José Carlos Pezini (Mission Staff) - August 2016 update
Portuguese-Language Ministries Coordinator
It is truly amazing what God has accomplished through the SARA ministries this year. The number of pastors in the mentoring program is growing every day. In this update I would like to tell you about a mentor training retreat we held in May in Curitiba.
There were thirty-three pastors from six different denominations in attendance. SARA works with the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil, Lutheran Church, United Presbyterian Church, Bethany Evangelical Church and Congregational Evangelical Church. The lives of the retreat participants have been transformed through personal mentoring, retreat participation and the practice of daily spiritual disciplines. Now they are eager to mentor other pastors who are in personal crisis and feel alone.
Another praiseworthy outcome is that many pastors who are part of the SARA ministry report that their churches have been affected by their personal transformation and have started growing. One pastor from São Leopoldo in Rio Grande do Sul, one of the more secularized states in Brazil, shared with me that his church grew 80% last year. It is marvelous to see that when a pastor feels secure in his/her relationship with Christ, the church can respond with growth.
The following is the testimony of an IPU pastor from Belo Horizonte who was impacted on a SARA retreat during a time of meditating on scripture.
Curitiba, May 31, 2016
SARA Retreat – Psalm 16.5: “Lord you are all I have....”
To meditate about this affirmation of faith by the Psalmist was a scary thought for me. I am ashamed, so distant, away from God, away from His essence. Right now in my life to say, “The Lord is my All,” would be a lie!
• There are many things I prioritize, others things that I pay attention to and invest my time and energy on. I don’t have time for God!
• How many times have I read the biblical texts only as a critical researcher? How much have I missed hearing God’s voice in one simple sentence of the Sacred Scriptures thinking that they are Sacred but only to my listeners and not to me?
• I realize once more that I have truly cared for the “farm” but have forgotten about the “Owner of the farm,” namely the Creator. He is the one who reached out to me; who gave me a house, food, love and protected me from all dangers; who once saved my life, gave me a family, a community, a future; gave me an opportunity to grow in ministry, to perform great things. Yet I dedicate my life and energy to each one of these things God has given me as if they were autonomous things, standing by themselves and controlling my life in such a way that they do not allow me to have a relationship with my Creator.
• I am taken by a flood of tears streaming down my face. In deep regret I feel an urgent need to go back, to be converted! In truth, for me at this time, God is not all I have!
It is vital for me to find again that old place where there was a relationship with God who directed my life, guided and supported me, and filled me with joy. I hurry to go back, not knowing the way. It feels so strange, distant, unrecognized.
I ask myself, has the way changed? No!!! The way never changes; it is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Cleanse me Lord! Free me Lord! Pull out anything that keeps me away from you and draw me close to you.
Rev. Jorge Diniz
I would like to thank each one of you for supporting my ministry. Without your generosity it would be impossible to accomplish what has been done here in Brazil. Thank you very much. Odete and I pray for you all almost every day. We always ask God to bless you all.
Read more about Pezini's ministry by clicking HERE.
Amount needed in 2016
The Outreach Foundation seeks to raise at least $8,000 per month for support and ministry funds for Pezini. To make a donation, click HERE.
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