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Tristan Taylor

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FLAVORS: Shared meals fuel student ministry

SÃO PAULO, Brazil (BP) -- Chris Julian could not do his job without food. "I think it's vital," Julian, an IMB missionary in Brazil, said. "We have found that food is such a connection. Food is such an icebreaker. It's just a natural thing."

Baptist hospital implants new heart, new hope

Read the other stories in this package: Dying Paraguay mission hospital is transformed, given new life Paraguay Baptist clinics treat, minister to poor ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay (BP) — At only 5 years old, Tatiana Benítez was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a severe heart condition. Doctors told her parents that without a transplant, the Paraguayan girl would […]

Dying Paraguay mission hospital is transformed, given new life

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay (BP) -- Marlin Harris' mission was clear in 1988 when he arrived in Paraguay as a Southern Baptist missionary: guide the transition of the mission hospital into a Paraguayan-run Baptist institution. But during one of Harris' first meetings with the Paraguayan Baptist leaders, a convention leader stood and said, "There's an elephant in this room, and that is that you all are trying to give to us the Baptist hospital. And it's in such bad shape, we don't want it." "Man," Harris realized, "we've got a long way to go here." Harris, who had helped administer hospitals in Mississippi and Texas, assessed the hospital's needs. The accounting system needed to be completely reworked for financial soundness. But more importantly, the administration needed to be reorganized to involve the Paraguayans more in management. Harris identified key leaders with the conceptual ability and the maturity to handle more responsibility, he said, but realized he needed one more person in place. A contact put Harris in touch with an Argentine pastor's son named Ernesto Simari, a solid businessman who wanted to work in ministry. Harris hired Simari as his assistant. "It was an adventure of faith, knowing that I was answering a call from God," Simari said. "We started working under a participatory leadership, and we defined the vision and the mission of the hospital, which gave us a clear view of where we needed to go." Shortly after Simari's arrival, Harris and his family returned to the United States to care for Harris' ill mother. The hospital was left in the care of Simari and the new Paraguayan management. It was almost a year before Harris was able to return. "I remember when I walked [back] into the hospital," Harris says. "I could just feel things were different. ... They were able to move forward." The struggling mission hospital had transformed into a full medical center with a reputation for excellent medical care and fair business dealings. It was this credibility that inspired a group of local medical professionals from non-evangelical institutions to approach Harris with an idea. "They said, 'We want to start a heart institute, and we don't feel like any other institution in the city could pull it off except this institution,'" Harris says. Harris and Simari had not considered taking the medical center in such a specialized direction, but they couldn't ignore the significance of the request. To generate the revenue needed for financial stability, the medical center already was building 20 private patient rooms. Creating a heart institute meant taking on an additional million-dollar project. "It was risky at the time," Harris said. "But it was just a decision of faith, and we felt like God wanted us to do it."

Paraguay Baptist clinics treat, minister to poor

Read the other stories in this package: Dying Paraguay mission hospital is transformed, given new life Baptist hospital implants new heart, new hope ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay (BP) — When Edith Cáceres de González says she loves Paraguay’s indigenous Maká people, she means it. The Paraguayan nurse has spent her career working full time among the Maká, […]

Baptist hospital implants new heart, new hope

Read the other stories in this package: Dying Paraguay mission hospital is transformed, given new life Paraguay Baptist clinics treat, minister to poor ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay (BP) — At only 5 years old, Tatiana Benítez was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a severe heart condition. Doctors told her parents that without a transplant, the Paraguayan girl would […]

Dying Paraguay mission hospital is transformed, given new life

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay (BP) -- Marlin Harris' mission was clear in 1988 when he arrived in Paraguay as a Southern Baptist missionary: guide the transition of the mission hospital into a Paraguayan-run Baptist institution. But during one of Harris' first meetings with the Paraguayan Baptist leaders, a convention leader stood and said, "There's an elephant in this room, and that is that you all are trying to give to us the Baptist hospital. And it's in such bad shape, we don't want it." "Man," Harris realized, "we've got a long way to go here." Harris, who had helped administer hospitals in Mississippi and Texas, assessed the hospital's needs. The accounting system needed to be completely reworked for financial soundness. But more importantly, the administration needed to be reorganized to involve the Paraguayans more in management. Harris identified key leaders with the conceptual ability and the maturity to handle more responsibility, he said, but realized he needed one more person in place. A contact put Harris in touch with an Argentine pastor's son named Ernesto Simari, a solid businessman who wanted to work in ministry. Harris hired Simari as his assistant. "It was an adventure of faith, knowing that I was answering a call from God," Simari said. "We started working under a participatory leadership, and we defined the vision and the mission of the hospital, which gave us a clear view of where we needed to go." Shortly after Simari's arrival, Harris and his family returned to the United States to care for Harris' ill mother. The hospital was left in the care of Simari and the new Paraguayan management. It was almost a year before Harris was able to return. "I remember when I walked [back] into the hospital," Harris says. "I could just feel things were different. ... They were able to move forward." The struggling mission hospital had transformed into a full medical center with a reputation for excellent medical care and fair business dealings. It was this credibility that inspired a group of local medical professionals from non-evangelical institutions to approach Harris with an idea. "They said, 'We want to start a heart institute, and we don't feel like any other institution in the city could pull it off except this institution,'" Harris says. Harris and Simari had not considered taking the medical center in such a specialized direction, but they couldn't ignore the significance of the request. To generate the revenue needed for financial stability, the medical center already was building 20 private patient rooms. Creating a heart institute meant taking on an additional million-dollar project. "It was risky at the time," Harris said. "But it was just a decision of faith, and we felt like God wanted us to do it."

Paraguay Baptist clinics treat, minister to poor

Read the other stories in this package: Dying Paraguay mission hospital is transformed, given new life Baptist hospital implants new heart, new hope ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay (BP) — When Edith Cáceres de González says she loves Paraguay’s indigenous Maká people, she means it. The Paraguayan nurse has spent her career working full time among the Maká, […]

Prostitute made new in Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO (BP) -- Viviane Avelina Bezerra's face does not match her story. The shy 25-year-old Brazilian with big brown eyes and a gentle smile carries herself with such humility and kindness that no one would guess that only a year ago, Viviane was selling her body just to get by.

WEEK OF PRAYER: Danger on Rio’s streets doesn’t deter him from Gospel witness

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (BP) -- It weighs on his heart: One day, he will go out to share the Gospel and not come back. IMB missionary Eric Reese serves on one of the most dangerous mission fields in South America -- the gang-controlled favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"I wrote a letter to my wife," Reese says. "I said, 'Honey, if I don't return, be strong. Let the girls know Dad's going to miss them. That God's got a plan for their lives, too.'" [QUOTE@left@180=To read other stories from Rio, click here and here.]Reese's passion is taking the Gospel to drug dealers, gang members and prostitutes. "I want to love and show those people that they're not a forgotten people group," he says. "They're not an unimportant people to Christ. Everybody has the same value at the foot of the cross." Reese and his wife Ramona have served in Brazil since 1999 and have raised their daughters Gloria, 13, and Alicia, 9, in Rio's megacity milieu. The Reeses are from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.
Ramona works with women in the favelas and other low-income women in Rio. In the past few years, God has shifted her outreach to include middle-class wives and mothers she meets at the gym and at her daughters' school and ballet practices. Though Ramona rarely enters violent neighborhoods with her husband, his being there affects the whole family. "I think I was really naïve and didn't really understand what was going on the first four years," she says. "But then you start seeing people die -- people that you know. And you understand what's really going on...." That reality for Ramona hit home the night the police called Eric and asked him to serve as a mediator in a potential gunfight. He was the only person both sides trusted. She didn't want Eric to go, but she didn't ask him to stay. She told her husband to follow God's leading. "I was so afraid. You know how when you're just so afraid, you can't do anything but pray?" Ramona says. Looking back, the Reeses realize how Eric's decision to go that night opened doors to share about Christ. "I don't find that Jesus said, 'If you've got people with guns in front of you, don't share the Gospel,'" Reese says. "I'm not going to let men stop me from sharing the Gospel. No matter what the obstacles are, you see, the Gospel has got to get to these people."

Brazilian drug lord receptive to the Gospel

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (BP) -- A drug lord called "The Godfather" wanted Eric Reese dead.