July 31, 2008

Here We Go Again

Now that it is almost August, we are getting ready for many new opportunities to share Christ. In August we will be speaking in 3 schools, and I will be preaching in a church on Aug. 24. In September we have 3 more schools to speak in, a People Sharing Jesus seminar in a church in Sao Bernardo, and an all day outreach event in Diadema with a church to share Christ in homes and at a special service at night. In the next 2 months we will share Christ with between 6000 and 6500 people in the schools, and overall we will be sharing with over 7000 people. Let's pray that God will touch and save "immeasurably more" than all we ask & imagine, according to His power working through us, for His glory. Thanks for your prayers. We really appreciate and need them.

July 27, 2008

Serra Negra Brazil

The other city we visited on our trip in July was Serra Negra, located in the mountains near the border between the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. Serra Negra is a beautiful tourist city with many hotels, restaurants, parks, and shopping, and is known as the "City of Health" because of it's natural mineral water springs. Here are some photos of Serra Negra.

July 24, 2008

Holambra Brazil

Last week Nancy and I took a 3 day trip to a couple of cities in the "interior" (country) of Sao Paulo state. One of the cities was Holambra, which is an interesting city founded by immigrants from Holland after World War II. The buildings have a Dutch architectural style, and the people are very friendly. Holambra is well known for being the largst flower producing area in Brazil and South America, and there are many flower farms and nurseries in the area. Here is a slide show of our trip:

July 20, 2008

Hearing God's Voice

When I am not preaching in a church or when we do not have a seminar to do on a Sunday, we normally go to Igreja Batista Boas Novas (Good News Baptist Church) in Sao Paulo. Today Pastor Wagner preached a sermon on how we need to hear God's voice when we are attending church. Yes we are there to worship the Lord, but we also need to hear His voice. He is always trying to speak to us.

This is a very important point that some Christians are missing. To reverently listen and to hear God's voice is worship, and if we are not hearing God's voice then we are missing the point. The same is true of our prayer time or "quiet time" with the Lord - hearing God's voice is the most important part. Although Pastor Wagner did not use this verse, his sermon reminded me of Ecclesiastes 5:1 - "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know they do wrong."

The word listen in this case means to reverently listen to God's voice, with the intent of doing or obeying. This is a heart attitude of reverence, of worship, and of love for the Lord. May God give us this type of heart for Him.

July 18, 2008

Bureaucracy In Brazil

We are in the process of renewing our drivers licenses, and the bureaucracy here in Brazil is amazing. Any government process here in Brazil is very complicated, even for Brazilians, and it is even more so for "estrangeiros" (foreigners). In the US it takes one trip to the license bureau, maybe 30-60 minutes, and a small fee. Unfortunately the process here is not as simple and is much more expensive (about US $140 each). We needed to visit the tranportation department 5 times before we were done with the initial process, because they are not very helpful and they do not seem to know much. Here are some of the other things we needed to get or do: go to a couple of places to get several government documents; go to a special place for"authenticated" copies of other documents; go to a photographer to get small photos of each of us; go to a specific bank to pay the government fee for license renewal; go to a government approved doctor to get an eye test and physical exam. Until now we have had to go to 7 different places to get 9 different things, and it took 2 days. Now we are waiting for the paperwork to clear, and then we have to go to one more government place to take a written test to get the renewal. 8 different places + 10 different documents or things to do + 3 days = new license.

July 16, 2008

Brazil Photo

Here is a photo of a Toucan, which live in the tropical
forests of South America, like the Amazon.

July 12, 2008

Embu Brazil

When our son Anthony was visiting us in June we went to a place called Embu, which is outside of Sao Paulo, about an hour from where we live. It is a neat place where you can find alot of artwork, antiques, souvenirs, gifts, and other interesting products from Brazil, as well as restaurants and cafes. On weekends they have an artist fair.

July 10, 2008

Ministry Video

Here is a new video about our ministry of sharing Christ in the Sao Paulo area of Brazil. We share Christ and the message of God's love in schools, churches, hospitals, and other places, and we also help & train pastors and church members to share Christ with others. God is doing amazing things here, saving tens of thousands of people, for His glory. You can click here to see other ministry videos.

July 7, 2008

Inspiring Quotes

"Lord send me anywhere, only go with me;

lay any burden on me, only sustain me;

sever any tie, but the one that binds me to You."
- David Livingstone, Missionary to Africa

This quote inspires me to fully surrender all I am and have and do to our Lord Jesus, and to be willing to go anywhere and do anything that He wants, as long as He is with me.

"Oh the fullness, the pleasure, the sheer excitement of knowing God on earth."

- Jim Elliot, Missionary to Ecuador

When I first read this quote in the early 90's I realized that when this man was alive he had something I did not have. I had accepted Christ in my heart and life in 1985, but I was inspired to go much deeper in my personal relationship with Jesus, and make Him the Source of fulfillment, joy, satisfaction,... This quote is about the abundant life that Jesus talked about in John 10:10, and the satisfaction and joy and excitement that comes when you become a fully surrendered servant of the living God.

July 3, 2008

"Lost In Church" - Could This Be True ?

The following is a portion of an article on the Facing Forever webpage (click the link to read the entire article):

How would your approach to evangelism be different if you knew that up to one-half of the people attending your church were not Christians? As startling as this idea may appear, recent research indicates it is a hard reality for many churches in the United States. Researcher George Barna has discovered the disturbing fact that “half of all adults who attend Protestant churches on a typical Sunday morning are not Christian.” He also points out that people who call themselves Christians but are not born again are “a group that constitutes a majority of churchgoers.”

Barna’s findings are similar to those reported by Bill Bright, founder and fifty-year president of Campus Crusade for Christ. According to Bright, “Our surveys suggest that over 50% of the hundred million people in church here in the United States every Sunday are not sure of their salvation.” In addition to discovering that 50% of people in church are “lost churchgoers,” the Barna Research Group has also revealed that 44% of Americans are “notional Christians.” These 90 million notional Christians are people who describe themselves as Christians but do not believe that their hope for eternal life is based on a personal relationship with Jesus and the belief that He died and rose again from the dead. According to On Mission magazine, published by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, “notional Christians” do not know “whether they will experience eternal life, eternal damnation or some other outcome.”

When I first started to read this article a couple of years ago I could not believe that up to half of the people in US Protestant churches could be lost and without Christ, but as I continued to read about how Campus Crusade research showed the same I started to think that it could be true. It would certainly explain alot of things that are going on in the church in the US (the percentage of divorces in the church is the same as outside the church; a lack of evangelism in many churches; a lack of passion for Jesus; a lack of power to influence others in society;...). So what do you think ? Could this be true ?

July 1, 2008

Mid-Year Update

We are praising God for what He has done in the 1st half of this year, and we are looking forward to what He is going to do in the rest of the year. Right now things are fairly quiet and we get some time to rest and recharge, because schools are out for winter break in July and we do not have any seminars or other things scheduled in the churches. Here are some numbers showing what God has done so far this year; He is truly doing immeasurably more than we ask and imagine:

17,472- number of people that accepted Christ since early 2007
7,147- number of people that accepted Christ in 2008 (that we know of)
660+- number of adults that accepted Christ in schools (not counting teachers)
282- number of times we have spoken this year in a school
200- number of people trained in People Sharing Jesus seminars in churches
186- number of teachers that accepted Christ
13- number of schools we spoke in so far this year
10- number of times I have preached in churches
3- number of school coordenators that accepted Christ
2- number of directors (principals) that accepted Christ

Numbers are nice to look at, but the numbers do not nearly tell the story of what we have seen God do here. It is amazing how God is powerfully touching and saving many hearts & souls, for His glory. At times we see adults and even adolescents crying while we are sharing the message of Christ. Many times in a school, especially with adolescents, before we start speaking there is a fair amount of noise in the class, but by the time we get to the final part about the spiritual life and how to have peace & eternal life through Christ you can hear a pin drop and you can see that God has grabbed ahold of their hearts. When we speak to adults in a school, most of the time they pray out loud to receive Christ (the children always do this, and sometimes even the adolescents pray out loud too). And it's always great to see the look of joy and the smiles on the faces of the people who have accepted Christ, and they usually are very grateful and appreciative. It's awesome to watch and see God touching & convicting & changing hearts right before your eyes.