‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’
SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil (BNc)- The SJC church held a Festival Nov. 22 to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the congregation.
The day-long event featured songs, Bible readings of thanksgivings, prayers and short lessons and testimonies from brethren in the congregation and from the region.
In 1988 the Nove de Julho church in Sao Paulo sent two families, one full-time, to the city to begin outreach in the region.
In the first speech of the day, one of the Nove de Julho elders, Joao De Marco, compared the church to a young adult leaving adolescence.
Special speaker for the day was Mike Hughes, elder for the Somers Avenue church in North Little Rock, Ark. The congregation supports the Randal Matheny family and sent Mike and his wife Mary to be present for the celebration.
Mike spoke twice during the day. He praised the brethren for their work and used the apostle Paul as an example of conversion and suffering for the cause of Christ.
Jose Roberto Silva, one of the longest-converted saints in SJC, shared with the group how he came to obey the gospel of Christ.
Joao Cruz, evangelist with the Vila Guilherme church in Sao Paulo, shared a biblical exhortation with the group.
Edson Rodrigues, in whose home the church in Sao Sebastiao meets, highlighted the difficulties of starting with just his family.
Jorge Santana dos Santos, a federal judge’s assistant in Sao Paulo and worker with all three congregations in the Paraiba Valley (SJCampos, Taubate and Guaratingueta), spoke about his conversion and his family’s work in the region.
In the closing speech, Randal applied some of the principles from the raising of the Ebenezer stone to the work in SJC.
Some 40 people were present for the event, from six different congregations, as well as visitors from the community.
The first worship service in SJC was held Oct. 2, 1988, with evangelist Alvaro Pestana, his wife Linda, their son Lucas, and Otavio and Valeria Carvalho. The Carvalhos worked in local industries.
The Mathenys moved to SJCampos in 1995.
In 2001 the church grew to 42 Christians, but because of church plantings, moves and losses, has dropped to 20 faithful.
Since the church’s beginning in 1988, two more have been established in the Paraiba Valley region, in the cities of Taubate and Guaratingueta. The Sao Sebastiao church, on the north coast of the state of Sao Paulo and considered part of our Eastern Cone region, was begun when Edson and Rosana moved there for business reasons.
The Festival was held in the Astro Hotel conference room, and lunch was provided by the church for the guests.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He sometimes writes “7 Points.” http://randal.us