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March 2014

Life on Purpose

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Your Gifts at Work

Over the past year, your gifts to Free Will Baptist International Missions have made a profound impact on lives around the globe. Enjoy the stories of people affected by your gifts at work.


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Little Surprises

by Steve Riggs, Chateaubriant, France

I don’t remember who said it, or even when, but at some point during my student years I heard someone say: “The only thing you know for sure about ministry is that it won’t work out like you expect it will.”

We make plans and strategies. We set goals and objectives—all good and necessary. But it rarely seems our plans work out exactly the way we think they should. Perhaps it’s one of the ways the Lord reminds us it really is His work, and He alone gets the glory. Perhaps it’s a means to test our motivation for ministry. Or, perhaps, it’s His way to humble us when we think we have all the answers. Then again, maybe it’s none of these. Maybe it is just a constant reminder that we need Him and must trust Him.

I have come to appreciate that things don’t always work out like I expect them to do. Sometimes, I find the Lord has “little surprises” that accomplish greater things than we had planned. One of those little surprises has been a Chinese student by the name of Gao (pronounced Go) we have had the joy to get to know this past summer.


It all started with a phone call from a friend who asked if we could help a Chinese student coming to Châteaubriant. Just the fact that a student from China would show up in this relatively obscure French village is a surprise in itself. With one phone call, we were able to help Gao find lodging. It was also my privilege to meet with him regularly for discipleship studies.

Gao’s story—like all of our stories really—is pretty remarkable. He came to France to study at the University of Nancy. He came in contact with other Chinese students who are Christians. They introduced Gao to Bible studies led over SKYPE by a Chinese Christian living in the United States. After a short time of participating in these studies, Gao became a follower of Christ. During the past summer, it was my privilege to have a part in his spiritual growth, teaching Him the Bible…in French.

We have both laughed about the odds that we would meet. Gao doesn’t speak English. I certainly don’t know any Mandarin. Yet, here we are studying God’s Word together in French—an aging American missionary in a small French town and a young Chinese believer who met Christ in France through a SKYPE Bible study. Go figure! Well, I guess I really can’t figure it out, but I have enjoyed this little surprise God inserted in my finely-tuned plans.

Because of gifts to International Missions, I was in Châteaubriant at the right time to minister to a young, Chinese Christian and many others seeking Christ.

About the Writers: Steve and Becky Riggs began working in France almost 30 years ago. Late in 2012, they moved to Châteaubriant, a central city in an area of 31 towns with little evangelical presence, to work with a French couple to plant a church.


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Changing Lives, One Family at a Time

By Kenneth Eagleton, Brazil

A few days ago, I received a phone call from Sergio and Claudia. It had been some time since we had talked, and they wanted to chat and exchange news about our families. In 2004, while Rejane and I were living in Belo Horizonte, and I was leading the church there, this couple and their two teenage daughters walked into a service on a Sunday evening. I approached them, introduced myself, and asked if they would accept a visit at their home. They readily agreed.

When I arrived at their apartment, I had barely walked in the door when they began pouring out their hearts. They had been wealthy real estate developers until the company failed, and they lost everything. They were left with debts, civil law suits, and unemployment. Their marriage was under tremendous strain. I learned later they were considering suicide. They had reached rock bottom.

Before, they didn’t need God, but in their despair, they desperately searched for Him. Sergio grew up in a nominally Protestant family and Claudia in a Catholic one, but they knew nothing about the Bible or salvation. We began weekly Bible studies and, by the third or fourth week, both gave their lives to the Lord. The girls soon followed. I had the privilege of discipling and baptizing this family and seeing God change their lives in amazing ways.

The road back to financial stability has been a long and painful one, but the Lord has honored their faithfulness. They found jobs and eventually assumed ownership of a real estate office. They have been able to get out of debt, settle their lawsuits, and buy a home.
But the greatest change happened inside their home. God restored their marriage and their family. Although we moved away from Belo Horizonte in December 2005, we have maintained contact with them. God has given them a desire to help other couples going through marital problems. They received training from a marriage enrichment organization and lead weekly meetings with couples taking the course.

During our phone conversation, they related the results of their most recent course. Five couples came to take the classes as a last attempt at getting help for their marriage before they filed for divorce. God has done a work of restoration in the marriages of all five couples. Praise the Lord!

Sergio repeated what he has said many times: “You are our spiritual parents. Every time we give our testimony of how the Lord saved us and restored our family, we tell them He used you in our lives.” Claudia asked, “Do you have any more Bible studies on the Christian family you could pass on to us?”

I am so thankful for those who have given generously so we can minister to people like Sergio and Claudia, people who continue to minister to others.

About the Writers: Kenneth and Rejane Eagleton currently live in Campinas, Brazil. Kenneth serves as regional director for Latin America and Côte d’Ivoire. He also coordinates and teaches in the Bible institute in Campinas.


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A Widow’s Mite

Every Sunday, during the worship service at Marincek FWB Church in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, the words “your faith-promise for missions” are uttered. The leader of the service asks those present to bow their heads in prayer and invites those who brought gifts to the Lord to drop their tithes, offerings, and faith promises in the wooden box at the front of the church.

We have tried to teach Brazilian believers it is their responsibility to send the gospel to the world. Most of them know that churches and congregations in the States provide our financial support. Over the years, we have heard people say, “How thankful we are that someone so far away, was willing to give, so Bobby and Geneva could come and preach the gospel in Brazil.”

Along with other Free Will Baptist missionaries, we have taught “our” disciples that every Christian has the responsibility to go and “preach the gospel to every creature.” The Marincek FWB Church is helping to support an ordained pastor from First FWB Church in Ribeirão Preto and a family from the Jaboticabal FWB Church who work as missionaries to Uruguay, in cooperation with the Free Will Baptist work in that country.

In September, we received an email from one of these workers expressing a critical need for $400 to meet their children’s educational expenses. I shared the email with the church and asked them to pray. That very morning, without knowing the need, a dear lady gave $450 saying it was her accumulated “faith promise.”

Dona Luiza is an elderly widow and faithful servant of the Lord. She lives in a simple four-room house. I imagine her monthly retirement pension is less than her “Faith Promise to Missions” offering.

For the past two years, the Marincek FWB Church has participated in the World Missions Offering, and our people have given well. They are thankful for the sacrificial gifts of those in the United States and the gifts of love that sent missionaries around the world. Our people are learning “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” We are thankful that so many in the States have given so others could hear the gospel, follow Christ, and participate in the call to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.


About the Writers: Bobby and Geneva Poole served more than 50 years with Free Will Baptist International Missions. Geneva was welcomed home November 20, 2013. Read more in News Around the World.



©2014 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists