On June 25, 2016 Faith Bible Seminary’s third cohort graduated. Several members of the graduating class served as interns at Faith Church, and so we’ve asked them to reflect on their time at Faith and give us an update as to what their future plans are. Read all of the Interns’ Lessons Learned & Future Plans posts.
I really don’t believe we should live life in the expectation that when ______ happens, life will get better. And that is surely not the case for my family right now. In fact, there is little we know about what the future holds for us. But this we know—it’s time to leave. My wife, daughter and I will fly back to Brazil in about a month. There are so many details to plan when moving from one country to another, but in these last days here in the U.S.A. my mind is more focused on evaluating the past three years than really trying to figure out the details of our coming years in Brazil. For this reason, I would like to share a few lessons I learned and some of God’s blessings from our time here in Lafayette, IN.
Maybe the biggest lesson I learned during seminary was to be aware of my prideful heart. It is amazing how prone I am to seek my own interests and do whatever necessary to please myself. My pride showed itself in every instance of my life, through actions, words and thoughts. However, as I learned to see my pride, I was constantly reminded that in Christ I could find forgiveness, and that by his power I could replace my pride with the humility that comes from Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 2:5–11). And God used many situations to teach me that. Maybe one of the most remarkable ones was my weekly opportunity to clean some toilets at the community center. How many times I wished I didn’t have to do that part of the job. Well, Jesus showed me through his death that, in fact, serving is very hard and will not always be a pleasant experience. But he promised to be with me (Matthew 28:20).
Another big lesson I learned here at Faith Church was about stewardship. God expects me to be a good steward not only of the material things I own or the gifts he gave me, but he also expects me to use my daily moments to glorify him. He expects me to use every and each opportunity to share his love and grace. God blesses me so that I can be a channel of blessing to others. He blesses me so that he can receive the due glory as I make use of these blessings to love others. I am not the end of God’s blessings. God is. And that only happens when I use them to reflect his character and love others. I learned that a good steward is merely a channel of grace.
I also learned that ministry is hard work. Not that I haven’t experienced hard work before. Actually, ten years ago I began an internship at a major law firm in São Paulo. That was hard work. But it was hard work for the wrong self-centered reasons. For some time, I thought that maybe the life of ministry would be lighter. It is not. But it is much more fulfilling to work with Christ-centered motivations. And I say that not only for the ministry work I now do, but for any type of work. I wish I knew that ten years ago.
Another precious lesson I learned was about God’s provision. Of course we all know God said he would take care of our needs. But I confess leaving a career as a lawyer to get back to being an intern and now a seminary student brought me many uncertainties. Would I be able to provide for my family? Oh, man of little faith… God showed himself so generous to us through the instrumentality of Faith Church and other brothers and sisters from Brazil. It pains me to think I doubted his promises. But his compassion not only granted us all we needed materially, it provided us forgiveness in Christ—even for my sin of worry.
Counting The Blessings
I could continue to share lessons I learned during these past three years. But I want to use this space to also share some of the blessings God has poured over my family during our time in Lafayette. First, I thank God for allowing us to receive the training for ministry at Faith Bible Seminary. The model that FBS adopts helped us graduate debt free. I’ve got to count that blessing, right? But more than that, God used FBS to prepare us academically and practically for ministry. Our involvement in the church ministries allowed us to experience the real life of a church. I participated in deacons’ meetings, staff meetings, counseling sessions, etc. I was able to lead a small group, teach Faith Community Institute classes, plan and organize events, etc. All these experiences taught me a lot about how a church which is active in its community should work.
I also value all the counseling training I received here at Faith Church. Going back to Brazil as a certified Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) counselor will not only allow me to better counsel others, but also to help the Brazilian Association of Biblical Counselors to become an ACBC certified training center. I am very thankful for all the Monday training classes, conference sessions, and the supervision Pastor Viars provided in the process of my certification.
The main blessing, which we will never ever forget, are the friendships God allowed us to build. How amazing it was for us to arrive here in Lafayette and find out that our house has been prepared by a loving family that didn’t even know who we were. They lovingly arranged all the furniture and carefully prepared everything for our arrival.
Also, living life together with the people in our small group was a huge blessing. We shared our struggles together, blessings, difficult times, good times, always trying to encourage one another in the hope of the Gospel. We will never forget how you organized the baby shower for Bella and our little Ana Luisa.
Another group that played a big part in our lives were the international students from Purdue Bible Fellowship International (PBFi). What a ble
ssing it is to see God working in the lives of people from different cultures, just like us. What a blessing it was to build friendships with people from China, Korea, Indonesia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, etc. God is the God of the nations. These students showed us that in their lives.
Finally, living life together with our fellow interns was always a great encouragement and an amazing blessing. We cleaned toilets together. W
e planned picnics together. We had similar heart struggles. We had the same papers to write. But more importantly, we have the same God and the same Savior. And being part of this group was a blessing because we were constantly reminding each other where our focus should be—the glory of our Creator.
For all of this, we praise God. We thank God for Faith Church, for all the investment in our lives. For all the opportunities provided. For all the lessons taught. Mostly, we thank God for all the love and care this church showed to our family.
Pray For What We Know Is Next
Now, in the beginning of this post I mentioned we are uncertain of what is next. Well, we are not sure about all the challenges that are coming up, but we do know some things. First, we know that I’ll be ministering in a local church in a city called Maringá, in the South of Brazil. Second, we know I will be working with the Brazilian Association of Biblical Counselors to train other counselors to use the Word of God to help others. Third, in January I will start a Research Theology Masters at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis in biblical counseling. Over the next two years I will take the courses online with a few trips to their campus in Louisville.
Please pray for us as we start our new journey in these three fronts—local church, counseling movement and further studying. Pray that God would continue to humble us and help us grow as good stewards of the opportunities and of the message he gave us. Pray for perseverance and faithfulness. Above all, pray that his name be glorified through and in our lives.
So, no. It’s not about life getting harder or easier, worse or better as we finish our time here in Lafayette and head back to Brazil. It will be different. It will be a new phase with all the particularities that God ordained. And it will be good, as it always had. For the work is God’s, and he is good. Always.
We’d love to keep in touch with you; you can find and friend us at https://www.facebook.com/isaelucas.sabatier.