A letter from Josh and Kim Vis
We were blessed to spend three weeks in January with amazing and courageous colleagues ready to explore the challenges of mission work around the world. During this time of mission personnel orientation we developed friendships, studied cultural sensitivity and formed an understanding of what is means to be a mission co-worker in the PC(USA).
Our call to serve as mission co-workers in São Paulo, Brazil, came only when the call to another family could not be realized. While waiting for visas to Brazil, in anticipation of filling the position that we will now fill, David Knauert collapsed and died. Leigh, David’s wife, and their four children were left to wonder about the sovereignty of God. And we wonder with them. David was a colleague of Josh’s at Duke University, and we attended First Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina, with the Knauert family. We remember discussing our excitement for them and our admiration for their willingness to move their family to another country, another culture. Now we share in their loss, and our hope is that we share in their mission. Many times during the weeks of orientation, we thought of the Knauert family and wondered if their orientation was as meaningful as ours was. We hope so. We hope for Leigh and her children that the community formed throughout orientation has been a source of strength and support. As we anticipate our move and the beginning of our ministry in Brazil with excitement, we ask that when you pray for our family, you also pray for the Knauert family.
In Brazil, we hope to form relationships through which we can teach and be taught about the world, the church and the Bible. Specifically, we hope that Josh’s skills as a biblical scholar can be used to mentor Brazilian women and men to become scholars of the biblical languages and literature. Learning a new language and culture will be both a joy and a challenge. We look forward to new sights, smells and tastes. We anticipate new friends and a new church family. Teaching at the graduate level in a new language is daunting, but may facilitate new discoveries and insights. Being away from friends and family will be difficult. However we expect this experience to enrich us and our 3-year-old daughter in ways that a life in the States, near family and friends, would not.
A few biblical passages inform our mission service. Broadly speaking, the social justice messages of Matthew 25:31-40 and Luke 4:16-30 guide us. Furthermore, the antinationalistic message of Luke 4 is important to us, especially as we leave our country of birth. Lastly, the introduction to Proverbs (1:1-7), along with the more pessimistic Ecclesiastes (1:1-18) are especially important to Josh. He has experienced the joys and frustrations of acquiring wisdom and this quest remains both important and frustrating.
We are currently awaiting our visas to Brazil, and while we do, we are learning Portuguese and enjoying time with family. Josh continues to work on his dissertation. We hope to be in Brazil soon.
Josh, Kim and Mahalia Vis
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, Brazil, pages 304 and 306