No family. No support system. No step-by-step manual. Where do you even begin?
Upon arrival in Arcoverde, Brazil, these concerns weighed heavy on our hearts. But amid such uncertainty, God reminded me of the first message I ever preached—the passage of Moses and the burning bush.
Like Moses, who was convinced of his own inability to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, we felt unready for our ministry. But just as God ensured Moses that his presence was sufficient for the task, we sensed confidence as we surrendered to the Lord, vowing to put one foot in front of the other and use whatever he had blessed us with for his glory.
In our case, we had hobbies, a foreigner status, and two adorable little girls. Most afternoons we walked at a local park, praying that we might run into people and spark a conversation.
One day we met Chico and Bia, whose daughter Alice was riding her bike in the park. Our daughter Evelyn was close in age. We discovered they had just moved to town as well and shared our plight of being relatively friendless. We hit it off and started to hang out often. Soon, we began walking them through The Story of Hope, ABWE’s evangelistic Bible study. Their Catholic upbringing had left them dissatisfied with religion, but the story of the Bible resonated with their hearts. Before we even finished the book, they caught the gospel and decided to follow Christ.
The Carrel family at the park where they first met Chico and Bia.
And right after we made our first Christian friends, they moved! Chico was offered a job closer to their home city, a little less than an hour away. We sensed God directing us to follow them, and so we started paying visits to continue our friendship as well as our Bible studies, which eventually attracted more and more people. Eventually, we outgrew any house we had access to, so we rented a building that we could call our church.
Currently, Chico is studying homiletics and has already taken some speaking opportunities with the church. Bia is steadfast in her faith and both are earnest about reaching their city for Christ.
For missionaries in a new field, it is easy to grow weary and discouraged, wondering if God will ever give you fruit. But God is with you, molding you, while at the same time molding some around you that you may not even know about. And you don’t have to be a missionary to be able to develop these same types of friendships. I’ve seen God use seemingly ordinary things for his glory all the time. A park trampoline, English, soccer, cheerleading, birthday parties, and many other activities have led to fruit in the last few years.
We can all learn to use what we have to reach others around us and give God a good chance to bless those relationships with long-lasting fruit.