photo by Tex Wilcox

photo by Tex Wilcox

7 Days, 9 Flights, 3 Languages, 60 Trained.

In May, we asked prayer as Jayson’s teammates flew to Brazil to train nationals from 6 World Cup host cities to use the Jesus Film Media app for outreach during the games. Below is an update from teammate Hannah:

People came from all over – one guy took a 14-hour bus ride to attend this training! This guy, Roberto, lost 3 days of work just so he could come and be equipped to share Jesus with his community in Natal, Brazil!

We taught them in how to use the equipment, the Jesus Film app and how together, they can be used in ministry… We specifically highlighted the films that have been added for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

Another encouraging thing for me was Hugo, a guy we partnered with, using the app as we traveled. On one of our taxi rides, he shared a film in Portuguese with the tour guide. It was so natural and easy!

Our final training took place in a favela (a local slum) in Rio de Janeiro. Though they are still fairly poor, I was surprised at how many of the attendees had smart phones. They commented on the fact that it was a common thing in their community… with the World Cup around the corner, they could now share soccer athletes’ testimonies with their friends.

Events & Ever-Afters

By now, all things World Cup are two weeks gone and Brazil has left the limelight. Hannah is home in Orlando, Roberto and Hugo are back to normal routines and the streets will likely see slightly less green and yellow. The much-anticipated event is over.

But as Jesus himself knew, the impact of the big event only goes so far, no matter how many loaves and fishes appear. The lion’s share of life-change happens as normal people bump shoulders with other “non-professional” believers, wrestling through the pits of life and the claims of Christ together.

For us this summer, the highlights have included good conversations about the gospel in light of cults, church, childbirth, marriage, miracles, death, and skepticism with at least three spiritually curious Orlando friends and some family back home.

As for Brazil and its recent trainees, they will likely be faced with a full two years of normal before their next big event on the world stage, the 2016 Summer Olympics. Pray that the unique opportunities leveraged by the World Cup will launch countless everyday folks to see their friends and communities changed by Jesus, with or without a big event.

Pray For:

  • The followup and results from the weeks of outreach around Brazil.
  • Jayson’s family. His grandfather passed away last week, there were some opportunities for the Gospel to go out. Read more about it in the post I wrote yesterday.
  • We still have a lot of traveling happening for work on our financial support. Pray for safe travel. Also pray for the health of our family and our car.
  • Our friend Bobby finally has his driver’s license! Pray for opportunities as he continues to get his feed underneath him!
  • Fall campus schedule kicks off mid-August. Pray for a strong start for Carrie’s team at UCF.

Summer travel photos!

Grandpa

jayson —  July 29, 2014  Leave a comment
Grandpa and Fia

Grandpa with a <1 month old Fia.

I’m the oldest grandchild on my mom’s side. I have older step-siblings, but I’m the oldest grand-descendent of Albert and Mary Merry. I’m also a lot like my grandfather. He was analytical, and a skeptic – even if inconsistently so. He cared about people, but sometimes was oblivious or uncaring about their feelings. He sometimes would catch himself saying something and realizing mid-sentence that it was stupid and mutter “shut up, Al.” I do the same thing pretty often, I also will mutter “shut up, Al.”

I have never had any doubt that he loved me – none of the grandchildren really did, but he could be incredibly grumpy, earning the title “Grumpa” from me when I was about 5. To my childhood mind my grandpa’s growls didn’t sound like a lion, the lions sounded like my grandpa.

Last Week

Grandpa Al died on Tuesday morning at 2:41 am, after a 29-month battle with a cancer that should have killed him in half that time. The last couple days were hard, but not because he was suffering.

The last few days were hard because Grandpa had made is crystal clear over the years that he wanted to have nothing to do with Jesus. He was fine with a good, providing Deist god; he was thankful, and actually said so often. Even after my uncle – his youngest son – died from complications surrounding his lymphoma treatments. Even after my grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. He would always say “amen” heartily when someone said “grace” before a meal. But, if you brought up Jesus or anything specific he would physically bristle and would bring up that lion growl sometimes.

That last 24 hours he seemed different, I’ll copy from a post that I put on our ministry Facebook group that day.

Some good news: I was spending time with him myself, he struggled to put his hands together like he was praying and shook them at me a couple of times. So, I prayed for/with him. I then asked if he would let me read some scripture to him, “I know you can’t really talk, but if you want me to stop, just make a noise and I will.”

I read Romans 8, the “if we confess our sins” portion of 1 John 1:5-10, and the “by grace through faith” part of Ephesians 2:1-10. He did not stop me. I prayed again and afterward said “I love you, grandpa.”

He struggled out, “I love you, too.”

No response outwardly, but up until now he’s been turning down people reading scripture over and over and he clearly had enough strength to make a sound if he wanted me to stop, and he did pretty very clearly ask for me to pray.

No peace necessarily for me, bit at least some more *hope*

Hope

I keep reminding myself and my believing family of Jesus’ words to Peter immediately after he asked 3 times if Peter loved Him at the very end of the Gospel of John.

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Or similarly from the The Horse and His Boy (part of the Chronicles of Narnia),

“Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

The reality is that we cannot know anything about anyone else’s relationship with Christ. It can only possibly be known by that person in this world. We can observe fruit, hear words and watch their life, but we cannot know, we can only hope and trust.

My grandfather’s death leads me exactly there as well, hope that he did yield to the Holy Spirit in his last day, and trust that God is perfectly merciful and perfectly just. Whatever my grandfather’s response, Jesus is the true Lion whose growls lead us to repentance and whose death offers life.

2014-07-08HeadedNorth

Keep us in your prayers, we’re headed up to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Baltimore and DC over the next 4 weeks.

Pray for effectual meetings, new partners and safe travel.

We’re also looking forward to seeing family and friends again while we’re up there.

A couple of weeks ago the 700 Club had piece on about The JESUS Film Project®, specifically about the recently released remastering of the audio and visual elements of the film, as well as our 35th anniversary. They interviewed a number of my coworkers, including our director Erick Schenkel, some of the techs who worked on the remaster, and “Q” who who started hosting our tours recently.

We wanted to share it with you all as a reminder of how JESUS Film is working and how our loving God is working through it around the world.