John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
My thoughts today are centered on an upcoming event out on the island. It's a camp for children. Years ago when we came to Sobradinho to work with the Treasure Island Camp we soon sensed the camp was under-utilized especially for children, evangelism and the people of our little town itself in direct connection with our church.
Our church work in Sobradinho has actually shrunk in numbers since we first came in 1994. My husband and I have tried it all and with lots of prayer and counsel. We have done all the things that have worked in other places plus a few more.
Once a friend told me that perhaps there were just not any more of God's "chosen" left in Sobradinho. Wow! Knock me down! That is not true! It is against all my beliefs and the core of all I know about the Loving Eternal Creator God.
Two years ago we decided to try another NEW idea - a camp for the poor children of our town. It worked out that another colleague also had a new idea - to host a group of college students and teens from the States who were interested in learning about missions with the hope of recruitment. My husband and his colleague combined their goals to create Aventura Brasil - a two week summer experience which would include a retreat for children on the island.
The first Aventura Brasil went well and the children's retreat was a huge success. It was not as easy as we had thought to round up children for a FREE camp. But finally with the help of a teacher and a local school 40 boys and girls from our town went to camp for three days. Afterwards my husband started Source of Light Bible studies with each one camper. Many continued faithfully with their lessons and are still involved today! Several campers made decisions during the retreat and because of the lessons. Others, friends and family of those 40, saw the lessons and began as well. But, rarely have any of them come to our church which had been a main goal and hope of the big plan - to bring in new faces to our little work. Even though the camp was a success and the Bible studies continue - we once again felt disappointed. Only recently have two girls who made salvation decisions as a result of the courses began to attend Sunday School regularly. Ironically neither of them even attended the first retreat!
While numbers are not our desire - Souls are! We want to be able to count more souls saved by faith in Christ in Sobradinho. In less than 11 days we will host about 40 children on the island for the second of our Treasure Island/Aventura Brasil retreats. At first it had been decided to gather children from several area towns and churches. Through an interesting twist of "fate" I have been once again left to gather all the campers for this retreat. What a privilege! Yes, and what a chore as well! Could it be that this is the miracle for which I have been waiting during these past six long years in the desert?
Pictured here are some of the boys and girls at a school where I visited this morning. In the middle are three workers at the school. The lady in the purple polo shirt is the teacher of the class and a personal friend. She will most likely go along for this retreat. She has never made a decision for Christ but has heard the Gospel more than once and often attends special church events with me. In the middle is a lady that I have known now for several years as she worked with me to help the three little girls from Fortaleza who lived out on the island and came in to school. The third I just met this morning. She is a special ed teacher.
This one event has already allowed me to share my faith with these three and other adults at the school as I explain the purpose of our camp. Soon these lovely boys and girls will hear God's Word preached as well. May God be glorified through this work.
Oh Lord, may your Word go forth to touch these and other little hearts! And somehow may these boys and girls and other come to know You and wish to learn more about and serve You in our little church. Because I know that You are still saving souls all over the world and there is no place where You have given up or ran out of souls to save!
This is my prayer! Would you pray with me over the next two weeks to these ends: salvation of boys and girls, desire of Aventura Brasil participants for missions, growth of the Sobradinho congregation!