Tonya Thompson from The Loop Campus shares here how God started her relationship with Rio de Janeiro years ago, and how He's calling her even closer to this strategic MISSION 1:8 city.
For the past 17 years, I have been a dance director and teacher at a studio in Kingwood. I’ve dedicated the past five years to completing my seminary degree in Christian Education. Along the way, I’ve volunteered with the Long Point Baptist Church youth group that meets at the Faith Center on Wednesday nights.
Back in 2004, Patti LaCarter — our church’s missionary in Brazil — was home visiting and spoke in my Life Bible Study. She said people were welcome to come on their own to serve at her church in Rio, so I asked her if she would be interested in having me come teach dance to her youth group. Now, I’ve been to Brazil 7 times — 4 times with Patti and 3 times in more rural parts with missionary Keith Jefferson.
The trips to work with Patti included street evangelism, VBS, sports camps, dance camps, opportunities to teach, preach, lead small groups, and be a part of amazing praise and worship and church services. What I love the most is seeing the growth over the 10 years.
On my last trip in July 2013, I asked the congregation at Patti’s church to stand if they had been saved and baptized there. More than half of them stood up. I was overwhelmed at how the Lord is moving!
I love every aspect about missions and have known in my soul that I would one day be more involved. Now, several pieces of the puzzle have fit together and I feel that God is calling me to move to Rio full-time later this year. I will be serving the Lord in any way He should call me to serve towards helping the new church plant in Ipanema.
My desire is for relationships to be built and for the people there to see the love of Jesus shining through me. I will be helping Rafael and Luiza (the missionary couple living in Rio) in any way they need help. And yes, I will be teaching dance classes and some stretching classes on the beach to start building relationships and community.
We serve a God of order. Looking back on my journey as a Christ follower, it is fun to see how methodical and timely He is. I have listened, learned, and grown — and now it is time for me to GO.
I had no idea how liberating it would be to step out in faith like this. My world as I know it is turning upside down, yet I have never felt it to be so right side up! I am so excited to be following the lead of my church and “going” to truly be a living sacrifice and to help make a difference for the Kingdom in Rio.