Friday, September 08, 2006

Family Ties

A few months ago, Simão (one of the members of our core team) and I were out doing evangelistic surveys in the neighborhood. We walked up to a crude, unfinished brick structure next to the graveyard and found Lucio and Lina in the middle of an arguement. During the course of our talk, Simão and Lucio discovered that they served together in the army years ago. They agreed to study the Bible with us, but moved that week to the next city up the road. Lina came into São Leopoldo the first few weeks and we held the Bible study at her sister Cassia's sewing hut in the slum by the landfill. Cassia was uninterested, but Lina gave her life to Christ after her sister-in-law became demon possessed and we studied about the power of Jesus over demons.

Four weeks ago, Lina asked Cassia if she would be interested in continuing the Bible study. Cassia said no, she had no interest at all. Four days later, Cassia called Lina and said that she had a hole in her life and that she thought she might need God. We showed up and found her crying and shaking. We presented the gospel to her, and she gave her life to Christ. For some reason, I felt compelled to tell her that she might come under attack from Satan, and that things might get worse before they got better. That week, she lost her job as a seamstress, which was the only income for their family of six (including two very young children). She told us all of this very calmly, affirmed that she believed that God would take care of things, and then proceeded to tell me that she didn't feel any different that she had before accepting Christ. I pointed out to her that when she had a way to support her family, but didn't have Jesus, she was a nervous wreck. With no job, food or money, but with Jesus, she was perfectly calm - I could see a difference!

So, please pray for Cassia, her husband Roberto, and their four children - that God will show Himself strong for them and provide something even better than they had before, and that they would not suffer lack. We are doing a study with the whole family now, and trying to help meet some basic physical needs.

Interestingly, Lina and Cassia's sister-in-law Eni, who was (is?) possessed wants to start a Bible study with us on Saturday - pray hard for her, and thank God for Lina, who is reaching out to her family to win them to Christ.

We will be trying to get everyone involved in Bible studies together tomorrow for a worship service / Birthday party. Please pray that the weather will be warm and dry - bad weather really messes us up, and we REALLY need to get everyone together in one place at one time to build some group dynamics. Also pray that God will be glorified in the service and that it will go well.

Thanks for your prayers - they are being heard!

2 comments:

Tim Sweatman said...

Jeff,

As I read this post, I thought about the fact that reports of demon possession and other tangible manifestations of spiritual warfare are not uncommon from the international missions field but are rare here in a Western context. The prevalent view seems to be that there is an actual difference in the degree of demonic and spiritual activity in non-Western cultures as compared with Western ones. However, I'm beginning to wonder if this apparent difference is not because there is less demonic activity in the West, but because in the West we are so naturalistic in our mindset that we ascribe demonic and spiritual activity to natural factors. And perhaps that is one reason why the church is stagnant and declining in the West; we are trying to fight a spiritual war with natural weapons. As someone who has experienced both cultures, what do you think?

Praying that everything goes well tomorrow (technically later today, I guess). May the power of God continue to be evident in the life of this entire family, and may they stand firm in His strength as they face the attacks of the enemy.

Jeff Dunson said...

Tim,
I'm no expert in this field, but I can testify that I have seen things in Brazil that would not fit into the nice, neat theological box of many of our U.S.A. Baptists.

I believe that demonic activity is alive and well in the Western context - but we tend to dismiss it as being a physical or (more often) psychological problem. Perhaps demonic activity is more overt in non-Western cultures because Satan has found scare tactics to be a better strategy in those contexts, while in Western culture, he operates in more covert ways, because as such, the problem is not addressed. However, I would not say that there is necessarily a difference in the degree of demonic activity -it's more a matter of type.

All of that being said, I think that all of us need to be aware that demons and demonic activity are real (but certainally not behind everything) and that we are very much in a battle. We need to be trained to use our authority in Christ to address situations if and when they arrive.

In our work here in South Brazil, I am constantly running into people who are mediums, or are making sacrifices to "spiritual guides", etc. We have seen the scars on our core team from intense spiritual warfare - physical, emotional, and relational. The battle is real, but we know the end - we have all the victory through Christ!

Thanks for your prayers - we need them!