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!

“Inactive Ingredients”

I woke up this morning with a muscle pain in my back, so I went to the cabinet to get some acetaminophen (generic Tylenol).  I know that some medications are not supposed to be taken on an empty stomach, so I began to look for any type of warning on the label regarding this information.

At the top of the label, printed in bold letters, were the words, “Drug Facts.”  Underneath “Drug Facts” it read, “Active ingredient (in each caplet), Acetaminophen 500 mg.”  That’s it.  There was one active ingredient.  The stated purpose was, “Pain reliever/fever reducer.”  That’s what I needed.

As I quickly read the uses stated on the label about relieving minor aches and pains, there was also a liver warning if one exceeded the recommended dosage, and an allergy alert.  The label gave strict instructions about who should not use the product, and who should consult a doctor or pharmacist before use.

However, what got my attention was at the bottom of the label.  Interestingly enough, these words were printed so that everyone could know what is in the medication, besides the acetaminophen: “Inactive ingredients.”  (I will not state them here, but you can read them for yourself on the side of the bottle the next time you go to your medicine cabinet, local pharmacy, or Wal-Mart.

“Inactive ingredients?”  Really?  Why were inactive ingredients added to the acetaminophen?  Who decided to add random components that have no medicinal purpose to the pain reliever?  I was surprised to read that in each caplet there were NINE inactive ingredients, while there was only ONE active ingredient.  Think about it: 90% of what is in each caplet is inactive, or useless, while only 10% is active, or useful.

As I thought about this, it made me think of a lot of churches that have some, “inactive ingredients.”  Many church members (90%, or even more) just show up, but are inactive and have no purpose.  They are inactive in Sunday School, the choir, visitation (more like 99% inactive for visitation), and even tithing.  An inactive member is a useless member, much like the inactive ingredients in acetaminophen that serve no purpose.   It’s probably church members like this that cause the pastor to run to his medicine cabinet for acetaminophen!

Christian friend, don’t be a random “inactive ingredient” in your church, but rather, be an “active ingredient” that actually serves a purpose, even if you are only one in ten that does.  Who knows?  You may be the one that relieves your pastor from a headache caused by 90% of the inactive members.  You can be sure that your pastor will be grateful that you are an “active ingredient” in the work of the Lord.

Pray for Laborers

It is recorded in Matthew 9:37 and 38 that Jesus said, “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.”

Two thousand years have passed since Jesus said these words.  The harvest is still truly plenteous, and the laborers are still too few.  However, there’s not a lack of laborers because I haven’t prayed for them.  Are there still too few laborers because YOU are not praying to the Lord of the harvest and asking, or rather, BEGGING Him to send more laborers?

Please, pray with us that God will send more laborers in the needy harvest fields around the world.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

As a child, I was taught in my public elementary school that if you were to ever catch on fire, the three things to remember are: 1) STOP, 2) DROP, and 3) ROLL.

Unfortunately, it appears as if there are many Christians that have taken this to a spiritual level.  I know some Christians that used to be “on fire” for God.  However, they managed to put their spiritual fire out when they decided to STOP reading their Bibles and praying, DROP out of church, and started to ROLL in the mire of the world.

Christian friend, get out of the pigpen of the world, get back in church, and start having your devotions again.  Get on fire for God as you were before, and never STOP, DROP, and ROLL spiritually ever again.

August 2017 Ministry Update

Dear faithful ministry partners,

In our last prayer letter, we told you about the monthly Bible studies in the home of one of our deaf couples that live over an hour away in the city of Arujá.  On April 15, we had a wonderful day at the evangelistic Bible study at the home of Ademir and Rita.  After Dan had preached for two hours, Luiz and Rafaella (a deaf couple) wanted to talk more with us about salvation. After another hour, they both repented of their sin, asked for God’s forgiveness, and accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. It was a “GLORY, HALLELUJAH” kind of day!

On March 19, Becky began a Bible study with Graciete, a sweet deaf lady who is low verbal.  She loved learning, but she had such a hard time understanding as she really had no language.  Becky began using the Wordless Book Visualized that we brought from the States, beginning slowly with Heaven, then moving on to sin, what it is, where it started, who sins, etc.  Becky then moved on to the One who could take the punishment for Graciete’s sin.

Just as they were getting to the Cross, José Joaquim and Cláudia, a new deaf couple, joined in on the Bible study.  When these two began coming, Becky started over again with Heaven and sin, the Cross and then the Resurrection.  This was spread out over about ten weeks of continual, repetitious Bible study. On May 28, all three deaf had come to the point where they were understanding and needed to be confronted in a personal way about Heaven and Hell. They each knew that they wanted to be saved, that they wanted Heaven, and not Hell, but they still were not sure how to be saved. Becky showed them the video that Deaf Evangelist Ronnie Rice made for Silent Word Ministries, and they watched with interest. After watching the video and asking more questions, each of these three deaf people, one by one, asked Jesus to forgive their sins and to be their Savior!  It was a glorious day! 

On August 5, we went to a birthday party of a little boy that just had his first birthday.  There were a lot of people there, many whom we did not know.  Shortly after we started eating, Angelo (one of our deaf men) came over to me with a hearing boy and told me that the boy wanted to know about Jesus.  Diogo told me that they attended an Assembly of God church, and he thought that he was on his way to Heaven.  As I began to explain the Gospel to this boy, tears began running down his face when I told him that Jesus paid the penalty for his sin.  After several interruptions, Diogo bowed his head and trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  While we went to a birthday party to celebrate the birthday of a one-year-old, we also celebrated the new birth of an eight-year-old.  Praise the Lord!

A few weeks back I sent out an email because our home church pastor, Dr. Kenneth Walters, recommended that we write a letter to our supporting churches to inform you of our need for a newer, more reliable vehicle.  Since our last prayer letter, I have had to call a tow truck three times to take our van to the mechanic.  We really are in need of a reliable vehicle that has a minimum seating capacity for seven people.  Would you please pray about what God would have you to do to help us with this need?  If you would like to help us with a monetary gift, you may send a check to BIMI.  You may also give online by going to bimi.org, and pay via PayPal under the “Giving” tab.  Please include, “DAN BENNETT #814 – VEHICLE FUND” when giving.  To those of you that have already given toward our vehicle fund, THANK YOU!

We have so much for which to praise the Lord, and a big part of what we are able to do is because friends like YOU are investing in the ministry of which we are co-laborers here in Brazil.  Thank you for partnering with us!

That all may “hear,”

Dan & Becky Bennett

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…..