December 31, 2008

Brazil Photo - Happy New Year

Brazil's most famous New Years celebration is in Rio De Janeiro, on the famous Copacabana beach. Over 2 million people gather in Copacabana to celebrate.

December 28, 2008

The Inspiring Life Of Paul

The Apostle Paul is an inspiration for me and for many others. He lived a life completely devoted to the Lord Jesus, and he was faithful to complete the ministry that God called him to, to help people to have a restored personal relationship with God through Jesus. Here are some verses about Paul's inspiring life:

Paul was completely devoted to Jesus, and to the ministry Jesus gave him:
"But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God's grace." - Acts 20:24

Paul's top priority and passion was his relationship with Jesus:
"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."
- Philippians 3:8

Paul's main goal in life was to please God:
"So we make it our goal to please him." - 2 Corinthians 5:9

Paul was willing to give all he was and all he had to help others have a personal relationship with Jesus:
"And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls."
- 2 Corinthians 12:15

Paul was faithful to the Lord Jesus until the end of his life:
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me that day." - 2 Timothy 4:7-8

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in
the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
- Luke 2:10-11

December 22, 2008

Christmas In Sao Paulo

Avenida Paulista is the 5th Avenue of Sao Paulo, and it is considered the financial center of South America. It is a great place to visit during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Here are some pictures of Avenida Paulista decorated for Christmas.

December 20, 2008

Celebrating What God Is Doing

We finished our 2nd year of ministry in Sao Paulo, helping churches to share the Good News of God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ. God has truly done immeasurably more than we could ask and imagine in these 2 years. Here is a summary of what He has done:

* 25,994 people have accepted Christ (that we know of; there are quite possibly more)

* God has opened many doors for us to share Christ. This year we spoke over 650 times in 26 schools, and in 2 years we have spoken in 41 schools.

* over 550 teachers have accepted Christ, along with 2 principals, 2 vice-principals, and 7 coordenators.

* we have had the privilege of helping and working with over 30 churches, and have also shared Christ in many homes, in a hospital, a health center, a Vacation Bible school, a Rotary Club meeting, and in other special events.

* we have trained over 725 people in churches to share Christ through People Sharing Jesus seminars.

On December 13 we had a churrasco party to celebrate what God has done. Our good friends Junior and Elma let us have the party at their new house in Sao Caetano. We invited many of the people who have helped us as interpretors and in other ways, and about 40 people celebrated God's goodness with us.

Cooking churrasco for the party

Some of our friends who celebrated with us

Sao Sebastiao & Ilha Bela

Our son Anthony is visiting from Atlanta for the holidays, so we all went for a 3 day trip to Barequecaba beach, near Sao Sebastiao. It is a beautiful 3 hour drive from Sao Paulo along the coast, with some great views of the ocean. Barequecaba beach is a small community 5 km outside of Sao Sebastiao. The scenery in this area of Sao Paulo state is beautiful, with mountains, tropical forest, and the ocean. Ilha Bela in Portuguese means beautiful island, and it certainly is beautiful. It is a popular tourist area, and has many beaches, mountains, waterfalls, tropical forest,...

A harbor on Ilha Bela

Near the pier on Ilha Bela

Eating out in Sao Sebastiao

Old historical Sao Sebastiao

A tourist area of Sao Sebastiao

A flowering tree in Barequecaba

Barequecaba beach

Barequecaba beach

December 15, 2008

Brazil Photo

Here is a picture of an unusual looking plant we see here in Brazil. I am not sure what the name of this plant is. The main part looks similar to a banana tree, but the "flower" part is very unusual and exotic looking.

December 10, 2008

Seeking God

"God looks down from heaven on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God." - Psalm 53:2

God is looking for people who are earnestly seeking Him, seeking His will and plans above their own, seeking for intimate fellowship with Him above all other things. May God touch our hearts and give us a heart that puts Him above all other things, a heart that will truly seek Him. Here are a variety of Bible verses and other info. dealing with seeking God:
  • The Old Testament and New Testament words for "seek" mean:
    to seek the face of God; to desire; to examine or explore; to seek earnestly; to diligently search for ; to wish for; to crave; to investigate; to pursue.
  • Only God can touch our hearts and give us the desire to seek and to know Him, and to want His will & plans & ways above our own:

"I will give them a heart to know me." - Jeremiah 24:7

" O Lord, God of our fathers, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements, and decrees..." - I Chronicles 29:18-19

"For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose." - Phil. 2:13

  • Intimacy with God and the fullest possible fellowship and partnership with Him comes as you desire and seek to know Him & His plans and will and His ways. Prayer and spending time with God is all about desire & passion for God ; it is not a "religious" discipline in your Christian walk.

"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways, so I may know you and continue to find favor with you... Show me your glory." - Moses (Exodus 33:13,18)

" One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house (presence) of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple." - David (Psalm 27:4)

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God ? - Sons of Korah (Psalm 42:1-2)

" O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory... your love is better than life..." - David (Psalm 63:1-3)

" How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty ! My soul yearns even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." - David (Psalm 84:1-2)

" Now devote your heart and souls to seeking the Lord your God." - I Chronicles 22:19

" And you my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him he will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever." - I Chronicles 28:9

December 7, 2008

Vacation In Natal, Brazil

After a very busy year of speaking over 650 times in 26 schools, as well as speaking or preaching in many churches and other places, it was nice to have the chance to take a break. Nancy and I spent a week in Natal, which is located in the northeast part of Brazil. Natal, which means Christmas in Portuguese, is a beautiful city and a great place to spend some time off. There are many great beaches in the area, lots of restaurants and shopping areas, along with many tourist attractions such as dune buggy trips to beaches and sand dunes. We had great weather, with low temps of 75 and highs of 85-87 and no rain.

November 28, 2008

November Results

November was a busy month for us, and we saw God do many wonderful things in peoples' lives here in Sao Paulo. We spoke in 5 schools, including the special CIEJA school for adults in the Sao Mateus area of Sao Paulo. I also spoke at the One Way English school in the city of Sao Bernardo. God continues to touch and open many hearts here, and 1044 students (including over 300 adults) and 20 teachers responded to the Gospel and accepted Christ. We praise God for the privilege of allowing us to join Him in His work here.

November 26, 2008

2008 Ministry Video

Here is a video of our evangelism ministry in the Sao Paulo area of Brazil, showing events in 2008. We help churches share the Good News of Jesus Christ in schools, hospitals, health centers, and wherever else we can.

November 25, 2008

Our Last School For The Year

Today we spoke in our last school for this year, which was the 26th school we spoke in . We are grateful to God for giving us so many opportunities to share Christ. We spoke in the CC Rafa school/ day care, which is located in the Areiao favela (slum) in the city of Sao Bernardo. The Areiao favela is a very poor and dangerous area in the southern-most part of Sao Bernardo. The school/ day care is owned and managed by Rosangela, who is a member of Primeira Igreja Batista Central in Sao Bernardo. The students were wonderful, and we had a very nice time at the school. We spoke to 2 classes in the morning period, then had a nice lunch at the school, and then spoke to 2 more classes in the afternoon. 53 students and 1 teacher accepted Christ.

Interpretor Anderson & John with some students

Nancy and interpretor Regis with one of the classes

Nancy and I, Rosangela, a teacher, and a group of students

November 22, 2008

Speaking In An English School

This morning I had the opportunity and privilege of speaking at the One Way English school in the city of Sao Bernardo. This school is part of the ETE Lauro Gomes technical school, which is run by the state of Sao Paulo. The director of the English classes was expecting about 20-25 people to come for the speech, but we ended up having 54 poeple. We had a great time with the students, most of whom were college age. I spoke our Quality Of Life speech that we normally use in the public schools, but since we had more time I added more details and information. In the final part about our spiritual life and how to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, 40 of the 54 people accepted Christ. God is so good. Afterwards many of the students had great questions about the U.S., the differences in living here versus there, about our work here, and about many other things (global warming, government, God's plan for our lives,..)

November 21, 2008

Brazil Photo

Below is a picture of the beautiful city of Rio De Janeiro at night. The mountain in the top center of the picture is Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar in Portuguese). Other famous tourist attractions include Copacabana beach, Maracana soccer stadium, and the large Christ The Redeemer statue, which was recently named one of the Seven Wonders Of The World. Rio was Brazil's capital city until 1960. Although Rio is a beautiful city and a world famous tourist spot, it is also a very violent and dangerous city. Much of the violence occurs in the "favelas" (slums), and there are many favelas in and around the city.

November 17, 2008

Passion Fruit & Flower

Below is a picture of the beautiful passion fruit flower. Passion fruit in Brazil is called "maracuja", and is used to make a great tasting fruit juice. Passion fruit juice is available with our without milk (we prefer with milk), and with milk it is like a fruit juice milkshake. The juice and the passion flower have medicinal properties, including lowering blood pressure and uses as a mild sedative to improve sleep. The yellow form of passion fruit is found in Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru.

The passion flower got it's name from missionaries in South America, and represents Christ's passion and love for a lost world in need to have a reconciled relationship with God. The corona threads on the flower represent Jesus' crown of thorns, the 5 stamens represent Christ's wounds, and the 3 stigmas represent the nails used to crucify Him.

November 14, 2008

God Is Opening Many Doors

Nancy and I had a meeting at a school on Wednesday in the Vila Formosa area of Sao Paulo, in the East Zone of the city. We met Bernadete the vice-principal and Luciana the coordenator, and we talked about our project in the schools and our speech for the students & teachers to help them to have a high quality of life and a good future. They really liked our project, and we scheduled dates in May 2009 to speak in the school. Then Bernadete took us on a tour of the school, and when we returned we learned that the coordenator Luciana had called 4 other schools to tell them about our project while we were gone, and all 4 are interested in having us speak in their schools. God is good. He is opening many doors for us to share the Good News of His son Jesus in the Sao Paulo area.

November 11, 2008

CIEJA School For Adults

This week we are speaking in a special school for adults in the Sao Mateus area of Sao Paulo, which is in the East Zone of the city. The CIEJA school is run by the Sao Paulo city government, and was started to help adults finish their high school education. We are working in the school with Pastor Haroldo and Igreja Batista IV Centenario. We spoke to 6 classes on Monday morning, to 6 more this afternoon, and we will speak to 6 more next Wednesday night the 19th. So far in 2 days, 274 adult students and 5 teachers have accepted Christ.

Interpretor Eduardo and I sharing Christ

A group of adult students and teachers

Interpretor Alessandro, me, and the group from the church

One of the classes that we spoke in

November 9, 2008

Chico Mendes Park

One of the places we like to go in Sao Caetano is Parque Chico Mendes. It is a beautiful park with several ponds and waterfalls, lots of trees, and alot of room to walk and excercise. It is a great place to go when you want to feel like you are out of the big city for awhile. Here are some pics of Chico Mendes:

November 4, 2008

School Visit In Campinas

Today we travelled to Campinas to speak in a school. The school is located in the Jd. Sao Marcos neighborhood, which is a poor area in the northern end of Campinas. Campinas is approx. 90 km (55 miles) north of Sao Paulo. It took us 2 hours each way - 1 hour to cross Sao Paulo because of traffic, and then 1 hour from Sao Paulo to Campinas. We spoke in 12 classes from 5th grade to 8th grade, and we praise God that 271 students and 8 teachers accepted Christ.

A photo of Campinas

John, interpretor Elaine, Nancy, and the church group we worked with

November 2, 2008

Driving In Sao Paulo

After living here for 2 years, there are only a couple of things that I do not like about living here. My least favorite thing here is to drive in the city of Sao Paulo. I used to travel and drive alot for business (New York, Chicago, Boston, LA,...), and Sao Paulo is the worst place to drive that I have seen. There are various reasons for this:

Crazy drivers - I don't know what happens to these wonderful Brazilian people, but when they get into their cars they become crazy and rude drivers. Some of the craziest drivers are the "motoboys" (on motorcycles) and bus drivers. I thought when we lived in Atlanta they had alot of bad drivers, but they have way more crazy drivers here.

Bad and complicated roads - Sao Paulo has many 1 way streets and no left turns. Sometimes you will see a street that is 1 way, then it becomes 1 way going the other way and you cannot use it any more. Many of the roads are bad, and have many bumps and holes,... and are very rough on a car.

Traffic - because there are over 6,000,000 vehicles in Sao Paulo, there are obviously problems with traffic. We know many good routes now to avoid some of the traffic, but there are places and times when it is impossible to avoid it.

Some people have told us there are worse places to drive than Sao Paulo, like Rio de Janeiro, the country of Bolivia, and some other countries, but it is hard to imagine worse places to drive.

October 31, 2008

October Results

Ministry-wise October was another great month, and God did some wonderful things here in Sao Paulo. We are thankful for the many opportunities that He is giving us to share the wonderful news of Jesus Christ with others. We spoke in 3 schools, and we also shared Christ at an evangelism event at a church in the Spaopemba area of Sao Paulo. Overall 2477 people accepted Christ in October, including 49 teachers, a vice-principal, and a school coordenator. One new thing we have started is to have Nancy do part of the speech in the schools, and she is doing a great job. Thank you so much for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated and are making a big difference here. Personally, this past month was a very difficult one for us and our family, as we experienced many problems and challenges. Please continue to pray for us.

October 26, 2008

Idols In Your Life ?

"I will pronounce my judgements on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshipping what their hands have made; I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert; Has a nation ever changed its gods ? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged my Glory for worthless idols. My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
- Jeremiah 1:16; 2:2, 11, 13

Many people think of the Old Testament and of wooden or stone statues when they hear the word idol. There are many things in people's lives today that could be considered idols. Here are some questions to ask to see if it is possible that there are idols in your life:

* What do you treasure and value and desire most ? (Matthew 6:21)
- God wants to be your treasure, since He treasures you most

* What do you seek after or pursue most ? (Proverbs 21:21 , Matthew 6:33)
- God wants you to pursue and seek Him first

* What takes most of your time & focus & energy ? (Colossians 3:1-5)
- God wants you to set your heart and mind on Him and His kingdom

* What do you put your trust in ? (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- God wants you to trust in Him with all your heart

* What do you think will satisfy and fulfill you ?
(Isaiah 55:1-3; Psalm 63:1-5; Psalm 81; John 10:10)
- God wants to give you abundant life & fully fill and satisfy your heart & soul

* What are some things you are not willing to let go of? (Philippians 3:7-9)
- you need to be willing to love and follow Jesus, whatever the cost

* Why do you do the things you do ?
(I Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:37-40; 2 Corinthians 5:9)
- Your motives should be love for God and love for others

October 23, 2008

God At Work

This week we worked with Pastor Enio and Igreja Batista Vila Primavera in EE Luiza Mendes school in the East Zone of Sao Paulo, and we saw God do many wonderful things in people's lives. We spoke in 18 classes on Monday and in 18 again on Tuesday, and then in 10 classes on Wed. night (yes this is very tiring to speak so many times), and we praise God that 1233 students and 17 teachers and the vice-principal accepted Christ. One teacher told John that she was having trouble with her husband and she was depressed and sad when she came to school, but after she accepted Christ she felt much better and she knows that things will get better with God's help. One student said that she had been feeling very dark and empty inside, and the morning we came to speak she had prayed to God for help and to show her that He is real. When John spoke in her class she knew God sent us, and she was very happy after she accepted Christ. We never get tired of seeing how God lovingly works in people's lives.

John, Nancy & I with the group from Igreja Batista Vila Primavera

Pastor Enio passing out "Livro Da Vida" (the Book Of Life) to students

Interpretor Eduardo and I sharing Jesus in a class