Dear Praying and Supporting friends,
We pray this new year has found each of you well and growing in the Lord.
December was a full month for us here in Parque Bristol. We started by having a soul winning and invitation push the first Saturday of the month. Praise the Lord for 9 saved. we have had various visitors that have been coming in the weeks since. Pray as we contact and follow up on each visitor. Our Christmas banquet was lots of fun and everyone had a great time together. The Sunday before Christmas was our Cantata. We were blessed to have 70 people in attendance for this years cantata. This years emphasis was a bit different. Rebekah wrote the Cantata. The theme was remembering to include Jesus in your Christmas celebration this year. It was really special to see the way our people worked to learn and practice the parts. The altar was packed at the end of the service. We praise the Lord for the growth of our members in Christ. A very special event took place in December as well, Larissa who is 9 years old has been coming with her mother to church. Larissa was a very overactive almost out of control child. After talking with her mother who has begged help for her daughter we discovered her father is a demon worshiper. One night after the Sunday service Rebekah decided to try and witness to Larissa. As she began things started to go south quickly. It did not take long for Rebekah to realize that she was either demon possessed or demon oppressed. Rebekah was by herself in the class room and all the other members were upstairs so for 45 minutes Rebekah prayed with all she had for God to give the victory. 45 minutes later Larissa suddenly calmed down, her faced brightened and she asked Rebekah what she had been trying to tell her. Another 25 minutes Larissa bowed her head and prayed asking Jesus to save her and give her eternal life. We are surrounded on every side but we are not defeated! Daniella, Larissa’s mother, can not stop talking about how different her daughter is now. Her father, who does not live with them, has stopped having contact since her salvation. Pray for this family, pray we can win the father some day and that Daniella and Larissa will continue to grow in the Lord.
January is vacation month here in Brazil. this year we had quite the exodus as many of our families made their bi-annual treks anywhere from 20-30 hours north of the state of Sao Paulo. Even though we were down in numbers we were extremely proud of our remaining members who took up the challenge to fill in for our missing folks. We have had a number of families visit the church this month. Everyone has safely returned from their travels and we are gearing up for a great year here at Primiera Igreja Baptista de Parque Bristol. This years theme is “Back to the Basics.”
We are also excited to announce the beginning stages of ELO. ELO, which translated stands for building loyal workers, will be a publishing ministry we are starting. Pray for us as we set up all the paperwork needed to get legally started. This exciting ministry will allow us to publish books, music CD’s, sheet music and Sunday School material. There is a dearth of material available from good, trustworthy sources here in Brazil. We already have 3 books at the editor, 3 more books are in various stages of preparation. We have 2 CD’s ready to launch as well as a new coral book for choirs and special groups. Pray with us that this ministry will be able to reach the farthest corners of the Portuguese speaking world with helpful encouraging God honoring material. Pray with us as well that God will provide the $1,000 we need to pay all the legal fees to get started.
Since our last letter our family has had some close calls and felt the power of your prayers, as well as the grace God only can provide. Some of you may have already heard that at Thanksgiving this year we drove 12 hours North to be with my brother, Carl, and my family. Thanksgiving day Rebekah was trying to help clean the house to get ready when she slipped and fell. She had a concussion and spent Thanksgiving day at the Hospital getting tests done. We delayed our return to Sao Paulo because she could not travel. Saturday after thanksgiving we were all sitting around when 3 armed men entered the house. We were held hostage for a relatively short time. They put a gun to Jeff’s (our oldest son) head and demanded wedding rings and other items. My sister-in-law Cindy lost her wedding ring. I was also forced to give them mine. Rebekah hid hers in the couch. She was still unable to walk and had been sitting there when they entered. Suddenly they became very confused and nervous. Before we knew it they ran out the door taking 2 rings, a watch and one laptop with no cord. We truly believe God came and caused their obvious confusion. Praise the Lord none of us was injured and the losses were minimal. There is sentimental value in ones wedding ring but it can be replaced some day. We can not replace the life of our son, Jeff. If you have ever wondered if your prayers for safety of your missionaries are making a difference we can answer with a resounding YES!!!
Rebekah took about a month to recover but still managed to win 3 to Christ the week after it happened. She is feeling much better now. Jeff was and continues to be amazingly calm despite having been through the trauma. Christmas was a much calmer time, we spent it with my parents in Londrina, about 6 hours from us.
We have all stayed incredibly busy as we take on the work of ELO. Jeff has been a great blessing putting the books into the computer for translation. We currently have to type every book in. We hope to purchase a scanner some day that will eliminate the need to do this but until then it is a lot of typing. All of the boys have been a great help as we have slowly been remodeling the church. Just when we think we have fixed one of it’s many problems another one arises. They have been painting and scraping, and lugging tools for me as I try and repair our roof. We have much improvement from last year. We now only have rain coming in every window and one corner of the auditorium. Last year it was raining so hard at the pulpit we had to move downstairs or preach under an umbrella. It is still pouring in at the nursery hallway. All the mothers must have an umbrella to get to the door. It is also a challenge because that is the only way to the bathroom. It becomes funny watching everyone dodge the rain.
If any of you would like to come down for a missions trip we would love to have your help. We could use people who know how to work with painting, cement, and electrical things. we could also use people who can smile and hand out a tract.
Thank you again for your prayers and support.
In His Service,
Bryan & Rebekah Johnson
Jeff, David, Lee