On August 9, Linda Freeman (a member of First Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth) and Bertha Vaughn (a member of Bethany Baptist Church in Houston) joined seven other Texas Baptist church leaders through the African American Ministry. Each followed the call to serve eight days in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil. Here the team did door-to-door evangelism and held Bible studies for Quilombola villagers under a shade tree. Read Freeman's and Vaughn's testimony as they recall unforgettable experiences from the village visits.
BRAZIL - It was a fascinating day. We visited two of the Quilombola villages. In the last village we visited there was a very profound and an exhilarating Christian experience. Pastoral Keith Jefferson, Pastor Darryl Flincher, Pastor Gary Jones, Pastor Roy Cotton, Sister Bertha Vaughn and I were asked to go out as a team to witness to the villagers.
Their homes were surrounded by running rivers, beautiful foliage, plentiful fruit trees, cashews trees, palm trees and a myriad of vegetation. And the flowers...so, so, many: marigolds, vincas, zinnias, hostas, daisies, just too many to name but ever so beautiful. This village is up in the mountains, and we traveled dirt roads to witness to the Quilombolas.
In this village, there were still homes built originally from mud, and the newer homes were built of bricks. Although the homes were very modest, they were clean and beautiful.
Before going out together as a group to tell about the goodness of God, I witnessed an amazing feat by one of the Quilombola boys. He climbed a papaya tree with the swiftness of the wind and plucked the fruit from the tree. It was barely enough time to take a picture, but I did get it.
As we went out amongst the Quilombolas, Pastoral Jefferson asked us to share our testimonies to the first Quilombola woman the team met walking through the village. Pastor Jefferson translated what was said from English to Portuguese. While witnessing and sharing testimonies with her she shared what had happened to her and her family that morning. Before leaving, Sister Bertha prayed and the Quilombola woman told us she had no food. There was a community store in the village. We went with Pastoral Jefferson, and he brought her food.
Before we left she told Pastoral Jefferson she was willing to accept salvation and she would be coming down to the church.
While prayer walking with Linda Freeman, Keith Jefferson, Darrel Fincher and Gary Jones, we were sharing testimonies and the Gospel in the village called Engenho da Ponte. As we were walking on an intersecting road on top of a hill above, we heard a voice calling out from a path below.
Brother Darrel stated "That's our 'Macedonian Call,' y'all. Let's follow it." We changed directions and followed the voice from below and encountered this Quilombola woman happily washing clothes. The scenery from her vantage point was very beautiful with lots of graceful green trees, grassy rolling hills and a quiet running stream of water. The breeze was cool and gentle.
Linda and I were so inspired we joined her and were also happy washing clothes by hand. The woman stated, "This takes me all day...but...I stop many times and do many things."
Brother Keith Jefferson translated for us, because the woman spoke Portuguese. About that time the phone rang in her small mud house. The area around it was landscaped and trimmed. She returned and joined us washing.
This Quilombola woman had two sons who lived with her. Her sons were Christian and active in the village church - First Igreja Batista Missiona'ria Nos Quilombos. Although she was not a Christian and chose not to make a salvation decision yet, she did allow us to pray for her.
The Quilombolas of Brazil are descendents of African runaway slaves who founded their own villages. Of the 2,800 plus Quilombolas villages, about 95% are tucked away in remote areas of Brazil. The Quilombolas are known as a "forgotten people" with no voice in politics or the ability to better their impoverished circumstances. Many villages are made up of extended family, with no outsiders.
The team asks for prayer for the Quilombolas in the following areas:
- That the Quilombolas will be reached with the Gospel;
- That missionaries can develop relationship with the Quilombolas; and
- That health clinics can be places of healing, both physically and spiritually, as healthcare workers share the Gospel.
To learn more about the African American Ministry, visit texasbaptists.org/aam.