Dean Bertch – Mar 7, 2016

Wow!  What a terrific week in Anapu, Brazil.  I had the privilege of teaching our Old Testament Survey module with Reaching & Teaching’s Jason Wright.  Jason, his wife (Kami), and their children are planning on moving to Argentina later this year.  There are few who impress me more.  Please keep this family in your prayers.

In some ways, the week did not get off to a good start.  After arriving, we discovered there had been some miscommunication (not uncommon), and we were going to have significantly less teaching time than expected – and than needed.  Usually, when we have the full complement of time, we often feel that we’d like more time.  We had some serious concerns going into the week.

On Sunday, we were able to have a two-hour session.  Jason and I did an overview of the entire Bible – from Genesis to Revelation.  The teaching was extremely well received and laid good groundwork for the week.

We were told to expect approximately 40 people to attend the training sessions.  We thought this to be a very optimistic estimate.  Well, I think our lowest attendance was Monday night when we had more than 60.  Tuesday, there were 85.  Wednesday, we had more than 100 in attendance, including people from the church in Anapu.  Thursday’s attendance dropped back into the 80s. We had some heavy rain in the late afternoon / early evening, which makes some of the countryside roads impassable.

Our excitement over the attendance was exceeded by our encouragement by the attention to the teaching.  The comments from those who attended the training were such a blessing. One pastor, with tears streaming down his face, told our interpreter, “I’ve never had the Bible taught to me before.”  The last night, we were to finish at 10:00.  I looked at my watch and noticed it was already past 10:00.  When I said that we had to stop because of time, a number of people yelled out, “No!  No!  Keep going.”  However, because of the distance of a number of people would be driving that night, it was necessary that we stop.”  I guess we practiced the old adage, “Leave them wanting more.”

We also had the opportunity to visit with a number of individuals and families, both from the church in Anapu and others in surrounding villages.  On Sundaynight, both Jason and I had the opportunity to preach in local churches.  Jason preached at 1st Igreja Batista in Anapu.  I went to a congregational church plant of 1st Igreja Batista.

Teaching in classMonday evening
The church where I preached Sunday 
Jason teaching on Friday evening

While every visit was a highlight, there is one in particular I want to share.  On Friday, we left Anapu to drive to Maraba.  (Without stopping, this is a five- to six-hour drive on the Trans-Amazonian Highway — trust me; “highway” is a bit of an overstatement.).  On our trip, we made a number of stops to visit people.  Some stops were just brief visits.  Most involved food.  One included singing a couple songs, sharing for God’s word, and prayer.

Our last “visit” was at the home of a man named Moacir.  He probably should have been named Abraham.  From what we learned, all of the gospel witness in the entire area traced back (humanly speaking) through the work of this man.  More than 40 years ago, when he was 35, he left his homeland to go to a land that God would show him.  God directed him to this area of the state of Para.  What a privilege to sit across the table and share a meal with this man.

As I mentioned, the biggest negative of the week was the limited time available for the training. The leaders clearly recognized this. We have created a schedule for future modules (the next one in the beginning of July) that addresses the problem. I am extremely encouraged by this, and I look forward to returning in July.

Standing with Pastor Moacir (“Abraham” — in yellow shirt)
Visiting the home of a local pastor and some from his church
After class, with some of the local pastors
With Pastor Elson, from 1st Igreja Batista in Anapu
A church in a village approximately 30 kilometers outside Anapu
Fortunately, we were able to pass.  There was no double-yellow line.
No passing on this bridge.  It looks like someone tried — and failed.

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