Once again I have been privileged to spend a few weeks visiting assemblies in Brazil. My first visit was to the assembly at Leme. Remembering how, some twenty years ago, we used to be thankful to see half a dozen or so gathered for a gospel meeting in brother Belmiros back room, it was lovely to see the hall quite full.
The Pirassununga conference is normally held on 15th November which is a public holiday. However, as the 15th fell on a Lords Day the conference was brought forward to Saturday, 14th. Because of this it was felt that numbers would be somewhat reduced, but the saints were pleasantly surprised to be able to welcome believers from many different parts of Brazil. Well over 200 believers attended, although there were no "big names" or entertainment to attract just simple fellowship around Gods Word. The conference began with a two-hour Bible reading on Psalm 23, which was considered by all to be a profitable time. This was followed by a session of "open" ministry in which four brethren took part. The ministry continued on the Lords Day morning and afternoon (in Brazil the Breaking of Bread is usually early in the morning) and the day closed with a gospel meeting.
After the conference I was able to visit assemblies at Santa Cruz das Palmeiras, Descalvado, and Santa Cruz da Conceicao for ministry. Brother Ronnie Watterson is very frail at the moment (he has Parkinsons disease) but still seeks to be involved in the work as much as possible. I then travelled to Rio for a long weekend of meetings in Niteroi and at Queimados, where an assembly has recently started. With the saints in Niteroi we went through 2 Peter 1 and at Queimados spoke from Jude. Then, after the gospel meeting in Niteroi, it was possible to travel overnight to Belo Horizonte.
It was a joy to see brother Manoel de Oliveira (who has been struggling with MS for some years) well enough to meet me at the bus station. His health is remarkable in spite of this degenerative disease, but he is now on the strongest possible dose of his medication and does not know how he will fare as his condition continues to worsen. The work in the "favela" continues to prosper: in October five more were baptised and added to the assembly. The situation there has eased a little now that the leaders of the predominant gang of drug traffickers have been killed, and the rivals who perpetrated the killing have also been assassinated, but it seems that other similar elements are already seeking to take over. Manoel has had several opportunities to preach the gospel to these young men, who rarely live to reach their mid-twenties. I had three ministry meetings here (comparing Genesis 1 with John 1) and then travelled overnight to Sao Paulo. In Sao Paulo, the assemblies at Vila Campestre and Vila Sao Jose were visited before travelling to the large town of Sao Jose dos Campos for the weekend. Our brother Salamo Gabriel continues to plod on faithfully here and is engaged in building a small hall. This now has a roof and, through the generosity of saints in the UK, will soon be sufficiently finished to be used for meetings.
Meanwhile the meetings are being held in Salamos garage. Before every meeting, even ministry meetings, Salamo spends at least an hour calling on people in the neighbourhood who may be interested, with the result that several unsaved were present on both evenings, as well as a few "denominational" Christians.
Back in the Pirassununga region a few more days were spent visiting assemblies in Santa Cruz das Palmeiras, Casa Branca and Ibate and the preaching point in Porto Ferreira. In Casa Branca it was good to see the little assembly enjoy happier days after passing through some difficult times.
While I was in Ibate, Marco and Janice Gebaras teenage daughter Rebeca was taken ill with stroke-like symptoms, including partial paralysis of the right side of her face and her right arm. She is now having physiotherapy and undergoing tests to ascertain the cause.
My final weekend was spent in Maringa in the state of Parana, about 700km south-west from Pirassununga. Here we had three ministry meetings considering the construction and history of the Ark of the Covenant, which led us to speak of some important issues, both doctrinal and practical.
Once again we acknowledge the Lords kindness and care in many long journeys and occasionally in dangerous places, and His help to minister the Word among the saints. While there it was good to see in print a number of books and booklets we have written or translated. We have recently completed a translation of William Williams booklet Rabbi Where Dwellest Thou? which is now being prepared for the press. Translation work has now begun on the Old Testament series of John Ritchie Commentaries (the New Testament series is now complete in Portuguese) - we have been entrusted with the volume on Numbers and would value your prayers for divine help with this large undertaking.