Salvations Abound In Brazil

Posted on May 4, 2010

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By David Ettinger

Caption: David McLean with Tiago.

You could say that First Orlando member David McLean has “Mission Trip Fever.” After all he’s been on 11 mission trips in three years. His impressive resumé includes Canada, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burundi and Kenya. David’s latest venture was First Orlando’s July 27-August 4, 2009 outreach to Porto Seguro, Brazil. It was the church’s fourth straight year going to Porto Seguro, where this year’s team of 38 worked construction projects, distributed eyeglasses, handed out tennis shoes, provided dental services and ministered to local pastors. In all, between 240 to 250 Brazilians made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

For David, though each mission trip shares similarities with others, they are all unique. And Porto Seguro 2009 was no exception. “It was an amazing week,” he said. “This year we worked with Agape Church, which was only a few blocks from the church we helped last year. It was awesome to see many of the people I met last year.”

David’s primary area of responsibility was working with the evangelism team that went door-to-door as well as talking to people on the streets. “We walked around different neighborhoods each day, sharing the love of Jesus and inviting people to come to church,” he said. “It was so great to see how God prepared the hearts of those we met. It was such a blessing for me to be a part of at least 66 people accepting Christ as their savior.”

Caption: Debbie Griswold, with Carole Avriett to her right, talks to two Brazilian women about the Gospel bracelets they gave them.

Besides evangelism teams, First Orlando shared the love of Christ in other ways. “There was an evangelical drama several times a day,” David explained. “Following each presentation, the children would go to ‘Happy Feet,’ where we distributed new tennis shoes, some of whom were getting their first pair of shoes ever. They normally just wear flip-flops.”

But Happy Feet is more than just handing out shoes and sending children on their way. “We wash their feet and put on new socks before giving them their shoes,” David said. In all, the First Orlando team distributed 350 pairs of tennis shoes.

While the children were getting shoes, about 600 adults were receiving free eyeglasses. Elsewhere, the construction team built a 1,500-square-foot building onto the back of Agape church and was able to finish pouring the concrete roof by the end of the fifth day. “This took all day, as the team had to carry every bit of the concrete up to the roof bucket by bucket,” David said. “They worked in an assembly line because there was no concrete truck.”

But for David, the Porto Seguro trip was all about evangelism, and several encounters stand out. The first has to do with a 17-year-old young man named Tiago. “On Thursday, when our team was walking the neighborhoods, I came across some teenagers, Tiago among them, whom I started sharing [the Gospel] with,” David said. “I asked them if they wanted to receive Christ, but they said no. So I left it at that, hoping that what I shared would impact them later.”

Caption: Samantha Mutschler washes the feet of a young girl before giving her a pair of socks and putting her new pair of tennis shoes on her feet.

David thought that was the end of it. Then, the next day, he ran across them again, as part of a group of about 20 people. “We all got in a big circle and I shared the story of Christ,” he said. “As I was sharing I noticed that one of people was Tiago.”

When David had finished sharing the Gospel, 15 of the 20 people in the group prayed to receive Christ. Tiago, however, was not one of them. “I said to him, ‘You know, I don’t think it’s an accident that I ran into you again,’ ” David said. “ ‘I also don’t think it’s an accident that God allowed you to be in my path. It’s amazing that God loves you so much that he has allowed you to meet me twice.”

Though it sounded convincing, Tiago was not buying. He was courteous but not ready to accept Christ. Again, David was disappointed, and could do little more than go his way once more hoping he made an impact on the young man.

And here’s where the story takes a detour.

The next morning, Saturday, David’s team was walking the neighborhood when they knocked on the door of a man in his late 20s or early 30s by the name of Josevaldo. “When he came to the door, you could tell that he lifted weights — he was real big,” David said. “When we told him who we were, he invited us in.”

Definitely a good start — and things got even better. “We started sharing Christ with Josevaldo and he was listening closely,” David said. “Then, all of a sudden, I saw tears begin to well up in his eyes and roll down the cheeks of this big, buff guy. I was blown away.”

Caption: David McLean with his new Brazilian friends. At the far left is Josevaldo, whom David helped lead to the Lord.

It was no surprise to the team that Josevaldo prayed to receive Christ. But there was more. “He told us that there was a lot going on in his life,” David said. “He said that the day before a friend of his had sent him a text message telling him he needed to give his life to Christ. He even showed us the text message and said, ‘When you came to the door, it was God confirming that I needed to trust Him.’ It was amazing.”

This would have made for a great end to the story. But Josevaldo was to play another role — this time in Tiago’s story. Later that day, David and the team were by the church when yet again they saw Tiago, who was riding his bike. “I started talking with him, not trying to be pushy, but also explaining how this was the third time the Lord had brought us together,” David said.

However, he didn’t appear to be getting far with Tiago. Then, who do you think came riding by on his motorcycle? “It was Josevaldo,” David said. “He drove by us, but when he saw me, he turned around and came back. I asked him to share with Tiago what had happened to him earlier that day.”

Which Josevaldo gladly did.  “He told Tiago, ‘I have a house, a car, a motorcycle, money … but there was something missing in my life.’ He then shared with him how he had prayed to receive Christ.”

And yet, Tiago was still not ready to receive Christ, telling David that he wanted to think more about it. In the meantime, there would be a church service the next evening what David invited Tiago to attend. Tiago went, but was still not willing to give his life to Christ, which disappointed David, though he is convinced that he and the First Orlando team definitely put a dent in Tiago’s resistance.

Caption: Several Porto Seguro children show off their boxes of brand new tennis shoes.

But there was one more surprise awaiting David. At that same service, in which First Orlando Senior Pastor David Uth preached, there was an altar call. One of the men who came down was another weightlifter type. But when David McLean looked closely, he realized that it wasn’t Josevaldo. “Josevaldo told me he would be inviting some of his friends to the service. This buff guy who had just given his life to Christ was one of Josevaldo’s workout partners. It was amazing to watch God work in that way.”

And that — watching God work — is something that always amazes David. “Before 2007, I’d never been on a mission trip,” he said. “But now I’ve gone on 11, making myself available to God. Because of  this, I’ve learned that He will do things through you that you simply cannot do on your own. I’ve seen Him do this over and over again. That’s one of the reasons I love going on mission trips.”

Posted in: World Missions