What’s it like to apply for mission partner service and hear “not yet”? Camilla Lloyd talked to Daniel and Sarah Brito Medeiros about their journey.
“We were told at the beginning of the mission partner selection process that we’d get a ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or a ‘yes but not now,’” Sarah Brito Medeiros recalls, adding as she looks around the meeting room we are sitting in: “Actually, it was in this room where CMS told us, ‘it’s yes, but not now.’”
In 2015, Daniel and Sarah Brito Medeiros were disappointed when Church Mission Society told them they couldn’t be accepted as mission partners just yet. Even though those delivering the message did so gently, Daniel and Sarah say they left CMS that day feeling very low.
Delayed but not dismayed
Daniel (from Recife, Brazil) and Sarah (from Surrey) first met in 2005 on a ministry course at Happy Child International in Brazil. It was Sarah’s first visit to Brazil and during this visit she says God gave her a vision for bringing his healing to young people through dance: “He gave me the words danca agua viva (dance of living water).”
Before long, Sarah was serving with a project that worked with children who spent their days foraging on a local rubbish dump. She met with them at a local church in the afternoons and taught them ballet.
Daniel, whose background is in public relations, also felt a call to work with children facing life on the streets, but it took a couple more ministry visits from Sarah and a few more “chance” meetings over the next couple of years for him to realise this was the woman he’d been waiting for. Daniel and Sarah were married in 2008 and set up home in England. “But we always knew we were going to go back to continue working with street children,” Daniel says.
By 2015, they had two children, Sophie and Ana, and were considering returning to Brazil long-term. Thinking about a mission organisation that could partner with them, they saw CMS as the obvious choice. Two couples they knew well from working with street children in Brazil – Andy and Rose Roberts, and Ian and Simea Meldrum – were both connected with CMS, and Daniel and Sarah could see these couples were well-supported in their mission calls.
They drove up to CMS in Oxford for an intense weekend of interviews. Daniel remembers, “They told us, ‘Yes, we believe in your calling, we believe this is of God, but we don’t think you’re ready at the moment.’” They were gutted. But in the car going home, Daniel and Sarah had a feeling the panel had made the right call. They decided to spend time exploring the issues that had led to the panel’s conclusion.
A year or so later, Daniel and Sarah had taken part in counselling and completed the Marriage Course. They were in Brazil for Christmas visiting Daniel’s family. One day they visited a new safe house at Happy Child Recife, and saw areas of need in the ministry that matched their skills and calling. This prompted them to think more seriously about returning to Brazil. Praying about it over the next few weeks, they felt a very strong conviction and a sense of peace.
They approached their local church, praying that doors would open for them to go to Brazil if it was God’s will. Within six months, Daniel and Sarah had begun a two-year stint working with Happy Child International, sent by their church.
After about a year and a half, Caroline Taylor, head of operations at Happy Child International, suggested Daniel and Sarah apply again to CMS. Sarah’s initial reaction was, “No no no, we’ve done CMS. I’m never doing that again…”
At the same time, long-time friend Andy Roberts, CMS mission partner and founder of ReVive International, persuaded them to have a chat with Henry Scriven, CMS’s Latin America mission director at the time, who just happened to be in Recife. Henry told them he thought CMS could help them serve in Brazil longer term.
Back to Brazil
CMS offered to interview Daniel and Sarah via Skype, focusing specifically on the issues that kept them from being selected the first time. Daniel and Sarah then flew to England for another selection weekend and this time, the panel had a different answer for them. They were ready.
Now officially mission partners, they have finished their training with CMS and are returning to Brazil this year to work with ReVive International alongside several other CMS people in mission, restoring the lives of girls who have been abused and exploited.
Daniel says: “Even if you hear yes but not now, be open. God knows who he calls, and sometimes when he calls us, we are still broken.”