We hope this finds you well. It’s been an interesting time since our last newsletter, with Brazil becoming the global epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 is still very much present here in Brazil, but the number of new cases has somewhat stabilised and is even falling in many parts of Brazil. However, life getting back to normal still seems a long way off, despite many having grown tired of the restrictions imposed across the country. Florianópolis has the lowest COVID-19 mortality rate of all the state capitals in Brazil, but in July cases rose very sharply here.
In May we started to once again have in-person church meetings while simultaneously streaming the service to those who are at risk or don’t feel safe taking part in meetings. We are permitted to have attendance at 30 per cent of our building’s capacity, with 1.5m between chairs, alcohol gel at various stations and mandatory mask use. The lockdowns have highlighted the importance of meeting together. As restrictions are lifted I believe we need make the most of fellowshipping and sharing the good news of Jesus. Time is short. I imagine that no one at the start of the year foresaw a scenario where much of the church around the globe would be forbidden from meeting together (for a good cause, I believe). Let us not become flippant about meeting together, allowing church to become some kind of consumeristic Netflix-type experience which we dip in and out of. We are called to deep relationships with one another and to point the world to an unshakable kingdom in a world where everything has been shaken.
Please pray for us to be effective at making disciples and sharing Jesus with the lost in what many are referring to as the “new normal”. I hope we can return to the old normal soon, but with a greater appreciation for the freedoms that come with it and a renewed sense of urgency to play our part in God’s mission.
Here in the south of Brazil we were also hit by a very destructive cyclone, causing loss of life and much damage. Thankfully no one we know was injured or suffered more than a bit of damage to their property. The south of Brazil also narrowly avoided a plague of locusts due to cold weather which made the plague somewhat lethargic on the other side of the Argentine border, slowing them down. It has all felt very apocalyptic here and these events should make us reflect more on Christ’s return and the need to be ready.
In our last link letter we mentioned how the church has been able to help families in need with food parcels. In total we have helped over 200 families with food and hygiene products. We would like to thank all of you who have generously supported this initiative and have helped us to help folk in their hour of need. As restrictions were lifted and people have been able to return to work, we have seen the demand for food parcels fall significantly. Therefore, we have put the project on standby and are keeping a reserve of non-perishable food parcels for emergencies, which still crop up. The economy is starting to pick back up here, however the economic effects of the pandemic are still very much being felt and will continue to impact the country for a long time to come.
In our last letter I mentioned our plant in São José, which as you can imagine is suffering due to the pandemic. We have restarted meetings, but apart from the odd visitor, have not managed to reach new people. Please do pray for God-given direction and wisdom for the work there.
At the end of April Katia started an online Bible study for women, which is part of the Love God Greatly ministry (in Portuguese). It started with five women, now there are 43 women divided into three groups, with some of those women from different parts of the country.
Plans are underway to launch our discipleship training school next year in March. It’s hard to make definite plans at this moment, especially when that involves receiving interns for a full-time five-month course and internship, for which they will need to fund themselves. We are also wanting to make the school as accessible as possible for young adults at our church who have jobs or are studying, so that they can catch the teaching and continue to serve in the areas of ministry they already serve in, without taking part in everything the full-timers will be doing. Keep this initiative in your prayers.
In some personal news we have purchased an apartment, which has been a real miracle for us. The Brazilian real has fallen dramatically in value against the pound, meaning our savings went a lot further. We got an amazing deal on a newly built apartment we liked and managed to secure a loan from the UK, meaning we have avoided the ridiculously high Brazilian interest rates.
The apartment will give us more space, it has a large external area meaning we’ve been able to close part of it off to give me (Jimmy) an office/study space and the children their own play area. Work is almost complete there and we look forward to moving in the next few weeks. This has signified to our church that we are putting roots down here, which has pleased many.
Much love to you all.
Jimmy, Katia, Joanna and Davi