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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In His Father's Footsteps

            The Colinas church is small group, meeting in Marcos and Clécia's house in a rough neighborhood of João Pessoa. The Sunday before last after the meeting, a drunk came up to me in the street and gave me a hug, and said, "I didn't come to the meeting because I was drinking. No use lying." That's the truth, since alcohol was strong on his breath.

            He is just one of the neighbors that Marcos has invited to know Christ, but though they don't pay him much mind, someone is. His son, Marquinhos, 13 years old, asked to study the Bible. After learning what he needed to know from brother Roberto, he decided to follow Jesus, and his father baptized him into Christ this past Sunday.

            May he be faithful, following Jesus' footsteps as his father does.

Princes, Witches, Monsters, and the Armor of God

            King Christopher left the kingdom in the care of his two sons, Fortus and Cranius, and his daughter Justina. Daily the evil witch tried to conquer the kingdom, by laying traps of seduction and gold, and ultimately unleashing upon them Black Power, a slave turned monster through magic potions. Fortus tried to defend the kingdom through military might, Cranius used his intellect to invent weapons of mass destruction to keep the peace, but they were defeated. Only Justina was able to save the day by reading the Bible and discovering the armor of God. The last day, with the sword of the Spirit, she was able to bring Black Power to repentance and free him from the witch's slavery, defeating her once and for all. 

            If the kids had half the fun watching as we did bringing this story to life, then it was worth it. Our four-day Vacation Bible School this year armed up 53 kids with God's armor to prepare them for the devil's attacks. The AME and AIM groups helped to implement the event, organized by Monica Newlin. Then they took versions of what they learned to other cities, Olinda (the Lar Cristão Orphanage) and Belo Jardim.

            We sowed seeds in young lives that will bring fruit in God's time. Bless Him for this opportunity to make a difference in children's lives.

P.S. Brother Nilson let his hair grow out six months to play the part of Black Power!