Association Of Free Lutheran Congregations

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Jesus said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation."

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Missionaries of JOY

Matthew (Mafú) & Ednay Abel


Matthew and Ednay Abel have been serving as AFLC missionaries since 2015. Also known as Mafú, Matthew grew up as a missionary kid in Brazil and was inspired to go into ministry for most of his life. After finishing his education, Mafú made his way back to South America and soon married Ednay. They have three children: Zoey, Ian and Boaz and Levi.
JOY Church Missionaries - Abel family

Country Focus:


“Several Indigenous groups, principally belonging to the Guarani language family, inhabited the area of modern Paraguay before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century, when the territory was incorporated into the Viceroyalty of Peru. Paraguay achieved its independence from Spain in 1811 with the help of neighboring states.”

Current Statistics:

  • Population: 7,439,863 (2023 est.)
  • Ethnic Groups: Mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indigenous ancestry) 95%, other 5%
  • Languages: Spanish (official) and Guarani (official) 46.3%, only Guarani 34%, only Spanish 15.2%, other (includes Portuguese, German, other Indigenous languages) 4.1%, no response 0.4%; note – data represent predominant household language (2012 est.)
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 80.4%, Protestant 7% (Evangelical (non-specific) 6.7%, Evangelical Pentecostal <0.1%, Adventist <0.1%, Protestant (non-specific) <0.1%), Believer (not belonging to the church) 5.7%, other 0.6%, agnostic <0.1%, none 0.2%, unspecified 6.2% (2023 est.) 


Ministry Focus continued…

At first, their ministry centered around youth camps in Brazil, but eventually Mafú transferred into interim pastoral work. Recently, they have taken the call for a new endeavor to plant churches in Paraguay. Beginning in 2019, their move to Paraguay included language training, connecting with the established church there, and finding a location for a new church. This time of preparation was so crucial for the Abels to adapt to their new country. The language of Paraguay is Spanish, but there is also Guarani, “the people’s heart language” as Ednay said. She and Mafú have spent many hours investing in learning this vital part of Paraguayan culture.

Now, they are located in Villarrica, which previously had no evangelical influences, to plant an AFLC church. Mafú described their ministry “To preach Jesus Christ, that people might come from darkness to light—from death to life. And as people come to faith, they need to be discipled…Evangelism and discipleship, this happens when people are gathered together around God’s Word.” On this foundation, the Abels are excited to witness how the Lord will connect the community through the Gospel.

Paraguayans are hospitable and have a befriending custom of sharing Terere tea. Mafú expressed this is one of his favorite parts of the culture because it is a tradition all about conversation – time spent with one another. Building community and conversation also comes through home Bible studies, meals, weekly church services, and camps, all of which Mafú and Ednay are eager to establish in their new community.

The Abels are excited to be settled and start growing relationships with those around them. They have a church property purchased and looking forward to seeing the church grow as people come to know Jesus Christ. Ednay loves having people into their home, sharing their family life together with others. Once the little ones are more grown, she also hopes to assist others through her vocation as a physical therapist. Mafú is passionate about starting camps and a soccer school to invest in sports ministry. With this venture into a new country, the Abel family is looking forward to establishing Christ-centered churches in Paraguay, partnering with the church in Brazil, and growing a strong community of believers in South America.

Link to February 2024 Newsletter
Link to April 2024 Newsletter

Get in touch

Reach out directly to Mafú & Ednay to encourage them or to explore ways to partner with them.

Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC))


We are part of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC). The AFLC was organized in 1962 by 40-50 congregations of the former Lutheran Free Church (LFC). It’s a fellowship of independent congregations dedicated working together in the service of God’s Kingdom. It and has grown to become a larger Lutheran church body in the United States with over 270 member congregations. Click here to visit the AFLC’s website.