Thoughts and Prayers

Late Sunday Night, three men broke into the home of Mark and Lori Procopio in Brazil while they were sleeping. They were woken up, and watched as the men stole most of their valuable items, including phones, laptops, and cash. The family is physically fine, but were badly shaken up. Passports for Mark, Caroline, and William were stolen with accompanied belongings. Also taken was the passport belonging to Anna Valance, who is currently visiting Mark and Lori with her aunt Mary Valance.

They covet your prayers for their well-being, their safety, and the continuing work in Brazil. They feel that God must have some big plans for the work there, and Satan is trying his best to discourage them. Pray that all goes well as they attempt to get passports for Mark, Caroline and William, and that Anna can secure a passport in order to travel back to the states.

It has been several weeks since Lori asked me to write a followup entry to my essay. Over the course of those weeks, I have sat down several times with every intention of finishing what I started. However, it was only a matter of minutes before something came up, or I got “writer’s block”. Tonight however, things are different. Circumstances have changed. In light of what has transpired over the past few days, I can only hope that what the Lord has laid on my heart to write will be a comfort and an encouragement to Mark, Lori, Caroline, and William. With that in mind, I am going to break this into two parts: first, I will address everyone else that will read this, and then address the Procopio family.

In addressing everyone else, I want to describe what I saw when I travelled to Brazil with uncle Paul, Stephanie, and Kate. I will tell you that in all the previous times I attempted to write this, I tried to write in-depth, detailed descriptions of nearly every part of the trip. Clearly, that didn’t work. So this time, I’ll cut straight to the chase. I saw two things while I was there. The first thing that I saw there was a need. Mind you, there was plenty of need, and although Mark and Lori have tried to meet those material needs in any way they could, this was the kind of need that only God could meet. The Procopios moved there with a desire to help children on the streets who had nothing and nowhere to go by providing them with a home. Lord willing, they will accomplish their goal of building an orphanage there. However, I believe that there was, and still is, the desire in their hearts to first and foremost present the Savior to these children, and see them saved. After all, what riches could compare to those in Christ, and what better home to have that a Heavenly one?

The second thing I saw there was a family who was willing to give themselves completely to God, and say to Him, “Please use us in any way you see fit to meet the need that there is here.” I have to admit that in my own life, I have fallen terribly short of giving to God all that he deserves of me. I find my mind daily going back to the words of David: “And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?” So when I see people around me who are willing to give their all to God, I am greatly encouraged by it, and I hope you will be too. Now, I want to address Mark, Lori, Caroline, and William. Yesterday (Monday), when I was shown an email from uncle Paul describing what happened to you, I thought that surely something like that could never happen to someone so close to us. That kind of thing only happened to other people. Then I had to remind myself that, to everyone else on the planet, you are other people. How quickly my mind began to think of what had happened as some terrible mistake, how it was something that never should have happened. And yet, all that thinking changed tonight. As I sat in a quiet circle and listened as one by one, men got up to collectively raise their voices to God in prayer for you and your family, I was reminded in their prayers that this was not a mistake. What happened was all God’s design. I was brought to realize how glad I am that I am not in control of it all. We as humans are weak and fallen creatures, but it is Almighty God who is in control, and what comfort we can take in the fact that he knows the end from the beginning. Through it all, his loving hand was watching over each of you and nothing that happened was outside of His divine will. In those prayers, we were reminded of the words of the hymn writer who said:

He when He sojourned here below,

Poured forth His cries and tears;

And, though exalted, feels afresh What every member bears.

I know that I do not need to tell you this, but we are praying for you. We were also reminded in prayer that, just like Christ feels every burden that you feel now, when one member of His body suffers, the other members feel it too. Which is why the next words of that hymn are so precious:

Then boldly let our faith address His mercy and His power;

We shall obtain delivering grace In each distressing hour.

I believe that it was Chris who reminded us in his prayer for you about several people in the Bible who, although they experienced times of trouble, God had bigger plans. When Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold, falsely accused, and thrown into prison, I am sure he looked around at what happened to him and thought, “This is a mistake! Surely this is not God’s will!” And yet because of his suffering, he was able to deliver his family, and by extension, an entire nation. Perhaps it is His will that your testimony will convict the men who broke into your house of their sin, and will ultimately bring them to Christ. It may be that those around you will, through you, see Christ in the peace and hope that you have. I certainly do not pretend to know God’s will, but I know this, that “…all things work together for good to those who love God.” I am sure that I am not the only one who has been encouraged by your steadfastness and your testimony to God. We are all praying for you. We love you. God bless!

Press forward and fear not! The Billows may roll, But the Power of Jesus Their rage can control: Though waves rise in anger, Their tumult shall cease; One word of His bidding Shall his them to peace.

Press forward and fear not! Though trial be near; The Lord is our refuge, Whom, then, shall we fear? His staff is our comfort, Our safeguard His rod; Then let us be steadfast And trust in our God.

Press forward and fear not! Be strong in the Lord, In the power of His promise, The truth of His word; Through the sea and the desert Our pathway may tend, But He who hath saved us Will save to the end.

Press forward and fear not! We’ll speed on our way; Why should we e’er shrink From our path in dismay? We tread but the way Which our Leader has trod; Then let us press forward, And trust in our God.

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