Partner Testimonies

Projeto Pantanal-- A Translator's Testimony

Editor's note: Vinny joined our group after hearing about GEM and our partnership with medical students. He traveled from another state in Brazil to be a part. GEM invites students from local universities to serve as translators or to work in their individual fields such as medicine, dentistry, psychology, education, etc. Some of these students are Christian and others times they become seekers as a result of their experience with a mission group. Here is his testimony...

Brazil Riverboat Mission 2009

When I think about all that happened in just ten days from the time I left Nashville until I returned from Brazil, I am confused as to which story may excite others enough to take such a venture.

I could tell you about how I went on this mission trip to show God how much I love Him and how God, as He always does, “one-upped me” and showed me that He loves me more. But how interesting would that be?

I could tell you how at a small village we came upon a blind man and the only medicine we had for him was prayer. So Pastor Carl annointed him with oil as all the men including myself laid our hands upon him and Carl said a prayer. How I was overtaken by emotion and tears filled my eyes giving me temporary blindness. My prayer was for God to surround this blind man with Christians who would give him the physical and spiritual support he will need to live his life with this affliction.

Special Memories on Mission

As a retired dental hygienist, this was the trip I had been waiting for with a chance to share my love for Jesus and meeting the Medical/Dental/Optical needs of the people. I had so much to “give” to these people along the Paraguay River that they did not have access to. Little did I know that they would give me far more than I could ever give them.

I saw poverty that was shocking, yet these people had a joy that radiated from their faces. They had to “make-do” with what they had either from nature or what had been brought to them by boat. But appreciation and pride were evident by neatly kept areas and freshly swept dirt floors. The children had both their parents, one or both grandparents and all their siblings living on the same property. Never having to be put in daycare, with babysitters, or worse, left alone.
The ladies we met were curious about our lives as American women, wondering why and how we would be able to come on a trip like this.

It's Not My Time

"It's not my time."
"Well, when would be a good time?"
"God will let me know."
"I believe God sent us here today to let you know that the time is now."
"No, it's not my time."

That's a typical conversation with someone who is not ready to receive Jesus as Lord. Usually, it's followed by a shrug of the shoulders, a shaking of the head, and a slightly embarrassed smile.

This is the flip B side that our church members experience on mission trips from Canada to Brazil to our own backyard. On the A side, there is nothing more encouraging and exciting than to take a step of faith on a mission trip and then realize you're flying leaps and bounds on a spiritual high.

A Weight Lifted on the River

I helped with personal evangelism, while the people waited to be seen at the medical or dental clinics. The evangelistic encounter that most caught my attention was with the commander of the Bolivian military outpost, Sgt. Monroy, on Monday morning.

While he waited to see the dentist aboard the Pantavida, I started a conversation, asking if I could share with him some things about God, which he readily accepted. I don’t remember just how I started the conversation, maybe asking if he had given his life to Jesus, or maybe that provocative question which puts the person at the door of heaven with someone inside asking, “Why should I let you enter?” But the opportunity arose to explain the correct answer or what it means to surrender your life to Jesus.

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