First Baptist Church

Dick & Mavis Buck - September 14, 2010


Dear friends,


Sunday was a long--sometimes-trying--day. Things started strangely during prayer time before the Aratu morning service. Nivaldo, a Bible-college graduate, came prepared to preach. Dick, the Interim Pastor, came prepared to preach. What's going on here? The Church has a monthly bulletin. For some reason, Nivaldo indeed was listed to preach therein. Dick hadn't noticed, because in the portion of the bulletin that he'd prepared, his name was listed, and not Nivaldo's. Dick is not possessive of the pulpit. So, he was glad to give Nivaldo the privilege of preaching. He did a fine job.


We'd prayed fervently for the monthly business meeting which followed. That's how often they do those here. Several potentially hot items were on the agenda. Our people like to talk and talk at these meetings, with lots of repetition. Dick suggested that the Church adopt a 15-minute limit on discussions about any subject. "Otherwise," he said, "we could be here till 1:30." Much to his joy, the item passed without even a minute of discussion.


One tough item involved releasing a teenage boy from Church discipline. It passed with tears of joy and a prepared, thankful speech by him thanking the Lord and the congregation for loving him. We weren't sure how the vote would go. Praise the Lord, it was unanimous.


Far more difficult was a proposal to ask the Pastor of a daughter rural work to resign. If not, he'd be removed by the Mother Church. There were several ramifications, and this was a time where the 15-minute limit really paid off. Others wanted to talk, but respected the self-imposed norm. More on this below. Even with the limitations, the session went nearly till noon. But it ended joyfully, with no evident hard feelings. Thank you, Lord.


At 3 in the afternoon, we met with a couple working at another of the 6 branch ministries. Dick went directly with them to a 5 o'clock meeting with the deacons. During this, the couple repeated what they'd told us: That the behavior of an adult couple regarding "appearance of evil" was causing problems in their ministries. The girlfriend lives in Aratu, the man in the rural village. She's a frequent visitor. Therein lie the problems. More on this below, too.


The bulletin said Dick was going to preach in the evening service. So, he did. But some other neat things happened before that. For one thing, despite earlier rain and the threat of more, the house was full. We thrilled also to the debut of a singing group consisting of 6 teenage boys, plus 2 playing instruments. The congregation sang joyfully with them. Dick congratulated the Church for its vision in having invested in the instruments and sound system to make this participation possible.


Exciting reports were heard from the interior missionaries--both in their 70's. And about a State ladies' prayer congress held the day before in a town 45 minutes away. Over 200 attended. Mavis had the privilege of being their speaker. The Aratu women invited the group to its next get-together in November. Our goal is to assemble 300.


After the service, Dick and the deacons met with the girlfiriend mentioned above. Things were tense at first. She was belligerent. Dick once again was thankful for the wisdom of the men with whom he serves. The lady's spirits were calmed, and she accepted the rationale offered. Thus, she agreed not to visit the town until after their December wedding.


With all that done, we headed for Salvador, arriving around 11. We should've been wiped out. But once more, by God's grace, we weren't. Oh, sure, sleep came quickly. But this in the midst of much "joy in serving Jesus".


THANKLESS TASK--The weekend ahead is going to be TOUGH. Dick and 9 members of the Church Board will travel 3 hours Saturday afternoon to Itaberaba. Upon arrival, we'll meet with the Pastor and his wife and communicate the Church's decision (above). Our 2 hyper-efficient lady treasurers will be on hand to explain the severance package for him. We have no idea what his reactions will be.


Sunday morning, we'll meet with the churchfolks, detailing the action taken and plans for the near and more-distant future. Dick will remain to preach at the evening service, whereas the others will head back after lunch. He'll return on a Monday-morning bus. Mavis won't be going.


Please, please, join us in prayer. Why this drastic action? To put it briefly, when this Pastor took over 7 years ago, he inherited a strong, sizable group. It's now down to a dozen or so. His often-strange practices drove away virtually all the solid folks over the years. Aratu should've acted sooner. But now, it concluded that things can't go any farther.


It isn't always easy. But it is the Lord's work. And we thank Him for the privilege of being His servants, be the moments glad or sad. May He bless and equip you for all He has for you to do.


Energized by and for Christ,


Dick & Mavis Buck