Friday, October 29, 2010

Pentecost in Paraíba

"This is Pentecost in Cajazeiras," Rivaldo Café said, "Almost three thousand were baptized in Jerusalem, almost ten in Cajazeiras." A wild comparison, of course, but the excitement that produced it was legitimate. Six young men gave their lives to Jesus and were baptized on Saturday.
I was blessed to be there: the sixteen hours on a bus, going and coming, was worth it. I went to teach a weekend couples' seminar on the theme "God Gave Me You". The couples (around 12) were mostly parents of kids in the Right Step Program. The changes in these boys' lives have made an impression on the families, many of which have started Bible studies too.
Saturday morning, after the soccer practice, three of the boys asked to be baptized. We headed to the building. Café began filling the portable swimming pool while I talked to the boys about what it means to come into the Family of God.
Franze (15 yrs), Luam (14 yrs), Jorcelam (17 yrs)
(Franze and Jorcelam are brothers. They all have been in the program for two years and have had Bible studies for several months.)
There was supposed to be a Bible study in the afternoon, but instead four more boys came knocking on Café's door. Three of them wanted to be baptized. Café went to fill up the swimming pool again, while I reviewed biblical baptism with them. The fourth fellow is still undecided because the father of his girlfriend told him that their relationship would end if he became a Christian. 
Jorge (14 yrs), Jonas (13 yrs), and Neto (14 yrs)
(They too have been in the Right Step program a couple of years.)
It was fun watching Café trying to find something for each one of them to do at the Sunday church meeting because they kept asking, "What about me? What can I do?"
Just received a report from Recife: Saturday, October 23rd was a special day there also: there were six baptisms in Boa Viagem.
Please say a prayer for new Christians in Cajazeiras and Recife that their new faith in Christ will weather anything the enemy throws at them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beautiful Feet

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:15
(Francinaldo was thinking of this verse when he took this picture of his feet.)
    Ever since Francinaldo and Ivani became Christians, they have wanted to share their new life in Christ with their loved ones in their hometowns (10 hour bus trips from João Pessoa in different directions).
    Before, their yearly visits would be just to see family and party, but now they go on a mission: to see as many people and share as much of Christ as possible in a short weekend.
    One month ago they traveled to Fortaleza, where Francinaldo grew up. Instead of being received as a prophet without honor in his hometown, the reception was one of admiration at the changes in Francinaldo's life. They handed out tracts, Bibles, studies. Francinaldo sought out a girl he used to tease cruelly as a child and asked forgiveness. Even his mother, whose heart is closed to religion, seems to be opening up and is asking questions.
    Then a couple of weeks later they spent the weekend in Ivani's hometown, Diamante, and did the same things.
    So little time, so little contact but they don't want to miss any opportunity as small as it may be to introduce their families to Jesus.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adventures in Missions

Jenny, Nyasha, Michael, Tiffany, Ashton, and Erick. 
    The João Pessoa church has benefited from the AIM program at the Sunset Institute in Lubbock, TX, since 2005. The first team that came down (Sabrina, Melissa, and Janae) was a joy to work with. (Melissa is now on a mission team in Belém, Brazil).
    Then one after another, three young men from here joined the program, first, Diego, then Renato, both serving in Mexico, and now Marcus Paulo, who is currently in New Zealand.
    Young people sharing their faith in Jesus in a different culture, that's what our second AIM team is doing. They arrived four months ago, and with daily Portuguese classes are already able to communicate. But they didn't let the language become a barrier. They have taken on Let's Talking Students, become involved in Bible Club, have had Bible study groups in their apartments, door-knocked, helped with the children's program at Cabo Branco square, etc.
    May God use them well during their time here in João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

For the Kids, Part II

Bible Bowl is a great way to get children excited about studying the Bible. This year's competition, the 7th, was on Exodus, chapters 1-20. Ten weeks of Bible questions, study periods, and games paid off. We took three teams to Recife (2 hour trip from João Pessoa), and two came back with medals.
1st Division: 4th Place: Lucas McKinney, Breno, Mathias Hagewood, and Francilayne.
1st Division: 1st Place: Franciele, Samuel McKinney, João Vitor, and Gustavo.
2nd Division: 3rd Place: Vinicios, Mariana, Kamilla (1st place individual score), and Tais.
1st Division - Individual Scores: 3rd Place - Mathias, 1st Place - Samuel.
More important than any trophy, the children discovered that God's Word is fun and meaningful.
We thank God for Daniel and Janaina Palk, who imported Bible Bowl from his hometown, Cookeville, TN. 

For the Kids, Part I

The children's highlight of the year is Vacation Bible School. It is a lot of work, a lot of time, but worth it because of the smiles on little faces and the knowledge that we are helping them take a first step that may result in their eternal life.
Here are some pictures from this year's VBS:
A Trip to Rome
Five Days of VBS, divided up in two groups of kids so we could have more in manageable sizes.
A Visit to Paul in his Prison-House.
What Was the Underground Church Like?
What Happens if the Angry Roman Soldier Catches You Worshipping Jesus?
Different Plays Every Day (Here's David as a Slave)
Here's the Kitchen Crew
Games, Crafts, Stories, All This for the Kids and for Jesus.
We thank God for:
    - the Joelton church of Christ, who sends their VBS material down each year to be used here.
    - Lori Hagewood, who organizes VBS each year. We missed her a lot because she was in the US at the time.
    - Joyce and Abbey Troxler, from the Laurel church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. They came down to help out and brought prizes and gifts for all the kids.
    - for our AIM team who, though not knowing any Portuguese, jumped right in and made an impact on the kids.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taking the Right Step in Cajazeiras

The Right Step Soccer Program in Cajazeiras is bringing more kids to Christ. Both Diego and Agenor (14-year-olds) have been in the program for one year, including general lessons on good conduct and then several months of individual Bible studies. They decided for Christ with the approval of their parents, who are also studying the Bible and are talking about being baptized.


Pray for Diego and Agenor in their new Christian life and for their families, that our Father will add them soon to His family in Cajazeiras.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Bobbie Moore Goes Home

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21
    In a couple of hours Bobbie Moore is going to be buried in Artesia, New Mexico. She and her husband, Don, have spent decades supporting missions, especially through the mission committee of the Hermosa Drive church of Christ. This sweet sister is going to be missed, not just by her family, but by us - she always received us so lovingly when we visited New Mexico - and by the Ethiopian church workers she and Don visited and cared for. Though she didn't live in a third world country, it is people with hearts like Bobbie's that make it possible for these nations to come to know Jesus.
    And when a person like Bobbie goes home, it is not just Jesus waiting with welcoming arms, but scores of people she won't even know, thanking her for being a part in their recieving eternal life. Thank you, Bobbie.
    Please pray for the Don Moore family during this hard time. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Political Clowns

This past Sunday the church in João Pessoa took time to pray and then vote for president, senators, governor, federal and state representatives. We read Romans 13 and trust that God is in control, even in Brazilian politics. A lot seems to be at stake here with an unfettered left, that has wooed the lower class with handouts, pushing abortion, homosexuality, etc.
Most Brazilians are tired of the mess: the obligatory free airtime for politicians, the rallies that litter the streets and disrupt traffic, the corruption, new scandals of stolen millions regularly showing up on the news, and high taxes financing it all.
And it didn't end Sunday... Several of the candidates received less than 50% of the votes, so at the end of the month, the whole populace will be subjected to the mandatory vote again.
The people did send a message to the politicians Sunday's election. Tiririca, a comedian and clown, was the highest voted federal representative.
In his campaign he asked, "Do you know what a Federal Representative is? I don't know either. Vote for me and I will find out and tell you." He received 1,348,295 votes in São Paulo.
This week at our children's activity in the Castelo Branco Square, I asked the kids about the elections, whom their families voted for, and then I asked them what could they do to make the country a better place. The answer, more powerful than any political election, is to pray and choose Christ for your life. Through you, He will transform your family, your neighborhood, gradually reaching the city, state and country, and even the world. Now that is real power!