Prayer Letter/Ministry Update

Dear faithful co-laborers,

“Only one life twill soon be past – only what’s done for Christ will last.”  (Missionary Charles T. Studd)

As I sit here and begin to write this ministry report, it’s hard to know just where to begin.  God has been so good to us, and has blessed us with many spiritual blessings.

Since our return to Brazil on December 30, 2016, we have been going “full throttle” in the work of the ministry.  The theme of our church for 2017 is “Revival of Prayer,” and so we began in January to have a separate Bible study for the men, and for the ladies on one Saturday of the month.  Dan is teaching the men, Becky is teaching the ladies, and we both are teaching on the subject of prayer.

We also have another evangelistic Bible study one Saturday a month in the home of Ademir and Rita, a faithful deaf couple who are members of our church.  They have been coming to our church for many years by public transportation over two hours each way.  They invited their deaf friends in their neighborhood to church, but it was too far away, and no one came to church with them.  In September of last year, Ademir and Rita began to open their home and invited their deaf friends to the Bible study.  After the very first Bible study, one young hard-of-hearing man named Luciano trusted Christ as his personal Savior.  In November, another deaf man, Robert, made a profession of faith after the Bible study.  A couple of weeks ago, Gabriely, a deaf lady wept for joy as Becky led her to the Lord on March 18th.  Ademir has a small, five-passenger car, so he makes three trips to bring the deaf to his house for the Bible study.  The deaf out in the city of Arujá are hungry to learn to Word of God, and even after preaching for 90 minutes, they beg me to keep on going.  I have been asked several times, “When are you going to start a church out here?”  Our co-workers, Jon and Hannah Speights, are leaving for furlough next week, so the start of a new congregation may have to wait until they get back.  Please pray with us about the logistics of starting a new church out in Arujá.

We have begun to use Facebook Live to be able to live-stream our Sunday worship service.  On the very first Sunday, a Brazilian deaf lady that lives in Switzerland watched the sermon, and was thrilled because there is not a good church where she lives that preaches in Portuguese sign language.  Imagine that!

There is much work to be done among the Deaf in the greater São Paulo area, but the fact remains as it did some two thousand years ago when Jesus stated it so well in Matthew 9:37.  Jesus told His disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.”  He then went on to say in verse 38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”  We are praying for TWO FAMILIES that would surrender their lives to come over into São Paulo and help us reach the deaf.  Would you please add this prayer request on your prayer list, and join us in prayer for these two families?

As I mentioned earlier, our co-workers over the past three and a half years will be going on furlough next week.  Jon and Hannah have been a tremendous help and blessing to us in the work, and they will be greatly missed.  Please pray for them as they travel, report to supporting churches, and raise additional support.

We understand the importance of each person that gives to missions, and prays for us.  We could not do what we do without you.  THANK YOU!

That all may “hear,”

Dan & Becky Bennett

Live-stream Ministry

Pastor, if you have a “live-stream” ministry in your church, praise the Lord!  You have an opportunity to preach to the world.  That’s amazing!

However, even though there may be more people watching you around the world than those sitting in your congregation, don’t forget that you have the awesome responsibility and privilege of being the pastor-shepherd of your own flock, the local church.  Don’t get distracted by the people you CAN’T see, but rather focus on the ones that you CAN see.

Missionary of Tomorrow

In March of each year we have a month of emphasis on Missions.  Each Sunday in March during our worship service, my colleague spoke about a missionary from the past, where and to whom they ministered, and other interesting things or quotes from the featured missionary.  As I was preparing the bulletin for last Sunday, I was about to text my colleague to ask him, “Who is the missionary for tomorrow?”  However, when I first tapped out the message on my cell phone, it came out, “Who is the missionary of tomorrow?”

As we look back in time to see the faithful, hard-working, pioneering missionaries about whom we love to read, I came face-to-face with this question: Who will be the missionary of tomorrow?  Where are the committed Christians that are willing to forego their own plans, goals, and dreams?  Where are the young men and women that will plant churches, start Bible schools, and open orphanages?  Where are the “millennial” Christians that are willing to leave their “safe spaces” to go out into hard places?  Who will come after me and take my place?  I know that I must be training nationals here in my field of service to continue the work, but where are the NEW missionaries that will come and plant new churches?  Wherever you are, “missionaries of tomorrow,” why not surrender today?  Although we needed you here on the mission field with us yesterday, we will be happy to see you “tomorrow.”

The Angels are Singing Again

I want to praise the Lord for the salvation of a young deaf lady on Saturday afternoon, March 18, that took place in the home of a deaf couple that live a long way from the church. From our house it took more than an hour to get there, and Becky and I were running low on faith since it was raining hard, not really expecting much of a crowd. Well, there were 35 people that showed up, 11 being children. I preached to the adults, and Becky taught the children. The man of the house has a small car, and he made three trips going around to pick up their deaf friends to bring them to the Bible study. It was rainy and cool, but the Son shone brightly today in the heart of Gabriely, as she put her faith in Jesus Christ. There was also another lady that wanted to talk to Becky, but she had to leave. We have scheduled another Bible study for April 15. Thanks for your prayers!

Electronic Devices in Church

To give your child an electronic device (cell phone, iPad, tablet, etc.) during the church service to keep them still and quiet is a bad idea. Not only does it teach them that what is going on in the church service is unimportant, but it also teaches them that they don’t need to listen to the sermon. Instead of giving them an electronic device to keep them still and quiet, TEACH them to be still and quiet at home so they will know how to act when they go to church.

However, if the parent is checking Facebook during the service, well now, that’s another post for another day…..

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 where 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!