For the next few weeks we will hear stories about children who live in Brazil. [Locate Brazil on a map.]
Marcos lives in a small town in central Brazil. He has attended church all his life. His small church shares a pastor with several other churches in nearby towns. So the pastor can’t be at their church every week. Then members of the church take turns leading the worship service.
A few years ago Marcos spoke during a children’s Week of Prayer in his church. He worked hard to learn his sermon and present it well. Many people said God blessed them through his sermon. So after that the leaders often asked Marcos to preach for church. Marcos would like to become a pastor when he grows up. Marcos knows that a pastor does more than preach. He often goes with the pastor to visit people who are sick or sad.
Word of Marcos’ talent to preach spread, and now Marcos and his mother take the bus to another little town where he preaches once a month in a small church in his pastor’s district. The members like hearing him preach. “Marcos helps us realize that we can do more than we think we can if we just ask God to help us,” one church member says.
Churches in South America encourage everyone to help the church grow. They divide their congregations into small groups that meet in members’ homes. Then they invite their friends and neighbors to join them and learn more about God and the Bible.
Marcos’ church had several small groups, but they were all for adults. Marcos wanted to start a group for children and teenagers, so he asked his pastor for help. The pastor gave him some leader’s materials just for children and teens, and encouraged Marcos to invite his school friends and neighbors to start his own small group.
Marcos studied the material and then invited his friends and neighbors to come. Now 10 or 12 children come every week. Half of these are from the church, and the rest are classmates and neighbors. The small group meets in Marcos’ home. They sing songs and do a group activity, such as play a game or discuss some questions.
“One time we blew up balloons and held them in our hand,” Marcos said. “In the other hand we held objects that could pop a balloon. Then we tried to pop other people’s balloons while protecting our own. Then we talked about how the balloons represent our lives and how the sharp objects represented obstacles that come across our path. We talked about how God helps protect us from the obstacles in our lives so that we can grow stronger and not fail.
After the activity we have a lesson. Sometimes we use lessons that come in the leader’s booklet, and other times we plan our own lesson. But everyone in the group gets a chance to lead out in an activity or a lesson. This helps everyone learn to be leaders,” he says.
Marcos loves telling others about Jesus. But last year something happened that made him sad. His father stopped attending church. “Church members visit him and tell him they miss him,” Marcos says. “And Mom and my brothers and sisters and I pray that he’ll come back to God. He comes to church when I preach, so I try to preach a sermon that will touch his heart. I know that some of my sermons have touched him, for I could see tears in his eyes. I just pray that he will listen to God’s voice and come back. My father’s choice to leave God has made me want to follow God’s leading and serve even more,” he says.
Marcos has asked us to pray for his father and for everyone who has turned their back on God. “We must stay faithful to Jesus,” he says. “I want everyone to know that no matter what difficulties we face in our lives, God loves us. We must pray for one another and be faithful to Jesus.”
Let’s pray now for Marcos’ father and everyone who needs to give their heart to God.
[Close with prayer.]