A Worldwide Circle of Friends

Building Churches and Relationships in São Paulo
April 30, 2019

In March, Ozark Adventist Academy sent 28 students and four staff on a Maranatha mission trip to Franco da Rocha in the sprawling metropolis of São Paulo on the southern coast of Brazil. Our building efforts were a direct answer to the prayers of a dedicated group of 50 Adventists there who had been meeting in a simple storefront rental property and actively growing their church through community service and engagement. The academy was blessed to have entered into their Kingdom-building labors and to finish a construction project begun by a previous group.

Everyone on our team flexed their spiritual gifts plus lots of physical muscle to raise the block walls needed to add bathrooms and children’s Sabbath School classrooms to the previously completed sanctuary. We spent five full days on the worksite and many of our students learned construction skills never before experienced. Everyone conducted themselves in a manner any staff or parent would be proud of and accomplished more than our volunteer project manager, Mick Ray, had hoped.

Besides the long, hot days spent lifting and setting block, the team spent the cooler evenings presenting Vacation Bible School (VBS) meetings for the kids and evangelistic meetings for the adults. A different Ozark student spoke each night for the evangelistic series while others led out in singing, storytelling and creative crafts for VBS. Each evening, more and more children gathered early at the doors to enthusiastically greet the team the moment we arrived and both adults and kids lingered long afterward, waving and calling out “Tchau!” as our bus pulled away for our short night of rest back at the hotel.

God’s abundant blessings throughout the trip included lots of safe travel over thousands of miles and keeping our team free of any injuries or major illnesses. And while it had been projected to rain most of our time there, our days were all sunny and clear—truly a miracle! Sai, a sophomore member of our team, lost his only pair of glasses in the frothy surf we were all enjoying during our excursion day on the coast. Miraculously, they were discovered on the sandy bottom by Andrew, one of our seniors, a full 15 minutes later. Hannah also left her phone behind on one of the many different tourist busses we used for transportation, but found it when the same vehicle happened to pick us up the very next day.

We were also thrilled to become part of a chain of circumstances God used to make a significant difference in the lives of Darlene and Neves, a local couple that had been paid to provide meals for the Maranatha crews. This couple shared their gifts of service and hospitality and it wasn’t surprising to learn that it was their dream to someday own a bakery. With tears and heartfelt words they expressed their gratitude for a love offering taken up by our students which, when added to other recent financial blessings, prompted them to spontaneously announce their decision to move ahead immediately with their long-awaited business venture!

These and other life-changing experiences and connections made it very difficult for us to say goodbye. The local, hard-working Maranatha team of builders, coordinators and translators had also worked their way into our hearts and have become part of Ozark Adventist Academy’s worldwide circle of friends. Moreso, they have inspired us to labor more earnestly for Jesus’ soon return. Maranatha!

By Ozark Adventist Academy Chaplain Seth Clark and IT Director and Computer Instructor David Kobliska