October 1, 2008

Faithful and Unchanging...

--> --> -->
We are fast approaching our one year anniversary of living in Brazil. This fact, along with the recent visit of my mother, has brought me to a point of reflection. As I reflect on the past year, I am amazed again by the unchanging ways and the faithfulness of our Lord and God. The same God I read about in Scripture is at work in the life and ministry of me, one of His servants.
From the very beginning of the process of being approved by the International Mission Board (IMB), Tara and I were brought over and over to a specific verse of Scripture. In the book of Hebrews, the eleventh chapter and eighth verse God is speaks to Abraham who is being called by God to leave all he knew to go. The Bible tells us that Abraham obeyed this call “even though he did not know where he was going.” This was verse was for us… we knew that we would spend time on foreign soil in ministry for the Kingdom but the where it would be and the organization if which we would work was up in the air for so long. However, our faithful Father in Heaven knew the place we would serve for you see, almost two years before applying with the IMB, a family serving in Belém, Brazil was praying for God to call someone to minister to the leadership in the interior of their state. Being faithful to call workers to the harvest fields and being faithful to our family, the Lord placed on our hearts the task of training leaders and led us to work in Brazil.
After faithfully helping us navigates the difficult process of obtaining a missionary visa to enter Brazil, our family boarded a plane with way too many suitcases and carry-ons. We arrived, at almost 4am one morning late in October. Again, the Lord was faithful to answer our heartfelt prayers for there to meet us were much of our mission family. Though we did know it at the time, those who were present to pick us up would become some of the dearest people to us we have ever known.

With the help of those dear people, we would begin to settle into a routine of taking the children to Brazilian school and going to language school. However, although these days became routine, they did not become easy. One of the first hurdles we had to overcome was learning to survive here, for you see things are so different. For example, the items in the grocery stores though similar are so different. As you may remember from an earlier post, the items in the grocery stories are not ready-made, pop-in-the-microwave-type items. So, after some tears and with the helped of one of those experienced missionaries, we learned that we were going to be able to buy the right things and provide for the nutritional needs of our family. After this, one of the most difficult obstacles was language. The process of learning a third language for Tara and a second for me was difficult. It was so difficult not being able to understand when people spoke, to be anxious when the phone rang for you know if it was not another missionary you could not speak, and to be terrified to be in public alone because you know you could do little by yourself. Here again, the Lord was faithful to carry us through. During this time, I often referred to a verse in Exodus. In the third chapter, God call Moses to go free the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt. Moses doubted his ability to speak and said, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent … send someone else to do it.” The Lord relented to Moses request and allowed Aaron to speak for him but his response was what made my heart leap. In verse fifteen, God said, “I will help… you speak and will teach you what to do.” You see, the same God that sent Moses and Aaron to speak to the Pharaoh of Egypt is the same God who sent me to speak to the Brazilians. To know that the God I serve will help me to speak Portuguese and teach me what to do has been and continues to be peace giving.
So, here the Gilpin Family sits, all of us speaking Portuguese to some degree, living and ministering in another land, and continue to depend on God. But as we look over the past few years we see his faithful hand in all that has taken place. He has been faithful to call out His workers to the harvest field in Belém. He has and continues to equip each one of us. Through all the good and bad times, we have seen His sovereign hand and continue to daily be bless by His presence and love.
For those who may read this post, know that this same unchanging, faithful God desires to work mightily in your life. If you are one of His children, pray that He will use you to accomplish His work where ever you may be put. For those of you who do not yet know the Lord, He is waiting to accomplish the most wonderful work yet… for He is faithful and willing save you if only call out to Him.