FORTALEZA, Brazil (BP)–Taxicab passengers in Fortaleza, Brazil will get a gospel witness thanks to boys in at least 13 Southern Baptist churches who helped Brazilian missionaries Rob and Phyllis Hefner launch an outreach project.
And the hands-on involvement in a missions project taught the boys an important lesson — that they can make a positive, even life-changing, difference in other people’s lives right where they are.
Since Fortaleza, a city of more than 3 million people, has so many taxicabs, Hefner had wanted to put gospel literature racks in taxis for a long time. But he put the idea on the back burner because he didn’t have the resources to pull it off.
Then Vickie Wilson, a writer for “Lad” and “Crusader” Royal Ambassador missions magazines, contacted Hefner, wanting to include a missions project for first through sixth grade boys in the magazines.
The Hefners decided to suggest the literature racks, which are made of lightweight denim or cloth literature racks and would be simple enough for the boys to assemble. The project was included in the March 2001 issue of the magazines.
“This project has totally blown us away,” Hefner said.
When the literature racks began arriving in Fortaleza, they wouldn’t all fit in Hefner’s post office box.
“We were overwhelmed!” he said. “To be honest, I didn’t think anyone would respond.”
With the help of a Brazilian seminary student, João Araújo, the Hefners will distribute the racks to taxi drivers and keep them stocked with tracts.
“There are a number of Christian “taxistas” (taxi drivers) who we are prayerfully sure will accept the racks for their cabs,” Hefner said. “These will be our launching points for the car placements.”
Many people think future generations are close to being missions illiterate said Wilson, an RA leader at Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving, Texas.
“Sometimes we put children’s missions education at a lower level than we do other church and secular activities,” she said. “To me, it should be in the forefront.
“The act of actually becoming missionaries themselves, whether it be in the local community or by providing for the needs of a missionary halfway around the world, can help the child realize they can be missionaries too, no matter what their age.”
By doing mission action projects like these, boys learn they “can make a positive, even life-changing, difference in other’s lives right where they are,” said Tim Weadon, RA leader at Fairview Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va.
“What I remember most is seeing the effort and the desire the boys had to do a good job, especially those who were not so interested at first,” Weadon said. “The more we told them about how Mr. Hefner would use them, and all the lives he can touch, the more they put into making them.”
The project helped boys at First Baptist Church in Hindman, Ky., use various skills and learn to work together.
RA leader Karen Watts said one boy in her group learned about sacrifice when he sent his literature rack to the Hefners even though he wanted to keep it for himself.
The project has led to future ministry projects, Watts said.
“One of the boy’s great-grandmother who is in her 80s sewed the racks for us. We went to visit and thank her, and now we have begun to visit other homebound members of our church,” she said.
The best part, however, is that the literature racks will go on ministering even though the project of making them is over.
“It’s a project with eternal meaning,” Weadon said.
— Prayer needs from Brazil: www.imb.org/CompassionNet/countries.asp
— Discover channels of service to join God on mission: www.imb.org/you/Going
— Missions resources for youth and children: http://namb.net/root/resources/missioneducation ,a href=”http://www.wmu.com/wmu/organizations”>www.wmu.com/wmu/organizations
— Order IMB resources: www.imb.org/resources