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Anapu, Brazil, Trip Follow-up

Hi Everyone.

We returned yesterday from our trip to Anapu, Brazil.  It was a long trip home (leaving Altamira early Thursday morning and arriving home late afternoon Friday), but overall, the travels were smooth and uneventful.

This was an extremely profitable trip. It appears that relationships are being developed and strengthened, well beyond what takes place in the classroom.

The teaching was once again very well received.  My friend Larry Meers taught on the spiritual discipline of worship, while I covered a study in basic Christian doctrine.  The feedback from the teaching was extremely positive.

HIGHLIGHTS

Let me share a few examples of highlights from the week:

One of the men has been taking seminary-level classes in a modular format (doing a lot of reading and writing as well as attending classes in Belem once every two months).  After the first evening, he said he felt he learned more in one night than he has in many of his classes.

The highlight of the week was when we discovered one of the village pastors has begun a church plant 17 kilometers farther away from the location of his current church.  He said this was a direct result of the learning and encouragement he has already received from the first couple modules.

Also, Pastor Elson (from the host church in Anapu) is wanting to reach more people with the training.  We discussed the possibility of having pastor and leaders from farther away come to Anapu for the training.  Since our teaching is primarily in the evenings and nights, we discussed “re-doing” the first modules during the mornings for those who haven’t been attending.  There are still details to be worked out; however, we are extremely encouraged by the excitement for seeing more leaders raised.

GOD’S PROVISION

Having interpreters has always been a concern at this site.  We had a young man (Rona) recommended to us.  He came and served the first three or four days.  However, his wife (who is in her second month of pregnancy) began having some major health concerns. We told Rona he needed to be home with his wife, even though this would leave us without an interpreter.  He was able to recommend a substitute (Nayara), who arrived the next day.  We did not miss any sessions in our training program.

PRAYER REQUESTS

The trip did, once again, generate some prayer requests I would like to share:

Monica and Antonio Carlos.  Monica’s condition is very bad.  She is pretty much paralyzed and has lost the ability to speak.  We were told that the doctors have given up hope.  However, as long as she is still alive, we have hope.  Please pray for Monica — either that God would provide miraculous healing or that she would be enabled to finish well.  Please pray for Antonio Carlos as well.

Pastor Elson’s Wife (Adriene).  Adriene has battled some significant health issues over the years.  A week or so ago, she had to be taken to the hospital in Belem.  They have run a number of tests, and the results should be back any day.  I will let you know of any new information that I learn.

Rona’s Wife (Allison).  Allison, who went to Brazil as a missionary from the United States, has been having extreme sickness from the pregnancy.  She has had to be taken to the hospital on a couple of occasions.  The doctors have been encouraging, saying the baby’s heart rate is strong and stable.  Please pray for Allison, Rona, and the baby.

During our time there, we visited with people suffering from various significant health issues (a man with heart problems, a woman who has been bedridden for a couple weeks now — just to mention a few).

We are eager for the next module, which will be in early February 2017.  Larry and I will again be making the trip, hopefully accompanied by Jean (Larry’s wife) and Kathy.

Pastor Larry Meers, teaching on worship (Nayara interpreting)
Teaching on Christian Doctrine (Rona interpreting)
UPCOMING CALENDAR

October 16 — Dessert with Dean and Kathy at Carlisle Baptist Church, Carlisle, PA

October 22 — Booth at DiscipleMakers Missions Fair, Harrisburg, PA

October 23 — Speak at combined service of Wayside Chapel and Faith Baptist Fellowship Church, Lake Ariel, PA

October 29-30 — Missions Conference, Thornville Baptist Church, Metamora, Michigan

SUPPORT-RAISING UPDATE

During the remainder of 2016, I will also be focusing upon support-raising.  My current level of support is approximately 74% of my budget.  Plus, having made ten international teaching trips, I have drained my account significantly, which now requires me to do some “catch-up” work.

To partner by mail (make checks payable to “Reaching and Teaching International Ministries):
Reaching and Teaching International Ministries
PO Box 122
Wheaton, IL 60187
(Include a note: “Preferenced to Dean Bertsch Ministry Support”)

To partner online:
Go to reachingandteaching.org/give.
Select “Give Online.”  Then select “Dean Bertsch” from the drop down menu.

Teaching w Jonathan Edney

Anapu, Brazil, Trip Overview

I’m typing this as I sit on my last flight (Dallas to Dulles), heading home from our training in Anapu, Brazil.

This will be a longer update than usual. A number of you have expressed a desire for more details about the teaching trips. I am hoping to accommodate these requests. (Others can always skim. ?). If you ever want more information/details than I provide, please write to me. I’ll be glad to correspond with you individually.

As is usually the case with traveling to Northern Brazil, the trip had its highlights and its challenges.

HIGHLIGHTS

Immediately upon arrival (see “Challenges” below), we were taken to a countryside community, approximately a 40-minute drive on mostly dirt roads. We arrived to a crowd of about 150 people. I had the privilege of preaching on “Not Ashamed of the Gospel” from Romans 1:16.

We began the training module on Friday evening. We then taught Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning, and Monday thru Thursday evenings.  Pastor Larry Meers (Abilene, Texas) led the entire “heart” section of the training, primarily focusing upon the spiritual discipline of prayer. Larry and I shared the teaching of the New Testament Survey. Larry taught on the four Gospels, and I covered the remainder of the New Testament books. We were extremely encouraged by the attentiveness to the teaching and the eagerness for more.

On Saturday night, the church in Anapu celebrated an anniversary. I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 2:19 — ” The Church Is a Family.”  There were between 400 and 500 in attendance.

After our time of teaching on Sunday morning, everyone walked down to the river (Rio Anapu).  The church baptized seven people – two couples and three young men. What a blessing to be able to witness this!  After the baptisms, the church celebrated with a great feast.

Sunday night, Larry preached on prayer from James 5, again to an audience of about 500 people. The response to his message was extremely encouraging.

Each day, we were welcomed into different homes, some in Anapu and some out in the countryside, for lunch and dinner. These believers take seriously the opportunity to practice hospitality. Let’s just say we ate very well. Think Brazilian steakhouse — daily. ?

CHALLENGES

As usual, the primary challenges surrounded travel.  First, due to some misinformation from the airline, I almost missed my connection. Then again, I did arrive at the gate about five minutes before Larry, who came in from Abilene (through Dalles).

We made it to São Paulo; however, our luggage did not. We left our homes on Tuesday, and we received our luggage Friday night. The airline sent the luggage to Altamira. A friend who is a pastor there (his daughter and Amanda have become good friends) picked up the luggage at the airport.  He and his family made the two- to three-hour drive to Anapu to deliver our suitcases in person.

Our last flight on our way there Wednesday evening was from Belem to Altamira. The flight was delayed due to some ventilation problems. Just before midnight, we finally boarded. Without exaggeration, the temperature on the plane was at least 110 degrees. We sat on the plane for about ten minutes; then they decided to cancel the flight.

The airline took us to a hotel, where they provided lodging for us. It was good to get a couple hours sleep in a nice bed.  The next day (Thursday) we were able to make it to Altamira. IMB missionary Jonathan Edney met us at the airport and took us straight to Anapu.  Within minutes of arriving in Anapu, we were picked up and taken out to the countryside church for the service.

Some of our teaching times were cut short, primarily due to festivities surrounding the church’s anniversary celebration. We had to make some significant adjustments.

Teaching with Jonathan Edney interpreting
Larry Meers, teaching
on Tuesday evening
ANTONIO CARLOS AND MONICA

I do not have much new information on Monica’s health. (In my prayer request, I noticed it said Monique. Her name is Monica. Thankfully, God knows for whom we’re praying.)

We did get to see them as they were about to leave on their ten-hour drive to Belem. Monica had a couple of rough days, particularly suffering with some severe headaches.

A number of you had written to me, expressing your commitment to pray for them. I was able to tell them of your concern.  That truly was an encouragement to them.

One man from a church in Belem had come to Anapu to help serve as an interpreter. He is going to check in on Monica and Antonio Carlos, and then give me updates. While I don’t want to fill your Inboxes with emails from me, I will pass along updates.

Standing with Antonio Carlos
WORDS OF THANKS

First, I want to thank Pastor Larry Meers.  The amount of effort he put into preparing for this trip was evident. His willingness to be flexible, his many words of encouragement, and his friendship were a true blessing.

Also, special thanks to Jonathan and Rebecca Edney. We were so humbled by their willingness to be inconvenienced in their service to us. These people are my heroes! Please pray for the Edneys (Jonathan, Rebecca, Benjamin, Matthew, and Gabriella) as they prepare to move to Manaus and continue to faithfully serve our Lord.

I want to thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support. Without you, this trip (as well as the others) simply could not happen. Yes, there were challenges. Yet, I can confidently say that God’s churches in that region of Northern Brazil were strengthened through your partnership.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to say “Thank you!” to my family. Their prayer and encouragement, their willingness to have me be away for periods of time, their understanding my being out of the country for two consecutive July 4 celebrations — I am truly blessed!

PARTNERING FINANCIALLY

To partner by mail (make checks payable to “Reaching & Teaching International Ministries):
Reaching and Teaching International Ministries
PO Box 122
Wheaton, IL 60187
(Include a note: “Preferenced to Dean Bertsch Ministry Support”)
ECFA
To partner online:
Go to reachingandteaching.org/give.
Select “Give Online.”  Select “Dean Bertsch” from the drop down menu.

Baptism in Rio Anapu
Do you remember the Wendy’s commercial?  Where’s the beef?
We put in a lot of miles on these roads
Teaching the book of Hebrews on Friday evening
Dean-in-Haiti-300x225

Training Pastors Never Gets Old

Training pastors and church leaders never gets old. This is especially true every time you have the privilege of teaching the first module at a new training site.  During the week of February 7-13, I was privileged to join Pastor Nick Wilson (Plainview, Minnesota) and Terry Spenst (Wichita, Kansas) for a week of training in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Dean in Haiti
Teaching a survey of the OT

Haiti has gone through significant political tumoil.  By God’s grace, we were spared some of the consequences of such turmoil.  As it turned out, the day we arrived in Haiti was the day the president announced he was stepping down.  We discovered that, if the president had not made that announcement, there would have been significant rioting all throughout Port-au-Prince.  Traveling in the city would have been quite dangerous.  Due to the president’s decision, what we experienced was relative quiet.

The teaching throughout the week was extremely well received.  We started promptly at 8:00 in the morning and went to 5:00 in the afternoon.  The men demonstrated a serious hunger to be taught from God’s word.  As one man shared, “I’ve been searching for someplace to learn more of the Word of God, so that I can be a better pastor for my people.”

While we are eager to have many to come to the training, the primary concern is to reach out to the pastors/leaders from the countryside.  While we had approximately 30 attend the training, the clear majority traveled a number of hours from different directions.  Some come from regions where there are many who desire to be trained.  However, due to finances and logistics, it was not feasible for all of the men to attend.  Specific men were appointed by groups in their respective geographic areas to come, receive the teaching, and then return to share it with the others.

During the week, the primary focus was upon a survey of the Old Testament.  A number of men mentioned they don’t  spend much time in the Old Testament, specifically because they struggle with understanding it.  It was exciting to see “the light bulbs go on” as men came to grasp the storyline.

Haiti students
Haitian pastors study the Scripture together

Also, we addressed the spiritual discipline of Bible intake.  The first couple days were spent teaching on the importance of reading, listening to, studying, meditating upon, and memorizing the Scriptures.  The men put the teaching into practice throughout the remainder of the week, using the book of Colossians.  On Wednesday, one of the men got up and read Colossians to the entire group.  As I observed, I wondered if the setting was similar to when the church in Colossae had it read to them the first time.

Every countryside pastor whom we asked, told us there is no access to any sort of training out where they are.  One man, who admitted his total monthly income to be equivalent to about $50 US dollars, spent $22 on transportation costs to come to the training.  He indicated it was well worth the investment and is excited for future modules.

This is an excellent site for Reaching & Teaching’s pastoral training program.  The need for the program is huge.  The feedback from the pastors and leaders who attended was both humbling and encouraging.

The poverty and depression among the people of Haiti is evident.  Some place their hopes in political change.  Some place their hopes in voodoo or other pagan religious practices, including aberrant forms of Christianity.  Many, seem to have no place to find hope.  The solution to the problems there is the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.