Truckers’ Strike in Brazil Derails Mission Trip

0
49

The ten day, nationwide truckers’ strike in Brazil that brought South America’s economy to a screeching halt this month ended, but the impact is still being felt here the United States.

Our McDonough Road Baptist Church mission trip from Fayetteville, GA to Brazil was also derailed by the truckers’ strike that threw the  country into chaos and escalated on our departure day.

The Brazilians zealously lead the way and Americans step in and follow their lead, serving side by side.

Our team has travelled to Brazil for four years to participate with Project 70, a Brazilian-led church planting strategy that permeates cities with the Gospel, resulting in new converts and new churches. The Brazilians zealously lead the way and Americans step in and follow their lead, serving side by side.

On Monday before we left on Friday, a truckers’ strike broke out protesting climbing fuel prices in Brazil. Hundreds of trucks blocked highways, halting the transport of produce and fuel.

God does amazing things there. People are more open and responsive to the Gospel, and many make first time commitments to Christ. Last year, though hampered by rain, we saw 447 people come to Christ. In 2016, we saw 1055 people make decisions.

We were pumped up and prayed up as ten people from McDonough Road Baptist joined twelve members from Wynnbrook Baptist in Columbus at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to travel to Ft. Lauderdale, then on to Viracopos. A final flight to Curitiba followed by a four-hour bus ride would take us to our first ministry city. I was ready to preach the Gospel.

On Monday before we left on Friday, a truckers’ strike broke out protesting climbing fuel prices in Brazil. Hundreds of trucks blocked highways, halting the transport of produce and fuel. Dozens of flights were canceled, schools were dismissed, and millions of chickens were slaughtered because of lack of feed.
I learned about the strike Thursday morning, but was preoccupied with last minute details and didn’t think much about it. I texted a contact and asked what was going on with the strike.

Meanwhile, negotiations broke down between the truckers and government officials and the strike intensified Friday. We boarded in Atlanta and flew to Ft. Lauderdale. When we got off the plane, we discovered our travel agent had been calling us.

So what to do? We gathered the group and prayed for wisdom. Our desire was to continue to Brazil.

His news? Azul Airlines strongly advised us not to continue our trip into Brazil because our first airport (Campinas) would run out of fuel at 9 p.m., and they had no idea when fuel would arrive. We could get to Campinas, but no one knew when we could proceed to Curitiba. And, they had no idea if they could get us home.

So what to do? We gathered the group and prayed for wisdom. Our desire was to continue to Brazil. We didn’t want to let our Brazilian friends down, and we wanted to be on the frontlines of seeing God work in ways we don’t see at home.

Yet, we had the group’s welfare to think about. I asked the travel agent point blank, “If you were in charge of this group, what would you do?”

He replied, “I wouldn’t go.”

So we didn’t. The Brazilians were disappointed, but the project continued in Canoinhas and Tres Berras without us. We spent the night in Ft. Lauderdale and flew back to Atlanta the next morning.
We learned several lessons from this experience.

Five Things We Learned from this Experience

First, don’t depend on our media to keep you updated. The press can’t cover everything, but I never heard a word about this strike. In hindsight, I should have searched the internet as soon as I first learned about the strike. The internet had plenty of news articles.  However, no one could predict how fast the strike would intensify between Thursday afternoon and Friday.

Second, I should have called people I know who have ties to Brazil and asked them to check on the situation. As soon as you pick up on something possibly amiss, pursue it.

Third, for international journeys, use a travel agent. Our guy, Tony Liscio of Sports Travel, Inc. in Dallas, Texas, really went to bat for us. He helped us work through our decision, then scrambled to find hotel rooms for 22 people and a return flight with 22 seats. Then he helped us after our return.

Fourth, purchase travel insurance. We’re still waiting on some documentation before we file, but because we prepaid, it appears we will get back much of our cost.

Fifth, register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to record your travel plans (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/step.html). Also, use the new Mobile Passport App or check the state department website for any last-minute info that may impact your trip.

Thankfully, the strike ended and other American groups are making their trips with no problems. We just hit a perfect storm on that Friday.

David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, GA. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, near McCurry Park and invites you to worship with them at 10:55 a.m. this Sunday. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org and like them on Facebook.

Facebook Comments
SHARE
Previous articleFirst Baptist Atlanta Ministry Shines the Light of Jesus in the Streets
Next articleStudy Suggests Going to Church Promotes Better Sleep
Dr. David L. Chancey
Dr. David L. Chancey is the pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Pastor David grew up in Southwest Atlanta in his early years, then moved to Milledgeville, Georgia, when his father took a job transfer. He graduated from Baldwin County High School, attended Georgia College, graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BS in Journalism, graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, and then from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry. As God's call upon his life evolved, he served in denominational communications, then as a BSU director, and finally in the pastorate, where he served Carmel Baptist Church, Carmel, Indiana; Cool Springs Baptist Church, Tate, Georgia; and currently McDonough Road Baptist Church (MRBC) since 1999. He describes the best thing to ever happen to him outside of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior is marrying Amy, an RN and neonatal intensive care unit nurse. He and Amy have four children (Rebecca, Rachel, Ruth and Jonathan), and, though he says he's not old enough to be a grandfather, six grandchildren. David loves to preach, but also loves pastoring. He enjoys "just hanging out" with his flock, especially if it involves eating. He is thrilled when he sees members "growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," and when people come to Christ. His desire is to lead MRBC to impact as many people as possible with the life-changing power of the Gospel. This desire to impact lives with the Gospel has led him to take an annual mission trip to Santa Catarina, Brazil, in recent years, where he has seen over 2100 persons come to Christ and new churches planted and strengthened. He is also leading MRBC to strive to new levels in missions going, giving, and praying. David enjoys spending time with family as often as possible, getting away with Amy, following the Atlanta Braves and University of Georgia Bulldogs, and writing a regular column for The Citizen, one of our local papers. He also enjoys running. Please visit him on the web or social media at the above links.