Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Planting The Seed

On my last trip, I traveled to Cubati to visit the four Christians living in a city of about 6,000.  Last time I visited, Afonso and Vania were spreading the seed of the Gospel through teaching members of denominations how to worship and live Christian lives.  Some of the denominations began practicing things like taking the Lord's Supper every Sunday and studying the Bible more with their members.  Their examples of Christian living seem to be affecting the city in a small way, now.
            This weekend, I got out of the car, walked into Afonso and Vania's house and was met with two 16 year old girls.  Both began living with boys or men, I don't know which, when they were 14.  One, Carol has already separated from her boyfriend.  The other, Jessica, is still living with her boyfriend.  Anyway, they have had Bible questions for a long time and no one they asked had been able to answer them.  So Vania presented them to me and told them to fire away with their questions.  I began answering them by showing them in Bible what God says.  They seem to really enjoy it and more importantly understand.  The next day I studied with them again.  I showed them both that they were dead spiritually.  They were surprised and said they had no idea that was their state.  They then asked, "So what do we do?"  I explained to them that they needed to get rid of their sin, and the only way that was possible was being baptized into Christ.  Don't get excited – they were not baptized, but they went home thinking about it.  I guess it was too much of a change for them in such a short time, but they still want to study, and Afonso and Vania can take it from there.
            I also studied with an older lady who is going through all sorts of problems and needs help in a lot of ways.  We studied together with the church present.  It went well, but her mind is on her other problems for now.
            I gave a ride to an older gentleman to a city close by on my way home.  I admit, I really didn't want to, but I stopped and picked him up anyway.  I began talking to him, a very pleasant person to talk with.  I asked him, "If you could change any one thing in your life, what would you change?"  He said, "I would go to church."  I said, "Really!?  That would be the one thing you would change, out of everything else?"  He said, "Yes."  I curiously asked, "Why?"  He just didn't seem like the person that would give that kind of answer.  He said, "Because everything good happens when you're a believer."  I asked, "So why don't you start?"  He said, "When God calls me, I'll go, right then,"  his answer meaning, "I don't want to give up the way I'm living now, but when God makes me give it all up by changing my heart, and I don't have to put forth any effort at all, then I'll change."  Knowing what he meant by his answer, I asked, "What if God never calls?"  He said, "Oh, He will."  I asked, "If Jesus came back today would you go to heaven or hell?"  He said, very quickly, "Heaven!"  I asked, "How?"  He said, "I would repent."  I said to him, "You're not making any sense.  You say, the one thing in your life you would change, if you could, would be to go to church.  You say the reason you would be a believer is because God blesses believers with many good things.  You say, you want to go to heaven, but yet you are waiting for God to call you while you live a life you know doesn't please God.  Does that make sense to you?"  He said, "No, but when God calls me I will change."  I gave up, and we had arrived at his destination.  He is not alone in his thought process and/or destination when Jesus returns.
Please pray:
  • that God will touch Jessica and Carol's hearts to obey him and be saved from sin;
  • that God will continue to give strength, energy and faithfulness to His church in Cubati;
  • that God will use us to help others feel God calling them.
For more news and stories: Check out my personal blog at:  http://jeremynewlin.blogspot.com.br/ 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Out And About

    Last weekend I traveled to Patos, where I conducted the state-wide plan meeting, spent time with an evangelist, helped plan the Great Supper in October and met with two different congregations. 
            The state-wide plan is still moving forward.  Their goal for this meeting was to have someone prepared who is able to prepare another person.  Each congregation is still working towards this goal.  They each have someone in place that they are training.  The short-term goal is to train men and women who will be able to train other men and women.  The mid-term goal is to prepare the congregation in various aspects of the work and spiritual life so that it, the congregation, can continue to grow without the current evangelist.  The long-term goal is to prepare the congregation to send out the current evangelist or other men to establish a congregation in a new city.  We are moving slower than I would like to see but we are moving forward.  That is good news. 
            I spent a full day with one of the evangelists supported through funds from the U.S.A.  We spent time talking about the work, about his personal life, and about vision for the future of the church in Paraíba.  I am confident that he now has a better understanding of the direction in which, I believe, the church needs to move.  It was good to spend time with Givanildo.
            While with Givanildo, Silvan and Diogo, I helped plan the Great Supper.  This is an event for the church throughout the state of Paraíba, a feast of knowledge of God's Word, of fellowship with the church and evangelism in the host city, Catingueira.
            I met with the church in Emas, Catingueira, and Patos on Sunday.  It was encouraging to see the simplicity of a small congregation, meeting in a house and having lunch together after services, as well as, the simplicity of a larger congregation in Patos, meeting in a building in construction, supporting an evangelist all at the same time, but having the same love and concern as the smaller congregation. 
Please pray:
  • that God will direct our path for the state-wide plan.  That the plan will be His, not ours;
  • that the vision Givanildo now has will permeate his plans and actions;
  • that the Great Supper will be a true spiritual feast for the church in Paraíba;
  • God's people will live and "...proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;" 1 Peter 2:9