Dear Friends & Family,
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10,11 NASB)
@The Main Thing — Just a few years ago, a widely quoted statement said: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” We were all talking about the importance of doing just that! Seminars and articles about this became among the best attended…most widely read!! Being vision-driven was in vogue and continues in the cross hairs of mission organizations!
Fast forward to 2020 — If our God-given vision has been valid up until now, should a pandemic be allowed to change “the main thing?” As a ministry leader, early on in the pandemic, I felt subtle pressure to alter course, seemingly for the sake of an appearance of activity, instead of being patient with the “lockdown” both here and in Brazil. In EE, we have long touted our most important distinctive as being on-the-job training (OJT), that is, equipping people to explain the Gospel in real-life situations, under the mentoring of an experienced trainer. Other evangelism training programs have come and gone, while only one discipling/equipping ministry has continued for over 50 years: EE! After the realities settled in about the pandemic, EE-Brazil flexed and discovered as many ministry opportunities as before…no need to worry about appearances!
Apps & Training? — Many of us have become more proficient with apps like Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, etc., in the last few months. I am grateful to the Lord, not big-tech, for these tools and find myself somewhat “joined at the hip” with them for the time being. I see video-conferencing being promoted now as a new format for almost everything. But, I have asked myself how some of these events can be called “training?” Teaching? Yes! Training? That would require some experimentation, analysis and adjustments. Our founder, Dr. D James Kennedy, recognized from his own personal experience that few will have the courage to share their faith without some tools and training, and he began to use the term “clinic” for our in-depth training events. Our workshops involve some practical exercises for training purposes, but the workshops are not offered as a “lite” clinic. Instead, we hope many will catch our vision for training others at a workshop and soon register for a clinic.
Serving Churches using those Apps — While we have used video-conferencing extensively as a team during these months, we dared not, for the reasons already stated, begin to offer clinics via these platforms without some testing and evaluation. We readily used them to stay connected to one another and to our churches and denominational partners. We offered informational seminars to promote our training, introduce pastors and lay leaders to evangelism training and to encourage those who were actively implementing EE in their local church prior to the pandemic. We demonstrated how EE-trained people can use video-conferencing to make evangelistic calls to explain the Gospel. One of our missionaries tells of a video call that he made via WhatsApp in which the person prayed to receive the gift of eternal life. Since that time EE teams have made OJT calls via Zoom and Meet to people who need to hear the Gospel, and more have prayed to receive Christ. We have the above promise from Isaiah 55 that the Word of God will not return void…empty.
The Lord has blessed our online seminars for local churches and missionaries. EE principles have been shared and reviewed. One such seminar was a few weeks ago with members of a Baptist church in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. There were about 75 people involved, including one in Portugal and one from Atlanta, i.e., me. This was an interesting situation: One of our missionaries has long prayed for this church to resume EE training. The Lord heard his prayers, and now, they will be hosting an online workshop and clinic, beginning this Tuesday, October 13-17! What a privilege for the Lord to allow us to serve this local church in this way! Please pray for this first virtual clinic! Here is a screenshot of Pr. Jailton explaining the importance of the two diagnostic questions that EE is known for:
Social distancing, Masks & Training — Something else we have done is to challenge our missionaries with the idea of smaller events in which social distancing can be maintained and the cleaning task, etc., will not be too burdensome for the host church. Several weeks ago, the Lord put a local church children’s leader and one of our missionaries together for the first time, each having heard about the others’ ministry, although they had never met. Three weeks later, a Hope for Kids Workshop was held with seven enthusiastic children’s leaders. Here are two photos from the workshop:
To aid in social distancing, the workshop was held in the church’s gymnasium, and as you can see, even the doll had a mask! In the first photo, our missionary leading the workshop, Cleiton, is holding “Little Alex.”
Please pray for the Lord to continue to provide opportunities like these mentioned. We now have two workshops on our remaining 2020 calendar for the training of children’s leaders, plus five combination, online workshops/Clinics for our adult training module.
Our Support? — Some have asked about how our financial support is holding-up during the pandemic. In general, it has held up well, although we did get word from a Christian company in D/FW, which has supported us for many years, that they were undergoing a restructuring during the pandemic and would not be able to continue to support us, effective August 1st. That was an immediate reduction of $250/month in support. We are incredibly grateful for their faithfulness over such a long time, as well as for all of our faithful supporters, many of whom have also given for many years! And, we obviously need to raise that difference in monthly support very quickly!! Please pray and consider the possibility that the Lord may want to use you to meet this monthly need, in part or in full. Secure Online Giving, by clicking here, is available to allow you to (1) avoid putting on a mask and making a trip to the post office; (2) to set up ongoing monthly gifts to our support; (3) to give a one-time gift; or all three. 🙂 Know that you will be giving to the Lord and what He is doing and that we will accept your generosity as from the Lord!
With grateful hearts for your partnership in the Gospel,
Robert & Mary Jo Foster,
Serving Evangelism Explosion-Brazil
* Atualidadesis a Portuguese word that means news or up to date information. We want you to have the latest information in order to support us in prayer, as well as financially when the Lord leads/enables. Thank you!