for more workers to help us in these ministries, e.g. local volunteers, short/long term missionaries, etc.
-Pray for Brazil...currently the country is without gasoline in the majority of the cities and there is a massive truck strike (many problems with this...closed gas stations, airports, food not being delivered, etc).
-Pray for a reliable vehicle.
-Pray for a building to house our church and ministries.
-We did not receive the building that we were told would be donated to us. The mission organization that was going to donate it decided to sell it instead.
-We are seeing fruit in different ways in each of our ministries and have been blessed with wonderful helpers here.
-Krista was able to share at a local seminary on the role of the church/Christians regarding depression and suicide and has been blessed to use her counseling tools/training in the mission field.
-We will be celebrating our 16 year wedding anniversary this June 8th!
-Our church's website is up and going...www.capeladocalvariobelem.com...check it out:)
Thank you all for your support!
Kyle, Krista, Aidan & Liam Fox