January 30, 2012

What God Has Done In 5 Years

We have begun our 6th year in ministry here in Brazil, and we are amazed at what God has done during our time here. I stress the part about what God has done, because without Him we can do absolutely nothing. We are ordinary people who have the privilege of joining God in the great mission work He is doing here. We did not go to seminary, and we have had no previous formal training to be missionaries. Before the mission trip we took to Sao Paulo in 2005 (when God called us to join Him in Brazil), we had never been on a mission trip before, and we had no experience as missionaries. In fact, we did not even know enough about missions to adapt or copy some other mission ministry's strategy (which is not the way it should be done by the way). When God called us we had to fully depend on Him, and we still do, for everything ... protection, strength, ability and power, ideas, strategy, wisdom, guidance, boldness, courage... When God called us, He also gave us His love and passion to reach lost people for Jesus, and He also gave us His vision of what to do and how to do it. 

Here is what God has been able to accomplish through us, a couple of ordinary "nobodies", in the first 5 years:

* Over 63,000 people have accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him
* We have worked with 65 churches & preached in 62 churches in Brazil
* We have held 24 People Sharing Jesus seminars and have trained over 1000 people to share Jesus
* We have spoken in 99 schools
* More than 1200 teachers have accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him
* We have helped many churches in special events to share Jesus (at a ministry for business people; hospital ministry; during VBS; various ministries for poor people; community outreach events; family events;...)

We give God all of the praise, honor, and glory, and we are looking forward to seeing what God is going to do this year and in the future. God truly is awesome and all powerful, and nothing is too hard or impossible for Him.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing"  - John 15:5

"Thanks be to God, who always leads us victoriously in Christ, and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him."   - 2 Corinthians 2:14

"Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."  - Psalm 115:1

Igreja Batista Morrinhos

Igreja Batista Morrinhos is another church we have recently begun to work with, to help them to share Jesus in their community. The church is led by Pastor Valtecy, and is located in a poor area in the city of Guaruja. We will be having a People Sharing Jesus seminar at the church on the first 2 Sunday mornings in February, and we will also be working with them to share Jesus in a nearby school in March.

Last night I had the privilege of preaching in the service. Here in Brazil Sunday night is the main worship service, and Sunday morning is the smaller service, which is exactly opposite of the US. The message was to encourage and challenge all members of the church to join God in His passion and mission to seek and save those that are lost, and that He wants all people to hear the Good News of Jesus. Most churches leave evangelism work to the pastor(s) and a small group of people, but this is not Biblical and is not what God wants. At the end of the service we shared the Gospel and we praise God that 8 people accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him.

January 23, 2012

Igreja Batista Central In Praia Grande

We have recently begun working with Pastor Reinan and Igreja Batista Central to help them to share Jesus in their community, which is located in the city of Praia Grande. Praia Grande is one of several cities that make up the coastal area known as the "Baixada Santista". Pastor Reinan has been the pastor at the church for 19 years. His wife is a teacher in 2 schools, and we met her when we did our Qualidade De Vida project in a Praia Grande school last year.

We will be working with the church in a state school in Praia Grande in late May. Pr. Reinan invited me to preach in the church, and I did last night. It was also a good opportunity to meet the people of the church. Ellen, a member of the church, served as my interpreter. We had a great time of worship in the service last night, and God moved in many hearts during the message, which was to encourage everyone to participate in God's mission of reaching out to those who are without Christ. In the end we shared the Gospel and we praise God that 12 people accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him. Afterwards we ate at the church and enjoyed some nice fellowship.

January 18, 2012

Missions Quotes

"We were not saved from our sin simply so that we would qualify for heaven. God delivered us so we would have a relationship with Him through which He could carry out His mission to redeem a lost world."
        - Henry Blackaby

"The command has been to "go," but we have stayed - in body, gifts, prayer and influence. He has asked us to be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth… But 99% of Christians have kept puttering around in the homeland."
           - Robert Savage

"While vast continents are shrouded in darkness…the burden of proof lies upon you to show that the circumstances in which God has placed you were meant by God to keep you out of the foreign mission field."
           - Ion Keith-Falconer

"I wasn't God's first choice for what I've done for China…I don't know who it was…It must have been a man…a well-educated man. I don't know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn't willing… and God looked down…and saw Gladys Aylward…And God said - "Well, she's willing."
           - Gladys Aylward

"Brother, if you would enter that Province, you must go forward on your knees."
           - J. Hudson Taylor

"The man… looking at him with a smile that only half concealed his contempt, inquired, "Now Mr. Morrison do you really expect that you will make an impression on the idolatry of the Chinese Empire?" "No sir," said Morrison, "but I expect that God will."
           - Robert Morrison

"Here am I. Send me."
           - Isaiah

"And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives…and  when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted."
           - Nate Saint

"Had I cared for the comments of people, I should never have been a missionary."
           - C.T. Studd

"Oh, that I had a thousand lives, and a thousand bodies! All of them should be devoted to no other employment but to preach Christ to these degraded,  despised, yet beloved mortals."
           - Robert Moffat

"We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God."
           - John Stott

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."
           - Jim Elliot

"A tiny group of believers who have the gospel keep mumbling it over and over to themselves. Meanwhile, millions who have never heard it once fall into the flames of eternal hell without ever hearing the salvation story."
           - K.P. Yohannan

January 10, 2012

People Sharing Jesus

 I recently re-read the book People Sharing Jesus, written by Dr. Darrell Robinson, founder of Total Church Life ministry. They have a seminar based on the book that we use to train pastors and church members to effectively and powerfully share Jesus person-to-person in a loving and caring way. It is an excellent book, as is the seminar.

Here are some of the quotes or statements that made an impact on me:

* only 3-5% of Christians are obeying the Lord's command to be "fishers of men", actively sharing Jesus with others in their community.

* Many churches today do not have the same passion and priority that the Lord has: "God wants all men to be saved."  (I Timothy 2:4)

* When we join God in His work and mission to seek and save the lost, and faithfully share the Gospel with others, we are joining God's unbeatable team of 3:
1. God's Word (there is great power in God's Word and the Gospel)
2. The action of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit empowers us to share Jesus, and also convicts of sin, convinces the lost person they need Jesus, and reveals spiritual truth)
3. The faithful witness

* God has empowered all of His children to share the Gospel, through the Holy Spirit

* To be successful in sharing Christ, the other person does not have to accept Christ. If you do the following 3 things when sharing Christ, you will be successful in God's eyes:

1. You need to faithfully and prayerfully share the Gospel ... the only way you will fail is if you fail to share.
2. You need to share in the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Leave the results in God's hands. (this takes the pressure off of us)

* You may live a consistent life, minister to people, and invite them to church. You have not really witnessed until you have shared Jesus. Unbelievers will not experience the forgiveness of Christ until someone shares the life-changing Gospel with them.

* There is nothing that energizes and gladdens the heart of a Christian more than leading a person to Christ.

* God's plan for His church is for every believer to actively share Jesus with others.

* We need to have a person-centered, loving & caring approach to reaching out to lost people.

* We need to learn to listen to others and then share Jesus in a way that meets their particular needs.

* There are numerous methods to sharing Jesus with others. The method is not the most important thing; sharing in the power of the Holy Spirit and then leaving the results in God's hands is.

* We need to have Jesus' love (John 3:16) and compassion (Matt. 9:35) for others in order to effectively share the Gospel.

* We need to be focused and sensitive to the lost people around us. Sharing opportunities and lost people are all around us in our daily lives. Many times we are not focused and sensitive to the "divine opportunities" that God gives us.

* God is always at work and He has already prepared a harvest (Matt. 9:37-38) ... we need to be faithful and join God in His work, sowing and sharing the Gospel, and reaping the harvest.

January 2, 2012

A Bad Cultural Habit

We generally like living in Brazil, and there are not many things that we do not like about Brazil and it's people. One of the things that is not so nice is the habit many people have of leaving garbage in the streets and on the beaches. Actually the vast majority of people that live in our city of Santos do a good job of keeping the streets and beaches clean. The problem is the tourists that come from the city of Sao Paulo. Many people there have a bad habit of throwing garbage in the streets, and they expect the street cleaners to pick it up. When they visit our beaches for vacation, they bring this bad habit with them. The city has placed many garbage containers on and near the beaches, but many people still leave their garbage on the beach.

This problem not only occurs here, but in many beach areas in Brazil. During the latest New Years holiday this past weekend, many cities on the coast had to have it's street cleaner workers pick up tons of garbage on New Years day. On the famous Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, the city had to pick up 370 tons of garbage on the beach after the New Years Eve celebration. Here in Santos, the city workers picked up 75 tons of garbage. That is one of the reasons that many residents here are glad when the vacation season is over and the tourists have to go back to their homes in Sao Paulo and other cities.

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year / Feliz Ano Novo 2012

Happy New Year / Feliz Ano Novo. We hope that 2012 will be a victorious and blessed year for you. May you grow closer to the Lord, and may He bless you and use you for His kingdom and glory, in ways that you could never have imagined.

We are looking forward to seeing what God is going to do this year and in future years. There is no better place to be than in the middle of His will.

Last night we had a very Brazilian new year celebration. We ate churrasco (Brazilian BBQ), drank Guarana (Brazilian soft drink), and at midnight we watched the New Year fireworks show on the beach. Santos is a great place to celebrate New Years.