YEAR 37, NO. 1 — In more recent years, our work in the city of São José dos Campos has focused more and more on working one-on-one with people, both in evangelism and in training. This has many advantages and pays many spiritual dividends, aside from being the way Christians did it in the first century.
When the lockdown came in March, 2020, the Urbanova congregation divided into three separate groups. We already meet in a home (ours!), so it was a small thing for two other groups to start meeting in other homes. Many, if not most, congregations in the country stopped meeting altogether, but we never missed a Sunday.
Since the men and women have been trained from the beginning to be involved, they merely focused their efforts in the new locations, without missing a beat.
Men began preaching who had never preached before. Pedro taught his mother and baptized her in August. Malu, a sister meeting in that group, herself a recent Christian, began teaching her the first principles.
We recently resumed a biweekly evangelistic study in the NovaFit gym which my neighbor and recent convert, Paulo Cesar, owns. We began this group last year and had counted over 50 individuals who heard the gospel message through it. From that group two have been baptized, the most recent one in February.
Paulo and I continued our Saturday morning studies throughout the year. Vicki fixed a nice breakfast for us most weeks. Pedro and I also studied a number of times together on the book of Job and on his preaching in the Satelite group.
Vicki began studying in December, 2020, with another gym student. Pray this young woman may open her heart to the gospel.
The Urbanova congregation has also distributed free Bibles, provided by an American ministry, through a local group here in SJCampos.
During 2020, we also published four books, three in Portuguese and one in English. The latter is an ebook, O Soul! The Book of Exhortations, available through Forthright Press.
In the Urbanova congregation, we also began using, in July, our new online digital hymnal in preparation for its release to the brotherhood in Jan. 2021.
Before the lockdown, Vicki and I both taught in the Northeastern Christian Lectures in January, in Recife.
Vicki also studied with Bruna in preparation for her baptism, and afterwards they studied in the book of James.
Vicki began writing devotionals called “Rising Joy,” both in English and Portuguese, to encourage Christian women. She sends the Portuguese version to a list on WhatsApp. Near the end of the year during our home renovation, she stopped, but will pick back upon 2021 writing Monday through Fridays.
Our home renovation is almost finished, just a few details to go. It took all of three months.
I maintain an intense schedule of writing both in English and Portuguese, the latter online and in writing for books. I also helped several evangelists as they faced challenges in their personal life and service to the Kingdom.
This is the first year in many that we did not travel to the US. So we still have yet to see our sixth grandchild, J.J. Matheny, born in August, to Joel and Tansy in Mount Juliet, TN.
During the lockdown, we lost support from one congregation due to falloff of offerings, but all others have maintained their contributions.