Some 80 men from about 20 congregations attended the 19th Christian Workers National Encounter in Belo Horizonte October 8-9. The theme was “A Renewed Faith,” using examples of biblical characters to highlight how to, or not to, renew one’s faith. The event is held each year at the Retreat of the Pines, which is a Christian ministry. The camp has new buildings and is still being renovated.
[Note: Below are a few pictures of three of the nine speakers. Taking pictures in the chapel is complicated because behind the podium the wall is of glass, looking out to a hill beyond. The original idea was to be able to worship and be reminded of God’s glory in creation, but in practical terms it’s hard on the hearers’ eyes and the speaker can’t make good eye contact with them.]
[ABOVE: Randal teaches on Joseph at a Belo Horizonte leaders’ encounter.]
[RIGHT: Friend Petterson took these shots. People sometimes complain I’m never in the pictures, since I’m taking the photographs.]
My topic was the faith of Joseph, and I spoke Sunday morning immediately after the Lord’s supper. My point was that Joseph was able to weather all the crises because he had had a dream from God and held on to that dream.
I had been given 45 minutes, but since I was without a watch, I went for more than an hour. I asked the emcee later why he didn’t signal me, but he was loathe to stop me, since, he said, everyone was paying attention and the lesson was so good. He was too kind.
[LEFT: This is about what the naked eye sees looking at the speaker. The speaker is yours truly, if you can’t identify the sillouette.]
Having been gone from Belo Horizonte for almost 11 years, and having been seven years since my last visit, there were many new people to meet in the church there. One of those was AndrÃ©, one of the best speakers at the event, a man who, said the emcee, was always ready to work.
[RIGHT: From the ItapoÃ£ congregation in Belo Horizonte, AndrÃ© preaches on the anti-example of Judas. Andre is not a full-time worker. He’s an excellent speaker.]
The speakers were evenly divided between the states of Minas Gerais (of which Belo Horizonte is the capital) and SÃ£o Paulo. One was from Vitoria, in EspÃrito Santo state. Most were full-time workers (three of those missionaries, including myself), and the others brought excellent lessons.
[BELOW: Old-timer Enio “Mel” Latorre, from Bauru, SÃ£o Paulo, speaks on the faith of Nehemiah. His lesson closed the event.]
The event began Saturday morning and ended at lunch on Sunday.
After I returned to Belo Horizonte Sunday afternoon, Vicki and I visited the Central congregation, where she had attended that morning. It was good to see so many people we had worked with, trained, or converted during our ten years there.
The sermon from the book of Hebrews was brought by young Ivan, originally from Campo Grande, who gave powerful suggestions on how to get over discouragement. Aderman Jr., who was just a lad when we moved from the city, led the singing.
Vicki and Leila accompanied me on this trip to visit with old friends. Sunday night, Leila went with LaJuana Fowler and son Brian to a birthday party.
Vicki, Leila, and I stayed in Otavio and Paula Resende’s home. (I spent Saturday night at the camp.) Former co-worker Glenn Robb and I taught Otavio the gospel, and afterwards Otavio and I studied together for a year. I performed their wedding in 1995. They have three children.
We had traveled by car to Belo Horizonte from SJCampos on Friday, Oct. 7, a seven-hour trip. We returned home Monday, the 10th.
Such trips as these, opportunities to share the gospel with others and encourage Christian workers in their faith, are made possible thanks to participations of a number of churches that contribute to our working fund. We’re grateful to the Lord for their help.