Monday, June 27, 2011

The Gospel Chariot Rolls On

I have shared with you the contagious nature of the Gospel, with the lives of real people as evidence: how Michel came to Christ, and through him his sister, Michele, who shared the good news with her neighbor, Severina, who spent this past week with her sister in Sapé. Can you guess what they talked about? Her sister now wants to be baptized. She will be the first convert in the city of Sapé, a city of 50 thousand people needing, some wanting, new hope for their lives. Sapé is about 40 miles from João Pessoa. Please say a prayer that God will prepare this city for the arrival of the Gospel.

Baptized In Salt Water: Becoming Salt To The World

            I visited Sônia and Beta in Areial about a month and a half ago to talk to Beta about questions she had concerning her faith in God.  After her sister Simone died leaving a six year old daughter behind Beta doubted God's love.  We talked and she seemed relieved but still needed to "work things out" with God. 
            Sônia told me while I was there that she and her son were planning on coming to João Pessoa in June to spend some time at the beach and relax.  I received a call on Wednesday, June 22, that she would arrive on Sunday along with Beta and her daughters.  Sônia also informed me that Beatriz, Beta's daughter, wanted to be baptized.  What a great surprise!  They all arrived on Sunday as planned, and Beatriz was baptized for the forgiveness of her sins and now has God's seal of the Holy Spirit in her.
          It seems as if Beta worked through her doubts and is more confident than ever that God is love even though we do not understand everything He does or allows.
            Please pray for Beatriz and her new life in Christ in a city of around 10,000 inhabitants and only three Christians.  Please pray that God will open up people's hearts in this small town so that God may save them. 

From Learning English to Living the Life

    When our AIM team arrived, I let Erick, Ashton, and Tiffany take over Bible Club. It is a Bible study in English at an English school. Aaron started coming. He is an English teacher who lives in a nearby city and has to teach morning, afternoon and night to make ends meet. To participate in Bible Club he had to miss work, but he made the sacrifice because he said that what he was learning was more important than work. The English practice was good but to Aaron learning God's word was the best, his excitement showing visibly on his face at each new thing he learned.
    Erick started spending more time with him and studying the Bible with him, one on one. And soon Aaron decided to join the holy priesthood, giving his life to Jesus in baptism. He was the first person Erick baptized. Of the two I don't know which one was more excited.

    Aaron dreams of working one day in Canada. Pray that wherever he is in the world he will share Christ with others, starting in his hometown, Conde.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Evangelism Hidden Behind The King

Evangelism Hidden Behind The King
            I have studied the Bible with my neighbor through his interest in English two or three times.  He and his family are faithful Catholics.  The first time we studied I was very excited but soon disappointed.  The same happened the other times we studied as well.  It never went far because he seemed interested in English and not the Bible and would soon become busy with other activities.  So when we arrived back in Brazil in February of this year and my neighbor approached me and asked to study English using the Bible, I admit I was not excited and really thought I have better things to do with my time.  I have gone on a 12 mile walk with him and his friends, attended birthday parties, help hang paintings, installed a new stove, TV, etc. and could not think of anything else that might allow us to spend time together and build a friendship where he would see Christ in me in such a way that he would what to learn about Him too. 
God is patient and He wants everyone to be saved.  One day I heard him coming down the hall with a couch that he had gotten reupholstered.  I went out to help.  After that he asked if I knew how to play chess.  I said yes but it has been a while.  He asked if I would like to play a couple of times a week.  We found a time once a week and began playing.  I have lost 10 games and won only one.  I thought I was better than that.  During a chess game you don't talk a lot but during the week when we see each other there is a bond that was not there before.  I plan to win more games, but there is something of much greater importance at stake that needs to be put in check.  Please pray that Romero will see past the king on the chess board and give himself up to the King of all kings.

Using Money Matters To Mature Christians

Using Money Matters To Mature Christians
            Maturing new Christians is a very important part of establishing congregations.  Most adults who become Christians here in Brazil have many things to change in their actions and attitudes to be salt and light to the world around them.  I really enjoy studying the Bible with people and seeing the joy in their eyes when what they have heard most of their life about Jesus and what they are now reading in the Bible intermix and truth is found, their eyes opening, seeing, and believing.  But what about after they are baptized?  How do they proceed from there, learning to walk in this new life of service to God? 
One of the areas of life that most people have a hard time being salt and light is financial, an area lurking in the shadows, which no one talks about much.  The truth of the matter is that Jesus talks about money as one of the two masters that we will either serve or hate in Matthew 6.  I have begun to teach couples in the church some principles that I have read and heard from Dave Ramsey.  I am teaching these couples that living debt free makes sense, that it is possible and they will be able to help others, by giving, supporting Brazilian evangelists and helping establish new congregations as well as traveling to visit and help in campaigns, etc.  It may not seem like the most exciting thing to do but actually it is exciting.  You can see joy in their eyes when they see the possibility of growing spiritually and helping others.  It is not the same joy as when they understood better what Jesus did for us all but it is still exciting to be a part of helping others grow, learn and become more mature.  Thank you for your prayers.

A Birth and a Birthday

Yesterday, we celebrated Christ and our new life in him.

Andreia and Vitoria, wives of workers at the Chinese restaurant were baptized ten days ago, and this Sunday we met in Andreia's home which might just be the beginning of the church in Mandacaru.  We had five visitors, two were their co-workers at the Janeide beauty salon.

After this beginning, we rushed to Colinas do Sul to celebrate the first year anniversary of the congregation that meets in Naldo's house. He built a kitchen on the back of the house to have more room and forty people packed in. A third was the Colinas congregation, a third from other congregations, and a third were visitors. Afterwards we had a potluck supper; my lemon squares were a huge success.

 Pray for these disciples of Christ in these neighborhoods, Mandacaru and Colinas do Sul.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Ending

The small interior town of Esperança has exported several businesses and workers to the capital city João Pessoa. Two such businesses are the China Taiwan restaurant and Janeide's Beauty Salon. 80% of their workers are from Esperança. When we started evangelizing the restaurant workers, we naturally connected with the salon also.

So far three at the salon have been baptized, all three having husbands, brothers or brother-in-laws who work at the restaurant. Last year Rosa was baptized, and then on June 9 of this year Andreia and Vitoria were baptized at the beach. That Thursday was important because it was Andreia's husband's day off, and she really wanted him to be present for this most important decision of her life.

She called him with the good news, but unfortunately he had been drinking that day and said he was against her decision, and that if she didn't come home right after work, he and their daughter would be gone. I took Andreia to talk to him and they argued but he came around when she showed him she wasn't going to change her mind. He surprised us by showing up in the nick of time to see his wife be buried in Christ

Vitoria's decision was a little easier. Vitoria had been thinking about baptism, and when Andreia told her of her decision, she said she wanted to too.

Afterwards, Andreia's husband invited everybody to the restaurant to eat and to celebrate.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Exciting News from Colinas do Sul

Reported by Elias Campos:

Even in the midst of so many obstacles, like drugs and alcoholism in the Colinas neighborhood in João Pessoa, God has proven to be stronger and more powerful, which was what we all expected.

On June 2, 2011, one more couple gave their lives to Christ and were baptized to the honor and glory of our loving heavenly Father. Their names are Erivan and Luciana; she is the daughter of our sister Dalva, converted last year.

Translated from Elias's blog:

The Second Generation, Part II

In 1993 when we came in contact with a young struggling couple in Caruaru, Paulo and Simone, we never imagined what plans God had in store for them. Now 18 years later (Wow, has it been that long?), after conversion, ups and downs, growing pains, working to further the Kingdom and living it, they have had the pleasure to witness the beginning of their daughter's life in Christ. Juliana (age ten) was baptized by her older brother, Jheymerson, who was also ten years old when he gave his life to Jesus. What a wonderful blessing to have one's whole family saved in Christ!

Maria and Cícero were also converted when we lived in Caruaru, though single at the time. They dated and got married, the ceremony performed by yours truly. Maria has been faithful to Jesus all these years though going through several difficulties. Cícero, on the other hand, fell away, but came back and renewed his life and his marriage, and now, along with Juliana, his daughter Vitória (age ten) was baptized. You can see Cicero's beaming face in the pictures. One of God's mercies is His bringing our children to salvation even in the face of our shortcomings.

I wonder what God has planned for Juliana and Vitoria, our baby sisters in Christ.

Valentine's Day In June

Valentine's Day In June
            My family traveled this weekend to Caruaru, a city 1 hour ½ outside of Recife, Pernambuco, the state below Paraíba, where we live.  The purpose of our trip was to teach a couples meeting on Saturday, June 11.  Here in Brazil, June 12, is comparable to St. Valentine's Day although it is called Sweetheart's day.  I gave the topic of our lesson to Paulo, the evangelist with the church in Caruaru, a couple of weeks before we traveled.  I had forgotten it would be the Sweetheart's day couples meeting.  The topic of our lesson was "Complaining".  Not a very romantic topic for such a special day.  Once I remembered the occasion I decided to go ahead with the theme since complaining is what throws cold water on most of romances anyway.  It went well and everyone seemed to relate to the topic being discussed.  It's a pity they could relate so well.  
            There were 20 couples present at the meeting, some singles, maybe looking for advice and some whose better half could not be there.  11 couples were visitors.  It is always fun to teach and talk about relationships with couples.  There are a lot of practical things in which we all need to be encouraged.

May God bless you in your relationships, married or not, they are all around you.  

Thank you for your prayers. 

Happy Brazilian Valentine's Day to you all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Big Three Events Are Down To Two

 What one expects from a weekend campaign is:
·       A lot of new contacts to visit;
·       Bible studies;
·       Visitors at a special meeting with an interesting theme;
·       Excitement among the church for participating in something bigger and more important than themselves. 

All of these ingredients we had this weekend.
    The members came and left very excited to be able to participate in spreading God's Word.  After 1,200 personal invitations to a Saturday night meeting, there were six visitors to hear and learn about Family.  We also had 160 people take correspondence courses and leave their names and addresses for the Mangabeira church to visit.  In two weeks we will participate again in inviting 1,200 people to take a classroom setting course, pray that the classroom will hold them all.  All of this with the hope that from all of these 2,560 people we have invited to hear God's Word that some will have fertile soil. 

Please pray:
·       God will work in all of these lives to produce fruit;
·       God may use us to prepare the hearts of those whose hearts are not already good soil;
·       All those who participated in this campaign, through prayer, financial gifts and physical presence may have grown and continue to grow in courage and boldness in spreading the Good News all over God's great field, the World.

The Second Generation, Part I

A true test of one's Christian influence is the effect it has on one's own family. We are excited to announce that a crop of second generation Christians are being harvested for Christ, children baptized as a result of the instruction and example of their parents.

Rivaldo and Leila Café had this pleasure on May 4th when their third daughter, Rebeca, gave her life to Jesus. She is eleven and already teaches the children's Sunday school class. She is taking the Sermon on the Mount and Principles of Christian Faith courses with the church and is using what she is learning in her class.

Also in Cajazeiras, Niltinho and Do Carmo's son, Mateus, age fourteen, followed in their footsteps, and, after having a personal Bible study for five months, was baptized. He is in the Right Step program, but his parents, different from other parents whose children are in the program, came to Christ first.