Brazil is not so far away:
First Broad Street nurse shares story
Why should we give money to help spread the Gospel in Brazil? For Joy Eastridge, that's a personal question.
"This country needs Jesus Christ," she says. "It's beset by corruption at all levels, and there is a lot of poverty - in contrast with extreme wealth, with little in between."
Today, Eastridge is parish nurse for First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport District. But for 14 years of her childhood, she was the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries in Brazil. She lived among the people who will be served by the conference-wide offering collected this spring by Holston churches.
The goal is to raise $100,000 for the United Methodist Church of Brazil. Holston leaders will bring their offerings to Annual Conference on Tuesday evening, June 12. Brazilian Bishop Paulo Lockmann will preach on that night.
Six years ago, Eastridge returned to Brazil with a First Broad Street mission team. She served with Evangemed, a mobile van equipped with medical and dental equipment. Evangemed is one of two ministries that will be supported by the Holston offering.
Eastridge was struck by the spiritual needs of the country she once called home.
"Brazil is a land in crisis. The drug culture is out of control, and people are hungry for good news."
Eastridge spoke of the hopelessness experienced by the poor in Brazil, a country where five percent of the population owns 90 percent of the land.
"Here, if you're poor, there's hope. But if you're born poor in Brazil, that's it - that's a life sentence. There's such a hopelessness that the Christian faith can address."
Through Evangemed, people in the Rio Conference of Brazil can experience the Gospel, Eastridge said.
"Ministry to the physical body is a wonderful way to bring the Gospel to people. When you're in pain or suffering, it's hard to hear the words without the physical touch. The medical services of Evangemed are free and given in the name of Christ."
Eastridge is married to Wesley Eastridge, a Gate City, Va., family physician who also served with Evangemed. His father is the Rev. Vance Eastridge, a retired Holston clergy member.
The Evangemed trailer spends 30-day stints at Methodist churches, providing free health and dental services. Worship services are held each evening.
When Eastridge served as an Evangemed nurse, she asked patients if they "wanted to hear more about Jesus, or if they wanted us to pray for anything in their lives."
The Holston Conference offering will also support the School of Missions, a two-year program that allows pastors to study one weekend each month with instruction in missions, evangelism, worship, prayer ministries, and leadership. Courses are offered each January and July for laypersons to spend 10 days in study and 10 days working in missions.
"We need for the educators to understand the Gospel, but also to present it in action," said Eastridge. "These things bring hope to the people."
"I am grateful to Holston Conference for doing this outreach. It's one more way to bring Jesus Christ to the people."
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