What is it like to be a missionary with a calling to share the Gospel to a country where you barely speak the language, are unfamiliar with the customs and don't know anyone? That's the challenge that was given to Isaias and his wife Alcilene (Lene). Seven months ago, they were sent from the Missionary Training Center in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to their first mission assignment in Tucama, Argentina. With them were their 18 year old daughter, Cassia, and 10 year old son, Lucius. Where do you start? What do you do?
Isaias noticed that Cassia was quick to make friends at school, so he asked her if she would like to invite them to their home to watch the movie "Adventures of Pi" on their 3D big screen with pop corn and Coke. Seven of her classmates came. Before showing the movie, Isaias brought out his guitar and taught them a couple of praise songs. He then shared a devotion on 2 Corinthians 5:17 about how Jesus makes us a "new creation". One of Cassia's friends, Max, was particularly interested and asked Isaias what he needed to do to be a new creation. Isaias answered, "Accept Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior". Max asked if that was all he had to do. Isaias explained, "Yes, that is all. And then follow Jesus in your living."
Max had attend a traditional church, but had never heard praise music or the invitation to believe and follow Jesus in such a personal way. At the end of the evening, Isaias asked Max if he wanted him to teach him about Jesus. He said he didn't know. Isaias told him he would like to come to his home and teach him about Jesus. Max wanted that. After their first meeting, Max gave his life to Jesus. They continued meeting weekly and within a month, Max's parents and extended family had joined them. They had a group of 15 people. They started attending the church.
Another story. Isaias needed a hair cut. One day on the bus, he had spotted a hair salon he wanted to try, but it was in a particularly rough part of town. It was a dangerous area with a lot of people on the streets -drugs, drinking, and prostitution were everywhere. A few weeks earlier, another Brazilian missionary had been held up at gunpoint and had his phone stolen in this neighborhood.
Nevertheless, Isaias decided to try out the salon. A lady named Patricia started cutting his hair, and recognizing he wasn't Argentinian, asked him where he was from. He told her he was a missionary from Brazil and asked her if she knew Jesus. She said she was Catholic, but began to share with him how she had no peace in her soul, marriage or family. Her husband wouldn't work and constantly abused her. Her children were on the streets every day and it was destroying their lives. So Isaias asked if he and his wife could come to her home and tell her about Jesus. She said she was ashamed of her home and her neighborhood was even more dangerous than the one around the salon. But she offered that he could come back to the salon and talk to her more.
The next day, Isaias and Lene went to the salon. They both dressed very plain and Lene took all her jewelry off to avoid being robbed. They arrived without incident. Isaias played his guitar, they sang, prayed and shared the Word of God while customers came in and out of the salon. After a few weeks, Patricia had to move her business to her home. Even though her neighborhood was worse, Isaias and Lene continued to meet with her. Patricia shared how afraid she was for her children. She explained how they had no dreams, no future. Her older son didn't work, her younger son had stopped studying and her daughter would no doubt get into trouble with all the bad influences on the street. She shared how she worked everyday from early morning until 10pm and had no time for her kids. Isaias decided he could spend time with the boys if they were interested in taking guitar lessons from him.
When Isaias would go to Patricia's house, there was a man who always watched him. Isaias described him as a "dangerous man". He was very rough looking, with only one eye, and covered in tattoos. He spent everyday on the street. He never talked to Isaias, but just stared at him as he came and went. One day he was waiting for Isaias as he left Patricia's house. Isaias was scared of him. He spoke in a deep raspy voice and told Isaias he had been watching him visiting Patricia's house. When they would sing praise songs and teach about Jesus, he would come over to Patricia's window and listen to them. He told Isaias, "When I hear your songs, I feel peace." He knew Isaias was teaching Patricia's sons guitar. He asked if he would teach him, too. His name was Jorge. So Isaias moved his guitar lessons out into the streets. Every week, 10 people brought their guitars, sat in a circle and listened to Isaias teach about Jesus and get a guitar lesson. It turned out Jorge was a good singer.
Patricia and her kids started coming to the church. After learning about Jesus, she told Isaias she had finally found peace. She could see a future for her and her kids. She had many things she had to change in her life, but now she had found peace through Jesus.
One more story. A man named Juan joined the small group meeting at Max's house. He was a professional musician who would play guitar with Isaias in their worship time. Juan told Isaias he would give him guitar lessons if he would teach him the Word of God. Juan's problem was he couldn't read or write nor follow the materials Isaias was using in the group. Isaias agreed to meet with Juan and his wife, Rosie, at their home weekly. Isaias taught them about Jesus, but Juan never got around to giving him any lessons. They also started coming to the church.
Sometime later, Juan and Rosie wanted to tell Isaias something. Rosie revealed how she had been oppressed with a demon for a long time. She wasn't able to sleep, she would uncontrollably scratch her skin, and often think of overdosing on medicines at home. She told about a shadow that would come upon her, put its hands around her neck and try to suffocate her. She remembered how Isaias had taught her to call on the Name of Jesus and she did, and the shadow left her. Rosie and Juan had never told anyone about the demonic oppression until now that she was free.
Now you know a missionary's story. Isaias and Lene will be traveling to Paraguay in the next few weeks to start a new church, the first one from the Missionary Training Center in Santa Cruz.s