August 2008


6/9

Today, I met Audrey Shultz, Justin Shultz’s mom. Justin is a dear brother in Christ and fellow member at my church. What was significant about meeting Audrey is that she and her husband were missionaries in Brazil for 34 years. Audrey and her husband came to Brazil though the IMB and her husband would later become a Baptist seminary president in Bahia, Brazil.  While in Brazil and serving at the seminary, the Shultz’ took part in planting 24 churches.

This was an incredible opportunity for me, not only to knock the dust of my Portuguese, but to speak with a woman who was a missionary in the country, I feel the Lord has given me a desire to reach with the gospel. It was of one of those experiences that Lord drops along the way to keep you going in the right direction; I pray.

But I had some time to ask her a few questions as I was waiting for the rest of our team to arrive at the airport. I asked her how she would describe her experience as a missionary in Brazil. She said, “I don’t have any regrets. We loved it!” There is something about walking in God’s will and doing what he has called you to do. There is no greater joy. It is for this reason we were created. Proverbs 3:6-8 says, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

When she left many people discouraged her from going, since she had a 10 month old child, saying, “It will be difficult and dangerous.” Her response was, “If God can provide here, he can provide there.” And then I said, “It’s that simple isn’t it.” God’s provision in our lives is not limited by location, because he is God of all the earth. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers (Psalm 24:1, 2).” He can provide accordingly whatever the circumstance might be. 

It is exactly this type of trust in the provision of God that has a 34 year impact for the kingdom of God. When I arrived in Brazil, I immediately began to see the fruit of their many years of hard labor in Bahia. One of the translators who worked with our team, Josie, was basically adopted by the Shultz’. She is now a full time staff member at her church and is a passionate follower of Christ. No doubt where she is today is owing to the the labor of these two missionaries and their sacrificial love in Josie’s life. Another one of our translators was a talented young man named Tiago. Tiago is a member of one of the churches that Audrey and her husband planted. His father is also the pastor there! This young man spoke of Justin’s father as being a legend in Brazil (His words). The legend began to grow in my own mind too, when I met a lady who attended the church that we were working with, an hour away from where the Shultz’ served, who grew up under their ministry. She spoke very highly of them all these years later and she is still faithful to the Lord. 

Me, Camila (Just Saved!), and Tiago

But what if they would have listened to those good Christians who were concerned for the safety of their children? What if they would have doubted the goodness of God? I’m sure God would have fulfilled his purposes, but despite those casting doubt they went, sacrificed, and served and today there are 24 churches and many others worshipping the risen Savior!    

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6/10/08

Brazil is a land of incredible beauty mingled amongst pain of the deepest kind. In many places, it is a tropical paradise, but underneath the lush palms are barracos (shacks) nailed together with the trash the more wealthy throw away. Beside the banana trees are water wholes filled with mosqitos dug out for that little lady to wash her clothes. Looking up in the city of Recife, you can enjoy a beautiful skyline and respect the creativity of the architecture, but once your eyes lower, you’ll be staggered at the street kids, wanting to sell you fruit and wash your windows so that they can eat or buy some glue to huff. Brazil is poverty and riches!

But in some ways, I feel that in their poverty that they are more rich than us in our prosperity. They have a calm life. They don’t have the rush and anxiety. There isn’t the constant call of cell phones and email. (I’m speaking of the poorer areas). They have real community. They know each other. They know their neighbors.  They speak to one another on the street. They seem to be truly human. They have joy!

This year I traveled with a friend from my church, Justin Shutlz, whose parents were missionaries in Brazil for 34 years. So, Brazil was his home before moving to the states. One night after a day filled with ministering to a slum community outside of the city of Salvador, he said to me, “Why would anyone leave this?” This lifestyle he meant, this poverty. This coming from someone who had experienced both cultures.

I don’t know if I’ll ever forget that question, but I do know that I understood what he was saying. In the business of life, sometimes we miss life altogether. When we pull into our garage and our neighbors never even see us. When in our rush, we miss an opportunity to enjoy the company of someone created in God’s image. Thinking our agenda is more important, we sidestep a chance to share the hope and healing of the gospel with a lost person.

There are more important things, “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing (Matthew 6:25)?” In the true community-the kingdom of God, Jesus’ instruction for us is not to be anxious with the things of life, the things he mentions. The reason is there is more to life than worrying about these things and when we do we really miss out on life and show that his kingdom is not what are hearts are fixed on.  We can learn a lesson from our brothers and sisters in Brazil. Let’s not miss true prosperity by chasing after poverty!  

[Justin Shultz and a Brazilian baby stroller]