Brazil

A Closer Look

Images of Navigator work around the world

Ana Rosa D’Ercole (right) and her assistant, Nena, in the São Paulo dental clinic.

Ana Rosa D’Ercole (right) and her assistant, Nena, in the São Paulo dental clinic.

As Ana Rosa D’Ercole does root canals, fills cavities, and fits gold crowns on molars, she also looks for opportunities to help her patients with their souls.

About 30-years ago, Ana Rosa converted a small house into a modern dental clinic located near the financial district of São Paulo, Brazil. She lives in an apartment up the street from the clinic, which is also not far from her sister’s language school.

Inside her clinic, the reception area is decorated with vibrant Brazilian art. Upstairs she treats patients in her dental operatory, with her dedicated dental assistant, Nena. Downstairs is a small kitchen, where a table is often covered with Brazilian fare, such as pão de queijo (warm cheese rolls), bolo de milho (a sweet cake made of corn), and robust Brazilian coffee. Around that table her patients, friends and family meet to share life, talk about God, and study the Scriptures.

Ana Rosa was introduced to Christ in dental school, where she met fellow dental student, Michelle Petersen, the eldest daughter of Jim Petersen, who started the Navigator work in Brazil in the early 1960s. Over the years, Ana Rosa has integrated her work and her clinic with helping patients and friends come to Christ and to grow in their faith. Many of the people she has reached are carrying the message of God’s grace to their friends.

“It’s very natural for me,” says Ana Rosa. “Just as I help my patients take care of their teeth, I also want them to grow spiritually.”

Reaching a New Generation in Rio

By Raul Ortiz

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Miguel Fleck, a 68-year-old successful businessman in Rio de Janeiro, in late October, prayed that God would give him a sense of ease and peace. He then headed from his house to the nearby State University of Rio de Janeiro.

Under the bright Rio sun, he sat down on a bench and prayed for the students who entered and exited through the university’s main portal. Watching their faces, he asked God to lead him to those who were seeking a relationship with God.

It’s not every day that Brazilian students talk with a stranger, let alone with someone who is much older. But as Miguel struck up conversations with them that October day, and on two other occasions in November, they all responded to him with warmth and receptivity.

During the conversations, Miguel asked them what they thought about God. He listened. Then he asked them what they thought about the Bible. He listened again. Then he asked them if they would be interested in participating in a small group meeting to read the Bible more carefully.

“In the three times that I’ve gone to the campus, I spent about two hours each time talking to students,” said Miguel. “And in that time, nine of them agreed to study the Bible with me. God has a lot of people in that place!”

Miguel and his wife, Claudette, are now in the process of forming two study groups with this new generation of Brazilian students. They want to keep the groups small, to keep it personal and relational. They envision the Gospel taking root in the hearts of the students, to see them become laborers for Christ, and to see the Word spread to many others through them.

Before starting this campus effort, Miguel began sending email to his friends around the country asking for prayer. He has also been sending updates about what’s happening at the university. As a result, Miguel’s forays on campus have been a Spirit-filled, God-powered partnership with many people in the 52-year Brazilian Navigator movement.

Miguel says prayer is the key. He is motivated by the truth of Ephesians 6:12, which says: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

“Even with prayer, we know how difficult it can be (to reach people with the Gospel),” said Miguel. “Imagine what it would be like without prayer.”

Miguel himself is an example of God’s work through spiritual generations. In the early 1970s, as a young college student in southern Brazil, he met Jim Petersen, who started the Navigator work in the early 1960s. Jim, along with his friend and colleague, Aldo Berndt, started to read the Bible with Miguel. Miguel soon came to Christ and started a life-long contribution to God’s work in the region.

Working with people has always been on his heart. As a college student, Miguel decided to go through his business administration course at a slower pace. That way, he said, “I could get to know more of the students around me.” In 1980, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he and his wife initially went through some rough financial storms. Life started to change in 1994, when Miguel and Claudette built a successful sales business that continues today.

Throughout their history, they have worked hard to advance the Gospel in personal ways among secular friends in Rio de Janeiro.

Miguel says that recently God had been prompting him to reach out to a new generation of Brazilians.

“I was feeling a deep inquietude,” he said. “I realize that I’m getting older and that I’m going to die. I don’t want to feel like I haven’t left anything good behind. So, I decided to try and start a new generation of students.”

Please pray that God would nurture the seeds that Miguel and Claudette are planting among students in Rio.   

Raul Ortiz is the Regional Director of the Navigator work in Latin America. For many years, he helped pioneer the Navigator work in Uruguay. Today he and his wife, Paty, live in their native Mexico.

Advancing the Gospel Through Missional Enterprises

By Jack Benjamin

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I will never forget the moment 24-years ago when the Latin America Regional Director, for whom I have deep respect, made this stunning comment: “It is cruel to talk about the Great Commission in two-thirds of the world.”

“How could that be?” I thought to myself. “The Great Commission is the reason my wife and I just moved to Colombia with our three young children!”

That regional director was Aldo Berndt, a Brazilian. After his bold statement, he saw my distress. So with a gentle smile, Aldo went on to clarify. When fully funded gift-income missionaries launch a new work with the hope of reproducing and sending out laborers, those new laborers often don’t have the funding capacity or time to replicate what the missionary had modeled. The consequence is that future generations of laborers may become discouraged and end up giving the work of the ministry to the “full-time” workers.

“If we want to see nations reached for Christ,” Aldo went on to say, “we must offer the majority of people a different model, one that is more realistic and replicable in their context.”

My Navigator colleague, Jimmy Payton, understood what Aldo was saying. Jimmy had recently started a leather goods manufacturing and export business in Bogotá named Tenazcol. Employees, customers and suppliers—all those relating in some way with Tenazcol—saw that this business was different. They heard the Gospel message and saw it in action. Many were drawn to Christ and followed Him.

The daily opportunity for Jimmy to work side-by-side with his staff proved to be an ideal arrangement for life-on-life discipleship. Some of those employees were discipled well and have gone on to lead the next generation in Colombia.

A decade later, Jimmy and Roberto Blauth (from Brazil), who were serving in Aguascalientes, Mexico, began working on a home construction business called Casas Mas. As with Tenazcol, Casas Mas became a place where life-on-life discipleship and the Scriptures combined with God’s Spirit to make Jesus real to many.

It wasn’t long before a vibrant community of faith grew up in Aguascalientes and, energized by Casas Mas, contributed significantly to a new generation of laborers in Mexico. The word spread and a number of emerging laborers from around Latin America chose to intern at Casas Mas and serve in the Aguascalientes work as part of their ministry training. Today most of them are laboring fruitfully around the region.

In recent years, a group of Navigator alumni who are successful Mexican professionals, including a former Casas Mas general manager, have come together to launch a new generation of missional enterprises such as Tenazcol and Casas Mas. United by this passion, they provide mentoring, subject matter expertise, whole-life discipling and funding to aspiring missional entrepreneurs—people who can serve as Gospel pioneers in other nations.

The Navigators has been involved with missional enterprises for more than three decades. Each of the seven regions in the Worldwide Partnership has missional enterprise initiatives as part of their overall strategy to advance the Navigator Calling. Such enterprises help not only to gain access to closed or hard-to-reach places, but also to establish credibility with the local community in which they are operating.

Please continue praying that God would use these efforts to draw many to Him.
 
To watch a short video about missional enterprises in Latin America, follow this link: https://vimeo.com/65304675
 
Jack Benjamin is director of the Global Enterprise Network, a ministry of The Navigators. He served in Colombia, Chile and Brazil for more than 20 years. He and his wife, Karen, have three adult children and live in Colorado Springs.

 

The Third Age

By Mike Shamy

Brazilian Navigators Near Porto Alegre

Brazilian Navigators Near Porto Alegre

I recently came across what was for me a new term: “Third Age.” The Third Age has been defined as that period of life when people emerge from the imperatives of earning a living and/or bringing up children and may be able to look forward to 20 or more years of healthy life.

There are many people in our Navigator Worldwide Partnership who, like me, came to Christ in the 1960s and early 1970s. We were in our late teens or early 20s. And here we are all these years later entering the “Third Age.”

What will we do with this season of life? Will we keep growing in Christlikeness? Health permitting, will we continue to serve Christ and love people, irrespective of any titles or positions we once occupied?

Brazilian Navigators Osvaldo and Lenir Simões were among the very first to come to Christ through the Navigator work in Brazil, which started in the early 1960s. After they were married, it became clear to everyone that God had gifted them to work among non-believers and to help believers grow in Christ. Over the past four decades, God has used them among university students and professionals.

Now in their late 70s, they continue to experience God enabling them to serve many people around Brazil. Based in the southern city of Porto Alegre, they lead people of all ages into deep engagement with the Scriptures and spend extensive time mentoring friends.

Osvaldo and Lenir have seen the following words from Psalm 92 become a reality in their lives: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green . . ."

For Lenir, the key to this promise of bearing fruit in the Third Age is to stay “planted in the house of the Lord” throughout the course of life. Trees can’t bear fruit unless they are well-planted and nourished, and neither can people.

“For me, the most important thing is my relationship with God,” she says. “From Him comes my energy, my vigor, my disposition to serve.”

Osvaldo adds that despite the cultural changes in Brazil since the 1960s, he and Lenir have adamantly pursued two biblical principles.

“First is to make sure that we are teaching sound doctrine. I pray daily that not one word would come from my mouth that isn’t based on God’s Word. . . . The second factor is to sustain and protect our vision for reaching the lost.”

God has given Osvaldo and Lenir the opportunity in this “Third Age” to serve teens, young married couples, seasoned professionals, and those about to retire. This was evident in early September when four generations of Brazilians participated in a Navigator gathering in Southern Brazil. Young people come to them the way grandchildren seek counsel from grandparents. Couples with toddlers seek advice from them about childrearing. For those in their 60s, Osvaldo and Lenir continue to be godly role models and peers.

Osvaldo often cites Proverbs 20:29 as a key verse for this generational interdependency. The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

“I always tell the young people that I need their strength and energy, but I also remind them that they need my gray hair!” says Osvaldo. “And so, what is it that we need to have in common? Humility. We all need to recognize that we need to walk through life together.”

God’s faithfulness to the ongoing expansion of His kingdom has been clearly evident to Osvaldo and Lenir throughout their many years of service. They know that God will carry the Gospel message forward into the next generations after they are gone.

“Our hope is in the fact that this work is not going to end,” says Osvaldo. “The Gospel is not going to stop with us. . . . This Word was preached to Abraham and Noah, and now it is the same Word that we have received today. This excites me! I am going to die, but God’s Word will continue on forever.”

May God give all of us who are entering the “Third Age” the heart to continue to know Christ and to make Him known. Our best days are before us!
 
Mike Shamy was born in New Zealand. Mike and his wife, Audrey, became Navigator staff in 1980. From 1989 to 1996 Mike led and coached ministries in New Zealand. In 1999 he led the U.S. Metro Mission. Mike joined the International Executive Team in 2004 and is co-author of The Insider.