Missionary Update: AJ & Barbara Hensley in Brazil [April 2013]

The Hensleys have spent nearly 15 years serving in Brazil. They run a vocational school and orphanage in Caraguatatuba and have also established a church and mission points throughout the city.

Dear friends and family,

The starting of this year has been just AWESOME. The past month we spent in the United States having our yearly check up. We have been given a clean bill of health except that I need to lose 10 pounds and do a diet adjustment.

Our new Church start is progressing by leaps and bounds. Our average for Sunday school is between 33 and 35 and for our Sunday night service, it is about the same average, it is just the reverse in adults to children with the greater number of children in the morning service. We were greatly blessed with 50 on Easter morning and 52 in the night service. These results are due to the blessing of being able to use our “New Bus” to pick up the children and adults. We have worked out the bus route schedule and plan on doing additional visitation in these neighborhoods to continue to build our attendance. How AWESOME is the God we serve!! These numbers are great but we only have 39 plastic chairs. I have made friends with a man who has a club next door to our Church (a private city soccer club where they meet to have their parties and come in the evenings to drink). He has loaned us chairs from his business. What is remarkable is that he went through his chairs and picked out chairs that did not have any beer names on the back of the chairs(advertising). We are being a light in the community.

While we were in the States we were blessed to have men from various Churches to take care of the work here. They were blessed by our people just as we are. We have a great little Church and the people are fantastic. Come down and meet them for yourself and you be the judge.

Building ping-pong tables for the prison.

The first three days back, while Barbara and Jenny are getting our house back in order, P.J. and I have been making ping pong tables for the prison. (P.J. and Jenny are visiting from Cornerstone Baptist Church). Just a reminder of what kind of prison we are working in–it is a prison for children. These inmates are from 14 to 24 years of age. This prison has no amenities, just four cement walls and a lot of steel bars.

It is an amazing story how God started this ministry in this prison: Myself and a couple of friends went to this prison to just visit and see the conditions in the prisons here in Brazil. While there, we got to go into the population and visit with the young men. Of course while I conversed with them, the warden saw that I was creating a friendship with the young men and that I talked different (you can take the man out of Kentucky but you cannot take the hillbilly out of the man)…the accent carries over into Portuguese. At the end of our tour of the prison we were asked where we were from and they were trying to relate the accent to the State, but were having some difficulty. We told them that we were from the United States. Then to my surprise the warden asked if I would be interested in giving English lessons for the young men and also to the administration. Of course was my resounding answer.

As you would guess, pastors and churches are not normally welcomed in this prison but God is still in the miracle business. So the next week I started a class with the young men. I prepared a lot of terms and phrases for them, but at the end of the class the monitor (guard) took up all the papers, pencils, etc. They were not allowed to keep the class materials in their cells. That would present a problem for learning English. We were told that there was nothing in their budget for books or material for this class and I asked if I could supply the books and the administration was glad to let us do that. So the next week when we showed up for the English class we had the study material and the English books in hand—-67 Bibles. These they were permitted to take into their cells. Where there is a will there is a way. For a prison that before this would not even let a Church or a pastor into their prison, God has made a way for a pastor and Bibles to enter into the prison.

While talking with the warden (a lady and an ex-principal), I told her of our Vocational School that we have here in town. She was immediately interested and asked if she could visit the School. The next day she and two of her top advisers visited the School and asked if we would be interested in training some of the most well behaved inmates at our School. The proposal was drawn up but with all of the tools and equipment that we have at the School the State will not give permission for the young men to come there. So we resolved to take the school to the prison. We now teach a refrigeration class on site at the prison on Saturday afternoon and two English classes during the day. How AWESOME is our God!!!

So now I pray before all classes, use the Bible for the English Class to teach morals, character, and skills useful in their return to society in these Vocational Classes. Simply AWESOME.

As a final touch to the prison ministry, they have asked if I would sit on their advisory board. Guess what the position is—not Chaplain , not Pastor —but Religious Adviser for the prison. Of course my answer was yes. God is so AWESOME.

We have stepped out on faith and purchased 60 chairs for the Church. They will be arriving in about 3 weeks.Our remodeling is still in progress and painting is the next step to getting everything in order. I am still having to talk very loud at this time because of not having any equipment right now. We have some microphones coming and some of the other needed equipment but until this gets here we will continue to holler. So what I am asking is that you continue to pray for this new work and our people and us as we move forward for the Kingdom’s Glory.

To see what God is doing here in Brasil come down and experience it personally. The bed is turned down and we will put a little more water in the beans. Come on down.

In His service,

Aj and Barbara

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