Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Church is Now Here!

Campina Grande is the second largest city in Paraiba, and the church is getting ready to take Christ there.  The church is praying, Brazilian congregations are raising money to send two national families there in addition to a missionary family also preparing to move there this year. But even before they arrive, God is working, as told by Joe McKinney below:



I usually travel through Campina Grande on my way to anywhere in Paraiba so when I discovered that Izaias, an old friend whom I had not seen in over 15 years, had been transferred there (he is an agent with the Federal Police), I decided to stop and try to find him. When I got there, I called him and his wife answered, whom I had never met. She told me how to get to the house. Izaias took off from work and came to meet me at home. We had lunch and spent the day catching up and talking about life, God, the Scriptures until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I spent the night at their house and the next day went on my way.


Three weeks later, Izaias called me out of the blue and said there were three people who had decided for Christ and wanted to be baptized and would I come do it? Of course I went and after a Bible study with the family, baptized Izaias and his two daughters, Patricia and Vanessa. I went on my way rejoicing.


The church in João Pessoa is right now preparing three families to move to Campina Grande to begin the church there, hopefully in June or July. Izaias, right after the baptisms, told me "The church is now in Campina Grande."

Building A House On The Rock

     As with all newborn babies, new Christians also need a lot of attention, care, and teaching.  My family will be in Cajazeiras from April 16 to April 18, teaching a three-day intensive class to new converts and some visitors as well. 

  Café asked me to come edify the church.  Thinking about about God's perfect plan of salvation, about new Christian's needs, especially in worrying about what happens if they sin after being baptized, I decided to teach my routine evangelistic Bible study because it deals with these things. Therefore, visitors have been encouraged to come to these three days to learn God's will.  These are the eight lessons:
I.    God Created And Man Sinned;
II.    Abraham, Moses, and God's Chosen People;
III.   Prophecies About The Messiah;
IV.  Faith in Jesus And Repentance;
V.   Repentance And Confessing Jesus As Lord; 
VI.   Confessing Jesus As Lord And Baptism;
VII.  Baptism, Uniting Yourself To The Body Of Christ Which Is The Church;
VIII. Grace And The Church, The Fulfillment Of The Promise To Abraham.
Please pray:
that we will have a safe 7 hour trip going and coming;
that God will open my mouth to speak the truth of His Word;
that God will open the ears and hearts of those present so that God's Word will have an everlasting effect on their lives.
Please pray also for Café and Leila - they feel the need for spiritual renewal. Café said, "I have served the church for 22 years now, we need the church to serve us."  It is not out of selfishness that he says this but out of a desire to serve more with a wisdom of being still and knowing that God is God. 

Please take a moment and pray for these things and may God bless you.

Ammunition for the Enemy

One of our specific mission fields in João Pessoa is the China Taiwan Restaurant. The more we invest the more clearly a line is being drawn between those who are open to God and those who oppose Him. With early morning Sunday meetings, midnight evangelistic studies, Bible English classes, visits in workers' homes, and three Christians working in the restaurant, we are hopeful to reach more.
What doesn't help are the modern day Pharisees that give ammunition to the opposition. The waiters see everything and tell all, especially when it has to do with the behavior of the "religious".  They take note of the pastors who sit in a hidden corner and order alcoholic beverages or when one is having a meal with a woman other than his wife.
This past weekend, though, took the cake: a group of pastors came in celebrating the collection they took up, actually counting the sack of money on the dinner table: 2000 reais. They whooped and hollered, the waiters hearing them talking about how they have to go back to that preaching spot, the people there are simple-minded, easy to dupe. Their table was right under the restaurant camera - the video has become a favorite in the restaurant.
Our brother Michel gets tired of them coming to him, saying, "See, that's why I don't want anything to do with church." "They are all the same." "I'm better than that - I don't cheat poor people out of their money."
Michel was silent the rest of the day. He didn't have any answer to give them. I told him to read them Mark 12:38-40:
"Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely".
See, Jesus talks about these people. He says their punishment will be most severe. I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for anybody who uses them as an excuse to not follow Christ.


       If you were invited to participate in a four year program that would give you more knowledge and prepare you for the future, what would you say?  Oh, but wait! There's still more: it is also free and after completing all of the classes you can receive the equivelant to a college degree!  Well, that is what SEARA is. SEARA (Harvest or Servants Sent To Announce The Kingdom of Love) is a Bible degree for the members of the church here in João Pessoa.  

   20 members of the church were invited to participate. 11 remain after 6 weeks. Due to lack of time or other obligations, 9 asked to be excused.  These magnificent 11 are learning how to prepare and give a Bible study, they are organizing a state-wide church event for October of this year, they will be evangelizing door-to-door to help plant a church in another neighborhood in João Pessoa, and of course they will be preaching and teaching.  

       Jesus' classroom was and still is life, mine and yours. Everyday class is in session, and there is always homework to be done, taking a look deep inside ourselves, seeing where Jesus still has not been invited in, and being ready to act according to our teacher's direction.  Have you been in class?  Have you done your homework?  The whole purpose of SEARA, here in João Pessoa, is to prepare members to SERVE the MASTER, there is no greater lesson to be learned and no greater diploma than eternal life given to those in Christ.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting a Parachute

by David McKinney
Ricardo began visiting the church meetings, and I decided I would invite him to study the Bible. The same day I called his house (he was not at home) I was told he wanted to talk to me. He wanted to ask me to teach him the Word. It was one of those "holy coincidences".
His mom has been a Christian for many years, and she has spent this time praying for her son's conversion. Prayer is and always will be a vital part of evangelism. He had lost a good job, and even worse, he had lost his marriage. Ricardo said that if only he had got to know Christ before, he would have saved his relationship with his wife.  Ironically, it was the hurt from a broken marriage and the separation from his daughter that lead him to the arms of the only One who can heal and save.
            At one of our all night prayer meetings, Ricardo saw a video that talked about a person wearing a parachute in an airplane. The person complained about the discomfort and felt ridiculous because no other passengers were wearing one. All this would be different, however, if the passenger knew for a fact that the plane was going to go down during the flight. There would be no complaining, or feeling stupid, in fact, the passenger with the parachute would think that he is the smartest one on the plane. The video compared this illustration to the Christian life. The disciple of Jesus has the foreknowledge that this world is coming to an end, and God offers the way of salvation. It is not always comfortable and easy to live life Jesus-style, but knowing where this world is headed, the Christian gladly follows his Master. This video had a great impact on his life as he referred to it on many occasions.
            Diego and I studied the Bible with him for eight months, during which, by the grace of God we were able to establish a deep friendship with him, making it possible for him to go beyond a mere knowledge of the Word to real contact with our Lord. It was easy to see Jesus coming alive in his life from week to week. He decided to give his life to Christ in baptism. May God be praised.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hardships on the Field

      If this were not such a serious eternal life and death business, this would be downright laughable. What a sorry lot of weak human beings we are, and still God insists on using us to bring about His Glory.
      The Cajazeiras Campaign gave the church there some new ground to work, to seed, to water, and hopefully produce fruit, but behind the scenes not everything was as smooth rolling as it might sound.
      The plan: spend several hours each day door knocking and being with people in their homes. The reality: the heat was so intense that the group had to stay indoors during the day to avoid strokes; so that only left the late afternoon hours to clap at gates (more common than knocking on doors).
      Our fearless missionaries, not accustomed to the extreme heat, suffered several side effects. Lee had to go the hospital with a migraine (the air conditioner in their car went out on the eight hour trip), Danny had stomach craps due to heat or food, Ricardo had an ameba attack, Raniere's  nose started bleeding profusely from a recent surgery.

      One more person had to go the hospital: Joe McKinney. He stumped his toe twice on concrete, and his foot swelled till he couldn't stand to walk on it. The doctor told him to keep it elevated for 15 days - Yeah right! In the middle of a campaign? Needless to say, his foot was worse when he finally reached Joao Pessoa.
      Attacks from the enemy or just a hostile environment - whatever, let's remember these campaigners when the going gets tough and thoughts of giving up start wandering into our minds. God is using us for a reason! God knows best!

Do You Know the Way from Death to Life?

            On Monday, March 1st, a group of 10 people set out on a journey from João Pessoa to Cajazeiras: seven hours of road, good conversation, deep thinking and getting to know one another better.  The road trip was just the beginning of what promised to be an uplifting and edifying experience for the church in Cajazeiras.  We were going to campaign for Christ in the neighborhood that surrounds the church building.  The neighborhood's name is Cristo Rei (Christ King), exactly the person we wanted to introduce. There were twenty-two of us: ten from João Pessoa, eleven from Cajazeiras and one from Belém, door knocking on some 550-600 houses during six days.  We kept going back to the same houses every day, handing out six different tracks.  The objective?  To create trust, build a relationship that allows us to get past the door, to set up Bible studies so that Christ can do some heart knocking. 
            Since Cajazeiras does not have a movie theater, we tried to attract people by inviting them to watch movies on Wednesday and Thursday nights.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights were more direct to the point: lessons on "Forgiveness," "Transformation," and "Resurrection from the Dead".  As time passed we moved from the door to the couch, from the couch to the heart.  Not everyone opened up, but some peaked out.  We receive thirteen visitors on Friday, eighteen on Saturday, and twenty-one on Sunday. Six people asked to learn the way from death to life. Please pray for them as they study God's Word, as they answer Christ's knock at their heart's door and listen to Him speak about life eternal. 
            Do You Know The Way From Death To Life?  If you do, are you showing others?  I hope that you feel the love and joy of being able to take Christ with you as you go heart-to-heart knocking until someone opens and allows Christ to speak.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Only One Option

by Raniere Menezes

Last year, Adriana Cristina, a dear sister in Christ, asked me to start a small Bible study group in her house. In addition to wanting to bless her neighborhood and relatives, Adriana's main purpose with this small group was to bring the church and the word of God closer to her husband, João.
   This man knows what the word "sin" means, and he knows, in a very deep way, some consequences of being a sinner. Prostitution, drugs and disobedience to God were common things in João's life when he was younger.
       Adriana and her daughter Beatriz became followers of Jesus some years ago, and they have taught João the gospel of Jesus Christ through words and through their lives. After studying the Bible eight weeks in their house, André, another brother in Christ, and I invited João to a personal Bible study, and he accepted.
    On the first day I asked him what he would do if he discovered that everything he believes is different from God's will. João said that he would have only one option because the truth is in the Bible: he would do God's will, and after three months that is what he did. João decided to give his life to Christ, being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. Please pray for him and for his new life in Christ.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Surprise Birth!

       Michel has made Christ his life. He worries and suffers with friends and especially his family who don't share the hope that he has. His mother, Ana, has visited every religious group possible for years, looking for something to make her life easier, but she had never decided for Jesus. Also having tried countless times to kick the addiction of over half a century of smoking without success, Michel gave up hope of anything ever changing in her life.
      But things can change, and Ana came to me and said "I want to be baptized, but don't tell Michel, I want to surprise him." We gathered several brothers and sisters at the building; I asked Michel to come, but he had no idea for what. When his mother sat down by him, he said, "Mom, what are you doing here?"
I read the story of Nicodemus about being born again. Nicodemus said that it was impossible for a grown man to return to the womb of his mother, but he didn't say that a son couldn't assist in the new birth of his mother. When Michel understood, he was speechless.
      He baptized his mother into Christ, the first of many to come, and he said the surprise still hasn't worn off. Please join us in prayer for Ana, who with Jesus' help is going through the withdrawal pangs of quitting smoking cold turkey.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prayers for Cajazeiras Campaign

Ten fearless men and women went from João Pessoa to spread God's Word in Cajazeiras (8 hour trip!).  Armed with six different, interesting pamphlets, 2000 of each, they will visit every house in the vicinity of the church building each day of this week. Most visits will be just delivering that day's pamphet, but at the end of the week, their faces will be familiar in the neighborhood, and they will know which families are open to studying the good news of Christ. All will be invited to evangelistic meetings on the weekend. Follow up will consist of studying weekly with the willing families.

Please join us as partners in prayer for the lost souls in Cajazeiras: that God may open closed hearts and closed doors, that seekers will find God's Son, that our workers, though facing a dusty hot climate and a hard Catholic culture, will not become discouraged but will have great opportunities to honor God before all.

Your prayers are so important to this work!