November 30, 2003
Adelphos Mission Board
Here is the website for the Chilean mission board I mentioned in an earlier article. It appears that they are now online. Of course, most of my readers will find this more edifying if they could read Spanish.
November 29, 2003
This is in tribute to my brother Joe, who yesterday suggestively sold 61 apple pies at McDonalds. This not only helps my McDonalds stock go up, but also, by getting people to spend more money, he has improved the national economy and thus helped the re-election of my man George W.
Way to go Joe!
The fact that I will be unable to beat his record is of little or no consequence.
November 28, 2003
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the shocked expressions on the faces of the press when they realized that they had been kept "out of the loop" of the President's trip to Bagdad yesterday. They were obviously torn between reporting the overwhelmingly good response to the trip, and the feelings of self-righteous indignation at being tricked.
I don't know if I am the only one, but I love it when the liberal media realizes it has been left behind. Good show, Dubya. You got my vote, just for that one.
November 27, 2003
Below is a list of some things for which I am grateful.
My salvation through Jesus Christ. No words can express the gratitude owed to the one who made it possible for me to become a son of the Creator of the Universe.
My wife, Itacyara. I do not know how I would ever survive without her. She is truly God's precious gift to me.
My son, Michael. What a great kid I have! How I got to have such a wonderful little boy is beyond me. He is a source of constant joy in our lives. Thank you, Lord, for giving him to us.
My family. Dad, Mom, you are wonderful. You have given me a heritage of godliness, and shown me an example that I try to follow on a daily basis. My bro's David, Daniel, and (little) Joe are the best friends anybody could ever want.
My friends. I would be nothing without them. I will not mention any names here, because I would be sure to leave somebody out. You know who you are, however, and thank you.
My Church. What a great place. From our Corvette-driving, animal-loving pastor, to each member of the congregation, this church means a lot to us. Thank you for the many opportunities you have given us!
My Country. I love America. We have our issues, but I am proud of what we have stood for over the years. I am proud that we have a president who has the intestinal fortitude to spend Thanksgiving with the troops in Iraq, while his family remains stateside. You go, Dubya!
My calling. God has seen fit to call Itacyara and myself to be missionaries in Brazil. Our sense of unworthiness is exceeded only by our sense of urgency in getting about His business there. And yes, we love Brazil!
These are just a few of the things for which I am grateful on this Thanksgiving day.
November 26, 2003
More Good News from Brazil
As I mentioned before, while I am not able to be in Brazil, I have taken it upon myself to share with you some of the things God is doing there by way of prayer letters I get from some of the missionaries serving there. What follows is from a letter I received today from Jim Leonard, who has been published before in this blog. He mentions several items of praise, some of which I have listed below:
- The twelve students who will be graduating this Friday from our Bible College (pictured below). We will also be graduating 15 students from the Basic Bible Program in our Petrolina extension 200 miles to the south.
- Sixty one (61) religious pilgrims, from six different states, received Jesus as Savior during our evangelistic campaign at the beginning of the month. These pilgrims, in hopes of gaining salvation, came to Juazeiro to worship Padre Cicero (a long-dead priest), and went home with the certainty of eternal life through Jesus Christ. 152 others signed up for our Bible Correspondence course.
-The inauguration of a new church building on top of mountain last weekend. Our family, along with Greg and Pam Kruger, felt like we stepped back 100 years in time as we traveled 90 minutes through the forest to this area. We took with us 21 new benches which the Krugers had made. As the service started at 6:30 p.m. the place began to fill. Though the region seemed very sparsely populated, over 150 people came in from all directions. Most of these are very poor people who survive by gathering fruits, nuts, leaves, and wood in the forest. Two young people responded to the invitation for salvation, bringing the number of believers to thirty in that congregation.
What an exciting time for ministry in Brazil. Lord willing, we will be a part of it soon.
November 25, 2003
Believe it or Not
In our adult Sunday School class, day before yesterday, our teacher shared some very eye-opening statistics that come from the Barna research center. They have to do with the views of Americans as to the existence of Heaven and Hell. What was truly disturbing about this survey were the responses from believers.
George Barna, the president of the company that conducted the research, pointed out that “Americans’ willingness to embrace beliefs that are logically contradictory and their preference for blending different faith views together create unorthodox religious viewpoints.” For instance, he noted that among born again Christians - who believe that they will experience eternal existence in Heaven solely because they have confessed their sins to God and are depending upon Jesus Christ to spare them from eternal punishment or rejection - 10% believe that people are reincarnated after death, 29% claim it is possible to communicate with the dead, and 50% contend that a person can earn salvation based upon good works.
What we have here is evidence to suggest that our post-modern culture has made significant inroads into evangelical teaching and thinking. Belief in reincarnation and communication with the dead is anti-biblical, and points to shoddy Bible teaching in our churches. Belief that there are other ways to heaven besides faith in Jesus Christ is pure heresy!
In a culture that gets its worldview from Hollywood, strange beliefs on the part of the rank and file do not surprise me. But equally strange beliefs on the part of those who claim to be Christians is appalling. Methinks we need to reevaluate the educational programs of our churches. If we are to make an impact on the people of our generation, we will not do it by assimiliating their beliefs.
November 24, 2003
A Rare Treat
Yesterday was another day of ministry for our family. We were actually able to spend some time with the folks at our home church, and then it was off to Fort Myers for a meeting at Daniels Road Baptist Church.
After our meeting with the folks there, we were invited to sit in on a Brazilian service that was taking place in the old auditorium. What a blessing it was to hear songs and listen to messages in Portuguese. Pastor Artur even invited me to come up and say a few words to the congregation. I am afraid my Portuguese was not in top form, but the people were very gracious.
On our way home. we stopped at Denny's for a bite to eat, and to our surprise found members of the Brazilian congregation eating there as well. When Ita and I left, we were thrilled with having been able to fellowship with Brazilian believers, and had a heightened sense of longing to be in Brazil.
November 23, 2003
It is to be assumed that somebody as passionate about Brazil as I am will sooner or later blog about soccer. You may find a soccer entry a little later on, but I just wanted to pass on this article I found at the World Magazine blog. I thought it was very cool.
November 22, 2003
Moving the Finish Line
Right now I feel like I am in a race. That race is called deputation. For those of you not in the know, deputation is the process of going from church to church presenting your field--in hopes that people and churches will commit to prayer and financial support. Once we achieve a certain amount of financial support, the race is over and we can go to the field.
I love the race. Deputation has been one of the best experiences of my life. I get to be in many different churches, meet all kinds of people, and share the burden for Brazil that God has put on my heart. However, the obvious goal of every race is the finish line.
Imagine being in a race. You run hard, expending tremendous amounts of energy. You come around a bend, feeling that you have made some progress, only to be told that the finish line has been moved to a point more distant.
Did you imagine it? Did you feel any frustration? That is my feeling as I write this blog. For very legitamate reasons, the amount of financial support that we need to raise has gone up. This comes at a time when we are constantly reminded of how much our presence in Brazil would be a help to those who are already laboring there.
The thought of quitting the race has never occurred to us. We will press on, even if it takes us ten years or more. I can't help but wonder, however, how many more times the finish line will be moved before we get to Brazil.
One day, however, you will read in this blog that we have made it to Brazil. One race will be over, and another one will have begun.
November 21, 2003
Please welcome my brother Daniel to the world of blogging. I'm so proud. *snif*
November 20, 2003
The first one hundred entries in the Comings Communiqué have been characterized by a wide variety of subjects. Those who know me will find this to be of no surprise. There are few subjects on which I do not have an opinion!
We have talked about George Bush and Al Franken. We have discussed the culture of Brazil, and taken a fanciful trip to the equally fanciful planet Narthex. Missions, politics, comic strips, the Confederate flag, and computers have all had their time in the sun as subject matter for this blog. We even delved into a little family history.
For those of you who are looking for there to be less variety in the next 100 entries...sorry! The subject matter will continue to be as diverse as the information constantly bombarding the author.
A great big thank you to those of you who have read this blog up until now (except for the person who rated me a 2 on Blogs4God). May you get twice as much enjoyment from Comings Communiqué in the future!
(No, I am not going for the record for most links in a single entry. That is just the way it worked out.)
November 19, 2003
A Father and a Son
This is a neat story that was brought to my attention today. I thought it would be neat to share it with you. This is a lot more exciting than yesterday's entry.
November 18, 2003
Back in the Saddle
Today was spent sitting--first in the car on the way home from Silver Springs, then in the chair at the church office as I got caught up on work missed over the weekend.
This is not an exciting blog entry, I know. I will try to make tomorrows entry a little more interesting.
November 17, 2003
Another Word from Brazil
I received a letter today from Jim Leonard, director of the Cariri Baptist Seminary. He sent it in response to a letter I had written him on a number of issues. Included was this short blurb about the present need on the mission field where we are going.
We just heard from our Director of Christian Services Department that he will be oficially retiring at the end of this year....his does put us in a pinch. In our program for training workers, the Practical Christian Ministries is as important as the classroom learning. The Director of this department is a key figure. The more time we are able to invest here, the better results we will have, both in the area churches as well as in our final product -- pastors, missionaries, and teachers.
Last February the Seminary Board of Directors extended an invitation to you to work as the Director of our Christian Services Department (some colleges call it "Extension Ministries). If you are willing and able to fit into other teaching opportunities, great! But we really want you to concentrate your maximum efforts in making this department work and work well.
We are looking at what appears to be another larger than usual freshman class. We already have a large number of requests from churches and congregations for student workers. Many of these are new works, and in outlying areas. Somebody should visit each of these places to determine what type of workers each place could use, and make sure there is some sort of proper accountability for the student set up at each location. Then each student could be matched with the work that will best help him/her develop in Christian ministry. As you can see...this takes time, and is a great ministry.
Some time ago I wrote and article about how we feel burdened to get to Brazil by March of 2004. This letter from a missionary on the field explains why this is such a great need at this time. Please pray that God will see fit to allow us to get there as soon as possible.
November 16, 2003
Today I realized just how dependent I am on the internet. This realization came as a result of a corruption in some of the files on my laptop which prohibited my use of said internet for the whole day. In fact, this article is actually being posted on Tuesday.
I was amazed at how helpless I felt as I tried over and over again to get online. It was like I was totally incapacitated. Frustration crept into my voice, and my lovely wife kept a safe distance.
To make a long story short, I went to Best Buy and picked up a copy of the Windows XP upgrade, and installed it on my computer. I am now back online, and feel like I am in business.
Which all makes me wonder how I ever survived without the internet.
It also makes me wonder how I can be so concerned about being "connected" to the web, and yet so many times shrug off my devotions. After all, maintaining my connection with my Heavenly Father is much more important than maintaining my connection to the World Wide Web.
November 15, 2003
We Made It!
This is the moment I have been dreaming of for at least a week. We are at Faith Baptist Church in Silver Springs. My opening shift at McDonalds was as hectic as it promised to be, but I survived. The hightlight of the day was the busload of 46 people that came in at 6:15 am for breakfast.
After work, my lovely wife and cute son met me there at the store, and we took off for Silver Springs. We arrived at the church at about 5:30 pm and had dinner with Pastor Fred and some members of the church family. Tomorrow I will speak at the evening service, presenting once again our ministry to Brazil. Now I am going to go to bed.
November 14, 2003
World Magazine Blog
I am including a link to the new World Magazine blog. The magazine is fantastic, and so is the weblog. Anybody interested in seeing how news can be reported in a conservative, yet balanced manner needs to check out this site.
Picking Up Speed
I am currently seated on at my laptop, preparing to pack it up and put it in the car. Ten hours from now I will be finishing up a day at work. Six hours after that I will be arriving back at work, and eight hours later I will be headed with my family for a missions conference.
The waterfall is picking up speed.
Ok, I am officially on the brink of the waterfall!
November 13, 2003
Well, today has been very interesting. It started out as I came to the office early to get some things done. I was able to chat online for a while with my friend Tiharu. Tiharu is a Brazilian of Japanese descent, who is currently studying physiotherapy (I think I got that right) in Japan. We had a great conversation about different things. I was able to get in touch with a couple of mission agencies to see if they had missionaries starting churches in the area where she is studying.
Most of the day was spend at McDonalds. Woo hoo! It was a very non-eventful day. I did find out that I have Thanksgiving off! This will be the first time in five years that I have been able to spend all of Thanksgiving with family and friends.
After work, I came back to the church office, finished some games of Global Conflict and completed some correspondence. I also got to chat online with a good friend. We had a big laugh over the way the Google translator rendered some Brazilian websites.
Came accross this article, and found it interesting for a number of reasons. I will let the reader draw his or her own conculsions.
Also, as a public service, and in the interest of being fair and balanced, I am including a link to the Chairman's article on the Confederate Flag. I disagree with him on his premise--and most of his conclusions--but it is well written and deserves a look. He is a good guy at heart. To my Southern brothers and sisters, I implore you to look beyond this article and see the MAN.
I am kind of enjoying this free time I have right now, because it will be the last I have for quite some time. Tomorrow I will rise early to tie up loose ends at the office, and pack for this weekend. Then I will go to work until 10 pm. Upon finishing work, I will go home, sleep for a couple hours, then return to work at 5 am on Saturday, and stay there until 1 pm. After that I will load my family in the car and head for Ocala, for meetings which will last until Tuesday. Right now I feel like I am floating in a lazy current--just before being swept over the waterfall.
November 12, 2003
A Word from Brazil
The following is an exerpt from a letter I recieved from Mark and Linda Willson, collegues in Brazil. It describes a recent evangelistic event in Brazil, and highlights the tremendous need in that country. Reading letters like this never fails to heighten my own sense of urgency in getting to the field.
The EVANGELISM among the ‘romeiros’ this year went very well. It is
sad to see the idolatry of these pilgrims walking around the city of Juazeiro.
People take advantage of it, selling all sorts of cheap trinkets and
statues of Padre Cicero and of the saints, all with promises of blessing and
good health. This year we concentrated more on sitting down with
individuals at the places where we gave out free cups of cold water, or by the ‘Three Doors’ displays. (The three doors are three things that God cannot do: He cannot lie, He cannot change, and He cannot let sin into His heavenly
realm.) Over 150 people gave their names and addresses to receive the
first lesson of the Source of Light correspondence courses. I don’t have the
total number of people who prayed to accept Christ as Savior. On the
one hand, this represents only a small fraction of the hundreds of
thousands that came to the city. On the other hand, these are individuals that
sat down and heard a clear presentation of the gospel. In addition, we
passed out thousands of tracts.
November 11, 2003
As anybody who knows me can attest, one of my passions is the fledgling foreign missions movement in Brazil. For a long time our independent Baptist circles in that country have been content to focus on missions within Brazil (which in itself is wonderful!), and to leave the job of world evangelism to others.
This is changing. Young Bible college graduates in Brazil are catching a vision for what God can do through them in missions. They face three main barriers in this vision: 1) the lack of vision on the part of Brazilian churches and pastors, 2) an un-stable economy, and 3) the lack of a well organized mission board.
My meeting today with Patricio Oliva of the Adelphos mission agency in Chile was very encouraging. In our conversation (which lasted an hour and was conducted in my halting Spanish) he shared how those barriers had been overcome in Chile. Adelphos has been in existence for eleven years, and currently has over 50 missionaries serving under its banner.
It was a great encouragement for me to see that the obstacles constantly put forth by detractors of the Brazilian missions movement can be overcome, and have been overcome in other countries. Chile faces the same economic challenges as Brazil. Eleven years ago, there was the same apathy on the part of Chilean pastors and churches. When Adelphos was founded, it was the only mission of its kind in the country. Yet, by the grace of God and through the vision of its (all Chilean) leadership, they are now carrying out the great commission in many countries of the world, with more fields being opened up anually.
It is my vision to see this same thing happen in Brazil. May God see fit to raise up and army of Brazilians to share the Gospel in the same way He has done in Chile!
November 10, 2003
Sunshine State Fellowship
Last night at church my pastor asked me if we were going to the conference today. My response was "What conference?" It turns out that today and tomorrow is the fall conference of the Sunshine State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches. As a missionary on deputation in Florida, attendance at this conference is a must.
Sooo, I cleared my schedule and headed for the conference. It was truly a blessing! The keynote speaker was Paul Dixon from Cedarville University. He was speaking on casting a vision in our ministries. I learned a lot!
There was also a little speech given by a Chilean man named Patricio Oliva. He has a mission agency in Chile called Adelphos, which is engaged in sending missionaries to other parts of the world. Adelphos is eleven years old, and they currently have over 50 missionaries in countries as diverse as Russia, Cuba, and Pakistan! I hope to have some time to sit down with Mr. Oliva tomorrow, because this is our vision for Brazil.
November 9, 2003
This comic strip goes out to those who have participated in the Fellowship Baptist Church youth group forum on comfort zones. Thanks to Shanna's (who is not evil, although some of her schemes are!) sister Megan for bringing it to my attention!
November 8, 2003
Various and Sundry Things
Today has been one of "catching up" on things left undone as we traveled south. Financial reports, calling pastors, etc, etc.
I wanted to congratulate my friend Shanna on her new truck, and my pastor on his new car. Shanna, I was only kidding. You are not evil.
Tomorrow we have a meeting in Zephyrhills, Florida. Pray that God would use us to touch others regarding the work of missions--worldwide in general and Brazil in specific.
November 7, 2003
Stars and Bars Continued
November 6, 2003
The Stars and Bars
First, let me say that I am a northerner. A Yankee. My great-great grandfather was a Union Soldier who took a bullet in the head (and survived!) during the Civil War.
I am also married to a woman of color. I use that term and not "African American" because she is Brazilian, not American. She is definitely not white. She is a stunning beauty whos racial heritage comes from Africa, Europe, and South America.
I make those two statements in order to remove any false conclusions on the part of the reader about what I am going to say next:
I like the Confederate flag. While my early affinity for the Stars and Bars may have something to do with a boyhood fascination for the Dukes of Hazard, today it is much more than that.
The South is my adopted home. I live and work in Central Florida. It has also been my privilege to travel through various southern states in the course of the last six years. Below are some conclusions I have come to during this time.
1. Southerners are no more racist than northerners. In all actuality, I have recieved more "comments" about the interracial nature of my marriage while above the Mason Dixon line than while below it.
2. Prejudice against southerners is just as wrong as prejudice against a particular race. People from the South have a good sense of humor when it comes to their own culture. They are, however, getting a little tired of the condescending attitude with which they are treated by northerners. It is my sincere hope that Howard Dean gets the Democratic nod for president, because Bush--with his folksey ways and genuine Southern appeal--will crush him.
3. The Confederate flag is a national treasure, not a symbol of hate. The civil war is over. The North won. Must we seek to erradicate every vestige of Southern heritage? If we ban the Confederate flag, what is next? Dixie? Grits?
Of course this blog is about our ministry in Brazil. There is a connection. Shortly afte the Civil War, a group of ex-Confederates emigrated to Brazil at the invite of emperorn Dom Pedro II. Their descendants still live there today. A documentary has been done about about the way they carry on their Southern traditions. Below is a poster advertising that documentary. Notice in the picture how the Stars and Bars have transcended race. If northern politicians and special interest groups will get a clue, perhaps they can do that here, too.
November 5, 2003
As evengelical Christians and/or political conservatives in American society, it is easy to settle into a defeatist attitude. I believe that this kind of defeatism is counterproductive, and prefer to look for what God is doing in society. I also believe that as believers, we should focus on the spiritual battle going on around us, not the political.
Having said that, I need to say that I was greatly encouraged by the fact that our president signed into law the partial birth abortion ban. This is a vicory for all that is good and right. I admire him for having the guts to do this, and pray that God will bless him for it.
I have included below the entirety of President Bush's speech upon signing the bill. To those on the side of life, be encouraged.
November 4, 2003
What is it About Virginia?
Just a short list of stuff that has happened to us while going through Virginia:
Pulled over by the police
Running out of gas.
These events happened within the last year. The last one happened today! Of course, this does not take into account the running-out-of-gas incident which happened here when I was a teenager. Then there is the fainting spell my brother Daniel had on one of our family trips through Virginia, also during my teen years.
I love travelling throught Virginia--few sights can parallel the view from Seven-mile Hill, or the panorama seen as you go through the Shenandoah Valley. Yet, I am beginning to think I should avoid the state on future trips.
November 3, 2003
More Profundity in Comics
Here is a very profound comic strip that I saw a few days ago. Enjoy.
November 2, 2003
The Persecuted Church...In America
There is much emphasis today on the Persecuted Church around the world--as well there should be. We must be constantly in prayer for those who are sacrificing all--wealth, family, even their lives--for Jesus Christ. They are today's true heroes of the faith.
Yet in our focus on their plight, we run the risk of minimizing the attacks of Satan against Gods church in our own culture. I get the impression that we feel that Satan has agreed to "leave us alone" here in America. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the dangers we face pose more of a threat--I believe--to the Church than those faced by believers in other lands.
November 1, 2003
The Underground Church
Today I was involved in a fun activity, hosted by the youth group of Bible Baptist Church in Cortland, NY. All the teens were divided up into groups and given the task of finding the place where we were going to be worshiping later in the evening. They were given clues, and people (including myself and K3 were stationed around town to help them find their way.
There were also "double agents" following them, trying to determine where the meetings were, and trying to disrupt them. It was a fun, yet thought provoking time as we were brought face-to-face with the realization that Christians around the world go through this kind of thing every time they want to gather for worship.
At the end of the evening I gave a devotional. I will try to post it in essay form in tomorrow's blog. Right now Mikey is getting restless, and it is time to get him to bed!!!