The new year has come and gone since our last update! Although January is typically a month where Brazilians go on holiday (like August in Canada), much has been happening in Brazil. In Maceio, preparations continue for a new preaching point in the city. It has not been without setbacks – efforts to purchase or even rent a suitable location have been frustrated. The church in Maceio continues to look and is determined to get the preaching point off the ground, with or without a new church building.
Rev. deGraaf has been busy as well – while he is still committed to assisting the spread of the Word via the new preaching point, his attention has shifted to a more federational focus. He's launched a website, www.bramdegraaf.com, providing resources for church members and those interested in the Reformed faith. In particular, he has been uploading sermons for vacant churches and students to use – a precious resource in a land thirsting for more men to proclaim the Word! Rev. de Graaf continues to preach in vacant churches, and translates Reformed books into Portuguese – good books are another scarce resource in Brazil. Rev de Graaf notes in his latest report: I just have read in the newspaper that Maceió is the most violent city of Brazil and the fifth of the world. Every weekend more or less 15 people are murdered. Main reason: drugs war; armed robbery, adultery, witness intimidation, and also stray bullets. That the churches may continue to pray for me and my family. We live in the same situation or even worse as missionary in Iraq or Afghanistan!
The school in Maceio, Escola Joao Calvino, has also been blessed with a major influx of students. The new school year in Brazil starts in February, and enrolment has increased from 83 last year to 113 this year! In addition, the school is able to offer a Junior Kindergarten class, which 14 children attend. The Lord has blessed the school with a capable Education Committee that worked hard to improve the profile of the school in the neighbourhood. Additionally, the sponsorship programs are helping keep costs down for a lot of the materials that parents typically pay for out of pocket. More information on sponsorship opportunities can be found on the Gospel Action Brazil website (more on that next time) at www.gospelactionbrazil.com.
Please pray that the Spirit would continue to work through faithful men and women to spread the Gospel in Brazil. Specifically, you can pray for Rev. de Graaf and his family as they work in a dangerous area; the work being done in Reformed education at John Calvin Christian school in Maceio; and for continued growth and maturity in the Reformed Churchs of Brazil.