Monday, December 11, 2006
What a Day!
Yesterday was a day of epic proportions.
We had decided a while back that it would be fun to have a church picnic, Brazil-style, as a church Christmas celebration. That meant churrasco or barbecue. BBQ here is much simpler--no sauce, no marinade, just salted meat on big swords. When it's ready it's cut up in little bit sized pieces. You end up spending a couple of hours eating but it's all so worth it.
So we decided to make this an Event. We were going to have it at Keith and Stacey's house which is about a fifteen minute drive from the church. We made plans to rent transportation to get people out there after church. We set a price for our members and told them visitors would be free. That confused some of our members. "But then we'll have people inviting lots of people!" THAT'S THE POINT!!! (We're working on teaching evangelism and outreach!)
As the day approached, we realized this was going to be bigger than originally anticipated. We rented another mini-bus and made sure we would have lots of food. We moved the events from the Parkers' house to the party facilities in their neighborhood.
Yesterday morning when we started our prayer groups, there were only about fifteen people there. But half an hour later, the room was filling up. And when I got up during the sermon to count, there were 85 people! I couldn't believe it and had Russ doublecheck my count. Our average attendance is about 50. Our previous record (other than our inaugural service) was 60 or so.
Afterward, everyone headed out to the churrasco. I knew there were a lot of people there but I didn't realize how many until we stopped for a devotional. Again, I recruited Russ because I couldn't believe it. We had about 100 people!
It was such an awesome mixture of people: our members, members from other congregations, friends and families of our members. (We even had several people from my English class!) Some people had never visited our church before, some were truly "unchurched". Everyone hung out under the shade of a huge mango tree and visited for several hours.
We were exhausted at the end of the day but we sat for a long time sharing stories about some of the ways that God had worked that day, guiding just the right member to chat with just the right visitor. We realized that if we can capitalize on even 50% of the potential contacts after this event we will be in an incredible place. Of course, 50% isn't our goal! Please pray for us as we try to follow up with all of these visitors. There were several requests for Bible studies and many new conversations were started. Pray that God gives us the words to bring these people to faith in Him. Pray that the evangelistic spirit catches fire in our members.
What do you do after a day like that? Well, we ended the evening with an adventure--we discovered that the big toad in the Parkers' yard is poisonous! Their little dog, Chacha, had a close call but we're happy to say that she's going to be okay.
This morning I went with some members of the American Society to drop Christmas presents off at a children's home. It's run by the Missionaries of Charity. It was an awesome experience and I felt my eyes welling up several times.
When I got home this afternoon, I crashed. I slept hard for two hours. The past day and a half was awesome but there's not much time to rest! Our friends Tom and Gina arrive in a week so we've got to get ready for their visit! I'm so thankful though when I'm tired in this way. God gives us strength to get through marathon weekends like that and rewards us with blessing upon blessing. What a privilege to serve Him full-time!