May 31, 2010

God's Desires & Passions

God has a strong desire and passion in His heart to save all people and to have a reconciled relationship with everyone. I Timothy 2:4 tells us that God wants all men to be saved, and 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God does not want anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance. How strong is God's desire & passion ? So strong that He sent His only Son Jesus to suffer terribly and to die a horribly painful death on the cross, in order to make it possible for us to have a restored personal relationship with Him ("God so loved the world..." - John 3:16).

Another of God's desires and passions is to have intimate fellowship with us. This is fact, is His call for all Christians. We normally think of when God calls a pastor or a missionary, or when He calls us to do something for Him, when we think of the words "God's call". But I Corinthians 1:9 tells us that God calls us into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ. "Koinania" is the Greek word for fellowship in this verse, and this means the closest possible intimacy and fellowship and friendship with God. And there is a 2nd part to koinania fellowship with God, where we have a partnership with God and join Him in His work. When we walk in close intimate fellowship with God, we will begin to desire what God desires, and His passions will become ours. God wants to place into us His desire & passion to have intimate fellowship with Him. We are His first love and passion, and He wants to be our first love and passion. When we only focus on doing things for God, we miss out on the intimate fellowship that God wants to have with us.

God also wants to take His desire and passion for all men to be saved and place it into our hearts. When we have a soft & moldable heart for God, then He is able to place His desires & His passions into our hearts. Then we, God's people, God's church, will live passionately and purposefully to try to help all people to have a restored relationship with God through Jesus, and to help them to be true disciples of Christ. In Luke 19:10 Jesus said "I have come to seek and to save the lost." Jesus did not wait around in church for the lost people to come to Him ... He went out to seek them and then to try to help them to be saved. Like Jesus the church needs to be outwardly focused and actively seeking to reach people in their community, in their nation, and in all nations of the world.

In Romans 1:9 Paul says "I serve God with my whole heart in preaching the Gospel of His Son." Paul gave everything he had and everything he was to join God in His work. Acts 19:8-10 are some interesting verses. Paul went to Ephesus to preach the Good News of Jesus. Verse 10 tells us that he worked hard for 2 years, until all the Jews and Greeks in that area heard the Word, the Good News of Jesus. That is one of God's main plans and goals for His church - to work hard until all the people have heard about how to have a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ. Is your church working hard in this way, so that everyone in your community and beyond is hearing the Good News of Jesus ? If not then you are falling short of God's desire and plan and design for the church.

God needs to touch our hearts and fill us with His desires and passions, so that we will only desire to walk closely with Him and be willing to do whatever it takes to join Him in what He is doing in the world.

May 26, 2010

Igreja Batista Jardim Primavera

This is another church we have started to work with to help them to share Christ. The church, which is led by Pastor Alipio, is located in an area of Guaruja with middle class residents and it also has a favela nearby with many poor people. We will be working with them in a school near the church in October and in others in the future. I had the privilege to preach in the church this past Sunday night, and Vera helped as my interpreter. Vera and her husband Harold are Germans who moved to Brazil 3 1/2 years ago. They own a hotel on Enseada Beach in Guaruja. The church members seemed to respond well to God's message and challenge to join Him in His work by sharing the Gospel and reaching others for Christ, and then working hard to make disciples. I also shared the Gospel at the end of the service and 3 people received Christ and committed their lives to Him. At least 2 of the 3 were members of the church, but until Sunday night did not have a reconciled relationship with God through His Son Jesus.

May 22, 2010

Our Favorite Brazilian Food

On Thursday we had to go to Sao Caetano/ Sao Paulo to sign some documents for the sale of our house and to deliver the keys to the new owners. Afterwards we celebrated the sale of our house, which took 10 months, by going to a "churrascaria" (Brazilian steak house) for our favorite Brazilian food - churrasco. Churrasco is a large variety of steak cuts and various other meats cooked over a wood fired grill. Unlike American style BBQ, there is no BBQ sauce used for churrasco. It is absolutely awesome.

May 21, 2010

More School Outreaches

This past week we finished speaking in 2 schools in Santos as part of our Quality Of Life project to help students, teachers, and families to have a better quality of life and a better future. We speak in all of the classrooms of the school to all of the students & teachers, and we talk about how to have a better quality of life and a good future. We talk about 3 important parts of our lives: the body, the soul, and the spiritual life. We talk about how they need to take good care of their bodies to have a good life and future, and not to use drugs or alcohol or anything that would harm their bodies. In the soul part, we talk about the mind and how they need to study alot and get the very best education they can get, in order to have a good future and a good quality of life. Then we talk about making plans and dreams for their lives, and about how God has a wonderful plan for their lives, and with His plan and with His help they can have hope for the future. Then in the last part about our spiritual life we give a clear and direct presentation of the Gospel of Jesus. After sharing the Gospel we have a prayer time in which the students and teachers can pray to invite and receive Jesus as their Lord & Savior and to commit their lives to Him. After that we talk about how they need to have a good church that teaches the Bible and about Jesus to help them to grow in their relationship with the Lord, and to learn God's plan for their lives and futures. We are not allowed to talk about a specific church or denomination in the classroom, but we do say that they can talk to the people from the church that is helping us outside of the classroom if they need help to find a good church. Then after this we pass out the "Livro Da Vida" (Book of Life) to all students and teachers, which is an excellent tool to start discipling the new believers (it has many Bible verses and principals about many topics & values for life). Then we usually end up asking questions about English, and we encourage them to learn English so they can have more opportunities in the future. Nancy and I both speak in different classes at the same time, and we speak in English and have interpreters that translate into Portuguese. Even though we can speak well in Portuguese, it works really well when we speak in English and the students & teachers enjoy it alot.

This week we finished up speaking in EE Azevedo Junior school in Santos on Mon. and Tue. nights, and then in EE Gracinda school on Wed. night. At night the schools have some high school classes and also classes for adults who are trying to finish school at night. We are praising God for what He did in these schools ... in 6 days at EE Azevedo Junior 954 students and 18 teachers trusted & received Christ as their Lord and Savior, and on Wed. night 85 students and 2 teachers trusted and received Christ. Now we are praying that the churches that we worked with in these school (Igreja Batita Marape and Igreja Batista Areia Branca) will be able to continue to work with the schools and the new believers and their families. We always try to facilitate an ongoing relationship between the church and the school, with hopes that the church can continue to help the new believers to grow. One of the teachers at EE Azevedo Jr. (she is a Catholic) told us that she and a group of other teachers have been praying and asking God to send someone to help them with some problems they are having with some students, and then we came. They are open to receive more help, and we are urging the church to be the ones to step up and help the new believers and their families.

May 18, 2010

Brazilian Outreach At The World Cup

The following article is from Baptist Press and is about a great project by Brazilian evangelicals that will take place at the World Cup in South Africa. The World Cup will take place from June 11 to July 11, and 200 Brazilian volunteers will be there to reach out with the message of God's love and eternal hope through Jesus to the many people who will be visiting during the tournament. One of their goals is to share with people from countries that are closed to the Gospel, such as North Korea and others. Brazil plays North Korea on June 15. We have a friend Adriana that will be one of the 200 going. Adriana has helped us an interpreter in some school outreaches we have had, and we also have worked with her church in Sao Paulo to share Christ with others. We are praying for Adriana and the team, that God will bless them and use them greatly, for His glory.

World Cup: 200 Brazilian volunteers plan to share Gospel with players, tourists

Posted on May 18, 2010 | by Tristan Taylor

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (BP)--Brazilian Baptists plan to share a Christian witness at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa. For 20 days, 200 Brazilian volunteers working with the 2010 African Connection Project will conduct outreach activities among soccer enthusiasts at the tournament, which runs from June 11 to July 11.

The Brazilian Baptist Convention's World Mission Board is organizing the project as part of its volunteer program to send Brazilians overseas on short-term missions trips. Brazilian Baptist pastor Marcos Grava, coordinator of the initiative, noted, "The 2010 African Connection Project is one of the biggest volunteer projects in the history of the missionary church in Brazil."

The goal is to bless the people of South Africa with the Gospel message, Grava said. "We ask prayers for local security, volunteers' security and many fruits among the South Africans and tourists," he said. Some of the planned outreach includes praying and doing personal evangelism in front of stadiums, conducting arts and sports clinics with spectators and providing a health clinic for poor communities in Johannesburg. The Brazilian volunteers will travel to Johannesburg in two groups: the first from June 3-20, the second from June 6-22.

Grava said he is particularly interested in the opportunity to reach out to players from countries that are traditionally closed to the Gospel along with supporters of those teams. Grava also hopes to prepare a number of Brazilian players to present the Gospel to other countries' players on the field when their teams compete against each other. Jorge "Jorginho" Oliveira, assistant coach for the Brazilian team, knows about and supports the outreach, Grava said. Oliveira is president of Atletas de Cristo, one of the Christian organizations supporting the African Connection Project.

Of the 1,300 Brazilians who applied to participate in the project, only 200 were selected. Each was required to provide a recommendation letter from an evangelical pastor indicating the volunteer's previous church involvement. The cost of participating in the project is about $2,500, and volunteers are providing their own funding. "We have people from different backgrounds and professions," Grava said. "We have different skills and gifts in this group." Ten evangelical denominations are represented among the volunteers, many of whom speak English and Spanish, but some also speak French, Arabic or Korean.

"We hope to work among groups from Mozambique who speak Portuguese like us," Grava added. Many World Cup games will be played in South African cities other than Johannesburg. But before the World Cup draw -- which determines schedules, locations and team groupings for the matches -- project organizers bought a Johannesburg campground from the Baptist Union in South Africa. They made the purchase knowing that two stadiums in Johannesburg will be playing host to World Cup games and Brazilian Baptists already have two missionaries leading churches in that city.

A month later, when the World Cup draw determined the Brazilian team will play its first two matches in Johannesburg, Grava took it as God's confirmation that they had chosen the right location for the project. "We are sure that God is blessing this project even before it starts, as we have prayer support from the brothers and sisters here in Brazil," Grava said. For daily ministry, match and prayer updates throughout the World Cup, visit To learn how you can help with the 2010 African Connection Project, e-mail

May 17, 2010

Marketing & Hype vs Sharing Christ

Many Christians and churches today have adopted a marketing style approach to their "witnessing" or "evangelism", which is not actually evangelism at all. Most of these programs are designed and implemented to try to raise awareness of the church in the community and to try to attract them to the church. One of our old churches that we attended used to hand out coffee cups filled with other small gifts and with the name, address, and phone number of the church to people who recently moved into the area near the church. Others hand out free water at public events with the name and info. of the church on the bottle; others give out free hugs with the hope to talk about their church to the person; others try giving out food or clothes and invite the people to the church. Don't get me wrong, these are all good ideas to reach out to people outside of the church. We should be innovative and try to do whatever it takes to reach out to people in God's love.

This all sounds ok and right at first, to our human minds. Nothing wrong with trying to make people aware of your church and trying to attract them to visit right ? Maybe when they visit they will hear the pastor preach the Gospel and become a Christian (although this would not even happen in many churches today). The problem is that the goal is not on target and not in line with what Jesus told us to do. He tells us in Matthew 4:19 to follow Him and He will make us fishers of men. A fisher of men is not a person who tries to invite or attract someone else to their church, it is a person who actively shares the Gospel of Christ with others in their daily lives. And in Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells us to go and market or hype our church ? No, He tells us to go and make disciples. Paul talks about how we (the church) have the responsibility of taking the message of the Gospel to others (2 Corinthians 5:19). Only talking about your church and not about Jesus is falling short of the goal, and no person will ever be saved by going to your church.

Another problem with this marketing & hype approach is that church members will not be true followers of Christ and actively sharing the Gospel, they will only be at best marketers who merely invite someone to the church and try to "market or sell" the church to others. They will not learn how to share Christ with others. One of the other problems with this approach is that many lost people who have not truly trusted & received Christ as their Lord and Savior have no interest in going to a church. They are lost - they have no interest in God and the things of God. According to Acts 26:17-18 their eyes are closed, they are in darkness, and they are even "under the power of Satan". Most lost people will not step foot in a church. You can try to market it all you want, they will not come. If someone shares Christ with them and they sincerely put their faith in Him and receive Him as Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit will begin to work in their heart and will begin to change their attitudes and desires.

What I am saying is that the goal should be to share Jesus with the person first, and then the church. Share the Gospel in the love and power of the Holy Spirit, and then leave the results in God's hands. Then speak to the person about the need to have a good church so they can grow in their relationship with the Lord, and to learn His special plan for their life, and to become all He wants them to be.

May 14, 2010

School Outreach In Santos

We have been working this week with Igreja Batista Marape in a school located near the church in Santos. We also have had some people from Igreja Batista Nova Jerusalem helping as interpreters. The school is EE Azevedo Junior, which is a state school for students in 5th grade through high school. The school is large and it will take 6 days to speak in all of the classes. We spoke on Monday and Tueday mornings and Wednesday and Thursday afternoons this week, and we will finish up next Monday & Tuesday nights. The reception of the school and the teachers & students has been great, and we have enjoyed meeting some of them. So far in 4 days over 680 students and 12 teachers have accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him. We are praying and hoping that the churches will have more opportunities to help the students and their families in their lives, and to grow in their new relationship with the Lord. While we were there we introduced the church to the leaders of the school and we are trying to facilitate a relationship between them.

May 11, 2010

Update On Dengue Epidemic

Last month I wrote about the dengue epidemic going on in Brazil and in our coastal area known as the "Baixada Santista". Dengue or dengue fever is a tropical virus spread by a certain type of mosquito, and it can be a very dangerous disease. Since the beginning of the year there have been 69,148 cases of dengue and 64 deaths due to the disease in the state of Sao Paulo, and many of the cases have been here in Santos and in other cities in our region. Since the beginning of the year there have been 4474 cases in Santos (19 deaths), 4477 in the nearby city of Guaruja (12 deaths), 2960 in Sao Vicente, and 14,579 total cases in the Baixada Santista. We personally know several people who have or had dengue, including one of our interpreter friends. In all of Brazil there have been over 500,000 cases, which makes 2010 one of the worst years for the disease.

May 9, 2010

Mothers Day Weekend Outreach Events

We had a busy and great weekend this year for Mothers Day. On Saturday we helped Igreja Batista Marape with their community service outreach event for mothers. The church is one community service location for a ministry called Pro-Viver (run by another church), and they do various service projects to minister to the community. Some of the things they do are provide food for the poor, provide some basic health care services,... For the special mothers day weekend event, they provided various services for the mothers of the children they minister to - things like cutting & styling hair, manicures, medical screening tests,... At the end of each of the morning and afternoon sessions they had a small service and I had the privilege of speaking and sharing Christ with them. In all 22 people accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him.

This morning I had the privilege of preaching at the Mothers Day service at Primeira Igreja Batista Sao Vicente, in the city of Sao Vicente. Pastor Gilberto is the lead pastor. We had a great time worshiping at the church, and we enjoyed the show that the children put on for their mothers, singing several songs and having a small skit to honor mothers. The church was very responsive to the message I preached, and at the end I shared the Gospel and 32 people accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him. It was a great day. The last 2 pictures below are of some of the people who accepted Christ on Sunday.

Outreach event at Igreja Batista Marape

Mothers Day service at Primeira Igreja Batista Sao Vicente

May 5, 2010

Merely Servants

"What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe— as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow... So then, no more boasting about men."
- I Corinthians 3:5-6, 21

"... Apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

One of the dangers in serving God and seeing success & fruit in a ministry is to forget that we are all merely servants or instruments of God. The success and fruit is not produced because of our talents or abilities, nor by our hard work (though it does require hard work to serve the Lord), nor by our training or our experience. It is God and only God who produces spiritual and eternal fruit in our lives and in the lives of others through our service. One of the most dangerous times in the life of a servant & disciple of Jesus is right after success. It is a common temptation to start believing that you are the one who is producing the successful results and the fruit. Pride is a common trait in us humans, and pastors and leaders and missionaries are certainly not immune to this potential problem.

When we first visited Brazil on a mission trip and then moved here, one of the first things I noticed in and outside of the churches is the humility of the people, and that generally the pastors and leaders here are more humble than their American counterparts. We see pride and ego on display in pastors & leaders here too occasionally, but when you compare here to the US it is much more prevalent in the US. In far too many churches pastors & leaders have been blinded by pride and ego, and they have lost sight of the truth that we are merely servants of God, nothing more and nothing less. Many pastors are put up on high pedestals in their churches, and in many they are regarded as some type of superstar Christian or like a super CEO of a large corporation. And it is not only the fault of the pastors themselves. The members of the churches help put them up on the pedestals. Rather than boasting about what God has done in their churches and ministries, they boast about how big the church has gotten or about what they have accomplished.

To be a servant of the Lord is an incredible privilege and honor that God gives us. But it is not a signal of a higher status than others, especially in God's eyes. We are merely servants, here to love and obey & follow Christ, and to bring Him glory. (also see Isaiah 49:3, I Corinthians 1:26-31, I Corinthians 15:9-10)

May 4, 2010

More Santos Photos

Here are some more photos we took around the beach in Santos this past weekend.

May 1, 2010

Relaxing Day After A Hard Week

Yesterday we had a day off and we needed some time to relax after a long and hard week. One of the few disappointing things that happened this past week was that we were scheduled to speak in a school on Tuesday through Thursday, but when we arrived Tuesday morning they told us that they were having tests all week and we could not speak there. They did not mention this to me when I called to confirm 2 weeks and again last week. One of the frustrating things about working in the schools here in Brazil is that some of them are not organized at all, and this causes us problems. We have to organize the event with the school, with the church we are working with, and then with 2 interpreters for each day we speak. When a school changes the schedule, usually they do it without any notice and then we have to scramble to reorganize everything. Sometimes we have to reorganize 2 or 3 times. But it is still all well worth it to join God in what He is doing to reach out in His love to help people to have a reconciled relationship with Him.

Anyways, yesterday we went for a long walk on the beach to relax, and we also went up to Ilha de Porchat in Sao Vicente to take some pictures. Here are some photos to enjoy.