Monday, September 24, 2012

Quality Time in Alagoinha

            On a bright and shiny Sunday morning, I traveled to Alagoinha with the hopes of encountering the bright young man who had shown interest in wanting to know God and being used by Him to help the church grow. 
            I did find him but not as motivated as I would have hoped.  I tried to set up a time to study with him before arriving but was unable to do so.  When I arrived I asked to study with him and his first response was no: he did not have time because he is involved in campaigning for a politician in his city.  (This year there are elections for mayor and city council members.)  After sometime, he came to Antônio's door (the man with whom I usually stay when in town).  We sat and talked, studied and prayed together.  He is hungry for more, but I cannot be there all the time, and in between my visits I fear he may lose some of his fire.

            I know that I am not the one in whom he should put his hope, and I do not pretend to be, but he needs someone to walk alongside him and to tell him about Jesus, the man that I have come to know over the years.

Please pray:
  • That God may give me wisdom and discernment to see who He is raising up to travel and train in the state of Paraíba;
  • That God may raise up servants who are seeking to train and teach others;
  •  For the church in Alagoinha, a small congregation that is having a hard time growing spiritually as well as numerically.

Something's Not Right

It was a comfortable night in João Pessoa.  As I left the church building after teaching a lesson on personal finance, nothing was amiss.  After giving someone a ride home, I was off to my own home.  I remember thinking as I pulled away from her house: I am going on the paved road tonight (the road I usually go on is cobblestone, and I bounce around a lot because of the holes and the unevenness of the cobblestones).
As I pull up to the stop sign I see a man standing there by himself, and I think to myself, "That is strange, what is he doing?" (I'll tell you what he was doing later on)  I make a left turn, and about 100 yards ahead there are three other guys standing at the edge of a favela.  Again, I thought to myself, "Hum, that is strange, I wonder what they are doing."  (It is not strange for people to be out in the streets but for them to just be standing and not talking or walking somewhere is strange.)  Well,  I knew something was wrong, but I could not think what it was.

I pull up to the stop sign where the three guys were and I did not stop but was going very slow because I knew something was not right.  As I make the right turn all three run up on the car, one of them holding a gun on me and he tells me to stop the car.  (The things that go through your mind are very strange at times and I had strange things going through my mind.)  I almost did not stop the car because I thought to myself, "This is a joke, where do I know these guys from?"  Then reason came back to me, and I stopped.  As soon as I stopped they took my watch off of my arm and started to pull me out of the car.  I told them to wait, calm down, and let me take my seatbelt off.  I stepped out of the car, and they asked for my wallet and cell phone.  I gave them both and stood there a little while longer.  They told me to get back in the car so I sat down, with one leg in the car and one leg outside the car.  I put my hand on the door to close it, and one of them saw my wedding band.  He attempted to take it off and was unable so he told me to take it off.  I saw how nervous they were and figured they would run off.  So I started twisting my ring but not taking it off, when he saw that I was taking my time he called the guy with the gun back over to the car.  When I heard him do that I took it off and handed it to him.  While that was going on another one of the guys on the other side of the car was telling me to take the stereo out of the car.  I told him I don't how to take it out.  He told me to take the face off of the stereo so I gave it to him.  They were about to let me drive off when the guy who took my wallet came back and kicked me in the face twice while asking me where the money was.  (I did not have any money in my wallet, my cell phone was the cheapest one out there and I had it for almost two years)  Like I said before, crazy things go through your mind when things are happening.  I am sure many other things went through my mind, but I remember thinking after the first kick, "What a soft sandal!" and then comparing his second kick to my days as a teenager and boxing with my friends and thinking, "This doesn't hurt at all," strange but true thoughts from someone being robbed at gunpoint.

I did not react.  I gave them everything they asked for except my glasses and they let me go without doing much bodily harm.  My eyesight is not very good.  My glasses prescription is 9.5 in my right eye and 8.5 in my left eye or something like that.  One of them took my glasses off and I said "No, give me my glasses".  He immediately gave them back to me.  It would have been a dangerous ride home without them.  As I drove away slowly, the guy with the gun came back out into the street and shot his gun out ahead of the car.  I drove straight to the police station and filed a report.  They were not caught and I don't expect them to be.

I reflected on what happened and thought, if I had reacted in some way not counting the fact that I probably would be shot but I would not have honored God's name.  By doing nothing, I feel like I could face the guys and tell them about Christ without shame for not living what I preach.  I am not trying to say that I did nothing because I have mastered the art of turning the other cheek.  I see that I am at fault, often, in my own home with my wife and children, not physically but verbally or emotionally.  God gave me calmness and I am grateful for His protection.  If I had reacted they would have become more aggressive and violent.  I gave them no reason to do so.  I am now praying that God may save them from this sad life of hatred and fear. 
         Oh yeah, that guy on the corner that I told you about, he was their look out.  I knew something was not right. 

P.S.  I did not get a picture of them so I am sending one of my family.

The Coming of Jesus

    We have been in contact with Roseli for years, ever since there was a weekly neighborhood Bible study at Irene’s, taught by Hunter and Jeremy. Since then a lot of water has gone under the bridge, including her husband leaving her and other crises of life. And all that she has been through has brought her to seek Jesus and to meet with the congregation at Irene’s house.
    Irene and I studied the Bible her and could see more and more that she is placing her faith in Jesus and her hope in the things above. The only thing she lacked was baptism, which, she would say, is a very serious step. But when it became obvious that baptism in her mind was so serious that she wasn’t getting any closer to making the decision, I asked her, “What would happen if Jesus came back tonight?”
    That question shocked her into thinking that the return of Christ is a reality to contend with someday, but that baptism is the yielding to Jesus and bringing Him into her life now. She decided she couldn’t wait any longer. We were all at camp, so we went down to the stream that crosses the property, God's family standing on the slanted shore, singing praises, encouraging Roseli with words and hugs. She confessed Christ before all, and we waded into the brown waters to a spot where the sunlight shone down on us through the trees,  and right then Christ came to Roseli, making her into a new creation.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cajazeiras all the way

        I traveled to Cajazeiras with Mark Hagewood at the beginning of August.  It was a short trip but a helpful one.  I have been looking for someone in the church that can help Café and Leila with maturing the Christians in Cajazeiras.  I think I may have found someone.  I ask for your prayers for the maturity of the church in Cajazeiras. 
         Mark and I taught a class to the older Christians about service and serving others.  I gave the lesson on Sunday trying to help the Christians understand who they are and why they are here. We are salt and light with the purpose of glorifying God in our lives.

Please pray that:
  • God will give me wisdom to help the Christians throughout the state of Paraíba grow in maturity
  • God will continue to bless Café, Leila and the church in Cajazeiras

When the going gets tough...

            I traveled to Cubati the end of July to continue visiting and teaching a correspondence course begun in June.  I am visiting once a month to keep up with contacts and trying to create new ones.  This visit the number of people continuing the course dropped from 13 to 6, but the remnant is excited about learning more. 
         Afonso and I also visited a nearby family in another city, and a door opened up for me to teach a finance class, in which I hope to lead them from earthly treasures to the true treasures of heaven. 
         Afonso and I traveled to Patos, a two hour trip, to have a meeting with the Brazilian evangelists in Patos, Emas and Belém to discuss the plans for establishing a congregation in Pombal.  The meeting was encouraging because I believe they began to see the vision that I am wanting to pass on to them so that they can carry-on the work by themselves when I am gone.
Please pray for:

  •    Afonso, Vânia, Bila and Jandira in Cubati.
  •  Those studying the Bible in Cubati
  • Those who will be studying finances, that they may make the jump to heavenly treasures.

AME - The Beginning

            Raniere Menezes has initiated AME (Evangelistic Adventures in Missions), an AIM-like program for Brazilians that encourages young people to get involved in missions. He traveled to Cubati along with 18 others, including 14 young people, ages 12 and up, who spent two Saturdays training for this campaign, even handing out pamphlets at the stop lights on one of the busiest intersections in João Pessoa.  In Cubati we handed out invitations, close to 300, on Saturday morning and had games with spiritual lessons during the afternoon and night.  About 25 young people showed up for the games. 
            Sunday with 18 visitors present, I taught the Sunday School class on David and Goliath  and then preached on Jesus and Satan in the sermon showing that both David and Jesus knew who they were and who was fighting their battle.  Because of this knowledge, or should I say faith, they were used by God the Father to defeat both of their enemies.  I related this message to the young people by showing them that we, too, are in a battle and, we are deciding in whom we believe by the small and large decisions we make in our everyday lives.  These decisions then define who we are and in whom we have placed our faith.  Only one side is victorious, and we already know who it will be. 
Please pray for these young people, both from João Pessoa, as well as, Cubati:
  • That God may become real to them, that they may believe that He really does exist
  • That they may understand that God has won and has invited us to be on His side
  • That they may have the faith in God to live out His will in their lives.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tablets for the Mission Work

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My kids, Lydia, Samuel, and Lucas, entered a Youtube video in a contest. The video with the most views at the end of September 2012
wins, and each participant will receive a tablet. Their video is 1:31 minutes long and is only 200 views behind the one in first place.

If they win, they want to donate 2 tablets to the mission work in Paraiba. I have never used a tablet, but I imagine it would be helpful
to a children's program, for communication, or even sharing studies for evangelism, especially to a church in the interior that doesn't
have any computer resources.

So help the mission work in Brazil receive a couple of tablets by watching their video and sharing it with everybody you know.

Superpoderes Supera #070