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BGMC Team of 10 Train and Evangelize in Brazil

by Marshall Bruner, Compassion Ministries Coordinator, BGMC

Ten children's pastors and leaders from across the nation headed to Campinas, Brazil, for a seven-day missions trip with Missionaries Esdras and Michelle Orantes. The team conducted three conferences, five outreaches in neighboring barrios, and a children's church service.

The planning of the trip in itself was a sign that the Lord had ordained the trip. I had received an invitation from Esdras Orantes just over two months prior to the trip. Because the Orantes family would be going on a mini-furlough in November, and due to heavy travel schedules in early spring of 2014, the trip for this BGMC team must be now or wait for another year.

To my joy and surprise, I was able to recruit the nine children's pastors and leaders who accompanied me on the trip. The team members are (listed in alpha order): Keith Applegarth, Bob Aston, Marshall Bruner, Irene Cavazos, Louise Chavez, Sharon Dollarhide, Pat Mata, Steve Miller, Chuck Padgett, and Troy Renter.

In most cases, the recruiting, overseas missions travel approvals, Visa applications, and other paperwork take months of planning. However, the Lord saw fit to enable this team to prepare in a very short timeframe.

Each team member took a trunk full of children's ministries supplies to leave with the missionaries and the children's leaders we trained. As is typical with a BGMC missions trip, the team took 250 puppets plus numerous other supplies.

I will never forget the jumps of joy when during the Friday evening workshop class on puppetry the children's from Brazil were told they could keep the puppets we handed out and which they were using to practice puppetry. We witnessed sheer joy, bursts of laughter, and expressions of surprise and gratitude from everyone. One would have thought we were handing out hundred dollar bills. What seems to us as simple, inexpensive puppets was like gold in the hands of the novice children's leaders who were ambitious about their new ministry: reaching children for Jesus Christ.

At the two other conferences the team conducted, puppets were also handed out to the Brazilian children's leaders who learned puppetry.

By all means, the trip was a huge success. Over 200 leaders were trained with new children's ministries skills during the three conferences we conducted, and dozens of children were introduced to Jesus Christ during the outreaches.

The poverty we witnessed in the five outreaches in the barrios of Campinas is a bit difficult to describe. It's intense. In one area of Campinas, raw sewage was pouring out of a pipe leading out the back of one of the small huts. Children in soiled clothing gathered just footsteps away from the raw sewage with smiles of joy on their faces as our team began to minister to them.

If you cannot stand the smell of raw sewage on the children to whom you minister, then a BGMC missions trip may not be for you. The great reward was that throughout the five outreaches, numerous children-plus the adults who lingered nearby-were given the opportunity to learn about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. As a result, dozens of children came forward to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Each of our outreaches and training events would not have been possible without the aid of our translators-a young team of zealous children's leaders who make up the King's Castle team, led by  Esdras and Michelle Orantes.

Each time we conducted an outreach, we would involve the King's Castle team a bit more. On our fifth and final outreach, we handed over each portion of the service to the team. With great pride swelling up within us, we watched the team as they conducted the praise and worship, the puppet praise and puppet skit, the memory verse game, the reality game, the human video, and the illustrated sermon.  They were so eager to learn and to apply what we had taught them.

The only sorrow of taking a BGMC missions trip such as this is having to say good-bye to the missionaries and the King's Castle team members we quickly grew to love. We left knowing, though, that the team and the many children's leaders we trained were better equipped to reach the children of Campinas for Jesus.  We went to train and to bless the national leaders of Brazil but left as the blessed ones.

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