As most of you know, we are back in the U.S. until next Spring. July was an awesome month for our family. It was the first time our kids had ever been in the U.S. for any part of Summer. They were introduced to 4th of July, cook-outs, fishing, swimming, and all the best of summer.. Most importantly, they reconnected with grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many of whom they did not even remember.
It was all short-lived though because school started back up on August 8th here in Nashville, TN. Yeah, pretty crazy. When I was a kid, I remember going back to school after Labor Day. Our down time was short-lived as well. I had my first meeting with a partnering church in July and a couple meetings in the month of August. September onward will be very busy months for us.
One thing I have been asked quite a bit since we've been back in the U.S. is why are we here? That's a loaded question that has a loaded answer. So, here's a simple explanation as to why we are here. There are more reasons than these, but these are the biggest reasons.
1. We are church-planters in Brazil. Our goal is to start a church, grow the church, and transition out of that church as quickly as possible. We have been in Brazil for almost 12 years now and this is only the 3rd time we have come back for a longer period of time (6-9 months). Each time we came back, we were transitioning out of a ministry which we had started.. Our exit creates a leadership vacuum for the national pastor to fill. When we go back to Brazil we have a goal of planting a new church all over again.
2. We are financially supported by scores of churches in the U.S., and we have a responsibility to periodically report to those churches in person. Before we moved to Brazil, I had to personally call and visit churches to establish partnerships with them. I did this full-time for about 18 months before we had enough ministry partners to move to Brazil. Basically, I stood before a bunch of churches, thousands of people, and said, "this is who we are, this is where we are going, and this is what we plan on doing." Churches decided to partner with us based on that presentation. So, when we are back in the U.S., we visit those same churches and give them a report on what we did. We also present what we plan to do moving forward. If we do not come back to report to churches, we lose credibility and eventually lose partnerships. Over the next 6 months I will drive tens of thousands of miles to visit scores of churches from New Jersey to Florida to Colorado to Ohio to Alabama and everywhere in between. So, to answer some peoples question, no, I am not on a really long vacation. This takes a lot of work.
3. We always need new ministry partners. Every year we lose ministry partners. There are many reasons. Some churches fall on hard times financially and can no longer partner with us. Other churches change their mission focus to a different country. At the same time, inflation is real and the price of everything goes up month-to-month. Also, the longer we serve in Brazil the more opportunities present themselves to us, but we can only stretch ourselves so far with the resources available to us. That being said, one of the reasons we come back to the U.S. is to establish new ministry partnerships. I do this by mail, by phone, over coffee, over lunch, in a meeting, with a committee, filling out applications, answering questions, etc...
4. We miss our family. We miss our church. We miss America. We come back to the U.S. to reconnect with friends, family, and to do things we enjoy doing. Don't get me wrong, we love Brazil, we love Brazilians, but missionaries are real people that have real longings. After we've been here for a couple of months our tanks are full and we're ready to jump back into things on the field. Its a time for us to relax and recharged.
5. We need to tell people that "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few," We are on the front-lines of the battle and we need help. We need people to say "yes" to God's leading and join us. We are actively recruiting families to join our team in Brazil. God calls and leads people who are serving in local churches, and over the next 6 months we will be in scores of churches speaking to thousands of people. Who knows, maybe God will lead someone to join us as we seek to win Brazil for Christ. We remember the day when we were in one of those churches and God led us. He still leads. We are praying someone will say "yes" to His leading.