Sunday, November 28, 2010

Internet Bible Study

We haven't explored the full capabilities of the internet for evangelism. Afonso, who began the congregation in Cubati, has got his feet wet. He started a Bible Study with Jessica, the 15 year old daughter of a Christian in Pombal, 180 km away.

When she decided to be baptized, Afonso traveled with Mark Hagewood to participate with the family in this joyous occasion. With Jessica, there are now four Christians in Pombal.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Missionary to New Zealand

AIM is a two year program in Lubbock, TX, that gives young people the opportunity to work on mission fields around the world. Diego dos Anjos and Renato Menezes from João Pessoa have gone through the program and both served in Mexico. Marcos Paulo Sobral (Ricardo and Sueneide's son) is currently serving in New Zealand. Here is an excerpt from Marcos Paulo's November newsletter:
I've started two Bible studies, one of them is with Sam (left in the picture) he is a really nice young guy that loves to play sports, I'm enjoying to study the Bible with him. The other one is with Korana, my flat mate Andrew is leading this one, Korana is very nice guy that we've been trying to help, he has a lot of problems that needs to be solved and we are doing our best to bring him to Christ and to help him get out of those problems, he is very interested in the Bible and he really wants to change, so that's a good thing, please keep him in your prayers.

Bible Correspondence Converts

Three people were recently baptized through the School of the Bible's correspondence courses. Geovani saw the sign, offering the course; he studied it and studied further with Ricardo Sobral and Francinaldo Barros and then gave his life to Christ. Geovani told his adopted brother Walter about the course. Walter and his wife Flávia took it and also made a decision for Jesus.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Southern Hills Church of Christ

    What a lofty name for a small beginning! Colinas do Sul (Southern Hills) is a very poor neighborhood on the outskirts of João Pessoa. Naldo and his wife Lena were converted in the interior of Paraíba and, after moving around the country, finally settled in Colinas. They met for a while with the João Pessoa congregation, even though the long bus ride would always make one of their kids throw up. But, with the purpose of reaching this distant housing project, they started meeting in their home in April of this year.
    We did a pamphlet campaign on his and a neighboring street during two months, during which we visited each house and left a Bible message. From this effort, four or five Bible studies were initiated.
    Naldo built a garage in front of his house; other congregations helped put a roof on it. Two months ago it was inaugurated with chairs discarded from a school. Elias and Roberto have helped Naldo with the Bible studies. Joseph has taught a weekly School of the Bible course in the garage on When Everything Seems Lost, and David has helped with the Sunday meetings and planning. Several other brothers and sisters have door knocked and visited. It's a small start in a ghetto of João Pessoa, but God's people are coming together and cooperating to bring light to the darkness, the good news to the lost. 
Pray for Naldo and Lena and for everyone who needs Christ in Colinas do Sul.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stormy Birth

    One of the people at Michele's baptism was her neighbor Severina, and she said, "Soon it will be me." For a long time she has wanted to dedicate her life to Jesus, and she would start going to a church somewhere, but as she got more involved, her husband would begin to threaten and forbid her to go, and she would end up doing what he wanted.
    This time, though, she has decided for good; if he leaves, then he leaves but Jesus will be the Lord of her life. Severina gave her life to God and a small group met at the beach to baptize her. While we talked there, a strong wind arose suddenly - we rushed to the water's edge - then a storm cloud flung open its floodgates. Someone opened a flimsy umbrella that was nearly torn apart by the wind.
    Severina and I rushed into the dark waves, and she was reborn in the midst a storm, possibly a foretaste of what her new faith must weather. Since her baptism, her husband has brought her to despair with fights, manipulations, leaving home, coming back, and prohibitions.
    That night everyone was soaked and teeth-chattering cold - pray that the brethren can also share in her burdens and help shoulder her tribulations that try to turn her away from the Way. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Just about Soccer

The Passo Certo program (Right Step) is a lot of work, but the results are worth it. Out of dozens of programs set up each year geared to helping children, it is one of the few that has been successful, and the reason is that it is not just about soccer or physical health. It teaches children to be good citizens and it give kids and their families a chance at eternal life.
Rivaldo and Leila Café are God's servants preparing these kids for life. Mark Hagewood has visited Cajazeiras twice a months and shared some of the responsibility of the teaching.
  • Leila studying with smaller group of girls
  • Leila teaching girls' morality class
  • Mark studying with parents
  • Mark teaching Passo Certo class
  • Some time on the field
  • Café studying with parents
  • Café visiting schools

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First Conversions

Our co-workers Raniere Menezes and Raniere Vieira are establishing a congregation in the Mangabeira neighborhood. Read the following, translated from :
Mangabeira Mission
First Conversions: Taking the Good News
by Raniere Vieira
In the most populated neighborhood of João Pessoa, the news is very edifying; the baptisms have started and we don't expect them to stop! Our LORD has fortified our spirit, making it possible to participate in the harvest. We recognize that it is God who gives the growth; therefore we want to share what He has done with the work in Mangabeira.
We had asked for prayers for Silvania and Rafael and the prayers were answered. When we started to study the Bible with this couple, they were living together and as soon as they were presented with the Truth, they decided to live in separate houses and have a relationship approved by Christ. It is didn't stop there... Silvania decided to turn over her life to Christ.
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
And Rafael thought a few more days about the decision, and when we were studying the Bible he decided to turn his life over to Christ. It was already past 9 pm, but... there was water (cold) and nothing that stood in the way of him being baptized!
I am certain that we will have more "good news" to share with everyone soon. There is little that stands in the way of us starting to meet as a church in Mangabeira. We are growing and the work will not stop.
Pray for this work, pray for the workers that God will continue to bless us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Out of the Flames

When I started studying the Bible with Michel a few years ago, I never imagined we would begin a house church with him and other workers at a local Chinese restaurant, and he never imagined the power of Christ to transform his family. At that time he worried a lot about one of his sisters, whose marriage was falling apart, who was against any church sharing the Gospel with her.
Her most memorable experience with church was years ago when she had relatives move in with her, a mother and a son with mental problems. On Sunday they decided to go to a church meeting and made the son go, though he didn't want to. He disappeared during the meeting and somehow made his way back and burned down Michele's house. She for a long time blamed God for having lost her house.
But God started working in her life, when she began to study the Bible with Carolyn Hagewood during her lunch break. Things started to change. Michele's mother, Ana, was baptized earlier this year. Michele quit her job to spend more time with her family, and she started using more of her free time to study the Bible.
She invited us to her house to teach a neighborhood Bible study, and Michele finally decided that it was time to give her life to Jesus. She was baptized for the remission of her sins.  Today she realizes that God was taking care of her this whole time - giving her a new house, bigger and better, and taking away her sins. Even Michele is amazed at the changes Christ has made in her life.

The Great Supper in Cubati

The Great Supper (A Grande Ceia) is an annual event for the churches in Paraiba. Our brother Afonso hosted it this year in his small town, Cubati.
Here is Afonso's evaluation of the repercussions of the event in this town:
Praise be to our great God and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Peace to all our brothers and sisters.
These three days seemed like Pentecost in Cubati. The repercussion was marvelous
Comments from the Cubati inhabitants:
    Professor Valmir (school director):
     "There have been a lot of events here at the school, but I have never seen one like yours. Since the first contact with you, I already felt a difference. You are organized, orderly, nice, helpful, clean (we returned the school all cleaned), having good manners and beautiful. Whenever you need it, and while I am still director, the school will be available. If you need it a thousand times, it will be loaned to you a thousand times."
People at the bread stores, here is a comment among several:
    - Mr. Afonso, sorry that I couldn't make it to the school, but what were you all doing there?
    - We were talking about Jesus Christ and having fellowship to motivate everyone to do better for our God.
    - Ahhh, you are believers.
    - Yes, we are. We are Christians.
    - But you're different.
    - In what way?
    - I don't know, but you are different, and, Mr. Afonso, that is good.
There were so many comments that I could spend a long time typing: people asking about who we are, people asking to study the Bible. Beloved, pray for the church in Cubati that everything may happen according to the will of the Lord to the honor and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Afonso and Vania


All the Right Step students have morality class. When a student shows special interest in Bible study, he is included in a small group study. Sidney is 17 years old. He has studied the Bible for 1 year and was recently baptized. One interesting thing about Sidney is that he declined moving to São Paulo because of Passo Certo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

For the Kids, Part III

    In the USA, there are two special days during the year that children love: birthday and Christmas. Brazil adds one more: Children's Day. On this day, children receive a present and since it coincides with Our Lady of Appeared Conception, Brazil's patron saint, it is also a national holiday.
    Each week we get kids from the Castelo Branco neighborhood together at the square in front of Dona Terezinha's house to talk about Jesus. For Children's Day, we invited the parents to watch the kids perform a play of the "Prodigal Son," then each kid receives his or her fill of cotton candy, cake, and a sack full of goodies. The parents who came received a Today's Portuguese New Testament and an invitation to the weekly Bible study at Terezinha's.
    Lori Hagewood has organized this activity for three year with the help from Terezinha, Joseph, and Michel (from the China Taiwan restaurant). Michael, Ashton, and Tiffany from the AIM team have helped with games. May God give the seeds being planted in these young hearts good conditions to grow.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mangabeira Mission

Since the middle of the year, Raniere Menezes and Raniere Vieira have been concentrating on the Mangabeira neighborhood. Read the following introduction, translated from :
First Steps: Taking the Good News
by Raniere Vieira
    Mangabeira is the largest neighborhood in the city of João Pessoa, in area and population, which is estimated at 200 thousand inhabitants, many of them coming from the interior.
    It is a poorer neighborhood, economically and spiritually. Sin is prevalent there, as in most poorer neighborhoods of big cities: addictions, violence, promiscuity, ruined families, etc. But we also find good opportunities: people interested in the Gospel, open hearts, hospitable families, and ready ears.
    We want to invest in this location because we recognize the need to "seek and save the lost", and the land is fertile. We already have several brothers and sisters who live there and give testimony to the new life in Christ Jesus.
    We have taken several evangelistic actions in Mangabeira: campaigns, Bible courses, handing out tracts, small group studies, and others. But we want to intensify the actions, the goal being the establishment of a congregation by the end of this year in Mangabeira.
    Two families, Menezes and Vieira, are working toward this goal, plus some other disciples have become involved in the weekly activities there.
    We already have a small group study at Jorginho's house every Tuesday night. Before the study, we hand out tracts from house to house near the study location, inviting people to participate.
    Handing out pamphlets has brought good results, one of them is a Bible study at Rivelino and Sandra's house, a family that seems to be open to the Gospel.
    We will intensify the evangelistic actions during the next days. We want to get more and more contacts, we want to have the most possible with the purpose of studying the Bible with every single one of them.
    May God bless this neighborhood through His Kingdom!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prayer Request

Two families in the church in Recife are hurting.
God finally called home Rogerio after a long battle with cancer. Rogerio and his sisters came to Christ in the 80's through the neighborhood Bible study that we held in our house when we lived in Recife.
Edmar's wife also died yesterday. This family has been in the church for many years.
Edda and I, possibly some others, are going to Recife today for the funerals. Please pray for these families, that the hope of everlasting life will win over the hurt of their loss.