Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lilian

            Monica Newlin, Edda McKinney, and Fátima Vieira studied the Bible with Lilian last year. When asked if she wanted to be baptized, she said she wasn't ready. Whether problems of faith or family, she really wasn't ready, but continued to meet with the Manaíra church, the one meeting in Irene's beauty salon.
          This year, Lilian asked me what lacked for her to be baptized, an Acts 8:36-37 moment. Her husband and son came to her baptism. We were so happy for they had never shown interest before.

          They also came to the following Sunday meeting. God is in control. He knows whether her delay in decision has a purpose in reaching the whole family. I don't know, but He knows. Please pray for Lilian and her family.





Mission Camp 2016



          One of our Adventurers in Evangelistic Missions' (AME) projects is organizing a mission camp. About 40 participants from several churches in the Northeast, not including the organizers and workers. The camp worked on personal relationships,  emphasizing evangelism in our daily lives, including activities like, door-knocking, handing our pamphlets, visiting old folk's homes, feeding the homeless, Bible study on the beach, putting up a health stand, calling people to consider their spiritual health. 

          During the event, one of the participants was baptized, Jessica, from greater Recife. Each year this is a great opportunity for the young people to see the wonderful things God can do through those who take initiative to share Him with the world. 


Ups and Downs of Family

         There is a family that meets with the church in the Mangabeira neighborhood, that has had its share of ups and down. The parents were baptized several years ago, but haven't been constant in their faith, a case of the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

          Lately they have been showing more dedication, because their family is reaping the consequences of not putting Christ first, the enemy attacking what is most precious, their teenage daughters.

          I received this week a prayer request from the grandmother. She said that one of the daughters has been so rebellious that her father hit her. She packed her stuff and left with some friends, showing up four days later all dirty and scratched at her grandmother's house, disappearing again until the writing of the article.

          This same week the father called up Raniere Vieira and said that his other daughter wanted to be baptized. It took a couple of days for Raniere to arrive from a trip, and when he did, one had turned into two, her friend also deciding to give her life to Jesus. Tragedy and great victory wrapped up in the same family      Putting Christ first in our families is not a guarantee that Satan will not attack, but Jesus is stronger than anything that he can do. The worst thing we can do is put our guard down, stop praying, leave the Word closed on the shelf, while we and our kids are being fed internet, social media rubbish. No wonder so many families are being destroyed. Please pray for this family and their two girls, and the friend also born again.






Monday, October 3, 2016

Last Mission, by Jeremy Newlin



          Traveling, Traveling, Traveling.  I have been there and done that.  I have traveled at least once a month, every month for the past five years.  A lot of months, I traveled two or three times a month.  I slowed down after Dylan asked if I could set up a time in my agenda for me and him to play together.  I felt my eyes swell with water.
          I traveled once more to the interior, along with Raniere Vieira, Júnior and Roberto.  For three of us, it would be our last PORMISSOES meeting.  The state-wide meeting to encourage, plan and care for one another.  Raniere, Júnior and myself will be moving at the end of the year. 
          I was encouraged by the group and their vision as they discussed future meetings and began to dream together.  Sure, they seemed to still be waiting on instructions from someone to tell them what to do from now until the next meeting but that is all part of the growing process. 
          The last meeting I may ever attend.  I saw God, working, helping others dream and begin to plan.  This is God’s mission.  It is His plan to save the World.  He is still active in and through His church.  In God we trust, not in nations, presidents or business models.  In God.
          Please pray that God will bless these men as they give their lives to Him, bless the plans and give vision to His church in Paraíba, and spread His gospel throughout the state of Paraíba.

Please Study With Me

As I arrived at the apartment building where we live a couple of weeks ago, a neighbor started a conversation with me.  She asked if we were really going to move back to the States for good.  I said yes, in December.  She then asked if I could recommend someone to teach her and her family the Bible and spend some time in prayer.  Her family has two apartments in our building.  Some years ago, I studied the Bible with her father and mother but not with her.  I asked her to give me a couple of days and I would get back to her with a name.  I am kidding!!!  Of course, I said yes, I would love to give a Bible study to your family. 
            We had our first Bible study last Tuesday night.  There were 10 present, counting Monica and myself.  At the end of the study they asked if we could come again next week.  I said, sure. 
 
Please pray:
·         That the Gospel may penetrate the hearts of those who are studying so that they might give their lives to Christ.

Who Do You Worship?

           The church in João Pessoa began a sermon series on the book of Romans.  I began by teaching and preaching on the context of the book.  It took a little bit longer than I expected but was well worth the time.
            God's Word is awesome.  Just to give you a little taste of what was taught.  Romans is a book in which the apostle Paul expounds on the Gospel (Chapter 1:3-4).  Jesus, born in the flesh, died and risen from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit, proving that He is the Son of God.  This gospel is God's power to save all those who believe (Chapter 1:16-17).  Save us from what?  Our sins, right!  Yes, but it is not a salvation experienced only at the end of time, this salvation is present all around us.  God's wrath is being poured out all around us, today!! (Chapter 1:18-25).  We have traded our worship.  Before being saved through the gospel, we worshiped the creation, in many ways, instead of the Creator (Chapter 1:25).  The gospel saves us from this and its consequences by renewing the focus of our worship.  The gospel turns us to worship God and this worship saves us from a way of life that we see all around us every day, destroying families and leaving every worshiper of creation, hopeless.     
            How marvelous and wonderful is the Gospel.  We are saved.  Live out your salvation with joy.  You are experiencing things that others, who are not Christians, cannot fathom until they see you living in Christ, worshipping the God and creator of heaven and earth.
 
            Please pray:
·         That the church in João Pessoa may worship God and Him alone

Monday, September 12, 2016

Planning Anyone?

            Planning seems like something that everyone knows how to do.  I mean we all buy houses, cars, eat three meals a day, etc…, right?  Well, a couple of weekends ago I was helping a congregation learn how to plan.  I explained the steps of planning; vision, why, where we are now, how to get to our vision from where we are and how to constantly evaluate if we are still on track.
            I also taught and preached from the book of Ephesians.  I explained the context, the confusion a lot of people have about predestination and what God's wrath is, how it is all around us and how the Gospel saves us from His wrath here and now.  I spoke on listening to our conscience and studying God's Word to train our conscience.  


            It was a quick trip but a very good one.  On the way back to João Pessoa, I came a different way.  There was almost no traffic on this road for about 50 miles.  I went a very slow 35 to 50 mph as I gazed at the mountainous landscape.  Almost no plant life, for lack of water it could have been very ugly but I saw beauty.  As I was driving and observing, I thought about this trip being one of my last.  This world is not our home, we are just passing through.  I can't wait to get home.
God bless you all

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vacation Bible School and Fun Bible School

      This year, Vacation Bible School’s theme was The Kilimanjaro Safari, using Proverbs to teach children to use their eyes, their ears, their mouths, and their hands and feet to glorify God. That’s what the children learned; what we learned was that teaching children about Jesus is not only fun but worthwhile.  Something else we came to realize was how hard it is going to be to have VBS next year without Monica Newlin putting so much time and work into organizing it. The Newlins are moving back to the US at the end of the year and will be greatly missed.



       This year, though, we have tried something different. We have transformed Sunday School into Fun Bible School, based on some ideas from the Journeyland Program that the Hermosa church in Artesia, NM, introduced us to. We invite the visiting kids to continue coming to church to participate in mini workshops: gardening, cooking, acting, etc., each workshop geared around a Bible message. Then at the end of the month, the children make a presentation for their families of what they have learned.


       Pray with us that Fun Bible School can bring in more families to meet Christ.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Becoming a Fisher of Men

          Far, far away in a little town called Diamond, there lived a fisherman named Heleno. Though it sounds like it, this is no fairy tale. Heleno’s wife became a Christian last year, the only one in Diamond (Diamante). She is Ivani’s sister, whom Francinaldo and Ivani have visited two or three times a year since they became followers of Christ.
          Every time they go,  Solange gathers family and neighbors to study the Bible. Most times Heleno would be out fishing, but he would hear the message some times. This and his wife’s example finally became enough for him to come to a decision.
          They traveled to João Pessoa, spent the weekend here and we studied the Bible. Since Heleno doesn’t read well, I drew pictures to help him better understand why sin is such a problem in our lives and why only Jesus can resolve it.  He understood despite my lack of drawing talent.
          He was baptized, and went back to his hometown a new man, armed with my stick figure drawings to share what he has learned with others. Heleno and Solange may be simple folks, but they are God’s representatives now in Diamond, and with God on their side many people can be caught in the Gospel net in that city.



Taking the Right Step in Life

    The Cajazeiras Right Step Program is going strong, young men learning about living godly lives through soccer training, but the fruit for the Kingdom is not restricted to just boys.
    


    Rivaldo Café baptized a couple, Alacide and Jocelha, at the end of July. They came to the church through the program too. Ever since their two sons started training soccer, they showed an interest in studying the Bible. And now they are your brother and sister in Christ. Please pray for them, their faith, their witness, and for the Right Step program to continue set families on the Way of Life.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Youth Leadership Training by David McKinney



             I traveled to Caruaru with Samuel McKinney and three young ladies, Beliza, Thaís and Valeska. We went to a youth leadership training camp. This is the first camp of this nature in the Northeast of Brazil. The focus of the event was the need for youth ministers to care for their own spiritual lives and the importance of mentoring others to become future leadership.  So many times, ministers in general use all their energy to care for others and invest very little in their own spiritual well-being. It is very common for church workers to be overloaded with work instead of teaching others and delegating responsibilities.
          These subjects are very important for the kind of youth group that we want to build. To instill the idea that we need each other in the Kingdom, and yet caring for each other can be burden, we did the following activity: we were divided into pairs and told to race across a field carrying each other. Samuel ended up with a guy that was three times his size. I came very close to interrupting the activity for fear that Samuel might hurt his back, but I was amazed at his determination to do his part. This kind of attitude, in the hands of God, can go a long way. The four young people I took on this trip are devout Christians who have a passion for service, and love working with young people. I can see all of them growing spiritually in amazing ways. The camp had an impact on each one of us. May God teach us to always care well for our relationship with Him, and to use special time and resources to train others that can multiply our efforts.

From Joelton to João Pessoa and Back Again, by Jeremy Newlin

July 10, 1994, I first set foot on Brazilian soil, (a three week visit to Recife) the same as the McKinneys many years before.  Fast-forward, (does anyone born after the year 2000 even know what that really means?) 22 years and 6 days:  A group of 21 people, varying ages, arrive in João Pessoa for a one-week mission trip.

We planned their week with many activities: visiting, singing in public squares, handing out flyers (no one more excited about this task than Riley Putman, my nephew), door-to-door invitations to a new School of the Bible course (beginning this Saturday, August 13th), spending the night in the home of a non-English speaking family, buying fruit in the open market, buying souvenirs, going to the beach to relax and have fun, meeting with the congregations in J.P. and eating lots and lots of food (even going to a true to life, Brazilian steakhouse).

Several from the group want to visit again.  If we could fast-forward again 20 some odd years into the future, would we see someone from this group, having been bitten by the love for missions, writing a similar article about a similar group on a short visit. We loved having you here. It was great fun, and we were all greatly encouraged by all of you. May God light His flame for missions in the hearts of all those who came, those who contributed and those who prayed for this trip. May we all love loving others, bringing glory to the Creator and Lord.

Friday, July 1, 2016

No More Complaining, by Jeremy Newlin

      As my departure from Brazil nears, I am doing the countdown on the state-wide meetings I will be attending. Just went to my next to the last. I feel like Paul, trying to think of all the right things to say before I go. We talked about what God has done to bring salvation to the world and how our lives should be different from that of those who are not in Christ.
      Each congregation gave a presentation of their growth in numbers and maturity, through such activities as visitation, campaigns, retreats, classes, and weekend seminars. While each congregation spoke the others were listening for opportunities to serve through visits, calls or other ways that they believe would help in what is already being done.
      We ended our time together studying God's Word about the subject of grace and being filled with the Spirit. We read Ephesians 5:17-21 and discussed how being filled with the Spirit is very practical and not mystical. We decided to focus on one aspect of being filled with the Spirit which we read in verse 20 "always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." Think with me, if you are always giving thanks for all things then one thing you are not doing is complaining. Together we challenged each other to not complain for 21 days and to discuss what we discovered about ourselves and our relationship with God.
      Please pray: that all of those at the meeting will truly commit to not complaining, that we may learn to have more self-control, and that God may be glorified through this process.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Two Sermons, Different Stories

Jeremy Newlin's Mother's Day Sermon    

I preached on Mother's Day for what I believe is the tenth year in a row.  I am pretty sure because Monica complains that I never remember it is Mother's day until one day or hour before the worship service.  So I always end up saying "Happy Mother's Day" and then preach a sermon that is not focused on the qualities that Mother's naturally have.
            This year, I was ready for a Mother's day message filled with love and compassion that Mother's show their sons and daughters.  I was planning to relate those Motherly qualities to God and then back to us and how we should all live with such character.
            I was preaching at another congregation in Recife.  They are going through the fruit of the Spirit, one each month.  The month of May is Patience.  It doesn't seem like much of a problem to preach on Patience on Mother's Day and relate that to Mothers, right?  I was sent an outline of what they wanted the sermon to be about because they are having different speakers every Sunday of the month.  The outline was difficult for me to bend toward Mothers, so once again I got up and said "Happy Mother's Day" and preached the Word.
            They were all very patient with me, even Monica was content.
 

Joseph McKinney's Mother's Day Sermon Story
        
          Hey, I preached on Mother's Day too, but I actually talked about mothers.  In João Pessoa, I had mothers in the congregation get up and each hold a sign with a quality of the fruit of the Spirit, and I tried to think how each one exemplified that quality.  Some were super easy, like faithfulness, like love – everybody agrees with that:  Mothers = Love; but some were difficult, like joy, like peace. Think about it: how many mothers do your see as peaceful? I can think of a grandmother or two, after all the kids are gone and taking care of their lives, but mothers with a husband and children? Where's the peace in that?
          My conclusion, see if you agree with me, is that mothers may have a natural head start on the fruit of the Spirit compared to the rest of us, but they shouldn't be content to stick to what's natural to them. 
          We all should live in the Spirit and let Him produce love that goes beyond our kids, peace that passes understanding, joy going beyond human limits whether you have a husband, wife and kids or not. Not to mention self control, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, meekness, and patience, wow! The Spirit has plans for us, and He can do it if we let Him. 
           So, mothers, today, in the hustle and bustle of real life, tap into the peace and joy of the Spirit.  Let us all reach beyond the qualities that come easy to us and become more like Jesus Christ.

Weekend VBS

           The end of April, my wife, Monica, traveled to Patos with the AME (Adventures in Evangelistic Missions) group to have VBS with the church there.  It was the first VBS for the AME class and for the church in Patos, the first one in about 10 years. 
            Monica said that there were 24 children on the first day and 26 on the second.  It was a weekend VBS, Saturday morning, afternoon and Sunday morning. 
            They also did a campaign around the church building inviting people to the VBS, the church meeting, and an adult class on Friday night.  They also had a couples meeting as well as a youth group meetings happening in between other activities. 
            Needless to say, they were pretty busy.  They all came back excited and uplifted.  One of the AME students said he would like to spend his one year on the mission field in Patos to help the youth group grow and mature.
            Please pray:
·         That God may help the church in Patos mature spiritually
·         That God may help the youth in the church give their lives wholly and fully to God.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Getting Ready for the Growing Field



          One of our goals this year is to strengthen the Luna congregation in João Pessoa. After the Luna birthed the Mangabeira congregation, things haven’t been the same. The potential is great, the obstacles are big also.

          While Mangabeira is a neighborhood church with its members living close to one another, having more opportunity to be in contact several times a week, having a smaller area focus for evangelism, Luna is the opposite. I took a map of the whole city and put a pin where each family lives, so everyone could visualize where the church is: we are spread out all over the place. That is wonderful, because we have a Christian or family in most neighborhoods and even in neighboring cities, but it is difficult to connect more than once a week because of the distance.


          By building up Luna, the church will be ready to spread to another neighborhood, and we already have access to any spot in the city. We are doing this through events to involve and mature Christians. We had a Ministry Fair, every area reporting on their service and needs. We have stepped up visitation. The youth are getting involved, planning several activities, some including the whole church, like the Purim celebration, in which the story of Esther was enacted.


          We are also having intensive courses for the church, the latest, an introduction to the Field of Christian Growth.  This course was developed from several sources by the church in Curitiba, Brazil, over 20 years ago, and it has helped several churches get back on track in the mission work.  Quite appropriate for soccer-loving people of Brazil, it compares spiritual growth to a soccer player heading for the goal, each person being prepared to grow, mature, becoming God’s representative along with the church in this fallen world.

          The whole process lasts twenty hours, divided into five sessions, the plan being for each member to go through them all. So when someone is converted, the new member starts at the beginning and discovers the gifts, given by God, and puts them into practice in Christ’s body. The sessions are continually repeated so no member is left behind.  In this way, every single Christian is challenged to grow and keep growing into a mature man or woman of God.

          I taught the introduction to the Growth Field two weeks ago to twenty people, each eager to open their Bibles and discover God’s purposes for the church. It was an eye-opener for some, like Clodoaldo, who saw for the first time how the Great Commission applies to him and the church.


          The month of May, the Introduction and First Module will be taught simultaneously to further the twenty and start more people on the process. Please pray that the Luna church of Christ will become strong, each member reaching the goal through God’s wisdom and strength to further the Kingdom in this city of a million people.