August 9, 2008

Arraial (n) - a small village

On Thursday, as José António and I went to the small town, we talked about how the Gospel of Jesus could spread through the rural areas along the road leading to where we are working. In the big city, Christians are a very small minority, but there are a number of evangelical churches in the city. In the country, however, there are many small villages, that have no church bearing witness to Jesus and salvation in his name. We want to begin to focus on systematically reaching these villages by finding, in each one, a person of peace through whom we can reach the village and plant a church. We took a detour on the way to our work and surveyed one of these little villages. We are going to begin mapping these places out so that we can make a plan to reach them. Some of these villages are not recognized as municipalities and don't appear on maps, so we will have to do some research, we will try to map out one new "arraial" per week.

Now, in the small town, we had another very good meeting with the families on the hill. The group was very large and included people who had been missing for a few weeks. The newcomers to the group are also returning. I told, once again, the story of Pedro and Cornelius. This is a long story. I told it well, and I believe I kept the interest of all who heard the story. No one wanted to try and tell it back, however. We decided to act it out in role-play. Each person chose someone in the story to represent. As I narrated through the story again, each person acted out the content of the story. This is the second time we've done this as a group, and it is amazing how well they respond to it. Everyone agreed after acting out the story, that they understood all the difficult parts of the story and could now tell the story to someone else. In the past, I'd thought about trying this, but I'd thought that the idea would not be accepted or would be though of as childish. On the contrary, this has attracted even more people to come hear the stories. Everyone enjoys it and smiles through the whole thing. After dialoging about the story, everyone who came took some time to pray for one person and be prayed for by one person. We are seeing a transforming Christian community being formed before our eyes.

The husband and wife in the family by the bus station were once again in a nearby village, taking care of his mother. We entered the home and prayed for their son and the wife's mother who lives with them. We promised to return next week, ready to tell the story of creation.

We also went to the singer's family. The singer is running for town council and is going out nearly every night trying to get votes. He won't be easy to catch at home until the end of November. We are praying about holding off on our plans to begin storying with those who are running for office. They are not going to make themselves very available until after the elections.

We went to visit one of the families across the river as well. We were well received. This family received Jesus a couple of years ago, and was part of one of our first attempts to start a church. They have been stagnant since that time. As we began to tell them of our continued work, they were encouraged and indicated that they would like to begin again to help form a house church. Pray for this family.
There is much more to say, and I will need to write another blog entry on another day.

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