The Front Porch

The front porch was the “chat room” of years gone by. The front porch usually had a porch swing and a couple of rocking chairs. The front porch was where family and friends gathered to chat in person. They would play the guitar and sing on the front porch. 

When I was a child, not every family had air conditioning in their house. In the summer, it was cooler outside on the front porch than it was inside the house.

On the front porch, people would wave and greet those who passed by.  Folks would sit and talk, snap beans, shuck corn, peel potatoes, crochet, and darn socks. Young people would court on the front porch. Haircuts were given on the front porch. Deals were made with a handshake on the front porch. The preacher would visit on the front porch. People gossiped on the front porch. Great ideas and plans for the future were made on the front porch. You name it, it probably happened on the front porch.

Sometimes, the front porch was a place you could go to be alone, or a place to go to be with friends. It was a place of talking, laughing, singing, praying, crying, and smooching.  It was a peaceful place where many memories were made.

People don’t sit on the front porch much anymore.  Most of the houses now have air conditioning, televisions, computers, and game systems. I don’t care too much for the TV or game systems. I would rather sit on the front porch.

As a man in my sixties, I still like to sit on the porch swing and read and think and pray.  I enjoy sitting with my wife on the front porch as we discuss the past, plan for the future, and maybe even smooch a bit.  It’s a quiet place of solitude to get away from the noise of the 21st century.

I imagine that front porches will be a thing of the past in the not-too-distant future.  Most people today don’t want to sit where there’s no air conditioning or heat 24/7.  They want their electronic toys/smartphones 24/7.

I want to encourage you to not allow the front porch of your house to be just an entrance to your house.  Stop awhile. Read, drink a cup of coffee, pray, meditate, and slow down a bit.  I know that you have a lot to do, and that you have a busy life.  But your aging parents and grandparents are wishing and praying that you would stop and chat awhile with them on the front porch.

Pull up a rocking chair, grab a tall glass of cold, sweet tea, and sit a spell.  I’ll be glad you did, and I hope you will, too.

Sowing and Reaping

My in-law’s house has four raised garden boxes in their back yard.  When they moved in a few months ago, they decided to plant some vegetables in those garden boxes.  My mother-in-law planted tomatoes, okra, and watermelon.  Later, we saw what looked to be two small corn stalks by the back patio, so I dug them up and planted them in the garden.  Not everything came up, and so there were some bare spaces in the garden.

This past Wednesday, my in-laws needed to go to Georgia for a two-day meeting, so Becky and I decided to go and buy a few more plants to put in the garden.  We bought some squash, lettuce, yellow pepper, sweet potato, and a packet of corn seeds since there were two small, lone stalks. 

As my wife was planting the corn seeds, I noticed on the seed packet that it read, “Days to Harvest 88.”  I thought, “Really?  Eighty-eight days?  I won’t even be here.”  I leave for Brazil in 46 days for our fifth term of missionary service, so someone else will be eating and enjoying those sweet, tender, hot-buttered, succulent corn-on-the-cob, and WE planted them!

And then it hit me: that’s the way it is sometimes regarding the spiritual harvest.  As Christians, we should be sowing the Seed of the Gospel, because you never know who will come after you to be able to “reap the harvest.”  It’s not important who reaps the harvest, but the one who plants the Seed is crucial.  If no Seed is planted, no fruit will be harvested.  If you sow little, a small crop will be harvested.  But if much Seed is planted, the crop will be greater.

Although I said that it’s not important “who” reaps the harvest, it is important that someone reaps it!  The sower may not even know the reaper, but both are necessary for the harvest to be gathered.  If there’s no sowing, there will be no harvest.  If there are no harvesters, the fruit will fall to destruction.

Jesus told His disciples some 2,000 years ago that the fields are white already to harvest (v. 35).  I won’t be here in 88 days to harvest corn, but it would be sad if no one went to harvest and eat the corn.

Christian friend, be faithful to plant the Seed, and keep your eyes open for “fruit” that is ready to be harvested.

April 2021 Prayer Letter

Dear ministry partners and prayer warriors,

The days in which we are living are like none that we have experienced before. A global pandemic has affected us all in ways no one could have imagined. However, through it all, God was not surprised, and He has never been out of control.

While our schedule was slow in the Fall of 2020, our Spring schedule has picked up quite a bit. We don’t have any Sunday meetings available, and we only have a few Wednesday night dates open before we head back to Brazil in August. We have been blessed to be able to visit some of our supporting churches, and we have also been able to visit a few new churches.

Covid has hit some of our fellow missionaries. One of our BIMI missionaries that contracted Covid passed away, due to pneumonia and complications that affected his lungs. Brother Larry Barrett and his dear wife, Lydabelle, have been missionaries in Brazil for nearly 45 years. Brother Larry went Home to be with the Lord on January 26, 2021. Please remember Sister Lydabelle in your prayers.

It was in June and July of 2019 that Becky and I held a basic sign language course in the church that Brother Larry started many years ago. Almost the entire church signed up for the course, and at the end of the six-week course, we handed out 98 certificates of completion. Stephen Barrett, one of Brother Larry’s grandsons, had a great desire to continue learning the Brazilian sign language even after the course ended. About a month ago, Stephen wrote to me and said that God had been working in his life and had called him into full-time ministry. Stephen went on to say that he feels God is calling him to work with the deaf! After he raises his needed support, he plans to return to Brazil and begin a new church for the deaf in the city of Jundiaí. Besides the call of God in Stephen’s life, he told me that we, Becky and I, played a big role in his decision. Praise the Lord! Please pray for Stephen Barrett (25 years of age, single) as he goes to Candidate School on June 6-11 at BIMI. We have been praying for a long time that God would raise up more laborers with the deaf. We praise the Lord for the burden that God has placed on Stephen’s heart for the deaf in Brazil!

Lord willing, we will return to Brazil in August/September for our fifth term of missionary service. We could not do it without the love, prayers, and support of God’s people. Thank you for your faithfulness in giving to the ministry of the Lord in Brazil!

That all may “hear,”

Dan & Becky Bennett

January 2021 Prayer Letter

Dear faithful partners in ministry,

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.   They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22,23) We praise God for His unfailing mercies, compassion, and faithfulness toward us daily. 

It’s hard to believe that 2020 is finally over, and we are well into 2021.  With all that transpired last year, we still have much for which to praise God. 

We returned to the USA on July 29, 2020.  We have been able to visit several churches, but because of the effects of the Coronavirus our schedule has not been full.  We’ve even had a couple of meetings cancelled due to pastors and church members having Covid.

On November 24, 2020, our daughter and her husband, Ryan and Anna Rodgers, gave us our first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl named Alyssa Nicole Rodgers.  Alyssa was born three weeks early, but both baby and mother are doing well. 

On December 1, Becky tested Positive for Covid, and Dan tested Negative.  However, a week later, Dan tested Positive, as did one of our children (Deborah).  Thankfully, they have been mild cases, and none of us had to go to the hospital.  For the most part our symptoms were very mild, and we felt lethargic much of the time.  Our family was in quarantine for a couple of weeks, but we have recovered and are now doing well.

We thank God for our colleagues, Michael and Ruth Douglas, who are doing a great job in our absence.  God is using them in a great way, and we recently spoke with them as they were praising the Lord for how He is working during this pandemic.  Even though church attendance is down, there is a handful of faithful people that are committed to assemble as the body of Christ.

As I mentioned earlier, we are now in the United States for furlough, and we have several openings still available. If you are interested in having us to give a report of the work and ministry among the Deaf in Brazil, please contact me as soon as possible.  You can reach me at (803)448-2127.

Thanks to all that gave a special Christmas offering to us.  Your love and generosity did not go unnoticed, and it was a tremendous blessing to our family.

Also, thank you for standing with us financially during the difficult months of the Coronavirus. Not once did we lack in our support due to the faithfulness of God’s people. We greatly appreciate all that give and pray to the work and ministry of our family.

                                                                 That all may “hear,”                                                                  Dan and Becky Bennett

Prayer Letter September 2020

Dear faithful ministry partners,

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;   Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.  (Matthew 9:37,38) This is our prayer, our theme, our motivation this furlough as we long to see God stir up people and call them to the ministry of seeing deaf people saved! Oh, how we need laborers among the deaf in Brazil!

Since our last prayer letter, it seems as if little has changed, and at the same time, much has changed.  Isn’t it interesting to see how God works even through what seems to be “tribulations?” The coronavirus has thrown everything out of order and shut everything down. Plans were changed, flights cancelled, borders closed, stay-at-home orders given, businesses shut down. “Order” has been turned into “chaos”, or, so it seems.  And, yet, we know that God never changes! Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” While the virus certainly changed our plans, and seemed to turn our lives upside down, we take great comfort in in the fact that, God, who is All-Knowing, was NOT taken by surprise! He still accomplishes His will through us if we are willing vessels. As of March of this year, 12 deaf people have been saved through video conference calls in spite of the COVID -19 shutdown!! My friends, God’s plans were not hindered. His plans were not cancelled! He is still God. He still works and He still saves! He will not be deterred! We hope this encourages you to remember that God is still in control and knows exactly what is happening.

After having been shut down for four and a half months, we returned to have our last church service in person before our furlough.  However, after just two Sundays, the mayor of São Paulo closed the churches once more as the Covid-19 cases rose again.  On September 6, our church opened again, but only two people were present as the media has caused great fear among the Brazilian people. Please pray for these Christians, that God would give them courage to be faithful and to not be afraid.

We thank God for our colleagues, Michael and Ruth Douglas, who are doing a great job in our absence.  God is using them, and they have personally won several of the 12 people to Christ.

As I mentioned in our last prayer letter, we have come to the end of our fourth term in Brazil.  We are now in the United States for our furlough. If you are interested in having us to stop in and give a report of the work and ministry among the Deaf in Brazil, please contact me as soon as possible.  My stateside phone number is (803)448-2127.  I have many open dates in 2021, so, if you could use us, please let us know.

Again, thank you for faithfully standing with us financially, and kneeling for us prayerfully.

                                                                                                                                  

That all may “hear,”

                                                                                                                                        

Dan and Becky Bennett

Prayer Letter May 2020

Dear partners in the ministry,

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Mark 16:15

We are living in challenging days.  In all my life, never have I seen anything like the effects of and reactions to COVID-19.  Like most of the world, we have been in quarantine, unable to hold regular church services in our usual location.  Our last Sunday service was March 15, and since then we have been using “Facebook Live” as a means of ministering to our deaf church family and friends via the internet.  When churches in São Paulo were required to close their doors, most churches with a Deaf ministry in Brazil also stopped having an interpreter for the Deaf.  For that reason, our services for the deaf in Brazilian sign language (LIBRAS) went farther and wider than we ever could have imagined.  Between the two of us, my wife and I had more than 150 new contacts/friend requests on Facebook, and more people have been tuning in to our live services.

Sometime last year, Joanne, a young deaf woman, visited our church.  Several months ago she contacted Anna, one of our church members, and asked for a Bible.  Anna told my wife, and so Becky got a Bible and wrote a little note in the front of the Bible.  The Bible was sent to a small city in the northern state of Piauí, some 1,870 miles from where we live.  Well, in early March we heard that Joanne was going to commit suicide.  Anna and Becky began to frantically try to get in contact with Joanne.  After several hours of not getting an answer to the messages that were sent, Joanne finally responded, praise the Lord!  Anna and Becky set up a time to have a videocall with Joanne, and after two hours of talking/signing, Joanne was gloriously saved on March 4, 2020!

Joanne has two roommates, a guy and another girl.  Joanne began to tell her roommates about what happened to her, so more videocalls were scheduled.  On March 9, our co-worker, Michael Douglas, and Anna led Aldair to the Lord, and on March 11,  they introduced Adelane to the Savior.  To God be the glory!

Sônia, another one of our deaf ladies, had been witnessing to her friends, a deaf couple.  Another videocall was set up, and on March 28, Sérgio and Tatiane accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  Praise God!

We will continue livestreaming our services as we are still unsure about when we will be able to return to regular services.  Please be praying for us in the months ahead as the cold weather sets in.  At this time, both the flu and COVID19 are going around, so we ask prayer for our health and the health of our church family.

Finally, we are coming to the end of our fourth term here in Brazil.  Lord willing, we will be leaving on July 28, 2020 for furlough.  If you would like for us to drop in and give a report, please contact me as soon as possible.

Again, thank you for faithfully standing with us financially, and kneeling for us prayerfully.

                                                                                         That all may “hear,”

                                                                                         Dan and Becky Bennett

New Memories

28 December 2019

In the new year, instead of only sharing OLD memories on Facebook from years gone by, I want to be making NEW memories.  I want to do something MEMORABLE with my family and loved ones in the upcoming year, and in the years to come.  I may not be able to be extravagant every week or every month, but I want to start doing something every year that my wife and children will remember and talk about the rest of their lives.  I should have started this years ago, but as I get older the necessity of making memories with my kids is becoming more important.

When I was eight years old, we took a family vacation, driving from Florida to California, camping along the way.  None of us had a cell phone to distract us or keep us busy, and we were not connected to the internet or texting our friends.  I don’t have any digital pictures of that vacation on my computer, but I can still remember it well because it was a memorable trip.  I want to make those kinds of memories with my family, beginning this upcoming year!

December 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear co-laborers in the ministry,

As I sit in my office on the last night of the year, I can’t help but reflect on the goodness of God.

On Sunday, September 29, we had a special “Blue Sunday” to commemorate Deaf Awareness during the month of September.  There were 89 people in attendance, and eight deaf people made professions of faith. It was a, “Glory, Hallelujah,” kind of day!

On October 11, I received a phone call from my oldest brother, David Bennett, telling me that it would not be long before the Home-going of our earthly father.  I arrived back in Chattanooga on October 14, and me and my two brothers stood around Dad’s bedside waiting for his imminent passing.  However, as his three sons stood around talking, reminiscing, and laughing, Dad seemed to have made a slight improvement.  Within a week’s time, he was sitting up, watching football, and drinking buttermilk with cornbread (it’s a Southern thing).  Dad was a pastor for 49 years, and he would ask me to read the Bible to him, and then read some from one of his favorite commentators, finishing off with a prayer for family and loved ones.  I was able to spend some time with Dad and my two brothers while waiting for his passing, which turned out to be the most time we’ve been together since we were teenagers.  Just as I was about to return to Brazil, my father, William Edward Bennett, passed away suddenly from a cardiac arrest on Tuesday evening, November 19.  The two-hour funeral service was a blessed time of rejoicing, singing, testimonies, and challenges from the Word of God. 

I returned to Brazil on November 25, and then on November 27 we began our prophecy conference in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Bible Baptist Church for the Deaf.  Since this was the “silver” anniversary, I had invited my brother, David, to come and preach this conference, since he is the one that planted this church 25 years ago.  David preached Wednesday through Sunday, and three people made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

December kept us busy with planning, preparing, and decorating for a Christmas dinner, and then Dan performed a wedding ceremony of a deaf couple that was saved in September.

As we start 2020, once again we want to express our sincere appreciation to all that have faithfully prayed and given financially to our ministry this past year.  We are very grateful to those that sent in a special Christmas offering, and your generosity has been overwhelming.  We are blessed to have you on our team, to partner with us here in Brazil, and we don’t take you for granted.  May the Lord grant you a fruitful, blessed, and HAPPY NEW YEAR as you enter 2020!

                                                                                                That all may “hear,”

                                                                                                Dan & Becky Bennett

July 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear ministry partners,

The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.  Psalm 126:3

We serve a mighty God Who is WORTHY of our love and worship!  

Back in January we were contacted by a fellow BIMI missionary in Jundiaí, a city about 90 minutes from our home.  He asked if we taught sign language to church groups, and if we would be willing to drive out to their church for the class.  We set aside six Saturdays in June and July to go and teach a basic sign language course for three hours each Saturday for six weeks.  On the first Saturday, we were shocked to see that practically the whole church had signed up to take the course. It was very moving to see the whole congregation singing and signing hymns and choruses that we taught in our class. There was even a man there named Santiago who only had one hand!  He told me that, even though he could not become an interpreter or very proficient in sign language, he was doing it so that his family would see his example.  What a blessing to meet a man with such a commitment to God and his family!  After six Saturdays, we had a special graduation ceremony on Sunday morning, July 21st.  We were thrilled to be able to hand out 101 diplomas to those that satisfactorily completed the course.  They are praying that God would raise up a couple that would head up this ministry.

On July 29th, Dan returned to language school, not because he needs a refresher course in Portuguese, but to interpret for a missionary deaf couple that has moved to São Paulo to learn Portuguese. This is a one-year course that will be two hours each day, Monday through Friday. Pray for Michael and Ruth Douglas as they learn Portuguese, and for Dan as he interprets and attempts to explain in Brazilian sign language the complicated verb conjugations of the Portuguese language.  Michael and Ruth have learned a good bit of the Brazilian sign language, and now they will be learning the spoken language to be able to read and understand Portuguese, and that Michael can study and prepare properly for preaching. They could use your prayers, as well.  Becky will be babysitting the Douglas’ two little girls while the parents go to language school.  

The new church plant in Arujá is going well.  Our co-workers, Jon and Hannah Speights, keep us informed as to what is going on in the church there.  There have been some tremendous blessings, as well as some incredible difficulties, but through it all we sit back and say, “Praise God for what He is doing in Arujá!”

Thank you for being a part of souls being saved among the deaf and hearing in São Paulo, Brazil!

That all may “hear,”

Dan and Becky Bennett

April 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear ministry partners,

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:3

We serve a GREAT God Who is WORTHY of our praise!  We are grateful to God for every one that has a part in our ministry with their prayers and financial support.  We don’t take it for granted that God’s people lift us up in prayer on a regular basis.  We understand that it is because of people like you that we can continue serving the Lord in Brazil among the Deaf.  Thank you so much!

On January 13, two more precious deaf people made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Ernando and Solange started coming a few months ago, with a desire to learn the Bible. Since Becky has been teaching an evangelistic class on Sundays an hour and a half before our worship service, she asked them to join in the class, too.  After several weeks of learning about Heaven, the consequences of sin, the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection, and the forgiveness of sin, they bowed their heads and received the gift of eternal life.

On February 17, Ewerton, the grandson of one of our deaf ladies, made a profession of faith after the children’s class.  His sister, Emily, who made a profession of faith back on September 30 of last year, shed tears of joy when her brother was saved. 

The new church plant in Arujá is going well.  Our co-workers, Jon and Hannah Speights, told us that since they began holding Sunday services in their home on October 21, 2018, twenty-one people have been saved.  On February 17, they began holding two services on Sunday and a mid-week prayer service. In addition to that, they are now holding eight individual or couples Bible studies a week in their home.

Last month was our annual BIMI All-Brazil Field Conference.  We had a wonderful time of fellowship with other missionaries that are like-minded.  Several of our missionary couples have been here for over 40 years, and it is an honor to “rub shoulders” with these faithful servants of God.  These precious people are in their late-60’s to mid-70’s.  We praise God for their faithfulness, but we would also like to see some new, young missionaries that will surrender to come over to Brazil and help us.  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.  Matthew 9:38

Thank you for being a part of souls being saved among the deaf and hearing in São Paulo, Brazil!

                                                                                                That all may “hear,”

                                                                                                Dan and Becky Bennett