Transforming Lives in the Amazon
What do an alcoholic, a gold miner and an ex-convict all have in common? They are our neighbors, and the Lord is transforming them into children of the light.
Xeta was a heavy drinker for many years. His life revolved around alcohol, and he saw no reason to quit, although in doing so he alienated his family from himself. A short time ago, he went on a three-week drinking binge and ended up in the hospital for several days. Even with this wake-up call, he did not feel a need to quit. One night, after drinking with his friends, his life began to change. Another man who had been drinking wanted to fight with him, but Xeta decided he wanted something
different in hislife. He had heard about the Saturday night Bible studies we were holding at our place; and, rather than fight, he decided to attend. Week after week he continued to attend, and he also came to our home early every morning for individual Bible studies with Aluisio, walking barefoot through the mud one kilometer uphill and downhill. Changes began to occur in his life, and others began noticing. He no longer drank or put himself in an environment where drinking was the focus. He began attending church with us in town or at our home church twice a month. Neighbors and friends began to ridicule him. Yet he was experiencing peace in his heart and continued the studies, being baptized shortly after. A few weeks ago, at our home church, he gave his testimony and shared how the Lord gave him victory over the power of alcohol. Xeta’s life has been a powerful witness for those on our ramal (long dirt country road with large properties, humble houses and rainforest on either side, sometimes branching into other ramals).
Sapo (Toad) was one of Xeta’s drinking buddies. Recently, he had been released from prison after serving time for drug dealing. However, his case was one of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was visiting his brother-in-law when a drug bust occurred and did not know that his relative was a drug dealer. The police did not believe him when he said he was not involved, and he was sent to jail. He did not have any means to pay for legal defense and spent two long years in prison. While there, he met some Seventh-day Adventists who gave Bible studies to the prisoners, but he was not interested and did not attend. Finally, he met a lawyer who took his case and managed to get him released. He went to work at a property up the road from us, and Xeta was living and working there as well. When Xeta began attending the Bible studies, Sapo gave him a hard time and ridiculed him. He told Aluisio that he was not interested in studying the Bible. One day, after Xeta was baptized, Sapo and Aluisio were talking, and he stated that he wanted to receive Bible studies as well. He believed the Lord was giving him another chance in life to receive the truth, as this was his second encounter with Seventh-day Adventists. Since then, he has enthusiastically studied the Bible with Aluisio, and we pray that he, too, will be baptized and become a child of God.
Another life that has been touched by Xeta’s witness and also by Sapo’s is Zé. He manages the property where Xeta and Sapo were working and lives across the street. He was the ringleader at ridiculing Xeta about religion, and then started on Sapo when he began studying. During the studies, he would call to Sapo to join him in drinking, but Sapo always refused, insisting that he wanted to study the Bible. A short time ago, while talking with Aluisio about another subject, Zé told Aluisio that he, too, would like to study the Bible and attend our home church. The studies will begin when he returns from being away on business, and we pray that he, too, will experience the joy of knowing our Lord.
Rogério worked intermittently for three years gold mining in the middle of the rainforest. Garimpo is a dangerous occupation, and one of drinking and womanizing. Men are often shot and killed in disputes over gold or women, and malaria is a constant nuisance. His wife encouraged him to leave and try something different, so he took a job as a property manager down the road from us. Nei, an Seventh-day Adventist brother who was living on our property, began a friendship with Rogério and his family and offered them Bible studies. Rogério accepted and studied with Nei one day a week and Aluisio another day of the week. Xeta also participated, as they were friends. When the studies were completed, he, too, was baptized. Rogerio’s wife has not yet expressed interest in studying the Bible, but we pray that she, too, will make that decision.
We are encouraged when we see how the Lord is using us to do His work in our little corner of the world. There are many more families that we would like to influence in our neighborhood. Satan is angry at the work being done here and is trying to stop it. We have experienced severe trials and financial hardship and continue to do so, but when we see the changes in those around us, it is all worth it. The Spirit of Prophecy states it this way: “God is the refiner and purifier of souls; in the heat of the furnace the dross is separated forever from the true silver and gold of the Christian character….. God brings His people near Him by close, testing trials, by showing them their own weakness and inability, and by teaching them to lean upon Him as their only help and safeguard. Then His object is accomplished. They are prepared to be used in every emergency, to fill important positions of trust, and to accomplish the grand purposes for which their powers were given them. God takes men upon trial; He proves them on the
right hand and on the left, and thus they are educated, trained, disciplined…. God’s work of refining and purifying must go on until His servants are so humbled, so dead to self, that, when called into active service, their eye will be single to His glory.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 86.
Xeta and Rogério have also been experiencing trials and are having the opportunity to refine their characters. As they are but new believers, we pray that they will stand firm and grow, knowing that the Lord will not permit that which they cannot handle.
Please pray for these four souls and our ministry. People are watching and lives are being changed, one at a time. Our ramal is over 20 kilometers long, with at least 30 families on the main ramal, not counting the ramals that branch off from ours. The potential is great, and we feel the Lord has brought us here for such a time as this. We are only one family, but the Lord has shown us the power of multiplication.
Revelation 14 Ministries is an independent ministry begun by the De Senna family (Aluisio, Sandy, Julianna , Joshua , and JoyAnn ) and based in Rio Preto da Eva, Amazonas, Brazil.
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