David and Mayra Romer are Brazilian missionaries working in Paris, France. For the last several years, it has been HeartCry’s privilege to support them in this difficult and yet fruitful work. During this period of quarantine, they have returned for a brief furlough to Brazil. Please pray for the country of France that it might pass through this global trial by returning to the God of the Scriptures. Pray also for the Romer family as they minister to the believers in Paris via the internet and as they reach out to their fellow countrymen in Brazil.
Greetings to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray that this report finds you well and safe in His Grace.
Quarantine in Angra dos Reis
Since the new coronavirus started spreading in France we have followed all the preventive measures employed by the government. As researchers were better understanding the disease, we learned that my wife Mayra was considered “high risk” because of her heart condition and her pregnancy. Therefore, as the contamination was reaching its peak in Paris, and as the International borders were closing, we decided to return to our home country of Brazil.
The decision was not easy. We wanted to make sure that we would not be depriving our missionary field of our help in a moment of great need. But our physical presence in France would not have made a difference since legal restrictions had closed all church activities except through the internet. Because of this, we thought it was a wise and responsible decision to return to Brazil.
We are currently staying in a remote village about three hours from the city of Rio de Janeiro where Mayra’s family has a house. From here, we are able to lead all the church’s activities and continue with pastoral care online. We are also able to continue with the children’s school via virtual classes/homeschooling. Here we also find a much better structure for the confinement period in that the children have more space to play and I have a better place to study and work.
Please pray for wisdom, opportunity, and spiritual power. Please pray for my father-in-law’s conversion. He is the only non-Christian in the family. Because of this, he does not agree with or understand our desire to be foreign missionaries, and many times our conversations with him become very tense.
The Church’s “Virtual Reality”
We have been able to continue with our church’s weekly routine online (elders’ formation on Thursdays; prayer meetings and Bible studies on Fridays; and Sunday services). Although we have much to be thankful for, we are praying and fasting as a church for God to abbreviate this confinement period so that His Church may be able to gather again, enjoying the full privileges of a biblical fellowship.
I believe the whole world is being brought under God’s judgment through this plague. At our church, we are being helped by our current preaching series on the Ten Commandments. I believe the people of God (the people of the covenant) are the first to be called out for self-examination. As we are deprived of our gatherings, we must ask if we have been serving God in the church according to His prescriptions for service (i.e. the Scriptures), if we have been cherishing the privileges of His worship, and if our lives have been honoring to His Name. The Lord is surely sanctifying His bride and making us long for Christ’s return. Through His sovereign control of this virus, the Lord of the cosmos is dealing with every detail—great and small!
Trusting the Lord’s Providence for the Future
Before the confinement struck we were about to celebrate our annual conference with Paul Washer and Burk Parsons. Our church was completely mobilized and about 300 people had already registered. We were also going through a period of many important transitions. By God’s grace, our Sunday attendance was regularly full with some potential new members, and we were looking for another place for our gatherings. Likewise, considering Mayra’s pregnancy, our family was about to move to another home in Paris. For our small church, it was an exciting and promising time that was suddenly suspended. Please pray that the Lord will once again establish us and make us even stronger. Please pray that we might gather again and care for our members and visitors. Pray also that we might find a new place for our church’s meeting and be able to reschedule our conference.
God’s Grace in the Death of my Grandmother
It was providential for us to be in Brazil, because sadly, about ten days after we arrived, I lost my eighty-two-year-old grandmother. Because of the quarantine in Brazil, we could only see or talk to my mother, brother, and grandmother except online.
Even though the distance made me feel impotent, we all recognized how God was gracious to my grandmother, allowing her to be exposed to the gospel in her last days. Through the years, I have had many serious conversations with her, urging her to embrace the gospel. Throughout her life, she has followed many idolatrous and animist religions. But in her last days, my mother shared the gospel with her many times and pleaded with her to trust in Christ. On her last day, my grandma asked my mother to throw away her spiritism prayer book that she had in her purse. During her very last crisis in my mother’s arms, my mother pleaded with her to confess Jesus with her own words, which she did in a barely audible voice. We would all desire to have seen stronger signs of conversion before my grandmother died, but we take comfort in the manifestations of God’s grace in the many opportunities she had to hear the gospel and her final response.
Please pray for my mother after this traumatic loss of her mother. Also, pray for her because she is very sad about not being able to be with us because of the quarantine.
An Evangelistic Opportunity
The day after the loss of my grandma, I took our girls for a kayak ride to a small island close to where we live. I was looking for a good opportunity to explain to them that their great-grandma had passed away. The island is usually deserted, but as we approached the shore I noticed that a few fishermen were camping there. Thinking about the odds, I prayed for the Lord to give me an opportunity to share with them.
After playing with my girls, we floated together in the sea and I told them about their grandmother. I comforted them with the gospel when they reacted in a very emotional way. Most of the fishermen were in another corner of the isle cooking their fish, but one of them was not far from us. As he listened, I directed our conversation to the gospel. Afterward, the fisherman approached us, asking if he could check our interesting kayak. I agreed but asked him to keep a safe distance. He immediately noticed our surfboard, which I used to tow one of the girls, because, like myself, he had been a regional surf competitor. When I told him that I was a pastor, he acknowledged that he had overheard my conversation with the girls and greatly appreciated it.
As we talked, I realized that he had not been attracted to us by the kayak or the surfboard but by God’s grace. He told me that many of his family members were evangelicals, but that he had been astray for a long while. I explained to him how I saw God’s sovereign hand in the course of events that brought us to that particular island at that particular time to share with him the gospel. This event comforted me in an amazing way. It made sense of all the events in the last few weeks—the coronavirus, our temporary return to Brazil, the death of my grandmother, etc. The opportunity to witness also had a great impact on my little girls.
I realize that many who are reading this letter may be losing loved ones from their family and church. Let us keep praying for each other and for the Lord to provide the cure for Covid-19. Let us also make a sincere effort to share the gospel urgently through every biblical means to our beloved relatives and friends. Blessings,
David, Mayra, Beatriz and Catarina Romer