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June 27, 2011
Hi Dear Friends,
Our 20-day Brazil "Mission of Hope" has been accomplished!! What a miracle it is that I was able make though our entire itinerary while being sick. We know that God has a purpose in what He allows, but I'm amazed how He used my speaking with a runny nose (and not being able to wipe without help) to touch and convict even the hardest of hearts.
THANK YOU for supporting us with your prayers and finances. God is at work in Brazil and we are so thankful to be a part of it. HUNDREDS of lives were changed as a result of our ministry in both Porto Alegre and Espírito Santo!! None of this would happen without YOU!
Please pray for us as we fly home tonight. Our next mission will be to the Philippines in September and we are so excited to see what God has for us there!
In His Strength,
Posted by Bernadette at 09:15 PM
June 19, 2011
Jail Time in Brazil
What an encouragement you are to me! THANK YOU for the flood of prayerful and uplifting Facebook messages, emails and texts as word got out via Facebook that I was getting sick! Don't worry, I'm doing great! My doctor sent me here with medicine "just in case" so I'm well taken care of. In fact, Jeff and I have been able to maintain the full itinerary that Pastor Eduardo prepared for our time in Porto Alegre and countless people have been coming to Christ at our many outreaches in schools, churches and community centers.
I spent 2 days this week in a maximum-security prison for teenage boys. These boys are very hard-core, “worst of the worst” offenders, murderers and such. I was told it would be very dangerous to group them together because of the gangs within the prison so I would have to speak to each unit separately. This would mean being there for two days speaking over and over again to individual groups. They told me that these kids don’t accept outsiders very well and that they may not be interested in what I had to say.
As we entered the first unit, we were locked into a cell that felt like a cage the size of a master bedroom with 17 inmates packed inside. To say the least, I was feeling nervous and a little inadequate to handle these violent boys who have committed such unthinkable crimes. I prayed silently for the Lord to bless me like Samuel: "The Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground." (I Sam 3:19)
As I looked around the room I saw curious and compassionate faces looking at me while trying to maintain a thug-like posture. It was then that it finally hit me – these are just little boys, babies. Their faces were so young and innocent that it simply broke my heart. How could these have murdered. How could these have raped??
I began my talk by explaining my disability and the struggles I face on a daily basis and paralleled my being in a wheelchair full-time and confined in one position to being in a prison. I told them about how Jesus gives me the strength to overcome the painful circumstances in my life… how He gives me hope. I ended by saying, “The choices we make can change the story of our lives” and gently reminded them that it’s because of a choice that they once made why they were in this jail. Some boys were crying at this point. I told them that our story continues as long as we’re alive. I shared with them that the most important choice that I’ve ever made in my life was to open my heart to Jesus. They were so attentive; you could hear a pin drop! In the end, many gave their lives to Christ! And so it went, cell block after cell block – even in the girls jail – lives were being changed.
Well, today is our last day in Porto Alegre. Tomorrow we fly to Vitoria, Brazil where we’ll be working for the next 10 days. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers and for supporting us in this work. We would not and could not be here, reaching people for Christ, without you!
In His Strength,
Posted by Bernadette at 04:46 PM
June 14, 2011
News from Porto Alegre!!
Hi Dear Friends,
Jeff and I just realized that many of you are not yet aware that we DID finally get a flight into Porto Alegre. We got here late in the afternoon on Saturday (6/11). Forgive us for not emailing sooner, but from the moment the wheels of our plane touched the ground, we have been on the run.
I spoke at Mont Serrat Baptist church the night we arrived and it was AMAZING! Jeff and I were invited to speak as part of their Family and Marriage Series. It was a great service. I shared my testimony first and then Jeff came up and we talked about our marriage and answered questions from the congregation. It was a very intimate yet powerful time. Even the pastor felt that God was speaking to his heart and was moved to tears. We had no idea that we were being streamed live on the web until a lady rushed to the church after the service just to hug me and to thank me for coming to Brazil. She had been going through a difficult time and was feeling hopeless... God restored her hope and renewed her faith that night. How GREAT is our God!!!
On Sunday, we drove 2 1/2 hrs to the mountain city of Caxias do Sul to speak at Igreja Batista Comunhao. After getting lost and getting out at the wrong church where the deacons didn't look like they were expecting us - we finally made it just as the service was starting. This congregation did such a great job at promoting our visit and inviting unbelievers that they had the highest attendance that night in their 17 year history. MANY came to the Lord, recommitted their lives and joined the church after I spoke that night. We didn't get back until after 1 am but it was well worth the journey.
To say the least, I was exhausted beyond measure on Monday morning but I knew that kids were anticipating my visit to their school. I had an incredibly GREAT talk with the students ... more than 13 gave their lives to Christ … including one teenage boy who said that before that day, he was agnostic... but my testimony and life proved to him the existence of a living God. WOW!!
Last night, we did an inner city outreach at a school in Cachoeirinha and I had to speak outside in 48° F. Jeff bundled me the best he could but I wish I would have had my hat and gloves (I was freezing!). It was a very tough crowd in a very rough area…felt like I could be shot at any moment. One young man was burning himself with a lighter the entire time I spoke. But in the midst of the darkness that surrounded me, I could see that people were listening and people were crying. God was there penetrating hearts. In the end, 23 people gave their hearts to Jesus (including the boy who was burning himself)! Decision cards were collected and it brings tears to my eyes as I read things like, "Eu decidi dexiar Jesus entrar na minha vida" (I decided to let Jesus enter my life) written over and over again. How exciting to know that a pastor will be following up on these people and small groups will now begin in this area!
Do you ever have those moments where you are beyond overwhelmed at the goodness, faithfulness, love, grace and mercy of God? That's how I feel as I type this. THANK YOU so much for sending us. None of this would be possible without your prayers and financial support. I hope you feel the same joy that we feel about each decision made so far because you are a vital part of it.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We will be working in the teen prison for the next two days, speaking 3 times each day.
With love from Brazil,
Posted by Bernadette at 10:59 AM
June 10, 2011
Not in Porto Alegre yet!
Just a quick update to let you know that we are in Rio De Janeiro tonight and have not yet arrived in Porto Alagre. Our connecting flight was canceled this morning due to a cloud of ash from the erupting volcano in Chile and we were forced to spend the night here.
This could have been a very difficult situation for us... we saw many passengers frustrated because they had to stay at the airport. But the Lord heard your many prayers on our behalf and His presence surrounded us like a shield. When it was our turn to be assisted, American Airlines took EXCELLENT care of us giving us roundtrip taxi, all our meals and a posh hotel on the beach!
Below is a picture of us tired and stranded... in paradise. Don't you feel bad for us? :-)
Well, I'm off to bed but please continue to pray. I'm scheduled to speak at a church in Porto Alegre tomorrow night. We'll go back to the airport first thing in the morning to see if we can fly out. .
Hugs from Brazil,
Posted by Bernadette at 11:44 PM
June 05, 2011
Headed to Brazil!
Hi My Friend,
Sorry for my delay in updating! Jeff and I have been busier than ever the past few months, traveling from church to church, speaking and raising support for our mission projects. In fact, my suitcase has just barely finished cooling off from our recent ministry trip to Pennsylvania and already we're packing again!
This week – on Thursday, June 9th – Jeff and I are flying to Brazil for a 20-day “Mission of Hope”. Can you believe this will be our 4th trip to this amazing country? One more year and we'll need new Visas! We're so excited that the Lord continues to give us opportunities to share His love with the people of Brazil.
We'll be spending the first 10 days of our mission in Porto Alegre (where we were last year) and will work once again with Pastor Eduardo Cardoso of Igreja Batista Passo D'Areia. Together we will share the gospel via my testimony in 6 different cities! After that, the 3 of us (Pastor Eduardo is also my translator) will fly to Vitória, the capital of the state of Espírito Santo where we'll work with Pastor Rogerio Leite of Igreja Batista da Orla for the remainder of our time in Brazil. Can’t wait to see how God will use us!
I received our final schedule this week and God has opened up so many doors that it's PACKED! We will be doing evangelistic outreaches in several churches, schools, orphanages, at a teen prison and at an indoor soccer stadium. Please join us in praying...Please Pray For:
1. Our safety in the air and on the road
2. Good health, strength and for my voice to be strong
3. Safe handling of the wheelchair
4. Jeff and I to be increasingly effective in our evangelism
5. Pastor Eduardo, our Porto Alegre host, coordinator and Portuguese translator
6. Pastor Rogerio, our Vitória host and coordinator
7. Brazilian hearts to be opened to Jesus
Many thanks and blessings to each of you as we work together in the task of reaching our world for Christ! The next time you hear from me, we’ll be in Brazil. I’ll be doing most of my updates via my Facebook Page, but I’ll do my best to send you a few emails as time permits. THANK YOU FOR SENDING US!!
So The World May Know Him,
PS - There's still time to support us financially on this and upcoming mission ventures if you haven't already. Visit our Donate Page for details on how you can join our support team!
Posted by Bernadette at 04:43 PM