Teaching the Deaf to Read

I grew up in DeBary, Florida, a small city in central Florida.  My father was the pastor of the First Baptist Church, a small church consisting mainly of retired people.  My parents loved missions, and taught the church people to love missionaries, too.

Approximately 20 miles away was located a “Boot Camp” for New Tribes Mission in Oviedo.  They had chapel services each Tuesday night, and many times throughout the year my Dad would load up the family to go to Boot Camp.  Our whole family loved going out there and meeting those pioneer missionaries that had given their lives to reach the unreached.  They sacrificed a whole lot more than most missionaries in that they were preparing to embark on a difficult, and often dangerous, task of going into tribal areas, learning how to build huts and thatch rooves, kill and prepare wild animals of all sizes, and at the same time maintaining a friendly relationship with the “savage” indians.

However, what fascinated me more than anything was that these missionaries were preparing to go to unreached tribes that had no written language, and attempt to learn their tribal dialect.  They wanted to phonetically learn the language so that they could translate a Bible into the tribal dialect, and teach them the Word of God, and teach them to read in their own language.  Having to spend many hours doing this type of arduous work to teach them the Word of God required dedication, sacrifice, and commitment.  Having the ability to read and write is something that most people take for granted.

In some ways, this is very similar to reaching the Deaf.  In Brazil, the only language that many deaf people know is Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS).  Many have not been taught and have not learned to read and write the Portuguese language.

We tell the church members that they need to read the Bible, but that is like arriving in a remote, unreached tribal village, handing the tribesmen a King James Version of the Bible, and telling them they need to read it.  They must first be taught to read, before they can read the Bible.

My wife has a burden for the Deaf, and a desire to teach the Deaf how to read, so that they can read and understand the Bible.  This afternoon she started a “Portuguese Class” for those interested in   learning how to read, beginning with the “A,B,C’s.”   This is quite an undertaking, but if just one deaf person can learn to read the Bible, then it will be worth it.

I know that Becky would be most grateful if you would pray for her as she teaches Portuguese to our deaf people, with some being in their 70’s, and one deaf lady in her 80’s.

Thank you, and God bless!

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

Prayer Letter – October 2014

October 31, 2014

Dear faithful co-laborers in the ministry,

With joyful hearts we want to “praise God from Whom all blessings flow!”  It’s hard to believe that 2014 has flown by so quickly.  We have seen God working in our midst, which means that our old enemy has also been fighting against us.

On August 2, we went to make a visit in the home of one of our deaf ladies, and while there we were able to lead Kaio, her eleven-year-old hearing son, to the Lord.  We were invited over to have lunch at her house, but in the end it was her son that received the Bread of Life.

On Saturday, September 6, we had a cookout at our house for the deaf to celebrate Brazil’s Independence Day.  We had 54 in attendance, and Dan took advantage of this opportunity to preach a Gospel message to our visitors.  No one made a profession of faith, but the Seed was sown in the hearts of the deaf that came.

On September 21, Becky had the privilege of leading Rebeca, a fifteen-year-old deaf girl, to the Lord.  Her parents were members of the church when she was born, but they backslid several years ago.  With their daughter being a teenager, and the world closing in on her, the parents knew they had to do something.  Since then, the parents have gotten right with God and started coming back to church.  All three of them are now coming faithfully to church, and they are also enjoying the class we have for new members.

On Thursday, October 23, a deaf lady by the name of Auciléia came to church again.  She has been coming now for a couple of months, but didn’t understand spiritual things at all.  One of our deaf men, along with his wife, has been teaching this lady for several weeks in their home. On that evening when she arrived for Prayer Meeting, she began telling us that she did not want to go to Hell, so Becky took her into another room and spent the whole service going over the plan of salvation with her. At 7:25pm on this October 23, 2014, Aucileia trusted Christ as her Savior! To God be the glory!

On Sunday, October 26, a young deaf man by the name of Fábio came to church. We mentioned earlier that we had a cookout at our house on September 6, and Fábio saw a Gospel presentation, possibly for the first time, back in September.  On that Sunday, he saw the Gospel story one more time.  As Dan preached another evangelistic message, Fábio was all “eyes” as the Holy Spirit was working on his heart. He responded during the invitation, and after the service another hard-of-hearing man and Dan took him to another room, and for the next 30 minutes Dan went over the verses and recapped the message for him. At 5:30pm, Fábio bowed his head and prayed a simple prayer of confession and repentance of sin, asking Jesus to save him. Praise the Lord!

We have several activities planned for the next two months, and we are excited to see what God is going to do at the Igreja Batista da Bíblia (Bible Baptist Church) in São Paulo, Brazil.

Once again, from the bottom of our hearts we want to convey to you our deepest gratitude for having a part in our ministry.  Thank you for giving and praying, as both are necessary for us to be able to continue spreading the Good News here in Brazil.  May the Lord continue to bless you for your faithfulness in helping us carry out the Great Commission among the deaf and hearing in São Paulo.

That all may “hear,”

Dan & Becky Bennett

March 2014 Prayer Letter

March 31, 2014

Dear family, friends, and faithful ministry partners,

I want to start out by saying how grateful we are to each of you that have a part in our ministry here in São Paulo, Brazil.  We stay busy in the work, and as with any ministry, we have our share of struggles, but the blessings far outweigh the difficulties.

I want to emphasize a few of our highlights we have had in recent months.  Some of you are aware of a few of the things I will relate, but not everyone has received news of the latest happenings.

In November, Dan baptized three deaf people, and the Lord blessed with a good number of people coming to witness this event in the lives of these people.  We also celebrated the 19th anniversary of the Igreja Batista da Bíblia (Bible Baptist Church), and we trust the Lord to continue to bless the church with spiritual and numerical growth for the future.

In December we had our Christmas Banquet, and we had a good number of people for that big event.  On December 23, Dan & Becky celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.  Almost fifteen of those years have been spent in Brazil.  We also had our first Deaf camp on December 26 through 28.  We had a great time as we emphasized the Christian Family.

We began a New Member’s Class the last week of January, which usually goes for about eight to ten weeks.  There are two elderly ladies in the class.  One of the ladies cannot read or write, and that makes it a little more challenging as Dan teaches her the very basics of the Christian life.  She has been very faithful, and is excited about being baptized and becoming a church member.  The other lady has about a second-grade reading level, and has a little higher level of understanding, but even the most basic things are completely new to these ladies.  We will soon be having another baptism in the near future for these two ladies.

In February we had deaf BIMI missionary, Bruce Kelly, with us for a special Sunday.  We had a wonderful day, and the deaf of our church warmly welcomed Bro. Kelly, his wife, and son.  There were 87 in attendance, and we praise the Lord for the opportunity to meet some new deaf people.

We are seeing more visitors, as well as, having some others return that come from long distances, but have not been very faithful.  The situations are different, from a backslidden husband, to health and financial reasons, and another just because of the time involved in getting to church.  We are encouraged that these are putting forth an extra effort to get back in church.  One deaf lady told us that she was going to a church that was closer to her home, but that she was not learning anything.  God is blessing, and for that we surely praise His name!

We count it and honor and a privileged to represent you in Brazil.  As you keep shining the Light in your “Jerusalem,” we will continue to shine the Light in the “uttermost part of the earth.”

That all may “hear,”

Dan & Becky Bennett

The Gospel Still Works!

Important Birth Announcement:  IT’S A GIRL!  Her name is Laura Oliveira da Silva, and although I did not get her weigh or height, she was BORN-AGAIN at 5:41pm on September 9, 2013.  Her age at the time of her new birth: 78 years of age.

Mrs. Laura’s daughter, Edna, has been burdened for her mother for a long time.  Edna’s father made a profession of faith just a few weeks before he passed away, eight years ago.  Last week, Mrs. Laura was not doing well at all, and even spent one night in the hospital.  Edna was so afraid that her mother was going to die and go to Hell.  On Saturday, Edna and her husband (Sergio) were here at our house for the cookout, and Edna wept as she told us about her mother.  I called Mrs. Laura on Saturday morning to set up a time when we could visit with her.  Monday is usually when I TRY and take a day off, but I didn’t want Mrs. Laura to die and go to Hell, either. Read more

Ministry Update

Update from Dan Bennett:

I didn’t get around to writing an update last week due to an unexpected “activity”.  We had 48 in attendance last Sunday, and that’s a good number for us.  After we arrived home from church last Sunday night, Becky was getting supper ready, but Matthew was feeling a good bit of pain.  A little concerned, I decided to take him to the Emergency Room at the children’s hospital.  To make a long story short, he was admitted for two days.  He had an infection, and some inflamed lymph nodes which caused the pain, but he is now better.

Yesterday, our crowd was down a bit with just 38 people in attendance, but we did have one young deaf man visitor (Sergio), and also an elderly deaf lady (Maria) made a profession of faith.  This lady has been coming for a while, and yesterday she showed up for the Baptism and New Members class.  I showed a DVD entitled, “Good News for Deaf People” put out by Silent Word Ministries.  You could almost see “the light come on” as her understanding was opened in a very simple way.  She is very “low verbal”, but she seemed to understand as she watched Ronnie Rice on the DVD explain about sin, Jesus’ sacrifice, and salvation.  I asked Becky to take some time with her, and during the break in between services, Becky took her aside and was able to lead her to the Lord.  She came out of the room after she prayed to receive Christ very excited, and was anxious to tell me about what she did.

Thank you for your prayers on behalf of the Dan Bennett family in São Paulo, Brazil.

Ministry Update

Below is an update from Sunday that Becky posted on Facebook. She and I spent two hours on Saturday with a couple doing some counselling. One young woman is coming over on Thursday, and then we have another couple needing some marriage counselling,which we have scheduled for this coming Saturday morning. A deaf lady that has recently started coming to the church told me on Sunday that she is getting spiritually fed. The Holy Spirit was at work on Sunday, but we are also seeing that the enemy is also at work. We are praying for 50 people in next Sunday’s services. A few people told me that they will not be in church next Sunday so that they can be with their dad for Father’s Day. However, I still believe that we can hit the “50” mark. Thanks for your prayers!
“Rejoicing in a good day yesterday as God is continuing to work in people’s lives. We had 45 yesterday and have several counselling sessions scheduled for this week. Baptismal/New Members class begins next week and next Sunday is Father’s Day here. Burdened to see our people strong and serving the Lord and faithful to Him in every area of their lives. Please pray that the Igreja Batista da Bíblia will make a difference in São Paulo for eternity.”

Important Update

Yesterday was a day that I was not really looking forward to.  Last Sunday, my colleague informed the church that he was leaving, and yesterday was his last day as pastor.  Word got around during the week, and as church was about to begin yesterday, we saw two couples on their way in to church that had left four years ago.  I was saddened, hurt, frustrated, and aggravated that they would show up on my colleague’s last day as being pastor.  What was their purpose in showing up on this day?  I had a hard time not having a bad attitude toward them.  The NERVE of them!

Well, the service went without a hitch, and when it was over, I was able to make some small talk with the foursome.  Another person “wrangled” me into a corner, so I was stuck talking with him.  I was finally free from this other man, and when I went into the “break room”, the other four were not there.  However, neither was my colleague or his wife.  I didn’t think too much of the disappearance of the four former members, thinking that perhaps they had left.

It wasn’t until almost time to start the business meeting that I heard what had happened.  My wife posted this on her FB page last night:

“Praise the Lord for smooth transitions! Dan was officially voted in as pastor of Bible Baptist Church (Igreja Batista da Bíblia – IBB) tonight….things went very well. Had around 50 people tonight and had 2 couples that had been in our church some years before, come back and ask for forgiveness…They want to come back and be restored as members! Praise the Lord for how He is working in hearts!” Read more

June 2013 Prayer Letter

June 26, 2013

Dear partners and friends of the ministry,

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  This verse has helped me recently as we have had many different physical, emotional, and ministerial changes in the past several weeks.

In March, we returned to the States for thirteen weeks for various reasons.  The main reason was that our children, Nathan and Anna, would be graduating from high school through the A Beka Academy home-school program.  There was a good number of graduating home-schoolers from around the world that descended upon Pensacola, Florida for those two days, and we congratulate our children for their hard work and accomplishment.

Second, we were also in a number of new churches to present our ministry, and to try and raise some additional needed support.  We are grateful that three churches took us on for financial support in South Carolina, Texas, and Iowa.

Finally, since this would be the first time for Nathan and Anna to be out “on their own”, we felt it necessary to be with them in this transitional phase of their lives as they said goodbye to the family.  All four of our oldest children are involved in summer ministry at the present time.  Joseph (age 20) is traveling with Neighborhood Bible Time, a good organization with which I served when I was in Bible college.  Rachel (age 22) and Anna (age 17) are serving with a Summer Jewish Ministry Outreach in Miami, FL, and Nathan (age 18) is doing the same thing in Downer’s Grove, IL.  Leaving four of our children in the States was a very difficult thing to do, but we praise the Lord that they are serving Him, and they have a heart for ministry.

On June 21 we returned to Brazil with our three youngest children.  We were anxious to get back here and back into the ministry.  On June 23, our very first Sunday back, the Brazilian pastor informed the church that he is leaving the ministry, and will no longer be pastor of the church.  It took a while for this announcement to sink in since he has been there for 17 years.  He said that Pastor Daniel (me) would stay there to continue the work.  While we knew this was coming, we didn’t expect it to be so soon.  Over the years, there has been a dramatic decline in the attendance, and I would like to see an increase in the church again, as a thriving, growing church.

We appreciate so much our faithful prayer and financial supporters.  While we are thankful for the three new churches that took us on for support, we don’t take for granted those of you that have stood with us through “thick and thin” over many years of ministry.  You all are a vital part of our ministry, and we know that we would not be in Brazil without you.  The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few here in Brazil.  Keep praying that we could see more fruit harvested for our Lord, and fruit that may abound to your account.

That all may hear,

Dan & Becky Bennett