Manaus - Part 4 - Soul Care
“My children never get in the way of my work for God.” It is a line that stuck with us. We had been sitting on the back patio of the Rempel’s home talking about life as missionary aviators. Marcio and Kayla Rempel founded and operate Missão do Céu, an aviation ministry that focuses on meeting the long range aviation needs of evangelical organizations in the Amazon.
They are based in Manaus, but had spent quite a few years working in another Northern Brazilian city called Porto Velho. While working in Porto Velho, the ministry focus was on Marcio’s work as a pilot. As their family grew, the natural role for Kayla was to stay at home, attending to the needs of her children and running the normal operations of the home of a growing family.
During this time, Kayla had ministry longings and passions. She had ideas and visions for how God could use her beyond her home, but she had made a commitment that her family would come first. As she said, “My children never get in the way of my work for God.” She wasn’t saying that her work for her children and her work for God were two separate things. Quite the contrary. She was making an ironic statement to highlight a deception that arises in many people’s mentality, especially in those that seek to serve.
The deception is that somehow God always has some other work He would prefer you do that is either unreachable, or requiring of you to neglect another work that He has already clearly placed right in front you. The reality is that, when we sense this paradoxical, divine pull, it is often a result of a vain imagination, and not that of an impossible-to-please God. The passions and desires God places on your heart are valid. The need to follow them right now, at this moment, despite the fact that it would mean trampling over your family in the process, is not. This is a simple, but valuable lesson. To this day, we can hear her words repeating in our heads: “My children never get in the way of my work for God.”
As her kids grew, however, Kayla found herself with more free time, and determined to begin working on some of those passions God had placed in her. She is currently working on a degree in Psychology and has been volunteering her time to work with a non-profit organization that provides counseling and other mental health supports to people working in the remotest parts of the Amazon.
This brings us, by a rather long path, to the point of this post which is to highlight the second major need we identified on our trip to Manaus: counseling and emotional support for the workers in this region.
According to Marcio and Kayla, in the last few years, a number of pastors in this area have committed suicide, and many more are suffering from depression, marital issues, and a sense of isolation.
We had heard about this type of mental breakdown for people working in remote environments during a presentation at Moody by the leader of a ministry in Alaska named Arctic Barnabas. One of their main objectives at Arctic Barnabas is to provide emotional support, encouragement, and counseling to people living and working in the most remote regions of Alaska. The thought had never occurred to us that this would be a reality for people working throughout the Amazon as well.
When I first met Alyx, she was working on a degree at Wayland Baptist College, and had mentioned a desire that she had to potentially go on to a Master’s program and pursue training in counseling. While she has not yet begun working on that, the desire remains. Hearing Kayla talk about the work she was doing in this area confirmed even more, not only in Alyx, but in myself as well, that this is an area of the world that has needs that we have a desire to help meet.
The process will be slow, and we are still very much in the discovery phase, but this trip to Brazil was of a great encouragement to us as we begin to see some of the fog lifting on the path before us. Whether we work with Missão do Céu or not is a decision for us to make years from now, though we trust the relationships we have formed with the Rempel family will continue as long as we are in this line of work. We have no delusions about the reality of the challenges ahead (ok maybe a few), and we realize that our own immediate and growing family comes first as we move down this road, but we are excited.
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