February 28, 2004

Brazilian Missionary Murdered in Mozambique

One of the primary targets for the Brazilian missionary movement has been the country of Mozambique. This former Portuguese colony in eastern Africa has been the focus of many missionary groups from Brazil.

On Tuesday, a Brazilian missionary was murdered in that country. According to the news report in allafrica.com, Duraci Epinger "was a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and she had worked in Mozambique since 1998."

Please pray for the missionaries from our sister churches who are currently working in Mozambique, as well as for the family and co-workers of Ms. Epinger.

On a personal note, a good friend of ours, Haildelene, is raising her support in Brazil right now to go to Mozambique. Pray for her as well.

Posted by Andrew at 10:32 AM // Comments: 1 //
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February 26, 2004

The High Cost of Carnaval

We have mentioned this before, but a recent article in Brazzil magazine highlights the effects of Brazil's Carnaval on humanity. Here is a excerpt from that article:

According to Rio's Public Security Secretariat, more than 100 people died in the state during the Carnaval celebration, from 6 pm on Friday to 8 am on Wednesday. Public Security chief, Anthony Garotinho, announced that 87 people were murdered and another 30 died in traffic accidents. Tuesday night alone, there were 14 murders and nine wounded people. In the neighborhood of Olaria, in Rio's North Zone, the death of a 13-year-old boy during a Carnaval parade incited the populace who blamed the police for the crime and burned three buses in protest.

All in the name of a party.

Posted by Andrew at 10:16 AM // Comments: 1 //
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February 25, 2004

Too Much of a Good Thing

Usually, the northeastern region of Brazil cries out for rain. Their history and folklore are filled with great people migrations as people try to escape the pandemic droughts which usually inflict the region.

This year, however, has been different. Take the city of Vrzea Alegre, for example. In the last two months they have received more rain than they did during all of last year. This has caused somewhat of a crisis in the city, as local dams and waterways are not equiped to deal with so much water. The result is mass flooding, which has pretty much isolated the city. According to this article in the Globo newspaper (in Portuguese), they have declared a state of "public calamity" in the city, due to the lack of potable drinking water and supplies.

Other cities in the region are experiencing the same thing. What made this one stand out to me was the fact that one of our churches in the region is located in this city.

Please pray for the believers of the First Regular Baptist Church of Vrzea Alegre, that they will be able to demonstrate the Grace of God as they suffer these hardships.

Below is a map of the showing the location of Vrzea Alegre, courtesy of Expedia.com. One interesting fact: the name Vrzea Alegre literally means "holy swamp".


Posted by Andrew at 10:20 AM
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February 24, 2004

The Other Tragedy

Besides the terrible bus accident mentioned below, there were 24 carnival-related deaths this past week, just in the state of Cear. In Rio, three people were killed during a gunfight that took place in the middle of one of the celebrations. The story is the same all over Brazil. Carnaval has become a macabre event where people literally die partying.

Please pray for Brazil, that the light of the Gospel will continue to shine through the darkness.

Posted by Andrew at 11:22 PM
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Tragedy in Brazil

I just received another e-mail from Jim Leonard in Brazil, which included this piece of information:

Rain is a scarce commodity in our semi-arid region. The average yearly rainfall, 50 inches, falls between January and April, sometimes allowing the subsistence farmers in the region to harvest a crop, but often not. Actually, there is seldom an "average" year when it comes to rain in Northeast Brazil. This year in January alone we received more than 50 inches of rain. In February the rains have continued far above the normal. The results of so much water include flooding, broken dams, washed out bridges, damaged roads and destroyed houses. Traffic has come to a near standstill. Between our city of Crato and Fortaleza, the state capital to the north, four bridges have been washed away. To the south a two mile stretch of highway was completely carried off. Even within our city and other neighboring cities roads have been closed by mud slides and washouts. Many cities have declared a state of public calamity. Last Friday night a tragedy happened about one hour from where we live. A bus with 42 passengers went off the highway into a lake which had overflowed all the way to the shoulder of the road. There were no survivors.

After I read this, I began searching for news articles about the accident. The images I saw were very sombering. Here a a couple of them:


The bus being pulled from the water, and the first bodies being recovered.


The bus, presumably with many bodies still inside.


The families of the victims, waiting to identify the bodies.

I guess what makes this so poignant to me is the fact that I am well aquainted with the stretch of road where this happened. I have traveled it many times, on the same bus line. In fact, possibly on the same bus.

I can't help but think of the 42 lives which were snuffed out, and wonder how many of them knew Christ as their Savior. My heart aches for the families of the victims, and I know that so many of them put their trust in their own works to get them to heaven. What kind of moments must they have passed when they realized that they were submerged in 20 feet of water.

I really, really want to get to Brazil, so that I can tell as many people as possible that they can have assurance of salvation.

Posted by Andrew at 9:42 PM
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February 23, 2004

Brazzil Does It Again

At the Brazzil news site there are two very interesting articles. One is a rare Brazilian voice of praise for President Bush and his policies. The other is an article showing the huge challenge of illiteracy faced by Brazilian society. Both articles are worth the read.

Posted by Andrew at 3:10 PM
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February 21, 2004

The Urgent Need

The other day I received a prayer letter from Jim and Julie Leonard (Jim is the director of the Cariri Baptist Seminary in Cear, Brazil) which went out to all their prayer supporters. In it, they expressed their desire for our quick arrival in Brazil. I have printed a portion of it below, in hopes of conveying the urgency of the task before us.

This Saturday we will welcome the new students at the Cariri Baptist Seminary, and the returning students come in on Monday. At the last count we are expecting 21 new students from all across Brazil. One young man, Francisco, has already arrived. He traveled for 8 days to get here. Six of those days were on boats, as his home is on a river up in the Amazon forest. Please pray for the safe arrival of all of our students.

This year Jim will be the Christian Service Director for the students. This job begins with contacting the churches in and around the Cariri Valley, and finding a place for each of our 70+ students to have a meaningful Christian service experience. During the semester he will be visiting each student at this place of service, and giving orientation as to how they can improve their ministries. Please pray for Jim as he takes on this new responsibility.

Please be in prayer for Andrew and Itacyara Comings. The Comings are on deputation raising support to work with us in the Cariri. Actually, one of Andrew's responsibilities will be that of Director of Christian Service. They have just over 30% of their needed support, and we need them desperately to relieve the pressures caused by being short staffed.

Posted by Andrew at 5:41 PM
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My Computer Is Back!!!

Last Sunday we had wonderful meetings with the folks at Grace Baptist in Batavia, NY. Upon my arrival at home, however, I discovered that I had left the power cord to my laptop at the church. Today, it! was returned to me!

Oh happy day!

Those of you who have noticed my absence will doubtless be happy to see that I have been gloriously reconnected!

Posted by Andrew at 12:25 AM
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February 17, 2004

New Site

In the interest of keeping our readers informed about Brazil, we are happy to announce the discovery of a website that carries interesting articles and up-to-date news about that country. It is called gringoes.com, and contains news on most subjects, as well as a discussion forum.

Check it out!

Posted by Andrew at 11:09 AM // Comments: 1 //
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February 14, 2004

Food For Thought

The following is a quote by Greg Parsons in most recent issue of the Mission Frontiers magazine:

Tools and methods do have their place in training. Yet we must squarely face the fact that too often we export approaches that may be acceptable in the West, but that are not necessarily good elsewhere. In fact, in some situations they have clearly proved to be detrimental.

Posted by Andrew at 3:37 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Mission Frontiers

I was introduced the other day to Mission Frontiers, a magazine on the cutting edge of missionary thought. I have been perusing it's online (.pdf) version today, and find it very thought-provoking.

Posted by Andrew at 3:30 PM
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Missions Conference Update

I apologize for the lack of entries over the last few days. I have been attending a missionary conference at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA. It was a wonderful event, very edifying and uplifting for me. Unfortunately, my internet access was severely limited.

Highlights for me were the times we got to spend in the dorms, interacting with the college students. It was refreshing to see their enthusiasm for ministry in the US and around the world.

I came away from the conference rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the tasks ahead of us.

Posted by Andrew at 1:51 PM
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February 10, 2004

Movin' On Up...

An e-mail this morning telling us of additional support has put us to 33.4%. This, of course, means that we are over one third of the way there!

Our God is an awesome God!

Posted by Andrew at 2:03 PM // Comments: 3 //
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Squirt Guns and Forest Fires

I was surfing for the latest from Brazil today when this headline caught my eye:

Brazil Prepares for Carnival with Condom Campaign

The article began:

Brazil's Health Ministry will dole out 10 million free condoms to carnival revelers in an AIDS prevention campaign ahead of the country's biggest blowout of the year,

Health Minister Humberto Costa made the announcement today.

"Nothing gets through a condom. Use one and check it for yourself," the ministry's national radio and television campaign suggests.

A couple of quick facts:

Condoms do fail. A quick perusal of websites pertaining to the subject will show this to be true. Even sites which promote the use of condoms admit to a 12 to 14 percent failure rate.

Condoms are more apt to fail when they are used improperly due to impairments in the judgment and physical dexterity of the users. In other words, if someone attempts to use a condom while inebriated (as most Carnaval celebrants are, to some extent), there is a greater risk of condom failure.

Of course, Brazil must do something to stop the crisis of AIDS and STD's in the country...and Carnaval is the chief culprit, as the ABC article points out.

Mr Costa said the campaign is aimed at highlighting how condoms can prevent AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases as Brazil prepares for the February 20-24 carnival, a week of festivities that includes parades with scantily clad women and sexually-charged parties.

This whole situation brings to mind the admonition of Proverbs 6:27-28"

Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

In other words, can a people escape the natural consequences of their sin?

They cannot, but that does not stop them from trying.

The campaign will use public billboards, including one showing a fish swimming inside a condom.

In one television add, one man pours beer into a condom to convince a friend that it can hold back anything.

The campaign was launched because a study last year showed 15 per cent of sexually-active Brazilians do not believe condoms can stop diseases, Mr Costa said.

My heart goes out to those who--convinced by these advertisements--engage in promiscuous activity, and find themselves in the 12 to 14 percent for whom condoms did not work.

As for this particular program of the Brazilian government, it is like passing out squirt guns to residents in the path of a forest fire, instead of urging them to get out of the way.

Read the entire ABC News article here.

Posted by Andrew at 1:12 PM
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And Once Again...

It is 2 am, and I just arrived home from McDonald's. I decided to check my e-mail before I went to bed, and there was a letter from a pastor friend of mine who informed us that his church has also taken us on for support! Praise God! He just keeps showering us with His blessings! This takes us to 32.4%.

(Our current status can be seen on the thermometer to the right)

Posted by Andrew at 2:03 AM // Comments: 1 //
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February 9, 2004

The Big 30!

No, this is not a birthday announcement. I passed that milestone almost two years ago. This is something much more exciting than that!

Our support level has topped the 30% mark! Praise God! The news came in a phone call last night as we drove back from a meeting near Pittsburgh. A couple has partnered with us financially, and their committed support took us to 31.1%.

This, of course, was after receiving word from a church in Florida earlier in the week that they as well have decided to support our ministry. It was a special privilege for me to be able to move up the "mercury" on our support level thermometer.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Posted by Andrew at 11:34 AM
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February 6, 2004

Slavery in Brazil

Click here to read a heart-wrending article on the human trafficking going on today in Brazil.

The thing to remember is, this would not go on if there were no "customers" from places like Europe and the US.

Posted by Andrew at 2:04 PM
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Brazil Defies Description

Here is a link to a great article which highlights some of the contrasts in Brazilian culture.

Posted by Andrew at 12:03 PM
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February 5, 2004

More Pics of Brazilian Flooding

Here are some more pics of the recent flooding in Petrolina, Brazil. These come from our friends the Reiners, currently serving as church planters in that city.


One of the main roads out of town.


Another of the main roads out of town.


The one remaining road out of town, before...


...and after.


Evacuation in progress


Another, less sophisticated form of evacuation


A view from downtown


Neither rain nor....rain will keep this power company worker from his appointed rounds.

Posted by Andrew at 1:27 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Praise God!!!

Last night was prayer meeting here at Bible Baptist Church in Cortland, NY. My wife and I went (I arrived a little late due to a last minute phone call), and listened to my Dad give a message about people in Scripture who fell at Christ's feet.

During the prayer time that followed, Itacyara and I did a little "falling at Christ's feet" of our own. We brought before the Lord our entire situation--how we were still at 27% of our support after over a year on deputation, how we were tired, how we were anxious about our finances, etc. We finished up our prayer by asking the Lord that, if there were any churches we had visited having a meeting last night, that He would move them to take us on for support.

This morning I had an e-mail waiting for me, letting me know that one of the first churches we ever visited--way back in 2002--had taken us on for support! Praise God!

We have changed the little thermometer to the left to reflect this addition. We are currently at 28.6% of our needed amount.

This motivates us to more fervent prayer. It also gives me something to talk about to my unsaved friends at work later on today.

Posted by Andrew at 10:32 AM
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February 4, 2004

Wrapping Up The Day

My day at the office (or rather, the corner of the computer room at Cortland Christian Academy which I have staked out as my own and now use as the nerve center for our international operations) is almost over. My beautiful wife and two-year-old son have entered the room, and people are starting to arrive for prayer meeting.

Today's accomplishments include:

Sending at least five personal e-mails.
Making at least 10 different calls to pastors.
Lining up two meetings.
Adding a new feature to the website (see article below).
Writing two blog entries (this one is number 2)
Sending out our weekly prayer letter to all those on our electronic mailing list.
Sending out our bi-monthly prayer letter to all those on our "snail mail" list.
Updating both mailing lists.
Taking care of various and sundry details regarding our trip to Brazil in March.


The thing is, if I had tomorrow free, I would have just as many things to do. There are still financial reports to fill out, taxes to prepare, letters to write, pastors to call, envelopes to stuff...the list goes on.

The only problem is that I don't have all day tomorrow, because my economic circumstances dictate that I must work part-time to support my family. And all of the aforementioned items will have to be fit in somewhere.

I guess this is preparing me for the mission field. Either that, or killing me before I ever get there.

Posted by Andrew at 6:49 PM
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Progress Meter

Today's new feature on this site is a progress meter, which will measure keep track of our support level. It can be found on the sidebar of this blog, and also on it's own page.

Posted by Andrew at 12:28 PM
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News From (Rainy) Brazil

I recently received and e-mail from missionaries Tim and Vicky Reiner, which contained these pictures of some of the flood damage near their home in Petrolina, Brazil.


This is a picture of what is left of the main road between their home and the city.


This is the water level in front of the church where they minister.

Posted by Andrew at 12:12 PM
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February 3, 2004

Keeping Up with the Comings'

Just found a cool site that lets you create a map showing the states you have visited. Below are the states we have visited since we officially began our "missionary journey."

create your own visited states map

I just set up a page on our website with this map so we can continue to keep you updated as we visit new states.

A big thank-you to Lilac Rose for hooking me up with the link.

Posted by Andrew at 11:57 AM // Comments: 1 //
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