April 28, 2010

Primeira Igreja Batista Solemar

This is another church we have started to work with to help them to share Christ. Pastor Jaime is the shepherd of the church, which is located in a poor area in Praia Grande. We will be working with them in a nearby school in late October, and we will help them in other ways also. Nancy sang "Because He Lives" and I had the privilege of preaching in the service, and Rebeca helped as my interpreter. God spoke very strongly in people's hearts and many were convicted and challenged to join God in His work and passion of reaching people who are without Christ. We also shared the Gospel and 11 people accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him.

the worship team from the church
Nancy singing "Because He Lives"
some of the people in the worship service
preaching with interpreter Rebeca

April 25, 2010

Abide In The Vine

Abide in the Vine (by Henry Blackaby www.henryblackaby.com)


"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

There are those who feel that they must be constantly laboring for the Lord in order to meet God’s high standards. Jesus gave a clear picture of what our relationship to Him ought to be like. He is the vine, the source of our life. We are the branches, the place where fruit is produced. As we receive life from Christ, the natural, inevitable result is that fruit is produced in our lives.

In our zeal to produce “results” for our Lord, we sometimes become so intent on fruit production that we neglect abiding in Christ. We may feel that “abiding” is not as productive or that it takes too much time away from our fruit production. Yet Jesus said that it is not our activity that produces fruit, it is our relationship with Him. Jesus gave an important warning to His disciples. He cautioned that if they ever attempted to live their Christian life apart from an intimate relationship with Him, they would discover that they ceased to produce any significant results. They might exert great effort for the kingdom of God, yet when they stopped to account for their lives, they would find only barrenness. One of the most dramatic acts Jesus ever performed was cursing a fig tree that had failed to produce fruit (Mark 11:14). Are you comfortable in abiding, or are you impatient to be engaged in activity? If you will remain steadfastly in fellowship with Jesus, a great harvest will be the natural by-product.

April 23, 2010

A School Event Delayed Due To Violence

This past week has been a very violent one in the cities of Santos, Guaruja, and Sao Vicente. Normally this area is much calmer and safer to live in than in Sao Paulo, but there have been 17 people killed so far this week in the 3 cities. In addition there were 6 people who were shot last night in the nearby city of Cubatao, and thankfully none of them were killed. The majority of these crimes appear to have a connection with some organized crime groups. The attacks were not robberies, and most of them were random shootings by criminals on motorcycles.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week we spoke in the state school EE Gracinda, which is located in a poorer area of Santos known as Vila Sao Jorge. We worked with Igreja Batista Areia Branca, which is located close to the school. The church participation was very good for the event, and we had 6-8 people from the church helping us each day. We had a great time in the school these 2 days, and the students, teachers, and school leaders all liked our project very much. In 2 days 304 students and 7 teachers accepted Christ.

We were also scheduled to speak in the school last night, as they have some night classes for high school students and some for adults who are studying to finish high school. This week there was a shootout near the school and 1 policemen and 1 criminal were killed, and there were threats of more violence made for this area. Because of these threats the school decided to cancel classes last night, so we have rescheduled the last night of the event for May 19th.

interpreters Rebeca & Heloisa, us, and the church team
Nancy and interpreter Heloisa speaking in a class
Students asking Nancy about the US
Part of our team on Tuesday afternoon
enjoying some time with students at break time
Nancy & interpreter Mariana leading the students in prayer
Interpreter Ricardo and I sharing Christ in a class

April 21, 2010

Jardim Primavera in Guaruja

Jardim Primavera is one of the areas in Guaruja we will be working in the future. The "bairro" is a mixture of middle class families and a favela with many poor people. We have had a couple of meetings there recently, one with Pastor Alipio of Igreja Batista Jardim Primavera, and the other with the leaders of the state school EE Presidente Tancredo Neves, where we will be speaking and sharing Christ in October. We will be working with Pr. Alipio and his church in the school and in various other ways in their community to help them to share the Good News of Jesus. Also Nancy will sing in the church and I will have the privilege of preaching on Sunday May 23, and the church will be inviting people who do not have a restored personal relationship with God through Christ to hear this "gringo" speak. We are praying and trusting God to pour out His Holy Spirit and touch and transform many lives in Jardim Primavera and in many other areas of Guaruja, Santos, Sao Vicente,...

the school where we will speak in October

April 17, 2010

Ordinary People

Dwight L. Moody was considered the most influential evangelist of the 19th century, and was founder of the Moody Bible Institue. God used him in great ways, and reached many for Christ through him. Yet he was an uneducated, ordinary person who sold shoes for a living when he was young. No one would have predicted that he would become a man greatly used by God. Here are some things that were said about him soon after he became a Christian in 1855:

"I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness."

On another occasion after Moody spoke in the church he was attending, a deacon told him that he would best serve God by keeping still. Another person told him he should stop speaking publicly saying "You make too many mistakes in grammar." Moody's response was "I know I make mistakes, and I lack many things, but I'm doing the best I can with what I've got." Moody was a man who was fully surrendered to God, and whose availability far surpassed his ability.

Billy Graham is considered the greatest evangelist of all time. God has used him to reach millions for Christ. Yet he was a simple country boy raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina. He accepted Christ at the age of 16, but afterwards he was turned down for membership in a local youth group because he was considered "too worldly". He started college at Bob Jones University, where he was almost expelled. Bob Jones Sr. said this to him: "At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks." He finished college at Wheaton College, and although he ended up being a great evangelist he never received any formal theological or seminary education.

How could these 2 men with such humble beginnings turn out to be some of the most fruitful and successful servants of the Lord ? Only by God's grace, and only by the all-powerful hand of the Lord. God's hand was upon these men in a powerful way. God loves to use plain, ordinary people in His work. When God does great and miraculous things through plain, ordinary people everyone knows it is God who did it, and He gets all of the glory and honor and praise.

April 15, 2010

Igreja Batista Areia Branca

On Sunday night I preached at Igreja Batista Areia Branca in Santos. The church is led by Pastor Ilson, and we have begun working with them and helping them to share Christ in their community. One of the men from the church, Antonio, helped as my interpreter. At the end of the message I shared the Gospel and 2 people accepted Christ as their Lord & Saviour and committed their lives to Him. Next week we will be speaking in a state school located close to the church, and we will have a team of people from the church helping us. We will be speaking on Monday morning 4/19, Tuesday afternoon 4/20, and Thursday night 4/22. We are praying and looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in the school. On Tuesday we had a meeting at a different school, a municipal school, in the same area and we were able to schedule an event there for October. Also on Tuesday we had a great meeting at the education department that has responsibility for the state schools in Santos and in Guaruja, and we praise God that we were able to get their approval to speak in the state schools for these 2 cities. The approval will open many doors for us to share Christ in the state schools.

April 12, 2010

Dengue Epidemic

There is an epidemic of a tropical disease called dengue fever in Brazil this year. The disease is a dangerous virus spread by mosquitos, and is prevalent in both urban and country areas. There are 2 versions, dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Both types can cause a person to be seriously ill, but the dengue hemorrhagic type is deadly.

There have been over 34,000 cases of dengue in the state of Sao Paulo in the 1st three months of 2010, and thousands of cases of the illness in our area known as the "Baixada Santista", which consists of our city Santos (1428 cases) and others such as Guarujá (2979 cases), São Vicente (1877 cases), Cubatão, Praia Grande and others. Many hospitals are overfilled and people are in beds in the halls waiting for a room because of the current epidemic. Please pray for the many who are ill, and please pray for God's protection upon us so that we can continue to serve Him and share Christ with as many as possible.

April 10, 2010

Assoc. Igrejas Batistas do Litoral Paulista

This morning we went to the monthly meeting of the Associacao Igrjas Batistas do Litoral Paulista, which is the association of Baptist churches for the coastal area of the state of Sao Paulo. We were invited to attend the meeting by the president of the association, Pr. Genivaldo of Primeira Igreja Batista Ipatema in Guaruja, and I had the privilege of leading the devotion. It was good for us to be there today, as we met many pastors and leaders of various churches that we will be working with and helping to share the Good News of Jesus. We met several pastors of churches that are near schools that we have already scheduled events in later this year, and all are anxious to work with us in the schools. Also I was asked to preach in 2 more churches, and Nancy will sing too those days. God continues to open more and more doors for us to share God's love and the Good News of peace with God and eternal life with Him in heaven through His son Jesus, and we are thankful for these new opportunities. After the meeting we visited Mongaguá, a coastal city near where the meeting was held, and we took some photos.

Pr. Genivaldo and I
leading the devotion before the association meeting

various photos of the beach at Mongaguá:

April 8, 2010

Update on Rio De Janeiro

The problems associated with heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides continue in Rio de Janeiro. As of tonight the total number of people who have died in the last few days is 180, and over 14,000 people have lost their homes thus far. Mudslides are occurring in many places in and around Rio, due to the large number of neighborhoods and favelas (slums) built on the many hills and mountains in the area. Last night there was a large slide in the favela area known as Morro do Bumba in the neighboring city of Niteroi. The favela is build on an old garbage dump, and there was so much mud and garbage piled up due to the slide that it reached 40 feet high. Approx. 200 are feared dead in the area, as approx. 60 homes, a church, a day care center, and other places were destroyed. You can read more about this tragedy that happened last night at this link: Morro do Bumba tragedy ; let us pray for those who are suffering and for those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy.

April 6, 2010

Floods In Rio de Janeiro

It has been raining very hard in southern Brazil since Saturday, and it appears that it is not going to let up any time soon. Here in Santos it has been very windy and we have had alot of rain. There are over 40 families who have been affected thus far by flooding or landslides in their homes, mostly up in the hills over the city.

Rio de Janeiro has received the worst of the heavy rains, and thus far 94 people have lost their lives in the last couple of days. In the last 24 hours Rio has had over 11 inches of rain, and there are many areas underwater. Because Rio has many hills and mountains around the city with "favelas" (slums) where houses are built practically on top of one another, there are serious problems with mud slides when it rains hard. The news is saying that this is one of the worst, if not the worst flooding the city has ever had.

April 5, 2010

Good Friday Service

I was invited to preach at the Good Friday (Paixão de Cristo) service at Igreja Batista Nova Cintra in Santos. It is a small church that is struggling, and they only have about 40 members. Pastor Samuel is the pastor there, and he is a young pastor eager to reach people for Christ and to help his church and his flock to grow.

On Friday another church in the area, Igreja Batista Central (Pr. Carlos), helped them to have an evangelism outreach event in the bairro of Nova Cintra. Nova Cintra is a poorer area in Santos. They visited homes and also shared the Good News of Christ with people in the streets of the "bairro". Several people accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him. At night the 2 churches held the "Paixão de Cristo" service jointly, and also celebrated what the Lord did during their outreach event that day. I spoke about God's passion for all people, and about His desire and passion to have a personal relationship and intimate fellowship with all people. In the end I shared the Gospel and 1 woman (Elizabete) responded to the Holy Spirit working in her heart and received Christ as her Lord & Savior and committed her life to Him.

April 3, 2010

Paixão de Cristo

In Brazil Good Friday is called "Paixão de Cristo", which means the Passion Of Christ. I like the Brazilian name better, because it better describes what this very special day is all about. Because of His great love and passion for every person in the world (John 3:16) Jesus left his place of glory and came into the world. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and to suffer horribly and die a terribly painful death on the cross, all to pay the price for your sins and mine, so that we can have a restored relationship with Him, peace with Him (Romans 5:1), and eternal life with Him in heaven (Romans 6:23). And because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross, God can offer a restored relationship with Him, peace with Him, and eternal life with Him in heaven as a gift of His love and grace. If you would like to receive this most wonderful gift from God and have new life in Christ, please follow this link: Steps To Peace With God

April 1, 2010

Violent Brazil

We love living in Brazil and serving the Lord here, and we absolutely love the people. Brazil is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and has some of the most wonderful people, but it is also a violent country with serious crime problems. Major cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have done well in reducing their homicide rates, but they are still regarded as very dangerous places with very high crime rates. In 1999 Sao Paulo had 35.7 homicides per 100,000 residents, and the rate has dropped significantly to 10 per 100,000 residents. But robberies, carjackings, and kidnappings are very common and are still huge problems, as are drug related crimes. "Express kidnappings" are common too, which is where someone is abducted and forced to withdraw money from an ATM machine in order to be released. We have 2 good friends in the Sao Paulo area who were abducted like this several years ago. We personally know at least 10 people in the Sao Paulo area who have been robbed, kidnapped, or have had their car stolen in the last 3 years.

Here are the homicide rates for some major cities in Brazil and some for major cities in the US for comparison; the numbers shown are the yearly number of homicides per 100,000 residents:

Juruena - 139 New Orleans - 63.6
Maceio - 104 Washington DC - 46
Recife - 91 Detroit - 42
Vitoria - 89 Baltimore - 38
Curitiba - 49 Memphis - 25
Salvador - 42 Chicago - 22
Rio de Jan. - 38 Philadelphia - 19
Manaus - 35 Columbus - 18
Sao Luis - 28 Los Angeles - 17.5
Sao Paulo - 10 Dallas - 16

Some of this can be explained by the fact that there are many many more poor people in Brazil than in the US, and thus the higher crime rates. It also indicates a spiritual need. Only the Lord Jesus can touch, heal, and restore & regenerate a life. He is mightily at work in Brazil, and it is a privilege to join Him in His work.