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His Eye is on the Sparrow

John, Cris and Family-Jonni Silver Web readyBy Jonni Sliver

I come from a long line of worriers. That isn`t one of the qualities I am most proud of, but I see it popping up now and then (with more “now” than I care for.  Those of you not genetically inclined to fretting are probably already saying to yourselves “what’s the point of worrying?” You are right of course, and we know it, with 90% of our brains, it is the 10% that trips us up. Praise the Lord, He loves his daughters, even when we fret, and His has lovely, precious means to remind us that we really don’t need to fret at all. Cris is a good example.

Cris has been living in a house on the Miriam Home/Bible school campus for six months now. She is a precious young mom, born in the Philippines, married to a mighty North Dakotan, John, who happens to be an engineer working on international oil rigs. Through his job he got to know the AFLC churches in Brazil, and he decided to bring Cris (7 months pregnant when they arrived) and their two year old daughter to get to know this lovely country. The only problem was that John is six weeks on the ship and six weeks off. He was here just a short time before he left for his on ship time, because he wanted to come back in time for the birth of his daughter. Cris is a pretty brave young lady, being in a new country, with a language she was just starting to learn and a very active little girl. She fit in wonderfully to our family, and her little Leota won everyone’s hearts.

During the six months John had to do two shifts on the ship, but they were planned so he would be back to take his little family home. The timing was important because not only did Cris and Leota’s visas run out the beginning of June, but Cris had to be back in the U.S. by June 6th or she would lose her green card.  But plans don’t always work the way we want them to. Problems came up on the ship and John’s return kept getting postponed. By the middle of last week it was clear that John wouldn’t be here to accompany Cris and the girls home, but Cris is spunky and wasn’t intimidate.

Then Tuesday came – just two days before Cris and the kiddos were to take off, I received a call from Pr. Silvio, on vacation in the north of Brazil. He remembered that Cris would need authorization to travel outside of Brazil without John. This document required a notarized statement from John, hard to get in the middle of the ocean, and would normally take at least a week to be approved. But, since Cris is living on the campus of the Miriam Home our administrator, Surai, was able to ask for the help of the juvenile court judge. Based on his respect for Surai, and the fact that Cris had copies of every birth certificate back to her great grandma, the document was ready by today, Thursday morning. Four hours later she was in the van, on the way to the airport, with everything she needed in her carry-on bag.

His eye is on the sparrow, on Cris and on me. Why worry?   

Onward?

By Jonni Sliver

A lot of you already know that one of the blessings of teaching is how much you learn! Right now I am working on my classes for the second semester of Bible school, the stories of modern missionary movements. I am having a great time, since it is a topic I love. It can also be more than a little challenging as I sit in my nice comfortable office, working away on my Toshiba. It is hard to not notice a little difference between my reality and the challenges facing William Carey and Hudson Taylor.

What really made me sit back for a moment was a poem I read, written by Amy Carmichael. Soon after her arrival in India she contracted a tropical fever and went to live in a mission compound to recuperate. What she saw would have looked good in any report – a large church had been planted and there was a lot of activity. But what she didn’t see concerned her, she didn’t see changed lives and she didn’t see a concern for those outside of the compound. She saw the lady missionaries meeting for tea, meeting for talks, but not meeting for a greater purpose. And one day she wrote:

Onward Christian soldiers, sitting on the mats;
Nice and warm and cozy, like little pussycats.
Onward Christian soldiers, oh, how brave are we,
Don’t we do our fighting very comfortably?

Now what caught my attention here was not necessarily a call to a hard life. I don’t think that if I make myself truly uncomfortable I will surly please God more. Though I admire Amy, it´s  not that I find myself wanting to be just like her or any of the other great men and women I have been looking at these last few weeks. The more I read, the more I see them as pretty flawed people too. What I do feel is challenged to look and see just how contented I am at this moment. There is a difference between the peace of God that gives us the courage to step out and contentment, that feeling of satisfaction with everything just the way it is, that drains our desire to do any new thing.  

Amy’s little poem has challenged me to seek a good shaking up from the Father. I am so grateful for what He has brought in to my life, but is there more? And right now I am surrounded by amazing young people who are seeking God and diving into His Word. Am I giving them a living example of stepping out in faith, or just teaching them the principles?

Even as I wait on the Lord to hear what He has to say to me through His Word, I am once again amazed that the Father loves me enough to challenge me to go farther with Him!   

An Abundance of Waters

By Jonni Sliver

I was just recently in Curitiba with Paul and Becky Abel, always a precious experience, but this time God had a special Blessing for me.

A young man named Igor was in the car when Paul and Becky picked me up from the bus stop. He is a member of the church family and lives in the neighborhood down the hill from the ARCA; he had gotten a ride with the Abel’s to the dentist. As he got out of the car Becky asked him to tell his mom that they were working on the water, a curious statement. We had gone maybe two blocks when a lady stuck her head out of her window and called out “how is the water coming?” Becky responded “soon, we hope”.  Becky explained that there was a problem with the pump for the artesian well at the ARCA and everyone was high and dry – but what did that have to do with a whole neighborhood a good mile from the ARCA. Well, it is a lovely story.

Eighteen years ago Paul and Becky had a shallow well on their property which augmented the water they received from the city – the problem was it wasn’t enough water for them and the ARCA. They decided to dig a deeper artesian well. The project was costly, involving the digging of the well, the installation of a pump and the purchase of the water tank. The Abel’s were blessed when an American supporter contacted them to say God had laid it on her heart to provide the pump and its installation. She couldn’t know at the moment how many lives she would touch with her generous gift.

Originally the retreat center, the care takers, and Paul and Becky were supplied with crystalline water from this well. Within a short time the Bateias Church moved from a limited area in the city center to a larger property that allowed for growth, just a stone’s throw from the ARCA – and it had water. With the move of the church, the pastor and several church members moved to properties that bordered the ARCA, and all of them had water.

More than a decade ago, a new community sprang up not far from the ARCA. Poor families began building on land just outside of the city on cheap, untitled land. The community grew. Then a few families came to Paul and Becky asking if they could receive water from their well. Eventually the neighborhood grew to approximately 100 families. All of them receive water from the same well. The pump that was installed 18 years ago has blessed not just the ARCA and its workers, not just the missionaries, not just the church, but a whole community of people who found grace when they knocked on Paul and Becky’s door.

Maybe you are thinking about the same story I am – Jesus sitting beside a well, offering living water to a woman desperately in need of it. She went to the well to satisfy her thirst; Jesus met her there to satisfy her spirit.  Paul and Becky have been offering the same words of hope, together with the blessing of clean, clear water for nearly two decades thanks to the obedience of one precious sister. Only the Lord knows how far His blessings will reach!

Thank You from Jonni

Precious Ladies of the WMF, and Amery Family,

You both worked so hard to get us a dryer, I just have to show you a picture of it in action! It may not look so impressive in the picture but it dries 15 kilos of clothes at a time and that is WONDERFUL when it has been raining for two days! Bless you and thank you for your loving generous hearts!!!!

Jonni

 

Drier at Miriam Home web ready

Dreams

By Jonni Sliver

Rafael, Natally, Samara and Ana PaulaRight now the Miriam Children’s Home is sort of living up to its old image – we’ve got babies! Within the last two weeks of 2013 we received four little ones 6 months old and younger!

Samara arrived at 6 weeks of age, together with Bruna, her 15 year old mother. It is heart breaking to say that Samara’s case is the least difficult –  Bruna and Samara came to us because Bruna lived with her mother who was not only sick but contagious and it wasn’t safe for a tiny baby to be in the house with her. As soon as the grandma is well again Bruna and Samara will leave.

Natally (8 weeks old) came to us because her mother has severe mental illness and is a risk to her baby. Natally’s grandma was taking care of her, but social services were informed that the grandma was offering the baby to anyone who would take her, to be free from the responsibility.

Ana Paula (10 weeks old) was found in a crack house when the police raided it. Her teen-age parents were beating each other and the baby arrived here covered in their blood.

Rafael is a whole six months old. He was born with a problem with his intestine JONNI  - Rafael - dez. '13but his mother couldn’t bother to take care of him. The precious little guy was supposed to be taken to the clinic to have an enema every other day but when he came to us he hadn’t had one in ten days. His little tummy was rigid and he couldn’t eat. Rafael spent Christmas Eve with me and Sueli in the emergency room.

One of my favorite passages is in Psalm 139, where God reminds us of how very well He knows us. Verse 16 says that God began writing out His dreams for us before we were born. I look at these four incredible little people, and I am so excited for the dreams God has for them. I know He did not dream for them to be abandoned or neglected, but He did dream safe arms to receive them! He has allowed for us to hold them for Him, to bless them in His name!

And He dreams for these babies’ parents too – for teen-age moms, and for young people too lost in drugs to think of protecting their baby. He dreams of healing bodies and minds and setting prisoners of sin free.

I praise the Lord for the opportunity to be part of God’s plans for these young lives and I am so grateful that you are taking your part too! Bless you for your prayers!