Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sunny Sunday

On a sunny Sunday, I took a carload to Alagoinha, my two sons, Nicholas and Dylan, Joseph and Edda's son, Samuel, and a sister from church, Lucia de Fátima. We visited only one family in the city before meeting with the church.
This family was the first family I met in the city about 13 years ago. The father was an alcoholic, a daughter told me that if I was trying to make her leave the Catholic church that I could forget it. I told her that I was not trying to make her leave anything, I just wanted to study God's Word with her. This visit, though, they all mentioned how thankful they were to God that I came and taught them God's Word. The father no longer drinks. The daughter told me that she loves to see me and my family when we visit. The mother and one of the other daughters were both baptized years ago, but neither meet with the church anymore. The entire family goes to a denomination, but I am not giving up. I continue to visit and study God's Word with them. 
The visit to the church in Alagoinha was, in a word, joyful. We studied how Jesus tells us to carry our cross and to love him more than any family members or even ourselves. Then from Hebrews 10:19-25, we discussed the privilege of being in God's presence and the importance of encouraging one another towards love and good works. We all know this is true, but in Alagoinha, there is a man whose zeal for God, His Word and His church seems, at times, to overshadow the feelings and difficulties of the other members. 
The result of the study was a physical change in their body posture and on their faces. They seemed relieved and happier. The spiritual results I hope to see in the very near future. Please pray for the church in Alagoinha.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast is considered by many as the most important meal of the day. There is a saying in Brazil that goes like this: "Eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince and eat supper like a beggar." The idea is to eat less and less as the day goes on but like many of us we tend to eat little to nothing in the morning and more and more as the day wears on.
I am not writing to tell you about breakfast. I am writing to tell you about our men's breakfast in João Pessoa. Sorry, if you were making plans to come, it has already happened. We plan to have another one soon, if you are here we would love to have you.
There were about 20 men that showed up with food that could have fed a king and his family. We sang, prayed, ate and talked about future plans for the church. It was great food but even better fellowship.

Enjoy the pictures!

Please pray:
* that the plans made will not be left on paper but carried out by all of us, especially the Brazilian men;
* that the men of the congregation will live their lives in the fullness of God's Will. (I know that is aiming very high but why aim lower)

Teaching, Guiding and Sharing

PORmissões is the plan to evangelize the entire state of Paraíba through establishing congregations in each of the four major cities, maturing members and reaching out to the smaller cities around them.
There are now three others (Afonso, Júnior and Luciano) who are working with me directly to move this plan forward. This is a huge step for the work to continue without me in the near future. We met at the beginning of June to discuss the vision each one has for the state and how to carry that vision out. We are working to mature the members of the church and continually bring unity among the congregations through visiting, calls and statewide events.
Our next statewide event will be in João Pessoa where I will be teaching and helping each evangelist think about preparing and maturing men to be Elders and Deacons. We will also discuss what the role of the evangelist is and how to carry out his role in the congregation in which he lives and labors.

Please pray:
* that God may use me to help open our eyes to the possibilities and opportunities He provides to guide men to be "men of God";
* that God may work in all of our hearts for us to be fully dedicated to Him and His Kingdom;
* that God may help us to see our role as missionaries, evangelists and all of us as Christians to be light in the darkness.

Please shine through us Lord Jesus.

AIM: A Sharing of Young People

          They have just got here: Daniel, Micah, Katie, Ally, and Amanda, a new AIM team in João Pessoa. They have been trained, they have apartments, they are experiencing Brazil for the first time in World Cup mode, and are excited. Since they don't know Portuguese yet, they have plugged into our English Bible study groups, even starting a new one at the Federal University. For eighteen months they will be an asset to the work, giving invaluable insight in the AME training program, providing manpower for church plants, teaching evangelistic Bible Studies, strengthening the youth group, etc.
          A mission field is an exercise in sharing, and through programs like AIM and AME we share the resource of young people, training them, sending them, and receiving them. And through these opportunities, we pray God is using us to prepare future generations for the growth of His kingdom. As Hannibal on the A-Team would say: "I love it when a plan comes together."

AME: The Training of Young People

          2014 has brought a new group of young people to João Pessoa to train as missionaries. Eight started out, but one had to return home because of her mother's health. Daniela, Ítalo, Nathalia, Pablo, Amanda, Neto, and Camila came from Recife, Serra Talhada, Natal, Belo Jardim, Salvador, and Bolivia. Their training includes Monday through Thursday Bible courses, practical learning on weekends with local churches, and survival skills, like grocery shopping, cooking, washing clothes, etc.
          As part of the program, they go to the university to evangelize, setting up Bible studies; they started a Spanish Bible Club there. They also participate in campaigns, the last one was a week in Natal.
          I am teaching Devotional II, using 1 and 2 Corinthians on Mondays, morning and afternoon. Yesterday, they had a Skype meeting with a small church in Santa Maria, south end of Brazil, who wants to host an AME team. So far I am impressed with their dedication and desire to serve.

The World on our Doorstep

          32 countries have flooded Brazil with their Soccer teams and fans. The first fifteen days of the World Cup have eliminated half of them. Some host cities have declared holidays for game days because of miles and miles of traffic jams, on Brazil game days, holiday for everybody. Today USA plays Belgium for a chance to continue in the game.
          The amount of money wasted on stadium construction and corruption is a complaint, but when a game is on and every Brazilian TV is tuned in, the bad stuff is momentarily forgotten. 
          The games in Brazil are a time to get with friends and family, to party and drink. The church has appropriated this cultural event for fellowship and fun. We watch the Brazil games together at the church building, inviting visitors to celebrate in ways that brings people closer to one another with God's approval.