In 2003, independent of each other, the Gibbins family and the Hill family moved to San Antonio for work. We met here at Northside and soon found ourselves working in ministry together. The Dyes moved to Northside the next year and were also plugged into ministry quickly. We began to get to know each other by working with the youth group as we led NEON (Need Each Other Now) groups together. These were accountability groups designed to help kids navigate the ups and downs of High School.
Also formative, in not only our friendships but eventually the formation of the idea to move to Brasil, was SERVEiVOR. This ministry was initially created as a fun team-building retreat, but it evolved into a more intentional and meaningful ministry. SERVEiVOR participants are led to identify their unique gifts through team building games, experience how they can be used for the betterment of others, and receive a tangible experience of what “the church” can look like. SERVEiVOR expanded to work with other area churches and schools, and has now reached outside of the United States to Brasil.
Observing the impact of SERVEiVOR, David Ingram, Northside’s missionary for 26 years in Fortaleza, Brasil, approached us about taking it to the young people there. Our faith had already been deepened through experiences on other mission trips, so we enthusiastically agreed.
In Fortaleza, we were overwhelmed by what we witnessed in the Brasilian youth. Their hunger for the word, their dedication to living its message, and their response to our ministry approach was inspiring, motivating and impactful. It was beyond what we had even imagined.
We were energized by this trip and shortly after returning to San Antonio we were presented with an opportunity to go back. On the second trip, it was confirmed that God was indeed working through us to make an impact in lives and in the church there as a whole. We heard stories of reconciliation, leadership, forgiveness, reunification and rejuvenation from participants and leaders alike. Leading up to the return trip to Brasil, David mentioned that he was staying for a survey trip with Great Cities Missions to scout potential cities for future mission teams. This was the seed that began to grow the idea that we could potentially be one of those teams.
After asking God to show us which city was right for us and which city we were right for, we felt like He answered resoundingly during the survey trip and we all agreed São Luís was where God was calling us. That trip resulted in a partnership with Great Cities Missions, and eventually resulted in the São Luís Mission Team becoming the 43rd team to be endorsed and trained by GCM.
Shortly after we officially became the São Luís Mission Team in August 2016 we began our fundraising efforts. By the time we started training with Great Cities Missions in June 2017 – we were almost fully funded with pledges of support! God provided in immediate and incredible ways with the support we needed! He guided us to form partnerships with 5 other congregations: Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ, Kerrville Church of Christ, MacArthur Park Church of Christ, University Church of Christ [Canyon, Tx], and Western Hills Church of Christ, along with Northside. These congregations have been a tremendous blessing to us already and we have no doubt God will use these partnerships to expand His kingdom on earth!
These were exciting times full of eager anticipation to start the work of transitioning to a new culture but were also times of heavy emotions as we said goodbye to family and friends. We were busy finishing up visits to our supporting congregations and making final preparations for an end of December 2017 departure date when tragedy struck suddenly. An aneurysm in Troy’s abdomen ruptured in the early morning hours of December 8th and he was rushed to the ER. Several surgeries later it was unclear what his prognosis would be or if he would even survive the ordeal. By God’s grace and mighty hand, Troy began to recover! It became clear though that he would not be able to move to Brasil any time soon. Through a discernment process, wise counsel, and prayer we all agreed the best decision regarding the mission was for the Dyes and Hills to continue the process of the transition to Brasil. It was our collective desire for the Gibbins to join us in Brasil upon Troy’s full recovery.
A grueling fight through rehab, slow medical progress, uncertainty about the future of full recovery, and the added stresses that these events placed on the Gibbins family as a whole, all played a factor in the Gibbins’ June 2018 decision that they would withdraw from the team and remain in the US to focus on the full recovery of their family.
As we have experienced in other trials in our lives, we know that God is with us in both the best of times and the worst of times. We know that He is with us through times of celebration and times of sorrow. Our current circumstances do not change who He is and He remains faithful to provide! While saddened that the Gibbins did not join us in São Luís, we have seen evidence of His provision at each stage of our journey and we have no doubt He will continue to walk with us and equip us to do the good works He has planned for us!
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