Our work must not stop!
Dear Praying Friends,
The mission field is still white already to harvest, Covid-19 or not. There is really no time to waste and no reason not to be seeking out anyone and everyone in order to witness to someone, encourage a saint, or bless someone in need. Brazil has upwards of 98,000 deaths from Covid right now and cases are still soaring. Here in Lages we have gone back into lockdown with fines being imposed if you are caught in the street without a mask. Our hospitals are at max capacity. Churches have closed their doors once again and no public gatherings are allowed. But did the devil suddenly stop prowling around like a roaring lion? Did Calvary stop being the cure for sin? Did the Bible get any less powerful? NO, a resounding NO! So, can missionaries stop working? ABSOLUTELY NOT! We must press on, we must continue fighting the good fight, and we must tell others the Good News of Salvation. Here is what we are doing:
Sheri and I are holding online services with our current church as well as recording and sending out weekly Bible studies. I am even finding myself being invited to preach in churches for larger congregations online in order to reach more people with the Gospel as well as meeting with individuals on a one on one basis to answer questions, discuss theology and why God is allowing this change in our current world. Sheri was also able to talk at length with our elderly neighbor today. He lost his wife about a year ago after 40 years of marriage. He said he was at home today reading a book about prayer when something told him to come see about his farm next door to ours. Sheri saw him and struck up a conversation about the Lord. He is such a kind person and we sure would love to see him come to know the Savior. He agreed to come to lunch next week, so would you please pray for Mr. Branco? Also, in just a few months I am scheduled to preach at a Bible conference in the Amazon Region on a brand new (to me) river system. A young man reached years ago during our ministry in the Amazon has since been called to preach and finished Bible school. He has been pastoring for a while now and invited me to come for his annual Bible conference. We are waiting to see where the virus lockdown leaves us, but we plan on holding services in any format we can in order to get the Gospel out to his community. In other words, The Edwards are staying busy at our task of reaching Brazil. Virus or no virus. We don’t know how to sit still for very long anyways, so we actively seek new ways of doing our job. And praise the Lord He has protected our health thus far.
On the home front, we are now officially an empty nest. Amelia moved to Texas two weeks ago and we are so grateful for all her hard work in getting us settled back here on the farm. We couldn't have accomplished so much without the extra set of hands working with us. It's kind of sad not seeing her at the table for lunch or sitting beside me at night discussing the Bible together though. Sheri hasn't even been able to go upstairs and look at her room. It is quiet around here but we know Amelia will do great in whatever God has for her. Pray for her as she seeks God's will. She is working at a new job right now and praying for God to open doors to what He has for her. Sam moved to Japan last month and after quarantine time ended he started his new job in the Marines as an admin. His girlfriend, Destiny also just graduated Boot Camp. She has a fractured tibia but is tough as nails and pressing onward. Wyatt is gassing Marines in Hawaii and instructing courses in his job as a Chemical Specialist. Katie started her 4th year of teaching grade school yesterday. Her husband Justin was accepted into the Police Academy last week and starts in September. We are so proud of all of them and covet your prayers for their individual lives. We sure do miss them.
Keep praying for us and keep spreading the Gospel! Sheri and I are thankful for all of you and your constant support of our ministry here in Brazil. We love each of you.
Our church folks have continued to meet faithfully at church as well in the homes of members this past month. Even though the winter has set in and temps have dropped, our young group of believers have remained steadfast.
For the past several years we have been praying for a little boy in our church named Miguel. He was born with abnormally large adenoids and tonsils. This has caused him to have terrible breathing problems as well as speech delay. Because Brazil has socialized medicine, the doctors put Miguel on a waiting list. He is now 3 years old and has struggled continuously, BUT this past week God opened the doors for him to have surgery. His mom was so happy that God provided this miracle and we were able to pray with her by phone as her son recovered. Praise the LORD for His goodness!
We have several families with young children in our church who are seeking alternative education for their little ones. Because of this and her years of teaching, Sheri has been asked to participate in the organization of a private school in Lages. Please be in prayer as we seek direction about this matter and for God's will concerning these families and any future ministry opportunities we may have.
This past month we traveled to the GPA National Campmeeting in Georgia and were able to give an update on our ministry as well as catch up with old friends. Then we traveled up to our home church in WV. I had the privilege of filling the pulpit for my pastor, Dr. John Smith, at Teays Valley Baptist. It was a real joy to see so many dear folks who are such a huge part in sending us to Brazil. We also were able to get our information packets and prayer cards designed for our upcoming meetings. (Thank you Allison McKay for all your hard work!) We will have a BRAND NEW family website up and running soon, so keep your eyes and ears open for updates about that in our next report!
Pray for us as we try and minister here and in Brazil during these coming months. It is hard to be away from our church in Lages but God has really encouraged us that the work is His and He is in control.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers!
Mark and Sheri Edwards
Our family has been back on US soil for just over one month now. A lot has transpired during this time and we want to start this update by giving God the praise, honor, and glory! He has continually provided a way for us to have transportation, a place to live near our children and begin preparing our presentation material for our upcoming meetings. He is FAITHFUL!
Recently our city has experienced heavy rainfall. While it is normal to receive rain this time of year, it has been heavier than usual. Because of these rains, Lages has been flooded in many of the neighborhoods, including the one where IBBI is located (see pic above). Last week the church was completely underwater and services were suspended. After the water receded, one of the ladies took it upon herself to clean and scrub out the entire building. Our chairs are plastic, so there was no loss to seating, but we did lose our entire nursery and Children's Church along with much of our kitchen. While this is a minor setback, it did NOT stop our people from wanting to know what they could do to help so they could attend church services. I praise the LORD for their desire to continue in the things they have learned! It has encouraged me to see their commitment to the LORD and His work. Keep praying for IBBI! They have seen high days since we traveled and the work continues to grow and prosper. Praise God
May was a FULL month. We attended our oldest daughter's graduation from PCC, moved our youngest daughter into the dorms at PCC, and then turned around and moved the oldest to Arizona where she will be teaching Kindergarten at a Christian School in Flagstaff. Wyatt is living in the dorms and working in the print shop as well as the Summer Camp at PCC. Sam will begin his senior year of high school in just a few weeks while on the road with us for meetings. We have been on a fast, non-stop pace since we arrived, but God has been good and we are blessed to have this time with our children.
This coming Monday, June 12th, we will travel to Atlanta Georgia for the GPA National Campmeeting. We are looking forward to this week of preaching and teaching at our Mission Agency. Following these meetings we will trek north to West Virginia to visit our home church among other supporting churches, family and friends. During this time we will be giving reports, creating a new prayer card and video presentation, as well as scheduling more meetings for the fall and spring. Please pray for our travels and for productivity!
I would like to thank those of you who have made it your personal mission to help us during the past few weeks. Pastors have called me to check on our family, pray with me and help us along our way. This has truly meant a great deal to me. One man from Orlando decided he would reserve and pay for every hotel Sheri and Katie had to stay in on their trip to Arizona and the trip back. Another lady has provided us with a gas card. Friends and family have sent funds to pay for the added expenses, others have messaged us daily to tell us they are praying. All of this has proven to us what we already know to be true, GOD pays attention and He keeps ALL His promises. We are humbled by the generosity we have seen and we are thankful.
Please keep praying for Lages and our ministry because we have much to do and accomplish in His Name there. We are currently at 70% of our needed support and need time to replace support we have lost over the last 7 years. We are thankful for this time of furlough and would love to come by and present our work in your churches. You can reach me at (352) 895-5334 and Sheri at (352) 895-7107 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time for us to come by this year. We want to be as much of a blessing to you as you have been to us over the years!
In the Service of the Saviour,
Mark and Sheri Edwards