In April, Tim and Lynsey Johnston (former North Cotes College students now serving in Brazil) and seven other students began the practical part of their training for six weeks in a rural desert community that is extremely poor and suffers from a severe lack of fresh drinking water. They served on projects to improve the well-being of the community, as well as assisting the local church in any way they could. On their first weekend, they helped the church with their annual Kids Conference. Over 150 children attended from all over the community.
They had a packed schedule with various children’s ministries, literacy classes for the adults, Bible studies, schools ministries and family visitations. They travelled many miles by 4×4 and on foot, making door-to-door visits, supporting the local missionaries in their effort to build close relationships with the community. They also had opportunities to educate the community in taking better care of their own personal health and hygiene by way of activity days with hair-washing and cutting, food packs, baby supplies for new mothers and donations of clothes and shoes.
At another more developed location, the heat and humidity was much more taxing. They had a full schedule of schools’ ministries from morning until night. Brazil schools run from 7am until 10pm, and depending on the age of the students, their day is split accordingly. This was very tiring, but such an incredible opportunity. They were very open to them as a team. At times it was extremely challenging, but not surprisingly God worked in incredible ways.
It was such a privilege for Tim and Lynsey to share about why God called them to Brazil and how much each young person meant to them; that they could give up our home comforts and families to be in that place, in that moment with them.
Tim and Lynsey’s class graduated on 9th June and after saying goodbye to those they had come to know and love, they headed back to their normal residence in Brazil. They have been praying much about their next steps, and they feel called to remain where they are for the foreseeable future. They have been challenged to ‘stand in the gap’ between those leaving rehabilitation or even prison, and their reintegration into society. They would love to see people not only having a safe place to live, but future prospects, discipled into renewed hope and a fresh purpose. Pray that God will open doors of opportunity to see this vision realised. When Tim and Lynsey think just how overwhelming this task is, they are reminded of the Gadarenes man who Jesus healed in Mark 5. He was completely broken, rejected, hopeless and had lost all dignity. Yet one encounter with Jesus saw him totally transformed, restored and given authority to share his story. This is Tim and Lynsey’s desire for them, that one day they will come full circle to be able to touch another life for eternity.
Pray for others who will be able to stand with them and share in this vision. Tim and Lynsey are scheduled return to Northern Ireland in October, pray for the Lord’s guiding in their next steps.