The Spider’s Web

Right outside my office window lives a big, beautiful garden spider.  I don’t like spiders, but she is beautifully colored.  She has made a web, and patiently waits for an unsuspecting victim to get stuck in her web.  I have tried to get her to come out of her hiding place by touching her web with a stick, but she knows the difference between a stick and a meal.  It’s amazing to watch, although I do feel sorry for her prey.  A few minutes ago, it appeared that something flew into her web.  The spider quickly came out to inspect the movement on her web.  Whatever it was either escaped, or was very still.  The spider waited, but after a couple of minutes, she retreated to her hiding place.

I have seen a moth get caught in the spider’s web, but the more it struggled to get free, the more it got stuck in the sticky entanglements of the web.  The spider quickly scurried down to the frantic moth, gave it a quick bite, and then wrapped it into a burrito to eat later.  It would have been better for the moth to have remained still, but the natural instincts tell it to fight for freedom, but to no avail.

Christians also get caught in sticky entanglements of sin’s temptation.  They either don’t heed the warnings of the Bible and their pastors, or they think that they won’t get caught because they are too sly.  The “beautiful” enemy has set a trap just for the Christian, waiting for him to fall into the web.  The best thing to do is to stay as far away as possible from the temptations around you.  When you do fall to temptation, it’s best to stop immediately right you fell, without struggling to resolve the problem all by yourself, and pray.  Struggling alone usually makes the situation worse, but when you confess your sin to God in prayer, He will forgive you and release you from the perilous grasp of destruction.  There are consequences to giving in to temptation, and sometimes the scars remain the rest of your life.  However, there is hope, and you need not think that you are alone.  God is nearby, waiting for you to cry out to Him in prayer.  He won’t always break down the web and kill the spider, but He will hear and help you when you do get stuck in the entanglements of sin’s temptation.  Don’t struggle, but be still and pray, for God is only a prayer away.

Our Trip Back to Brazil

 

Happy New Year from sunny São Paulo, Brazil!  I was planning to write this update from 37,000 feet in the air on our way back to Brazil on December 30.  However, I waited because I wanted to include as many details as possible before sending this out.  I have also been terribly sick, and have just not felt like having to sit at a computer.  Anyway, here is an actual account of God working on behalf of our family these past few days.  This is lengthy, so you may want to grab a cup of coffee, or a big glass of sweet tea before continuing this epistle.

Back in August of 2016 we began to look for tickets for our return to Brazil.  We prefer to fly in and out of Charlotte, NC, but the airfare was more than we could afford.  We checked the fares from different airports with 200 miles of Charlotte, all to no avail.  Our best affordable option was flying out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which meant that we would have a ten-hour drive from our home church to the airport.  It was half the price of what we would have paid if we had left from Charlotte.  We diligently searched for good ticket prices, and all of a sudden we saw business class seats that were cheaper than economy.  We snatched them up in a hurry!  We then had tickets for Friday, December 30, meaning that we would be back in Brazil for Sunday, January 1, 2017.  We were thrilled!

When we first bought the tickets, we weren’t sure about the logistics of getting us and our luggage down to Ft. Lauderdale, Becky’s mother said that she and my father-in-law would take us down there.  That was easy, but I knew it would be a long, tiring drive for them.

We had the privilege of seeing all four of our older children (and our new son-in-law) before we left the USA.  Anna and Ryan came the first weekend of December, and then Rachel, Joseph, and Nathan were with us over Christmas weekend.  Becky packed like crazy to get everything we were taking back to Brazil in suitcases, duffle bags, totes, and carry-ons.  Since Becky was doing the packing while I was out of town, I didn’t realize how much we had accumulated to take back for us, and also the ministry.  We knew that a minivan would not be sufficient to carry everything, so we rented a truck to transport our luggage down to Florida.  Due to the death of a church member in our sending church, my in-laws were unable to go with us down to Florida to help with luggage.  One of my brother’s-in-law and also a good friend of ours volunteered their time to help us, so we had two men and a truck to drive our luggage down to Florida.  Honestly, I didn’t know how much luggage we were taking, and neither did Becky.  Wednesday, December 28, the day we were leaving for Florida, I checked the airline’s website, but they did not have any limit as to how many checked bags a person could have, but we did know that we were going to have to pay for excess baggage.  Relieved to see that there weren’t any limitations on luggage, we headed toward Daytona Beach to find a place to stop for the night.  Thursday morning, we set the GPS for Ft. Lauderdale, and finally found a hotel with vacancies after looking for a long time.  Seems like a lot of people had already reserved rooms in the Miami area due to the Orange Bowl taking place on New Year’s Day.  While we were waiting to check in, Becky called the airline to ask about luggage, but the person on the phone told us differently than what we saw on their website.  The lady on the phone told Becky that we were allowed up to five checked bags per person.  That’s 25 bags for our family, but we had more than that.  How much more?  We didn’t know.  I thought we had 32 bags, but wasn’t sure.  I began to fret a little, even get somewhat discouraged.  Would we have to send seven bags back to South Carolina?  It was then that we asked people to pray again for us.  We had already asked people to pray for other reasons, but this was huge.  We knew God was able, but would He change the hearts (and rules) of an airline?  All we could do was pray.

The next day was Friday, our day of departure, heading back to Brazil for our fourth term.  But would all of our luggage go, too?  We were up at 3:30AM, left the hotel at 4:30AM, and arrived at the airport a little after 5:00AM.  We got help at the airport with our luggage, and two guys took everything in and made a line of luggage in front of the airline’s counter.  They asked if this was all ours, and how many pieces there were.  I told her that it was all ours, and we had about 32 bags.  I then decided to count the luggage.  There were 36 pieces of baggage!  I began to pray some more.  They may have had a little bit of mercy with seven extra bags, but probably not eleven extra bags.  The lady told me that they allowed 25, but I very nicely explained to her what their website says.  She went over to a different computer, and about ten minutes later (or, so it seemed), she came back and told the guy checking us in that they would make an “allowance” for us.  Praise the Lord!!!  We did pay for the extra luggage, but at least the extra eleven pieces did not have to go back to South Carolina and be shipped to us later.

We were still praising the Lord as we went through security, and then down to the gate before boarding.  When we sat down in those business class seats, we knew the Lord had worked this out, as well, as we were exhausted, and I was sick and miserable with a bad cold.  I was able to lay my seat out flat, and I was almost asleep before we became airborne.  We had an amazing flight, even arriving in Campinas 25 minutes early.  Those extra minutes proved to be a blessing a short time later.

The next hurdle would be entering Brazil with that much luggage, going through customs, and praying that nothing would end up missing.  The luggage came off in two different places, thankfully not too far away from each other.  I think we had eight luggage carts that the four of us were trying to wrestle with, and two cleaning ladies even offered us their help.  The Lord answered yet another prayer, and after being questioned about the convoy of luggage, he allowed us to go without asking to see anything.  Praise the Lord!

Our colleagues in the interior of Brazil, Garry and Pam Tyler, and Coy and Nancy Shaw, met us in Campinas to pick up a couple of things that they needed to be brought in.  After greeting them, they helped us transport our luggage over to where we were going to catch a bus to take us to São Paulo.  Then there was the question as to whether the bus would have room for all of our luggage, or not.  We surely did not want to split up, because it would be another hour before the next bus came.  Within ten minutes of getting our luggage over to the shuttle bus pick-up, the bus arrived and piled all of our luggage in the belly of the bus.  We used up most of the luggage space, but besides our family there were only three other people on the bus.  If the bus had been full, all of our luggage would not have made it on the first bus.  Praise the Lord!  Also, we made the first bus by ten minutes because we arrived 25 minutes early.  The Lord was orchestrating our whole trip.

We arrived in São Paulo at 10:05PM, and within one minute of getting off the bus, our co-worker, Jon Speights, comes strolling down the sidewalk.  He had two men and a truck lined up to take our luggage to the house, and within five minutes we were loading our belongings in the truck.

After a very long and tiring trip, we made it “home” to our beloved rental house in São Paulo.  We had a wonderful furlough, saw some wonderful sights, visited some wonderful churches, and saw God work in wonderful ways.  However, the most wonderful part of our furlough was leading our six-year-old, Christine, to the Lord on Christmas Eve!  Praise the Lord!

We are anxious to get started again, and looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in us and through us during our next term in São Paulo, Brazil.

Happy New Year!  God bless!  Praise the Lord!

“We’re going to pray for you.”

A missionary is usually quick to hand out prayer cards freely, for the main purpose of reminding people to pray for us.  On Friday, we ordered pizza from Domino’s, and when the delivery driver brought our pizza, I gave him a Gospel tract.  The man’s name was Ray, and he told me that he is a Christian, and he proceeded to give me his testimony.  He is a member of New Hope Baptist Church in town, and as I gave him a prayer card he promised to pray for us.  I was encouraged as we had fellowship for a few minutes before he left.

Tonight after church our family went to Wendy’s for some fast food.  Besides my family, there was only one group of people in the whole restaurant.  As Becky went to order the food, I went over to the table with the kids.  Before I could sit down, one man from the group came up and asked me, “What’s your name?”  (This didn’t surprise me because I get asked that question all the time.  I have one of those familiar faces, and almost every church we go to, someone tells me that I look like someone they know.)  When I told the man my name, he said, “That’s what I thought.”  This time I was surprised as the man proceeded to say to me, “I have your prayer card on my pulpit.”  He was the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, and the pizza delivery driver had given him our prayer card.  I was humbled to hear from this pastor, “We’re going to pray for you.”  Deborah was quick to say that this was not a coincidence.  It’s good for our children to see that God orchestrates such unexpected meetings with other Christians.  Pastor Barry Burleson said, “I wonder if Heaven’s going to be like this,” as we talked about the Lord’s imminent return.  What a blessing to meet other believers, and to have people pray for us as we return to Brazil next month.

October 2016 Prayer Letter

Dear faithful co-laborers in the ministry,

We are very thankful for your faithful prayers for us as we are coming down to the end of our furlough.  We have continued to be busy as we have been visiting a good number of our supporting churches, but we have also had the privilege to be in some new churches, as well.  We have been able to pick up some additional support from a few of those churches.

As I mentioned in our last prayer letter, we have been in three Missions Conferences in Iowa, Louisiana, and Rhode Island, as well as being in some other churches for single meetings.  We are now back in South Carolina and North Carolina for November and December.

We praise the Lord that another deaf man made a profession of faith on Saturday, September 3rd.  Brother Jon Speights has begun to have Bible studies once a month in the home of a deaf couple that are church members.  They live approximately two hours from the church, so that makes it a bit difficult to invite people to church that will have to take public transportation for two hours each way.  This deaf couple is so excited to have these monthly Bible studies, that they will prepare a meal to serve before the Bible study.  On this day, a deaf man named Luciano, put his faith in Jesus Christ after hearing a Gospel presentation. We rejoice with thanksgiving for the salvation of Luciano!

We have purchased tickets for our return to Brazil on December 30th.  We were able to Skype with our church people in Brazil to tell them that we will be back in church on January 1, 2017, and they are as excited as we are about our return.

We have thoroughly enjoyed being able to report in many of our supporting churches, getting reacquainted with many of you, and making some new friends.  Some of our supporting churches have already asked and received a DVD of our ministry report.  If you would like to have one, please request one ASAP, to avoid having to send them from Brazil.  If you prefer, you may also view it here, on our website.  In the “Pages” box to the right, just click on “Ministry Report.”

It is with heartfelt thanksgiving that we praise the Lord for each one that has a part in our ministry.

Your representatives to Brazil,

Dan & Becky Bennett

Meat or Milk?

In a small city not too far from where you live, there are two well-known churches. Everyone in the community knows about these two churches, because every Sunday both of these churches “feed” those that attend their services.
The pastor of the first church works hard to prepare the food that will be served to those that are in attendance. Some time ago, this pastor invested a great deal of money just to be able to purchase farm land where he could raise his own cattle. The pastor works all week in caring for his herd, and then carefully picks the right one that will be taken and made into steaks to be served in his church on Sunday. It’s hard work, but to him it’s worth the time and effort it takes so that he can serve a hearty meal to all that attend. Some of the church members have gone to this church for many years, and they all rave about the perfectly cut, seasoned, and cooked steaks their pastor prepares week after week. The pastor always prepares enough for a large crowd, so he and some of the church members actually go out and invite other people to come to church to enjoy the succulent steaks. To the dismay of the pastor and the church members, rarely does anyone come to the Sunday feast of delicious steak.
Some people complain that the steak is “too tough” or “too thick,” but the truth is that the complainers just don’t want a thick, juicy, delicious steak. If you could get the complainers to tell you the real reason they don’t go, they would give the excuse that the church building may not be much to look at, there aren’t enough people their age, or that there’s nothing to do while eating their steak.
They prefer to go to the other church.
The pastor of the second church is a real “cool dude.” He’s a “khaki and pullover” kind of guy. He spends much of his time golfing, bowling, hunting, fishing, waxing his car, and riding his Harley. He doesn’t “waste” his time on a cattle farm all week. He knows that Christians today don’t want steak week after week. The 21st century Christian is happy with “Skim Milk and a Movie Sunday,” and so that’s what they get at the second church. Besides, the music is “livlier” than at the first church, and at the second church you can, “come as you are, and leave as you are,” without having to change.
And so, week after week, month after month, and year after year, the only thing that changes at the second church is the movie that is shown while the people drink their skim milk, in a semi-comotose state. Next week, more people will show up at the second church for “Skim Milk and a Movie Sunday” so that they can be entertained.
The difference can be clearly seen as to which church a person attends. The faithful members of the first church are strong and healthy Christians because they have a steady diet of spiritual meat.
Those that attend the second church are like the pictures you see of children starving from malnutrition in war-torn countries. They look fat and bloated, but are actually starving spiritually for lack of proper, spiritual nutrition. When invited to go to the first church, they often get offended, and ask, “What? And miss the show?” They only want to be bottle-fed their lukewarm, instant skim milk, unlike the mature members of the first church that actually have to chew their food.
The people that attend the second church often say that they don’t get anything out of the services in the first church, but that’s only because they either don’t want steak, or are not mature enough to eat steak.
Oh, there are some at the second church that used to attend the first church, but now they say that their “taste” has changed. The real problem is that, during the week, they have a steady diet of junk food, and when Sunday comes around their stomachs are not able to handle strong meat. However, the watered-down skim milk doesn’t bother the junk food that they have ingested all week.
In the end, I guess it all boils down to what you prefer. Do you like to eat steak, and get fed the meat of the Word, or do you prefer “Skim Milk and a Movie”? Don’t settle for milk when you could have steak!

A Different Perspective on the Importance of Prayer

The devil does not want you to pray. The enemy doesn’t like it when he sees the Christian reading his Bible, but he absolutely hates it when he sees the Christian on his knees in prayer. Why? Let me give you one explanation that you may not of thought of before.

When the committed Christian opens his Bible, he is acknowledging that he needs God and wants to hear from God. God can and will speak to the Believer through His Word. God can touch, change, and work in the heart of the one that will take the time to earnestly seek God’s face.

However, when the Christian gets on his knees in prayer, he is still acknowledging that he needs God, but there’s more to it than that. By bending his knees before God, he is also showing that he needs God’s help, and he needs God’s hand, not only for him, but for everyone for whom he prays.

Quite simply, when you read your Bible, God can touch YOUR heart and life and soul. When you pray, God can touch the heart, life, and soul of many people around the world whose names you lift up to God in prayer.

Do you have a prayer list with the names of people for whom you pray, either on paper or on an electronic device? Are you faithfully praying for them?

How many people will God touch today because you stopped to pray?
Will there be many, or will there be any?
Ask God to “reach out and touch someone” today.

August 2016 Prayer Letter

Dear faithful ministry partners,

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for us as we travel around the country on furlough! We have been on the road quite a bit these past few months, with little time to slow down and catch our breath. We are thankful for the opportunities that we have had to visit in some of our supporting churches that have partnered with us for many years, and also to be able to visit some new churches.

On May 4th, we had a wonderful time in California celebrating our daughter, Anna’s, graduation from West Coast Baptist College. On August 25th, Anna will be married to a fine young man out in California by the name of Ryan Rodgers. He has a wonderful Christian testimony, a good work ethic, is a soul-winner, and is studying for the ministry. Please keep Ryan and Anna in your prayers, especially for the next few weeks, that everything would all come together nicely. Of course, Anna’s parents could use your prayers, too! We look forward to seeing how God is going to use them in the days and years ahead.

As I mentioned in our last prayer letter, our schedule is pretty full until close to Thanksgiving. We have three Missions Conferences coming up in Iowa, Louisiana, and Rhode Island. We will be back in South Carolina and North Carolina for November and December.

Since our last prayer letter, we have received some sad news by our colleagues back in Brazil. Brother Jon Speights had been taking time each week to disciple the young deaf man that had shown an interest in becoming a pastor. Unfortunately, a deaf lady that made a profession of faith a few months ago has managed to lure the young man away from church with her enticing ways, and now neither one of them is going to our church. Please pray that God would get a hold of their hearts.

We praise the Lord that another young deaf man made a profession of faith on Saturday, July 30th. Rafael has visited the church on several occasions, but it was at a birthday party that Pastor Jon was able to lead Rafael to the Lord. That is a huge answer to prayer, and we rejoice in his salvation!

We are still planning to return to Brazil, either the end of December, or the first part of January. Within the next few weeks, we will be searching for some good ticket prices. There are still many miles for us to travel before our furlough is over, so we covet your continued prayers for us.

While it is not possible to visit each one of our supporting churches during this furlough, we would be glad to send you a DVD of our ministry report. Please let us know if you would like to have one. We appreciate each one of you that has a part in our ministry.

Your representatives to Brazil,

Dan & Becky Bennett

Gold!

In the California Gold Rush of 1848-1855, many people flocked to California in hopes of getting rich. Gold nuggets were found, but besides being not much to look at, they were not useful for anything in their raw state. However, each small nugget was a “precious” metal, and valuable to the one who owned it. The potential of what a gold nugget will become can make the value of that gold nugget increase.

When Jesus Christ saved you by His gace with His precious blood, you were like a gold nugget. God picked you up out of the filth of sin, cleaned you off, and you are of great value to Him. In your new-found faith, you were “raw,” and not very useful, but God saw in you the potential of becoming someone that He could use. You are precious and valuable.

As I read this morning in Second Chronicles chapter two about the various utensils that were made out of gold, silver, and brass for the Temple, a cunning craftsman was called upon to make these things because he was very good at working with precious metals. He knew how to transform a nugget of gold, and other raw materials, into something beautiful and useful.

As a Christian, don’t be satisfied with just being an expensive doorstop or shelf ornament of raw, unworked gold. Allow the Master Craftsman to put you through the fire, melt you and mold you, and you will become a beautiful, valuable, and useful instrument for the Lord’s work.

April 2016 Prayer Letter

Dear faithful co-laborers in the ministry,

And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them. (Acts 14:27a) We returned to the USA for our third furlough on January 29, and we hit the ground running. We are thankful for our home church for the work they did in getting a place ready for us to stay in while we are on furlough. We were able to spend a little time in Ohio with our adult children for Joseph’s birthday in February. We then traveled down to Georgia to celebrate the 85th birthday of Dan’s dad.

We have been busy visiting supporting churches so far, and have even been able to get into some new churches and schedule some upcoming meetings. We will be traveling to Virginia the end of April, then out to California next month for Anna’s graduation from West Coast Baptist College on May 4. We will travel back to Ohio, then on to upstate New York and Connecticut before heading back to South Carolina on May 24. And this is just within the next five weeks!

Our schedule is pretty full up until close to Thanksgiving. We will not only be in South Carolina in June, but also in Georgia and Pennsylvania as we head into July. We will be back in Ohio, Georgia, and then Tennessee as July ends. In August, our daughter, Anna, will be married to a fine young man out in California by the name of Ryan Rodgers. In September, we return to Ohio for my nephew’s wedding, and then finish the month in Iowa. October will take us to Georgia (again), then to two mission conferences in Louisiana and Rhode Island. We will be back in South Carolina for November and December. With great excitement we will plan to return to Brazil, either the end of December, or the first part of January. We still have many churches to visit, and many miles to travel before our furlough is over, so we covet your prayers.

Our colleagues back in Brazil, Jon and Hannah Speights, are doing well in our absence. Jon told me that one of our deaf men lead another deaf man to the Lord and brought him to church. Jon is continuing the discipleship of Wellington, and has also begun other Bible studies with some more deaf that have a desire to study the Bible. We also just heard that Hannah and another one of our deaf ladies were able to lead another deaf lady to the Lord several days ago. We praise the Lord that, although we are not there, the work continues, people are being saved, and the deaf are growing in the Lord.

While it is not possible to visit all of our supporting churches during this furlough, we would be glad to send you a DVD of our ministry report if you would let us know that you would like to have one. We appreciate each one of you that has a part in our ministry.

Your representatives to Brazil,

Dan & Becky Bennett

December 2015 Prayer Letter

Dear fellow-laborers in the ministry,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  We praise the Lord for all that we have seen Him do here in Brazil over the past year, but we also look forward with excitement and anticipation to see what He will do in 2016.

We want to thank all that sent us Christmas cards this year, and to all that gave an extra special and generous Christmas offering to us.  It is encouraging to us to receive the cards and put them up in our house, and also to see how many others sent a little “something extra” to show your love to us, as well.  We have a great group of financial partners and prayer warriors, and we thank the Lord for you.

Since our last prayer letter, we are excited to be able to report some good news that has happened.  We mentioned that Becky had started an evangelistic class for several deaf people that had begun to attend church.  While three of the five dropped out, two continued to come and learn, and on October 4, they both accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!  John Gabriel had been coming off and on since November of 2014, and had basically no spiritual background whatsoever.  Wellington came for the first time in July of 2015 when we had a special day at church, and has been coming regularly ever since.  After seven weeks, they both understood the Gospel message, and put their faith in Jesus alone to save them.  On the day they were saved, Wellington told us, “I might be a preacher one day.”  A couple of weeks later, he told me that he was going to start wearing a tie to church, without anyone telling him that he should.  He then told John Gabriel that he should wear a tie, too, and now they both come to church every Sunday looking sharp.  We had a new member’s class for them, but because of a work schedule conflict, John Gabriel had to miss a few classes.  Wellington, however, has not missed at all, and Dan also began to disciple him at our house on Monday evenings.  It is a blessing to see a young deaf man with the desire and excitement to grow in the Lord!  This past Sunday, December 27, 2015, Dan had the privilege of baptizing these two young men who have a desire to be faithful to God, and His church.

Wellington has a lot of deaf friends, and he has invited some to church, and several have even come.  One young man, Emanuel, has come a few times, and although he has been going to a convention Baptist church, he does not understand salvation.  Becky told Wellington that she is going to give him his very own copy of the “Visualized Wordless Book” (VWB) so that he can take it and share the Gospel with his friends and loved ones.  We believe that Wellington will start using the VWB with Emanuel, as he, too, has an interest in learning more about salvation.  Please pray for the salvation of Emanuel.

In November, Dan’s brother, David Bennett, along with his wife, Vicki, came and were with us for the 21st anniversary of the Bible Baptist Church here in São Paulo.  As some of you know, it was David who began the Deaf church back in 1994.  The church people were thrilled to see them again, and we even had a high of 91 people on the closing day of the Prophecy Conference.  They were happy to be back among people they had won to the Lord many years ago, and it was a joy to have them.

As we mentioned in our last prayer letter, we are going to begin our furlough in January of 2016.  If you are interested in having us stop in and give a report, please contact me with a possible date in mind, and, Lord willing, we will fit it into our schedule.  Also, please send all correspondence to our home church during 2016.  The address is below.

We give God the glory for the victories of 2015, and we want to thank you for the part that you have had in helping us reap the harvest of the lost – hearing and deaf – in Brazil.

Your representatives in Brazil,

Dan & Becky Bennett