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The Lord Added to Their Number

The people of Cotijuba, Brazil have always been cautious of the strangers who visit their island. They are especially suspicious of those who come carrying a Bible. The term “pastor” on Cotijuba has come to mean “thief,” and the written word of God is a symbol of swindlers.

Valdamir never paid attention to anyone proclaiming Christ with a Bible in hand. He owned a small bike shop on the Island of Cotijuba that gave him enough income to provide for his family and pay for the alcohol he craved. Every now and then, Valdamir would go on a drinking binge and be gone for days. This always led to fights with his wife, and after each binge, Valdamir would embrace religion for a time to get back on the straight path. It never lasted.

Pastor Jeú and his wife Ester had come to the island of Cotijuba to help Encompass Global Workers Wayne and Ellen Patton share the hope of Christ with the islanders. One day, Pastor Jeú stopped at Valdamir’s bike shop for a quick repair. While he waited, Jeú asked Valdamir if he wanted to study the Bible with him. To Jeú’s surprise, Valdamir said yes.

Pastor Jeú and the Pattons started meeting with Valdamir to study the Bible once a week. In all of his turning to religion, Valdamir had never actually studied Scripture nor had he ever heard so many Bible stories. He was interested in the study, but several months went by and Valdamir’s habits remained unchanged.

Then Valdamir reached an all-time low. He saw that he was repeating the same destructive cycle, and this time instead of turning to empty religion, Valdamir called out to God. With all of the Bible stories fresh in his mind, he asked God to break him of his dishonorable desires. He returned to the island with a new fervor for growing closer to God and learning more Bible stories.

After this major change of heart, Valdamir and his wife joined the team’s Spiritual Family Gathering. One night, the Pattons shared the story from Acts 2 of how the early church met with each other, sharing their lives and possessions with one another. When the Pattons asked the Spiritual Family how this story impacted them, Valdamir spoke up. He told them about a man who was too old to work and had to sell all of his furniture in order to buy food for himself. Valdamir encouraged the Spiritual Family to share some of their resources with the old man and felt inspired to personally lead the group in doing more to help the poor on the Island.

Once a slave to his addiction, Valdamir is now a free servant of God. His faith continues to grow. In February, the family of God on Cotijuba will baptize new believers, and the Pattons pray that Valdamir and his wife will take that step of faith.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those being saved.” –Acts 2:46,47