Impacting Leadership in Brazil and Equipping Future Generations

Impacting Leadership in Brazil and Equipping Future Generations

We are so very thankful to God for your continuing interest, prayers and financial support for our Brazil ministry. Having just completed our first full-time 3-year term on the mission field, we need to ask you to partner with us and recommit to another term of monthly support of $10, $15, $25, $50, or more by clicking this link to our SAMS Giving Page. We actually need to raise an additional $3,000 per month for our ministry to expand into other neighborhoods to inspire more leaders and equip future generations to plant communities of faith focused on rescuing children and families from child labor, sex trafficking and drugs. We are confident in Christ alone!

This letter features two testimonies, one from our Brazilian friend Valdomiro Santos, and a personal confession from Ron.

Valdomiro’s Testimony:

Dear Pastor Ron and Debby and your financial & prayer partners, I want to highlight the importance of Pastor Ron and Debby in our lives. From the moment we first met this couple, their willingness and joy of serving the Lord Jesus in another nation inspired us.

First, I speak of my relationship with Rev. Ronald, when I learned that I was going to be discipled by Pastor Ron, I thought, “How will it be?” I do not speak English and he is learning Portuguese and still had difficulty, I faced the challenge with great joy and today we do not need Google translator anymore, today the Portuguese spoken by Pastor Ron is excellent and this man of God has been fundamental in my life.

I will make some reports:

  • Support for working life: In search of work I got approval at the Fiat factory in Goiânia – Pernambuco, a neighboring state of Paraíba, but the city where the factory is located is two hours away from João Pessoa. In the first process I went through and there was a problem and I was ultimately not approved in the last process, anyway, the story is long, but I want to record the help of Pastor Ron. Without the encouragement of Pastor Ron, I would not have participated in this selection process, since I did not have a car to make the trip to the factory. He and Debby are being a boon in my life and consequently in my family’s life.
  • Spiritual support for illness: A difficult moment in the life of my father-in-law was his hospitalization (90 days) due to appendicitis surgery. Pastor Ron was present, praying, ministering the life of Christ on him. Gradually he has been recovering and today he is doing his normal activities.
  • Support for the ministry: Long ago God spoke to my heart about the ordained ministry, I was frightened, I always thought it was a thing of my head. To be at peace with my thoughts and feelings I made a silent prayer: “God if the call that you have for me is Pastoral, then confirm it through a person that I have no contact with, then Lord I will know that this call comes from You not from myself. Amen.” I, my son and my wife went to attend the service at the Anglican Church Vine that Bishop Flávio is responsible for, after the celebration the bishop invited us to go to his house and we were involved in many conversations when Pastor Ron and his wife Debby pass by the apartment and enter, reminds me of how we arrived in this pastoral call conversation plus the bishop explained the content of our dialogue, then Debby said: “since I first visited Brazil in 2006 I have been praying for your ministry.” After this confirmation of prayer, I stopped resisting God’s call to me.

  • Always present in our lives…. Pastoral follow-up, visits on leisure days, quality time among friends. We praise and are grateful for your lives in our lives, God multiply in your lives everything you have done for us. We love you!!                                                         With gratitude and the Love of Jesus,

Valdomiro Santos

 

 

Ron’s confession:

When my five daughters were young and I was beginning my personal relationship with Jesus, I failed to disciple my own daughters and invite them into my growing relationship with Jesus. I left this important part of my relationship with my daughters and Christ to my wife and the church. This mistake over the years caused great stress and strain on my relationship with my daughters. I deeply regret this sin of omission. I felt remorse that I did not model the life Christ intended for me and at times I felt like a failure as a father and stuck in shame not knowing how to set things right with my daughters.

Before I lost my total tongue to cancer my children will tell you I was angry all the time. After my surgery in 2003 to remove my total tongue and lymph nodes in my neck I went through radiation and chemotherapy. It was during this time I came to realize that I had experienced not only the removal of my tongue and healed of cancer, but I also experienced a supernatural change in my personality along with a redirection in my life targets and priorities. I realized that through my personal relationship with Jesus Christ all my sins were forgiven.

Since arriving for fulltime ministry in Brazil back in October 2015, God has opened the door for me to practice Biblical discipleship; the process of making disciples for Christ who make disciples for Christ. This ministry in Brazil has changed my life and opened the door for me to disciple my own children and their husbands through the use of technology, for example the telephone, voice and video calls over the internet and cell phone text messages.Today my children will tell you I am happy all the time. However, my children are still struggling to understand this change in their Dad and my call to serve God in Brazil.

Now, every day I wake up and ask God what will He have me learn today, then I listen for God to speak in the quietness of my heart, and then take the appropriate action, as I walk and grow spiritually in my personal relationship with my Lord, Savior and friend, Jesus Christ.

Please join in our efforts by making a financial gift to grow our ministry of equipping church leadership with Biblical principles that impact their actions and life patterns; to inspire the Church in Brazil for generations to come.

 

With every blessing and much affection,

Ron+ & Debby


Make a secure tax-deductible financial gift on-line through our SAMS website:

give.samsusa.org/missionary/ron-and-debby-mckeon

House Hunting in Belize

Belize: First Visit

Mission: Find a House

Meeting Friends, Home Searching, and Dreaming

– “What is your favorite part about Belize?”

– “We don’t know. We’ve never been there.”

– “You’re moving there for a year and you’ve never been there?!”

– “Yep!”

We have had the above conversation more than once. More often than not, it would continue with comments about our bravery. I think bravery and faith look similar, but are overlapping ideas. Bravery chooses not to fear; faith chooses to trust. I’m not sure Missy and I are being brave. Rather, I think we are having faith, trusting that our Father has good things in store for our family in Belize. We belive he has good work for us to put our hands to, and rather than experiencing fear, we are full of anticipation.

Fortunately, at least now I have seen Belize! I spent all last week there. The mission on this trip was to find a home in San Ignacio and to get to know the missionaries we will be assisting, David and Mary Beth Alenskis.

San Ignacio, Belize

San Ignacio is around 2 hours west of Belize City. David graciosuly agreed to pick me up from the airport and let me stay at their home all week. It was an adventure from the start with delayed flights, packed customs qeues, and overheating trucks. But though it was dark by the time we arrived home, we made it safe and sound. The first night ‘s meal consisted of Salbute’s from Lupe’s. We’ll talk food on another post, but let me say I will be eating a lot of these.

David and Mary Beth were wonderful hosts. We had many fantastic conversations over shared meals. I am genuinely excited for them to meet Missy and I believe the four of us can be great friends.

They both tapped into their network of friends to try and find us a place to live. We looked at so many places, but by the end of the week, we had a winner!

“Friendship has always belonged to the core of my spiritual journey.” – Henri Nouwen
This little beauty is a 325sf tiny home built with a shipping container as it’s foundation. It has one bedroom, a kitchen and a bath. Missy, Annabelle, and I will live here, sharing the bedroom. The open portion you see is a deck with a fantastic view of the city.  We are so grateful to have found it! It is only a 5 minute walk for Annabelle to get to school. We found much larger (and in some ways nicer) homes outside of town, but our hope is that this is a simple time for us. Missy doesn’t want to drive and we don’t want to have to take a bus to get everywhere.

The owners are going out of their way to be accomodating. I’ve already been receiving updates with photos. They’re even letting Missy and I choose paint colors for the interior and exterior. We feel so blessed to have found this tiny little place. If you know us, you know it is perfect.

I was also able to visit Annabelle’s school. I think she is going to love it!

I’ll leave you with two photos. One of the school and the other a photo I took inside of St. Andrews Anglican Church. We hope to bring ourselves fully to this community, serving, learning and experiencing God in new ways and with new eyes.

5 Mission-minded Books to Read

5 Mission-minded Books to Read

Here is a short list of books that focus on mission and other related topics. What mission focused books have you read and recommend? Leave a comment!

 

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness

The Call continues to stand as a classic, reflective work on life’s purpose. Os Guinness goes beyond our surface understanding of God’s call and addresses the fact that God has a specific calling for our individual lives.

Why am I here? What is God’s call in my life? How do I fit God’s call with my own individuality? How should God’s calling affect my career, my plans for the future, my concepts of success?  According to Guinness, “No idea short of God’s call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose and fulfillment.” With tens of thousands of readers to date, The Call is for all who desire a purposeful, intentional life of faith.

 

Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

Through Gates of Splendor is the true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed. Elisabeth Elliot is also a founding member of SAMS-USA.

 

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good.

But it looks ahead. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone, to empower the materially poor, and to know that we are all uniquely needy—and that God in the gospel is reconciling all things to himself.

Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts provides proven strategies for effective poverty alleviation, catalyzing the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out.

 

Getting Sent: A relational approach to support raising by Pete Sommer

Raising support is one of the most difficult challenges facing Christians in ministry. Fears of rejection, concerns about biblical validity, feelings of not being deserving, anxiety about limited resources can all block us from obtaining the means to fulfill our calling.

Getting Sent both affirms that God uses the Christian community to send us into ministry and demystifies the process. This down-to-earth handbook offers a clear, biblical perspective, gives step-by-step instructions on how to assemble the tools unique to each person’s support-raising task, explains exactly why people do and don’t give, and much more

 

Waterbuffalo Theology

by Kosuke Koyama

Kosuke Koyama was a Japanese theologian and former missionary to northern Thailand. Waterbuffalo Theology gives a very interesting picture of cross-cultural missions with some of the theological and practical issues that arise in regard to contextualization.

Juan and Maria Marentes Ministry Update

Juan and Maria Marentes Ministry Update

With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

 (Mark 10: 27)

 

October 2018

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As Maria Isabel and I were praying on Mark 10: 17-31 (The rich Young Man) we re-discovered a brief and marvelous elucidation of the Gospel: If you want to partake of eternal life, you have to risk everything on which you trust for your safety and stability, share those things with the needy… leave everything behind… and then follow Jesus. Later on, He will multiply everything you gave away (not without troubles/persecutions), and in the age to come He will give you the ‘bonus’ of eternal life.

We can tell you from the bottom of our hearts how true is the Gospel. In our long missionary career we have left ‘something’ behind, and God has already abounded in countless blessings at every level of life. However, we are currently going through a temporary trouble*. Our SAMS Missionary Account has become below zero. Nobody expects, and let alone desires that kind of hardship. We invite all of you, dear friends and supporters, to join us in giving thanks for the multiple blessings we have enjoyed in the past, and also to pray to God, so He would send us the generous and sacrificial support we urgently need to make our ends meet. God is great and good all the time. We trust Him from the bottom to the top.

With the advice and blessing of our Bishop, we are now mostly concentrated in three places: Iglesia de la Gracia, a new ministry we started on the day of Pentecost in Oceanside, CA. This is part of Grace Anglican Church. We are learning a lot through the combined efforts of some Hispanics and   ‘Anglos’ (regardless their level of Spanish) with a heart for the Latino people and our culture. We have come to understand how crucial is having a good soil for the seed. The ‘Anglos’ are the good soil for the seed -the newcomers-, who experience God’s love, grace and acceptance from the seasoned believers.

Maria Isabel continues deeply committed in a discipleship path with a bilingual group at St. Stephen’s Anglican in Tustin, CA. Both of us are still connected with Christ the King Church-plant in Ramona. CA We’re praying for opportunities to connect to the Hispanic Community there, starting especially in Advent and Christmas seasons.

*  Our current need is US$15,000.00 to bring our Missionary Account where it needs to be. You can, as always, either send a check to SAMS (with “For the Marentes” in the memo line), or go to the SAMS website. This is the new link:

 

https://give.sams-usa.org/missionary/juan-and-maria-marentes

 

The snail-mail address of SAMS is: PO Box 399, Ambridge, PA 15003.   If you need more details, please contact Denise Cox at DeniseCox@sams-usa.org, Phone (724) 266 0669. She is the SAMS’ Associate Director

We give thanks to the Lord for having you as faithful and tireless supporters over the past years. May God’s richest blessings come on you, your families and ministries.

 

Versión en Español

Al releer una porción del Evangelio de Marcos (10: 17-31) pudimos volver a entender el Evangelio en pocas palabras: “Si quieres tener Vida Eterna, tienes que arriesgar todo lo que significa seguridad y estabilidad para ti… compartir esas cosas con los necesitados… dejar todo atrás y seguir a Jesús. La promesa firme es que El multiplicará todo lo que abandonaste -aún en esta vida- y luego te dará como ‘bonificación’ la Vida Eterna.” El complemento de la promesa es que, no por ello desaparecerán mientras tanto todos los problemas y dificultades.

Hasta el día de hoy podemos dar testimonio de la certeza de la promesa de Jesús, el Señor. Lo poco que hemos dejado atrás se ha tornado en ricas bendiciones a todo nivel. Sin embargo no faltan ni faltarán las dificultades. En estos días, por primera vez en 24 años, nuestros fondos para la Misión están bajo cero. Les pedimos el favor de unirse en oración con nosotros para que el Señor, dueño de todos los recursos en el mundo, mueva a corazones generosos que puedan apoyarnos como siempre en el pasado.

Tenemos ministerio interesante en tres lugares, vinculados a Iglesias Anglicanas locales: 1) Grupo de discipulado bilingüe en Irvine, CA., 2) Iglesia de la Gracia, ministerio Hispano, en Oceanside, CA., 3) Exploración de posibilidades de acercamiento a la comunidad Hispana en Ramona, CA.

Hemos agregado arriba los enlaces para donaciones a través de SAMS, nuestra agencia misionera.

Oramos también por ustedes, amigos y socios en la Misión de llevar el Evangelio hasta los confines de la tierra.

The Rev. Juan B & Maria I Marentes

 

 

10-Year Celebration Story # 3: Looking Back to See Ahead: The Gift of Presence

10-Year Celebration Story # 3: Looking Back to See Ahead: The Gift of Presence

Looking back to see ahead:

The Gift of Presence

by Ron McKeon

This is the Third story in our Celebrating 10-Years of Ministry in Brazil. It is often said that when we look back into our past history, even back to the beginning in the Old Testament of the Bible we can better see with confidence why it is so important to trust God enthusiastically with our future. I agree and that’s why we are writing this series.

When we first heard God’s call to be missionaries in Brazil we were in the midst of our theological seminary education at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. It has been more than 10-years now and we are still learning why God called us here to a community in the upper Northeast corner of Brazil. Learning to speak Portuguese was the farthest thing from our minds as we pondered this calling to Brazil.

In my opinion Portuguese is a language with far more rules for pronunciation and grammar than our native English and perhaps even a few more than the Hebrew and Greek we studied in seminary. Now that we have become permanent residents in Brazil for the past two and one half years, learning and using exclusively this beautifully sounding Romance language has become one of our top priorities.

Bringing hope to cancer patients

However even in a place where Portuguese is the national language there is a growing number of Brazilians more interested in practicing their English with us than helping and occasionally correcting our conversational Portuguese. There are many occasions when I will be conducting my end of the conversation in Portuguese while my Brazilian friend will be conducting their end of the conversation in English!

Our first “Cell Group” where the purpose was to foster a sense of belonging (I hate this photo of the back of my head…but…Debby insisted it tells a story).

As we look back at our ministry in Brazil to see what might be waiting for us in the future it is critical that we ask the question, “Where has our ministry impacted life change in Brazilian children and adults?”

This question has added significance when you factor in that our five adult daughters, son-in-laws, and eight grandchildren reside thousands of miles away on a different continent in the United States.

As we did our analysis there was one common denominator that emerged. It was not our ideas, programs, preaching or teaching that most impacted life change for the better. It was our mere presence and the building of personal relationships that provided the catalyst for change.

God invests in us with His presence. Our living God, creator of all things, made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in the presence of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for eternity. In return God asks only that we return to God the first fruits of our time, energy, labor and our wealth.

Debby investing time in building relationships making soup twice a month for the neighborhood.

Debby and I in reflecting on our rearing of five daughters, for example, have learned the importance of simply being present in the lives of our children was the greatest gift. The culture of this world talks about the importance of accumulating money and making investments with it for the future.

We have learned that the best return on investment occurs when one person invests their life in the life of another person. If time is a gift from God, as many say it is, then isn’t reasonable to conclude that we should return the first fruit of this gift by paying it forward by investing our life in the life of another? We submit the answer is yes!

Let me recount one of many examples of a return on investment as a result of investing our lives in the life of another. Each week our church meets in small “cell” groups to foster in each person a sense of belonging and to discuss the life application of the sermon we heard on Sunday.

Our current cell group meets in the church. During one such meeting, one of our members from the neighborhood, Amanda, a mother of four children, made reference to a sign hanging in our church that referenced the growth that takes place in cell groups and personal discipleship. Amanda then said she now feels like she and her family belong and she wants to be discipled. Turning to Debby, Amanda asked Debby to disciple her. The look of surprise and joy on Debby’s face and Amanda’s face when Debby said yes, says it all.  

Celebration Story # 2: Encouraging Local Community Involvement in Mission

Celebration Story # 2: Encouraging Local Community Involvement in Mission

The Blessings of Involving the Local Community in Mission

by Debby McKeon

During several of our early return trips to Brazil we brought handmade rugs to distribute to families and churches. Here is that story:

I enjoyed my time as a member of the local Curves fitness center in Ambridge, PA, , owned by Whitney Gresham. The camaraderie, health benefits, and community involvement was very appealing. Twice a year food drives have been held to bring donations to local food donation centers.

Some years ago, a knitting class was held at Curves to teach how to make knitted yarn squares for a patchwork afghan blanket. The blankets were raffled off to raise funds for Relay for Life, a cancer fundraising event.

Then after a devastating hurricane in Haiti, a class was held at curves to learn how to make “plarn” which is yarn made from plastic grocery bags, and then crocheted into large mats. The mats were shipped to Haiti and used as sleeping mats for children orphaned by the hurricane.

Handmade small bedside plarn mats continue being made today as an ongoing project for American service men and women serving overseas. Recipients of these foot mats have written to express their gratitude for having a mat to scruff the sand off their feet before getting into their bunk.

Debby with kids on handmade story time mat

This Ambridge, PA community outreach benefitted our ministry in Brazil as well. Some of the large mats were not the specified size needed for sleeping mats, but were perfect for use in Brazil. These large colorful plarn rugs were stuffed into our suitcases and brought to Brazil. The plarn rugs were distributed to various churches and used as floor coverings in classrooms for children’s story time during Christian Education classes, and in individual homes in neighborhoods where churches had outreach ministries. Many of these homes had a combination of dirt and rough concrete floors.

This was a Compassion Ministry neighborhood in Cabedelo, Paraiba, Brazil. A Ministry founded by Bishop Marcio Meira and his wife Pastor Linda.

Then Pastor, now Diocesan Bishop, Marcio Meira and his wife, now a Pastor, Linda receiving Plarn Rugs for the families of their Compassion Ministry in Cabedelo, Paraiba, Brazil.

Currently, I now have plans here in Brazil to involve the wider local community in the teaching of how to make plarn from plastic grocery bags for a variety of items, from story mats to women’s purses. I will write more about this in future newsletters as this aspect of our mission in Brazil unfolds.