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Joyful Services

A letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell serving in Brazil

November 2016

Write to Gordon Gartrell
Write to Dorothy Gartrell

Individuals: Give online to E200489 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506355 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

Dear friends and family,

We would like you to meet Valter, one of the church’s regular worshipers. He is 23 years old and works full time Monday through Friday and half a day Saturday. He is going to college Mon.-Fri. evenings and is engaged to Jadna. They don’t plan to get married soon, as he wants to finish his degree first. Even though he has a busy life, Jesus Christ and the church play important parts in his life.

He wanted to know more about the Bible and Christianity, so he is taking the new-member class Gordon offers on Saturday afternoons. When his fiancé, Jadna, celebrated her birthday, he told her he would skip class and spend the evening with her. He failed to tell her that he was bringing other people from the church, including the pastor, and that there would be a worship service followed by a cake and delicious snacks. Her family knew about it and were prepared when he arrived with church friends, a LARGE birthday cake, and party refreshments and ALL the necessary paper goods. They invited their neighbors, and a special service was held to honor the Lord and give thanks for Jadna’s life.

Jadna surrounded by family members while she holds the birthday cake

Jadna surrounded by family members while she holds the birthday cake

Gordon and I serve as Presbyterian mission co-workers at the invitation of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil in ministries of evangelism and leadership development. It is long, slow work, but we are encouraged to walk alongside brothers and sisters like Valter and Jadna as they discern God’s call for their lives.

This year when the church celebrated its anniversary Gordon asked the session who they would like to invite to speak at the worship service. The elders said, “We have our own pastor and we want him to speak.” Naturally Gordon was pleased at their response. Church members invited people personally and planned refreshments following the service. There are usually a handful of people who regularly organize the fellowship times. The person in charge invited some additional people to help her organize and serve the refreshments, helping other people serve an important role at the church.

Family and friends who came to celebrate Jadna's birthday.

Family and friends who came to celebrate Jadna’s birthday.

That evening everyone was so busy helping the service to be a smooth event that no pictures were taken! We’ll try to help you see the event through our words! To our JOY church folks invited LOTS of folks; so MANY people came, bringing plenty of children. Dorothy was ready to spend time with the children during the worship service, enabling the parents to participate fully in the worship service. The children stayed with her, reading Bible stories and doing Bible worksheets. When the service ended Dorothy was tired. Valter stepped in and played with the children while the refreshments were set up. During the time of fellowship Dorothy helped serve the food and visit with the adults, two tasks she finds fulfilling and important to help her build relationships with the church individuals. The time of fellowship was a lot of fun. Full plates were served and seconds offered, so the folks had ample food and could get up and visit with one another. The evening brought HONOR and GLORY to the LORD.

In August Gordon challenged the church to be praying daily for somebody they would like to see accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The church decided on a special Sunday to invite guests we were praying for. Each week Gordon would remind folks that they should be praying for their special guests. We invited folks as well, and prayed daily that God would touch their lives. The big day arrived. We had hoped that the church would be twice as full because of the visitors. We had one visitor. Gordon still preached an evangelistic sermon. At the close of the service he invited anyone who needed to make a commitment to the Lord Jesus to do so. No one came forward. Gordon was disappointed, but then realized that he had been faithful to what he felt God was telling him to do. We were obedient. The results are up to God. We will hold another service like this again, in the Lord’s timing.

“Sing to the Lord, a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth” Psalm 96.1.

We recently celebrated Reformation Sunday, emphasizing the importance of BY FAITH ALONE, SCRIPTURE ALONE, and THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS. All Christians have equal access to God in Jesus Christ. Christ is our Mediator. We don’t have to wait for a pastor or a priest to intercede to God in our behalf. Praise God Bibles are printed in the languages of the people, so we can all read the Word of God and be strengthened in His Word. Everyone left church with a joyful spirit that comes from the Lord Jesus.

Iziane and Isis singing in church

Iziane and Isis singing in church

Most of the singing we do in church is a cappella. We do not presently have a group that sings praise songs or leads the congregation in music. At our Reformation service sisters Isis and Iziane used their MP3 player and our sound system to provide music and sing praise songs. It is always a treat to have music played in church. It was especially wonderful to see Isis and Iziane offer their God-given gifts to the service of worship. On the first Sunday of the month we celebrate Holy Communion, and on those days we have a gentleman who comes and plays the keyboard for Sunday School in the morning and returns in the evening to play hymns for worship. Often he will sing a solo or two. We are blessed to have him. We are praying that one day musicians will be identified in our own congregation.

On a personal note: This year we have been blessed with an addition to our family. Daniel and Amy Kellems have a daughter, Abbey Clark Kellems. Through Internet it’s been fun to share in her arrival and see her daily progress.

Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support for our work here in Brazil. Your support makes it possible for us to continue the work to which God has called us. Please continue to pray for our work, that people can have a stronger walk with Jesus and sense the joy of the Lord. May the Lord bless each of you throughout 2017!

In Christ,

Gordon and Dorothy

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