Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our Women: Shining Stars in the Universe


Hard Work Plus a Lot of Fun



          Sometimes people study the Bible for the sake of it. But since studying the Bible can be hard work, it is sometimes harder to get kids to do it. Though we shy away from competition, making Bible study a game is a great way to create young scholars. This past Saturday we held Brazil's XI Bible Bowl on the books Daniel and Jonah. Seven churches sent fourteen teams to compete in Recife.
          The big winners again this year were from the Boa Viagem church. I think some of them memorized the whole book because they would get cranky if the question wasn't worded exactly like the text. João Pessoa had four teams competing, two came in third place in each division. Lucas McKinney had the third best score of the younger ones.
          This is the second year I have directed Bible Bowl since Daniel Palk left, and I have plans for 2015 to make it bigger and better. Watching the kids getting excited about studying God's Word is worth all the hard work.












Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finances

On a side note, I taught the finance class in in September. There were a total of 11 that began the course and 9 finished. I just pray that 1 or 2 will put the lessons into practice so that the church in will catch on and invest more in God's Kingdom.

Please pray:
  • that people will be more interested in investing in God's Kingdom and will therefore, manage their personal finances with more dedication;
  • that the church in Brazil will begin to open its eyes to see the need for spending money on their spiritual family.

SEARA (Member Training)

I traveled to Patos at the end of August to teach the book of James, and I intermingled the class with the finance class, talking about contentment and using some of Dave Ramsey's practical personal finance administrative tools. It had been two years since the last time I taught the finance class in Patos and it seems that only one couple is putting some of the teachings into practice.
I went back to Patos on October 16th, traveling with Enio Latorre to visit and coordinate SEARA. This four year training program will end in August 2015. We will have a graduation and the students who went through the program will continue to teach and serve their respective congregations. They will also serve throughout the state as teachers.
Please pray:
  • that these men and women who are gaining this knowledge will continue to practice the knowledge that they have of God's Word;
  • that a new SEARA class will be welcomed by the church in Cajazeiras with many members dedicating time and energy to the study and practice of God's Word.

Grande Ceia (Great Supper)

The Grande Ceia (Great Supper) is a state-wide event for Paraíba. One hundred and twenty people attended this 18th Great Supper, almost every church in the state represented.
This year's theme was "Family, God's Project". The lesson I was gave was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. but our group arrived at 8:30 p.m. after the long 8 hour trip. After taking our things to our rooms and eating, I spoke at 10 p.m. Most everybody stayed awake so that was good. My lesson was on "Honoring God in Your Marriage". The main point was for everyone to look in the mirror and realize that they themselves are the problem in their marriage. If we can focus on learning to love and serve and stop pointing fingers, demanding that others serve us, things would be a lot more peaceful and simpler.
Please pray:
  • that husbands and wives can mature and begin serving one another and stop looking to be served.

Pastoreai

Pastoreai is a workshop for families and congregations who desire to establish an eldership. Not many congregations in Brazil have elderships, only 2 churches in the Northeast, that I know of, have elders.
Twenty-two people came, met, talked and discussed the role of elders: what they are, what they do, how they are not perfect, but how also they have the qualities needed to help each member grow in love and service. The previous workshop had 90 participants. The attendance was down this time because it coincided with the presidential election.
I gave a lesson on Abraham. There was a round table session for the speakers to answer questions, and there was good food and fellowship.
Please pray:
that the men of the congregations in will produce elders who exemplify Christ in everything they do;
that young men may desire to serve God in this capacity as well.

Right Step Program on National TV

Brazil's number one sports program, Globo Esporte, did a special report on Passo Certo (Right Step). This is a testament to how the church's program is receiving recognition for its results. Though you may not understand what they are saying, click the link below and watch it.

The commentator at the end congratulates Café and all those who support this program, and that, ladies and gentlemen, includes you.

ATTENTION: jump to the 4m30s point on the video timeline.

Globo Esporte: Passo Certo 


Monday, September 15, 2014

September Newsletter: The Harvest Edition


Then Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest indeed is plentiful, 
but the laborers are few.
Pray, therefore, to the Lord of the harvest, 
that he send forth laborers into his harvest." Matthew 9:37-38
                              
            What does it take for someone to make the incredible decision to give his or her whole life away in the here and now for the hope of reaping an eternal life beyond death? Sometimes years of Bible study, sometimes just one sermon, sometimes hardships in life, sometimes a wonderful victory, sometimes making new friends, sometimes losing family, sometimes being crushed under the weight of guilt, sometimes getting tired of this old life or  could it be that God, through his Spirit works these details into a formula personalized to each individual that will never be completely understood? However He does it, we believe and we praise Him for bringing salvation to people's lives, not everyone we would like, sometimes not in the way or time we would like, but when He does, we praise the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our King and Savior.
            Few whom we preach to come to Christ, so each one that does is motive of great joy, and sometimes they decide in waves, and the joy can give us a glimpse what heaven might be like all the time. These past weeks, several were baptized, some taking only a couple of months, others having worked on the decision for over twenty years, and now we have the pleasure to tell a little of their stories.








Francilayne: We have seen this sweet, quiet girl grow up since she was a tiny baby. Her parents, Francinaldo and Ivani, are possibly on the road to eldership by the way they bring up their family and care for the church. Francilayne is at every meeting and church activity, but this is the first time she was old enough to go to the Women's Seminar. There, on the first day, she said, "Call my dad, I want to be baptized." Francinaldo rushed out to help his daughter die to the world and live for Christ.

Maria Januária: On the second day of the Women's Seminar, Maria from Fortaleza (12 hours north of us) decided it was time to be born again in Christ through baptism. Men were invited again to the event (a rarity!) and we took four carloads for this party for heaven. It was an eternal moment, no one present will ever forget. Three more (including Jeremy's mother-in-law) decided to give their lives to Christ too. Four ladies were baptized in the same moment - beautiful! Many tears later, many happy embraces later, and 1000's of photos on Facebook later, we pray that Maria will be a light for Christ in her city.

Regina: Regina works with Leila at Cefet, the instituition that loans the field for the Right Step program in Cajazeiras. The program has gone beyond just converting the kids playing soccer, it has reached their families and now even people who see what a influence Christ is on the kids' lives. Regina made the 7 hour trip to the Women's Seminar, and was one of the ladies baptized on the second day.

Flávia: Vânia, from the city of Cubati, hasn't been quiet about her faith, her mother was baptized a while back, and now her sister. Flávia came to the Women's Seminar and was one of the four. She lives in João Pessoa and brought her husband to the church meeting this past Sunday, wanting to share the new joy she is experiencing. We pray that God will open doors for His Kingdom through her in her neighborhood.

Da Paz (by Jeremy Newlin): My wife, Monica, will have been a Christian for 27 years on September 20th of this year.  While still wet behind the ears she was teaching her grandmother, mother and father about Christ.  She was ridiculed by her family during many years of her Christian walk but she kept her eyes on Jesus.  Her grandmother was baptized and has already gone home.  She has prayed for almost 27 years to see someone else in her family believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
             I have known Monica for 20 years this year and we will have been married for 19 years in November.  I, too, have talked with her family, studied with her mom, driving two hours every week for two months to study with my loving mother-in-law (I do not tell mother-in-law jokes, I love her).  During our studies she saw and I told her that she was dead spiritually, that her destination was hell and that the only solution was Jesus.  I did not beat around the bush and I was very clear.  She demonstrated that she did not want to follow Christ.  Both Monica and I continued praying for her and her father, brother and the others.
            During this year's women's seminar, a woman from another city wanted to be baptized.  We took a group of people to see this lady baptized, that was besides the 280 women that were already there.  While there my mother-in-law came up to me (she has been to three or four women's seminars they have once a year).  She said "Hi, my son, you will baptize me, won't you".  To be honest I thought she was playing but referring to maybe some distant future date.  I said, "Yes, when?"  She said "now!".  I was kind of looking around and people, mostly women, were coming up to me and bugging me for being at the women's seminar but I immediately stopped and looked at her, she was very emotional, still not believing what I was hearing I looked at Monica and she was crying and she nodded her head meaning, yes, it is true.  I said "of course¨.  I began crying as well.
            After the women's seminar, Monica and I talked.  I knew her mom had the knowledge to know what she was doing but was concerned that she might be acting on emotion from the event and everything that was going on.  Monica told me that they had talked the night before and that she had questioned her mom about that very thing.  Her mom told her that she was truly ready and that she was not acting out of emotion.  She has thought long and hard about the difficulties she will face within the family as well as in the world and knows that she can not live with out Christ.
            27 years is a long time.  Thank You God for being faithful, patient and merciful to Monica's mom.  Never give up hope!  God is Not Dead, He is Alive and is Working in the lives of all of those around us.  That is the lesson that I learned from this experience.

Gabriela: Smart, talented, beautiful, and artistic, Gabriela may not have been a good candidate to feel the need for God. But when her parents separated, she suffered, and that may have pushed her to see how much she needs Him. She started praying and reading the Bible regularly. When she asked about baptism, her mother invited me to study with her. At her baptism, she invited friends and family, Catholics, protestants, even agnostics to witness, and a large crowd witnessed the simplicity of becoming a disciple of Christ.





Rosi and Danilo: While in Patos, for the last SEARA class, we were pleasantly surprised when Beta showed up with Rosi and her family saying that she wanted to be baptized.  The class was stopped immediately and everyone went upstairs to witness Rosi's burial and resurrection.  She participated in the class for the rest of the weekend and loved studying God's Word. Rosi's husband asked a couple of questions to Luciano, the evangelist in Patos and after hearing the answers, Danilo went home and was pensative.  He came back on Tuesday of the same week and was also baptized.Rosi's mom is studying also and talked to me a little bit about baptism but she is terrified of water.  Yes, she does not like to take showers because of this trauma.


 

Please Pray for all these new converts, that God might use them to further His Kingdom!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baptisms in Cajazeiras

     In the month of August, two people were baptized in Cajazeiras one of which was in connection with the Right Step Program (the soccer school run by the church). Natanael is 15 years old and has been in the soccer program for two years. Aparecida is 36. She is not in the soccer program obviously.
     There was also a co-worker of Leila, Café's wife, who was baptized during the women's seminar in João Pessoa.

Please pray:
* that these new babes in Christ will grow in their love for God and for their neighbor,
* that they may dedicate more of their time to study God's Word and learn His will.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

God is Bigger and He is Working


            The month of July was full of activities here in João Pessoa.  As a church, we watched Brazil play the World Cup, held VBS and held a PORMISSOES meeting,  the meeting that gathers workers from almost every congregation in the state.  At its peak there were 26 people in attendance.  
            We talked about the ideas from the last meeting in March, visits made from one church to another, the role of the evangelist in the congregation, what is the purpose of an eldership, what are the qualifications for these men, and how the evangelist can work to raise up such men.
            We set up visits from one church to another until the next meeting in October in the city of Cajazeiras

You Never Forget Your First Job


During our "winter" month of July, where temperatures got down to the low 70's and the high's in the mid 80's, Nicholas' worked for 15 hours a week at a mechanic shop.  This was during the school break.  The purpose was for Nicholas to learn responsibility (getting up and going to work during the three days a week that he set up to go), work ethic (honest and hard work), and financial responsibility (learning that a man must work to take care of his family and how to administer the money received from working).  
He received money from Reinaldo, his mentor, the first week.  After that week Monica and I paid him for a week's work.  I did not tell Nicholas that he was going to receive money for working.  Monica and I had decided to pay him 15 reals (the Brazilian money) per week, but we did not tell him.  At the end of the month he would finish working and begin asking for his "salary."  After receiving it, he had to divide it up into giving, saving and spending.
He said he did not learn anything.  He said all he did everyday was loosen and tighten nuts and bolts.  But he did take brake pads off, change a tire, help put an engine in and take one out, take a hood off of a pick-up truck, pump the brakes to bleed them, etc... 
I saw that he has a different perspective when hearing the word "work".  He seems more ready to serve and help without complaining. He did not complain much before anyways now it is even less.  As we were going down the road one day, he saw someone with a wrench in his hand, and he said, "Look, that is a 18 mm wrench!"  He grew while only working 15 hours a week for four weeks.  He is 14 years old and will be leaving home in about four years.  It is time to start putting into practice what we have been teaching him these 14 years.

SEARA (Harvest)

SEARA (Harvest)
During the past month I travelled twice to Patos for classes taught by Isac and Ricardo. I also visited members of the church in the state of Paraíba.  
The classes were on the Pentateuch and Exegeses/Hermeneutics, part of the curriculum of S.E.A.R.A. (acronym for Servants Sent to Announce the Kingdom of Love).  The purpose of SEARA is to train members of the church who are already active in their congregations by giving them more Biblical knowledge and teaching them how to study the Bible for themselves.  As you have probably guessed I go once a month to this city.  I do not teach every class but I go to take advantage of a group of active members from a couple of congregations coming together to study God's Word and develop deeper relationships with them.  
The classes are going well and I have seen God's Word changing people's lives.

Please pray for these classes and the disciples who have a great desire to learn more from God through His Word.  

Prayer Request

Please pray for upcoming events and classes in the coming months.
1.         Finance Class - I give this class once a year in João Pessoa to the church.  The purpose is for the church to administer well their personal finances so that they will not be in debt, live more peacefully financially, have better marriages, and invest in God's Kingdom with more joy.  This year the class will be September 11-14th.
2.         Pastoreai - I will be teaching at this seminar in Recife, on October 3-5th, to help prepare men to understand what an eldership is and how to develop men into "eldership material".
3.         Grande Ceia - A state-wide event, called The Great Supper, for the churches to get together for fellowship, teaching, singing, and eating.  I will be teaching at this event, October 10-12th.
4.         Monica's Trip - Monica will be going to an event hosted by the Continent of Great Cities in the south of Brazil on October 6-10th to receive spiritual care.  She worked very hard on VBS and the Women's Seminar in July and August. 

The Fall of a god

     A lot has happened since the last time we talked.  The World Cup has ended, and Brazil was not the champion, in fact the country was shamed by a 7 to 1 loss to Germany .  There were not many riots as people were expecting to happen.  People just went back to work and still a over a month later talk about how bad Brazil played.  The expectations to win a World Cup have been pushed back many years.  Germany seems to be the favorite to win the next World Cup.
     There are many Brazilians who, I guess you could say, worship soccer.  Yes, soccer is their "god".  They may not think so.  I am sure they would all deny this fact because it sounds outrageous, but they eat, sleep, and drink soccer.  They stay out late at night with strangers at soccer matches instead of being with their families at home. They take their meals in front of a soccer game on TV instead of eating at the table with their families. Soccer is enough cause for them to yell and fight with family members and friends, and others have even killed the "enemy" (fans of other teams) just because of 11 men on a field kicking a ball.  
     I, too, like soccer, but not that much.  I have witnessed all of the above with my own eyes, except for the killing, but that I have seen on the news.  
     When Brazil lost the World Cup, it was as if their "god" had died.  They lost hope in the one thing that brings them the most joy, soccer.  There now may be a hole in their heart that they are searching to fill with other things. One whisky commercial on a billboard said, "Now let's drink to forget!"
     What is the lesson we can learn from these soccer "fanatics."  They are not afraid to tell others about their team, they defend their team, they do not deny their team, they invest in their team, by going to games and buying jerseys with joy and not sadness and they believe that their participation in cheering for their team makes a difference, so they show up to the stadium to cheer them on.
     May we show this same devotion to the one true and living God that others show to their "god". 

Monday, August 25, 2014

SMYRNAEANS, by David McKinney



                We were privileged to receive a  wonderful group from Highland Heights Church of Christ, Smyrna - TN.  Zachary Bannister, who works with the college age, brought a group of fourteen young men and women down to João Pessoa to work with us for nine days. Some were crazy, some were sweet, but all of them were determined to serve at the Lord's feet.
                They visited four church meetings on Sunday, the day after they arrived, and I don't recall any of them falling asleep. They worked hard evangelizing, door-knocking, enjoying fellowship with the brethren, participating in youth devotionals and activities, making new friends, visiting homes, catching the mid-night restaurant Bible study, interacting with English students from our Bible Clubs, throwing an English party to invite people to Let's Start Talking. They invaded the streets and the college campus, handing out flyers. They gave them out at bus stops, busy downtown walkways, classrooms, and even at the drive thru at McDonald’s (from inside the restaurant). Many seeds were planted, many contacts were made. May the Lord bless the harvest.
                They also worked hard on our church building: fixing fences and swing sets, scraping metal, sanding wood, pulling weeds, painting walls, playgrounds, parking area, and so forth. They touched our hearts and blessed our lives. We laughed a lot and shed a tear.
                Thanks for coming! Thanks to Zachary for planning and organizing the trip. Thanks to all those who contributed to their trip with prayers and donations.