February 29, 2012

Teachers Coming To The Lord

Yesterday we had the privilege of speaking to a group of teachers at the municipal pre-school EM Eunice Caldas in Santos. The director of the pre-school also works at another school in Santos, and we spoke there last October with the group from Cedartown GA and she really liked the message and the project. So she invited us to come to speak to the teachers. The students are in pre-school and thus are still too young for our speech, so we came and spoke to the teachers.

God moved mightily in their hearts, and 10 of the teachers accepted Christ and committed their lives to Him. We praise God for this great opportuntiy that He gave us. We have been invited to come back to the school to speak to the teachers that work in the afternoon period. Yesterday we spoke to the teachers that work in the morning period. We are scheduled to go back and speak on March 27.

February 27, 2012


As American missionaries in Brazil we are not suffering much at all compared to those servants of God who serve in dangerous places where it could cost your life to share the Gospel. We do not experience violence and persecution such as those who live and serve in certain parts of the world. Our health is not jeopardized by being exposed to deadly diseases like other parts of the world, although there are some disease issues here such as dengue and some others. And unlike what many people think of Brazil, we are not out in the jungle lacking most modern appliances and conveniences. We live in a modern urban environment with cell phones, internet, cable tv,...

I am writing this today because it is our middle son's 25th birthday. One of the hardest parts of our serving here in Brazil is being separated from our 3 sons and our families, and not being there for things like birthdays, Christmas, and many other of life's events. We have been here for 5 1/2 years, and rather than getting easier it seems that it gets harder as time goes on to be separated from our sons and loved ones, and not being involved in their daily lives. And it is not easy for them either.

Serving God involves sacrifice. It involves suffering, especially when you are on the front lines such as we are in the spiritual war for souls. It sometimes involves loneliness. At various times we have felt alone in our work, even though we work with many churches and people here. There is alot of spiritual oppression here, and often times we have to endure many difficulties in order to share the Gospel in the schools, churches, and other places, especially when we are preparing to speak to a large group of people and share Jesus with them. The spiritual oppression can be overwhelming at times. Another sacrifice for us is the financial cost that is involved. Since it was God's plan for us to come to Brazil without an organization or church that supports us, and for us to use our own funds, it has cost us alot financially to serve here.

However, it is the very least that we can do to show our love and appreciation for what Jesus did for us. And it is the very least we can do to help others to know the hope and the abundant and eternal life that we have in Jesus. We owe everything that we are, and everything that we have, and everything we do, and every part of every day to our Lord Jesus. And we owe it Him to do our very best to join Him in His work of seeking and saving the lost who are without Christ.

We can say without a doubt, that it is well worth every sacrifice and everything we go through and suffer, to see God touching others' lives and helping others to have peace with God and a restore relationship with Him. It is difficult to put into words the joy that we experience when we see people humbly praying to receive Jesus and committing their lives to Him. There is nothing else like it, and we are thankful to God for allowing us to have this wonderful privilege. 

February 23, 2012

Pursuing Intimacy With God

Pursuing Intimacy With God is a 2 part Bible study to help people to grow in their fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Each part is a 6 week study that will help enhance your prayer life, will help you to learn to hear God's voice, and also to discern God's will for your life. The Bible studies are solely based on God's Word, and they include hundreds of verses from God's love letter to you - the Bible.

You can access the studies from the website www.intimacywithgod.com or you can request a copy to be sent to you via email. May God bless your walk with Him, your life, and your service for Him, all for His glory.

February 20, 2012

History Of Carnaval

Carnival Roots
The origins of carnival date back to the ancient Greek spring festival in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine. The Romans adopted the celebration with Bacchanalia (feasts in honor of Bacchus, the Roman equivalent to Dionysus), and Saturnalia, where slaves and their masters would exchange clothes in a day of drunken revelry. Saturnalia was later modified by the Roman Catholic Church into a festival leading up Ash Wednesday. It quickly evolved into a massive celebration of indulgences - one last gasp of music, food, alcohol, and sex before Lent - before the 40 days of personal reflection, abstinence, and fasting until Easter (not exactly what the Church probably had in mind). 40 days of purging sins, preceded by a week filled with virtually every known sin. The word itself comes from Latin, "Carne Vale" or "Farewell to the Flesh".

Rio de Janeiro
Rio's lavish carnival is one of the world's most famous. Scores of spectacular floats surrounded by thousands and thousands of dancers, singers, and drummers parade through the enormous Sambadromo Stadium dressed in elaborate costumes (or, quite often, with absolutely no costume.) It is an epic event televised around the world. The origin of Brazil's carnival goes back to a Portuguese pre-lent festivity called "entrudo", a chaotic event where participants threw mud, water, and food at each other in a street event that often led to riots (an event quite similar to today's Andean carnival - see Venezuelan section of this booklet). Rio's first masquerade carnival ball (set to polkas and waltzes) was in 1840. Carnival street parades followed a decade later with horse drawn floats and military bands. The sound closely associated with the Brazilian carnival, the samba, wasn't part of carnival until 1917. The samba is a mix of Angolan semba, European polka, African batuques, with touches of Cuban habanera and other styles. What we now know as samba is a result of the arrival of black Brazilians (primarily from Bahia) to the impoverished slums or favelas surrounding Rio following the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888. Today the carnival is organized by the escolas de samba (samba schools). They first appeared in 1928. Much more than musical groups, they are in fact, neighborhood associations that provide a variety of community needs (such as educational and health care resources) in a country with grinding poverty and no social safety net.

Salvador, Bahia
Salvador da Bahia was Brazil's first center of government (from 1549 to 1763), and remains its musical capital. For centuries, Bahia was home of the Portuguese sugar industry and slave trade. As a result, today Salvador is the largest center of African culture in the Americas. Amidst the colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, there is an unmistakeable beat of Bahian drumming. You can hear it in the stereo speakers and boomboxes blasting the latest pop music. It becomes overwhelming when the large percussion ensembles (with literally hundreds of drummers) called "blocos Afros" take to the streets for carnival. It was a movement launched a half century ago by the group, Filhos de Gandhi (Sons of Gandhi). Today, there are countless blocos Afros that have taken on a new mission as part of the "negritude" movement to re-establish Black Pride. Olodum, Ara Ketu, Il Aiyé, Timbalada and the all women's drumming mega-group Dida all electrify Salvador every February during carnival. Olodum's Billy Arquimimo explains, "We started Olodum 20 years ago because at that time, black people used to be ashamed of their skin. We thought it was necessary to do something to re-establish Black Pride, and to redevelop African culture here in Bahia." Like Rio, the city of Salvador is famous for its carnival. For both cities, it is an enormous festival leading up to Lent. That is where the similarities end. Rio is famous for its Samba schools, elaborate costumes (or at times no costumes), and a huge parade held at the Sambadromo Stadium. Salvador is Brazil's street carnival. It lasts for weeks. The music begins daily as early as noon and runs until 7 or 8 the next morning. Bahian superstar Carlinhos Brown explains, "We play, not for money, but to celebrate happiness. Our carnival is a street carnival. It is for everyone, not just for those with money." In addition to the Blocos Afros, artists like Carlinhos Brown and Daniela Mercury perform on huge trucks, packed with loudspeakers called "trio electricos". These are the big tractor-trailer trucks packed with huge speakers. The tradition began in 1950 when two Bahian musicians, Dodo and Osmar, performed with their electric trio aboard a 1929 Ford pickup truck.. Even though there are regularly 20-40 bandmembers atop 18 wheeler mega-trucks today, the name "trio electrico" still sticks. Bahia's carnival is perhaps the world's largest public festivity, attracting crowds of three million that dance through the night in Salvador's historic colonial streets.

February 18, 2012

Carnaval In Brazil

Today is the first day of the annual 4 day Carnaval festival in Brazil. For many Brazilians it is the biggest party time of the year, and many people party and drink as much as they possibly can. And there are the traditional Carnaval shows that nearly every city has, which features different Samba schools putting on a parade like show of music and dancing. The Samba schools compete for the bragging rights of which team is the best in the show. The most famous Carnaval celebration is in Rio de Janeiro, and it is televised on Brazilian TV. Many of the costumes are very colorful, and parts of it are very interesting. Other parts are not so good, as some of the costumes can be quite skimpy and racy, with some partial nudity thrown in.

For Christians here, it is one of the worst times of the year, because of some of the behavior and problems during Carnaval. Many churches have retreats or camps during Carnaval in the country. For us on the coast, it means that thousands and thousands of people will be coming from Sao Paulo to escape the big city. It brings more traffic problems, more garbage on the beach, much higher crime rates during the 4 days, and other related problems. The traffic jams in Sao Paulo on Friday and Saturday for Carnval are massive, and there are miles of stalled traffic on the various highways leading out of the city. Yesterday Sao Paulo registered 120 miles of traffic jams in the city. 

Another quirky thing about Brazil is that many people here do not want to work much between Christmas and Carnaval, and it can be hard to get things done until after. I guess I am not much of a fan of Carnaval, and I will be glad when it is over.

 the mass exodus from Sao Paulo to the beaches

some Carnaval photos that are suitable for posting

February 17, 2012

Finishing Up At Igreja Batista Morrinhos

Last Sunday we led the 2nd part of the People Sharing Jesus seminar at Igreja Batista Morrinhos in Guaruja. Once again the participation of the church was very good, and this ended up being one of our best seminars in quite awhile. The people in the church are very loving and warm, and it was a joy to be able to meet the people and fellowship with them, and to preach and lead the seminar in the church.

After the seminar was over we were invited to eat lunch at Pastor Valtecy and Artemia's house for lunch. We had a great time of fun and a great meal, including spaghetti, pork ribs, and some other Brazilian type foods. We will be working again with the church in the 1st week of March in a nearby school.

February 6, 2012

People Sharing Jesus seminar

Yesterday morning we lead the 1st part of the People Sharing Jesus seminar at Igreja Batista Morrinhos in Guaruja. We will lead the 2nd part next Sunday morning. We had great participation from the church, and 48 people came to learn how to share the Gospel of Jesus powerfully and effectively. Our friend Alex from another church in Guaruja helped as my interpreter.

The last part of the seminar yesterday was to have the people pair up in twos and practice sharing Jesus using an evangelistic pamphlet. A young member of the church, Tanyara, had never shared Jesus before. She used a Gospel tract to share Jesus with a 7 year old boy, and he accepted Christ and committed his life to Him. God is great !

After the seminar we went to a church family's house (Ailton and Fabiane) for a great home cooked meal and a great time of fun and fellowship. Fabiane is from the northeast of Brazil, so she cooked us a northeast Brazil style meal with some seafood and other dishes, and for dessert we had a grape flavored mousse and ice cream.