The Little Things

by Jonni Sliver

It is exciting to see God’s hand in our lives! I have a friend here in Brazil who has undergone surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. There was an army of intercessors holding her up and expecting to see God move on her behalf. The peace we have, in facing huge challenges, is an amazing gift, something only a child of the Father can know. But somehow, there is a special sweetness in seeing God’s hand in the little details of our lives that reminds me that He isn’t just my champion in time of trial, but the Lover of my soul every day. The problem isn’t that God isn’t moving every day or every moment, but that I just don’t always pay attention!

About two months ago a project that the Miriam Home had presented to the city council was approved, to replace a very old computer tower and to buy a laptop. The laptop wasn’t an extreme necessity, but it was helpful for Pastor Silvio to be able to do the administrative work of the Miriam Home, Bible School and the retreat center. I was glad for the grant, especially because I knew how much Tibby (my Toshiba laptop) means to me, and that it would make ministry easier for Pastor Silvio.

Around that same time Tibby started showing signs of age. Little things like freezing when I would start her, so I would have to shut down and restart. A few times, when I left the desk for a while, without turning her off, I would come back to find her, not in sleep mode but with a blue screen, scolding me just a bit. Yes, there were signs, but I didn’t expect the end to come so quickly. Last Saturday I went to turn Tibby on and there was no response. Well, actually you could hear the motor running, but the screen didn’t even flicker. A crashed computer is always frustrating, but for me it was even more – maybe 75% of all I do is on my laptop, but I had hope! A young man from church is a truly gifted geek (I call him my techno-medic), and he took my computer Sunday morning – I was pretty confident that I would have it back on Monday! I was wrong. But with the help of my trusty (almost recent) backup and the borrowed desk top (with the new CPU) I was able to redo my class plans for the Bible School before my classes were to begin. In the meantime Mateus was trying everything he could to get Tibby up and running, but the system still didn’t work. By the end of the week it was clear that my computer was not coming back.

It just so happens that most of last week Pastor Silvio was in a series of meetings. For that reason I was able to use the new laptop we had just acquired. On Friday Pastor Silvio left for a week long ministry trip to a neighboring state giving me a few more days to work. And Mateus, my faithful techno-medic, has ordered my new computer, which will be here before Pastor Silvio returns and wants his laptop back.

I know something as small as a crashed computer doesn’t rate as a “trial”, but it has been sweet to see how the Father is concerned about my little things. Seeing His care over the details increases my faith for the big challenges that come up, and they always do!

The Important Thing!

By Jonni Sliver

We celebrated Mother’s Day last month. Lovely images came to mind – a precious little girl bringing flowers to her mom, a little boy proudly presenting burnt toast to mom for breakfast, the acrid but delightful love offering! But I am long past a precious little girl and it is five years since my mother received her reward; I’ve never had children of my own so I guess Mother’s Day doesn’t have much to do with me. Right? Wrong!

I received a gift that not everyone gets. As an adult I got to live with my mother. For five years mom and I lived in a two bedroom apartment and did just about everything together, from cooking to cleaning to putting together massive jigsaw puzzles (credit where it’s due, mom probably did 70% of them) and telling really silly stories (we were both pretty  good at that!). I got to know my mom as my friend and five years after her passing I still am blessed every day because of what I learned from my mom.

I learned about priorities. Mom didn’t answer the phone or the door for the first hour or so after she woke up (that was o.k., the people who knew her knew not to call then anyways). That was because she had her quiet time, right in her bed, before her feet touched the floor. She had her Daily Bread, her study Bible and a Bible encyclopedia all on the table by her bed. She would begin her devotional but it would quickly become a study as she looked up a city she didn’t know, or a practice she wasn’t familiar with in the encyclopedia. She would separate the verses that touched her heart and look up all of the cross references and then she would share them with me at dinner that night. And then she would pray. She prayed for her children and grandchildren, she prayed for her church family, she prayed for what she saw on the news last night. She had seen God move, she had seen His faithfulness, and she held on the promises of the Father!

But that first hour or so wasn’t “God’s time” in her day. Mom found moments all through her day to meet with the Father. She was the leader of our church prayer chain, most of the prayer request went out by e-mail, but there was a good size group of ladies who weren’t online. Mom would call them to share the prayer requests, and they would talk. All of the phone chain were a little older (like mom), many were widows, several had hard times getting out of the house. The calls mom made remind each woman that she was still part of the family, she still had a ministry and that she was loved. It only took mom five minutes to send the e-mail prayer requests, it took, sometimes, hours to do the phone chain, but for mom it was time well spent.

When I get so busy with the “important” things that I have to do that I am irritated by drop in visits, I can just about hear my mom reminding me about what really is important. There really isn’t an age limit to learn from your mother!

 

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

Let No One Despise Your Youth

by Jonni Sliver

Alex is 19 years old, a child of God for two years and a Bible school student for one year. He is one of our “Timothys”. He got saved while in a recuperation program, and this precious young man has an intense gratitude for the gift of salvation he has received and an overflowing joy. During his first year in the Bible school he was one of the students who asked if they could do evangelism in the local jail (they have shared with hundreds of prisoners and prayed with dozens).

Alex went home to Curitiba for his Christmas break, and he took with him a young man from Campo Mourao, a son of the Free Lutheran congregation here, who had started to get involved with drugs. Alex has been talking with him, sharing his own story, and trying to influence Nathan in a positive way, but Nathan was only listening with one ear, so Alex thought it might be interesting for Nathan to visit the recuperation house he had gone to. Nathan would hear every one of the young men there tell him how they began a life of addiction doing the same “innocent” things he was doing, playing the same dangerous games.

While Alex and Nathan were in Curitiba they met a teen-ager, Lucas, on the street. He was obviously drugged and he was scared because he had fought with some members of a gang and he thought they would hurt him while he was sleeping. Alex talked Lucas into going to Paul and Becky Abel’s house, where they spent the night. The next day, with his mind clearer, Lucas talked to Alex and to Paul for hours. He finally decided that they were right, that he had no future on the street, and that he needed to make a change in his life. Just days before Christmas, Becky went on a search for a recuperation house that had a place for Lucas, and after three days she found one! Lucas entered the program. Alex and Nathan enjoyed the holidays and Nathan returned the first week of January to Campo Mourao.

I would love to say that this is the end of the story – everyone blessed and growing in the Lord, but life isn’t a script that we write as we would like it to be. Two weeks after entering the program Lucas decided that he didn’t need to be told how to live his life. He left the recuperation house and two days later he was shot and killed (likely by the same people he had fought with weeks earlier).

As Alex told me the story his eyes filled with tears, but he ended the story with an affirmation – he wasn’t going to stop reaching out to anyone willing to be helped. Lucas may have given up, but Nathan had not! It blessed me to see his heart moved but his faith not shaken, and I am imagining the wonderful ways God will use him. It is so amazing to be allowed to be a part of the lives of these precious students!