Study and Retreat Centre for Brazil
A Bit to Read
Study and Retreat Centre for Brazil
Surrey Mission Board periodically sends out updates concerning the work on the mission field in Brazil. Recently Yarrow’s Council considered one of these updates at its meeting, and thought it would be beneficial to pass it on to the congregation. I think you’ll find it an interesting read – with a worthwhile challenge. Because of its length, I’ve taken the liberty to edit the document a little.
Things continue to proceed at an exciting pace on the mission field. As you heard already back in October at the delegates meetings, and as we reminded you in our letter sent at the end of January, Rev. Wieske has for some time now been hoping to establish a Study and Retreat Centre. He hopes that much of his work can be centered around this Centre, because as his children grow up it becomes increasingly difficult for them and for Mrs Wieske to deal with the frequent absence of husband and father, especially in their isolated situation. Further, the focus of the mission work is increasingly upon leadership training. Whereas before Rev Wieske was almost always on the front lines, doing house to house visits, he is increasingly now training men who, together with experienced elders, are taking on these activities. In this way we thank the Lord that we can see the multiplying effect of the Gospel….
The proposed Study and Retreat Centre will serve the following purposes:
- It will serve as a place for the Church in Recife to meet with all four congregations in joint worship. You know that for practical reasons, the Church in Recife is divided into four congregations or wards which meet separately. They are all about two hours by city bus from each other. Whenever there is ordination of an elder, or professions of faith, the Consistory tries to organize a joint worship service in order to promote the unity of the Recife Church. In the past, it was not so difficult to find a place to worship, for the groups were quite small. At present, the Church no longer has any options available, because it is very difficult to find a place of worship for over 175 people.
- It will serve as a retreat and study centre for the Recife church. For many years, the Wieske family hosted the Carnaval retreat and other church gatherings at their home. One year, they had over 70 people sleeping over during Carnaval! In the past few years, it has proved impossible to host the church. As a result, for a number of years the believers have not been able to go to a retreat to avoid the loud, noisy, perverse Carnaval time. Further, at other times of the year, it is very difficult and expensive to find a place to gather the whole church community. Men's, women's, and young people's retreats are all very important for the development and growth in unity, Christian love and obedience of the Church. Due to the fact that many children in the church have unbelieving parents and/or parents who are new believers, Rev Wieske is planning Bible camps to supplement the Reformed education received at home, and to counter the ungodly education received in the public school system. Finally, the Study Centre and Retreat Centre property (if large enough) could serve to host the annual get-together of the Reformed Churches in the northeast. As the churches grow, the school in São José is simply getting too small to hold all the people who attend this event.
- It will serve as a Study Centre for leadership training. As Rev Wieske concentrates more and more on leadership training, the need of the hour is a convenient, accessible, comfortable place where evening lectures, day-long seminars, and multi-day conferences can be held. Elder conferences, deacon conferences, ministerials, and leadership preparation seminars are being planned for 2007. Further, Rev Wieske continues to have important contacts with a number of churches and ministers who are wishing to grow in their knowledge of the Reformed faith. These ministers are willing to come and be taught Reformed doctrine and practice. Up to now, Rev Wieske has hosted such ministers at his own home, but for various reasons it is becoming more difficult to find the space.
- It could serve as a more appropriate home for the missionary family. The Wieskes are living on a small property with very high walls. It is not safe to allow the children to play outside the walls, yet inside the property there is minimal room to play and no room to ride bicycles. Since the church activities have dropped off over the last few years, Mrs Wieske and the children have been more isolated during the week from the community of believers. A Study Centre with enough room on the property to allow the future possibility of moving the missionary residence there will make an important difference in the quality of life for the missionary family.
In our last letter, we informed you that we had directed Rev Wieske to begin searching for a suitable property. He had already been on the lookout for something suitable for the last number of years, but when he received our go-ahead, he began to search intensively. He was aided by a number of brothers and office bearers in the Recife church. Various options were evaluated, and all the possible areas were analyzed for their appropriateness, practicality, accessibility, and cost factor. The Aldeia area, where the Wieskes currently live, was decided upon as the best available option for the Study Centre location. At the end of January, a property was found which seemed to be admirably suited for the Study Centre. Since our last letter to you, things have moved rather quickly. The vendors were on the point of closing a five-year rental contract on the property. When they found out that some one might be interested in purchasing, they asked for a clear commitment, since they did not want to lose the five year rental contract simply because of a purchaser showing a passing interest. Mission Board and Surrey Council were obliged to make a rapid decision as to whether to proceed or not on this property. In deciding to go ahead with the purchase, the following was considered:
- The location is ideal, and accessible by public transport.
- The size of the property is large enough to allow for all the intended purposes of the Study and Retreat Centre; properties this large, and this close to the main road, are not easy to come by.
- The vendors are eager to sell (they inherited the property but do not have the cash to pay the inheritance taxes), and as a result are selling the property below market value. Although it is selling for about CAN$275,000, it was appraised a few years ago for over CAN$500,000. There are other, smaller properties in the immediate vicinity which are selling for over CAN$500,000.
- The buildings and infrastructure on the property are such that the Study and Retreat Centre could begin operation in a few weeks, after some clean up.
- A donor came forward and donated CAN$55,000 to pay a down payment on the property. Other individual donors have indicated interest in contributing their support too, if necessary.
- The Wieske family has been planning and working towards this step for a long time, and waiting for another suitable property would mean the future Study Centre would end up costing more money, and would be implemented after a considerable delay in time.
- The elders and deacons, as well as a member of the congregation involved in the construction contracting industry, were agreed in confirming that the property was well located, and had a good quality infrastructure.
While this project has certainly moved ahead more quickly than we had expected, we are nonetheless thankful to see God's providential hand at work, guiding and blessing the progress and development of the mission work. We are looking forward to seeing much fruitful and productive work being done at and through this Study Centre.
At this time, we would request your prayers for the Wieske family as they together with the Recife believers work hard over the next few months to make the Study Centre property ready to accommodate the multitude of leadership training and church community building activities that are being planned for 2007. We would also ask you to consider the possibility of a special collection or fundraiser to contribute towards this important new step in the ongoing project of building up the church of the Lord in Recife, and also edifying the churches of Christ in the north east of Brazil. Our initial goal is to raise CAN$55,000 by the end of March. We are sure that the Wieskes would also appreciate a short note or email to encourage and support them as they continue to follow through the natural development of the mission work.
Greetings in Christ, the Lord of the Harvest,
Colin Van Delft corresponding secretary Maranatha Mission Board
One can only be thankful to read of such developments in the Mission field. Is the need for such a Centre itself not answer to the prayers of the church over many years?! Now we receive opportunity to confirm our prayers through monetary contributions. The Mission Board’s treasurer is sr Marcia Husson, 6598 Clayton Place, Surrey, BC, V3S 7N5.