April 29, 2004

That's the Brakes

Tomorrow morning my family and I will be heading north to New York for another summer of deputation meetings. During the past week or so my car developed a whine, and so today I took it in to have it checked out. After all, it is good to have your car in working order before you take a trip from Florida to New York.

It turns out that the engin is fine (apart from a belt that needs to be replaced) but my brakes are shot. The car is currently in the shop, and should be completed by the morning.

I am actually grateful that the car started whining, otherwise I might never have been aware of the brake problem until it was too late.

God is good.

Posted by Andrew at 4:09 PM
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Great News

Today I got a call from the pastor of one of the churches we visited last year. He told us that his church had voted last night to take us on for support. The thermometer to the side has been updated. This takes us to almost 36%! Praise God!

Posted by Andrew at 9:52 AM // Comments: 1 //
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April 24, 2004

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

One of the biggest challenges faced by missionaries today in Brazil is the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. It is a Brazilian-based sect/money-laudering scheme that has spilled over the borders of Brazil into the rest of the world. For an excellent series of articles which give a great overview of this monstrosity, visit this link.

Posted by Andrew at 3:11 PM
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April 21, 2004

How Many is Too Many?

I have often heard from pastors that they would have us in their church if we were going to any other country but Brazil. "We already have too many missionaries in Brazil" is their reasoning. According to this website, the Mormons have approxamately 5,000 missionaries in Brazil. If you add up all the fundamental, Baptist missionaries currently serving in Brazil, it does not even come close to half that number.

Posted by Andrew at 5:05 PM // Comments: 4 //
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We're Back

We made it safely back from Brazil on Sunday, after two delays at So Paulo. Since our return, we have been busily tying up loose ends, and preparing for a summer of ministry. One of the loose ends we have been tying up has been our lack of a laptop. It looks as if we will be buying one from Dell shortly. When we got back, we discovered also that our water heater was broken. It should be fixed by now...I will find out when I get home.

Posted by Andrew at 4:59 PM
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April 16, 2004

Gooooool!!!!

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a professional soccer game here in So Lus. For those of you who have never had the privilege of seeing first-hand a Latin soccer match, I will try to describe my experience to you.

First off, let me say that comparing a Brazilian soccer game to a US sporting event is like comparing the San Fransisco riots to a kindergarten class. Words cannot express the level of excitement and adrenaline that permeated the air as we approached the stadium. That and the smell of alcohol.

The game was between two fairly evenly-matched teams from the same city. As we entered the stadium (the game was free), it became clear to us that we should have left earlier. A lot earlier. There was not a single seat available to us, so we found a place to stand fairly close to the fence which divides the bleachers from the sideline. The place we finally settled on was also occupied by several vendors, selling everything from soft drinks to barbequed chicken.

Samyr, my companion on this adventure, made it very clear to me that I should only cheer for the team with the red jerseys. The wisdom of this advice was soon to be seen.

One thing that stuck out in my mind was the presence of the police. They were everywhere. Military police, civil police, shock troops, mounted units--they were out in force. As we entered the stadium, I noticed a paddy wagon large enough for at least 20 people parked to one side. Overkill, I thought.

The game began with fireworks, literally. As the teams were announced, rockets were launched in the colors of the two teams. At one point there was a misfire, and one of the firey streams headed straight for one of the bleachers. It was amazing to see how fast those people cleared out. What had once been a sea of crazed soccer fans became empty bleachers in a matter of seconds. Apparently nobody was hurt, because the area filled with people again quickly.

Two goals were scored in the first few minutes of the game, one for each team. Then the game settled down into a rhythm of attacks and counter attacks.

There were also some attacks and counter attacks in the bleachers very close to us. I was engrosed in the game when suddenly about 10 police officers ran past, headed for the seats behind us. They disappeard into the sea of people, and then returned with five irate fans in tow.

The officers did not waste any time with formalities. A mere five feet from me one of the officers grabbed a resisting detainee's shirt, spun him around, and gave him a good smack on the back with his billy club. This seemed to have a calming effect on the others, and they were led from the stadium without further incident. Suddenly I began to wonder if one paddy wagon would be enough.

It is really no wonder that violence breaks out at these games. When you have thousands of people within a close proximity, 90% of whom are quite lubricated, and all of whom are passionate about their team, disagreements are bound to occur.

Disagreements were not limited to the fans. The game continued tied until the end of regular play. Then, it went into overtime. During overtime, the red-shirted team made two consecutive goals. This was very frustrating for the white-shirted team, who began to demonstrate their frustration in ways not in accordance with official soccer rules. In fact, they had more to do with boxing than soccer. Suddenly, the field was full of shock troops, in full body armor, who positioned themselves between the players of the two teams. It was kind of comical to see the fully protected soldiers going up against guys wearing shorts, tee-shirts, sneakers, and long socks.

Needless to say, it was the soldiers who carried the day. Play resumed--after the expulsion of two players--and all returned to normal. As normal as anything gets at a Brazilian soccer game, that is.

The gentleman who had been standing next to me had left, and in his place two drunken fans were now lowdly singing the praises of the red-shirted team. It was at this moment that I made an important discovery: drunk people stink at math.

"Two to zero!!!" screamed one, in a voice which I was sure could be heard outside the stadium.
"You idiot, it's three to zero." replied his companion.
"Wait, it was tied, then we scored two goals, so now its two to zero."
"Oh yeah."
"The score is three to one" interjected a helpful bystander.
"Right, three to one! We are the BEST!!!"

The score indeed ended up three to one, and we beat a hasty retreat. Our hast turned out to be in vain, as we discovered that the busses had stopped running for the night. As we waited on the curb and tried weighed our options for getting home, the paddy wagon drove by us...full.

We finally decided to take moto-taxies (motorcycles acting as taxies) home, and arrived shortly after midnight.

I am sure that many sermon illustrations will come from this evening, but for the moment I was just happy to be alive.

Posted by Andrew at 8:29 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Look Who Is Investing In Brazil

If this article does not wake believers up concerning the importance of Brazil as a mission field, nothing will.

Posted by Andrew at 2:51 PM
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April 13, 2004

Easter Happenings

This has been a fun week. I have gotten to explore So Lus, talk to pastors about the future of the ministry here, and spend some quality time with my in-laws. On Saturday we went to the beach, and I got majorly burned (ouch).

Sunday night I was able to preach. It was the first time I had preached in Portuguese in three years, and I am sure there were some un-intentional heresies included in the message.

Later on today we will be going out on the town again. Tomorrow I will be going with Pastor Fransisco to see some of the areas where he wants to start works.

That is all the update I can think of right now. Will add more later.

Posted by Andrew at 11:26 AM // Comments: 2 //
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April 9, 2004

Confusion

Today I had a good talk with one of my sisters-in-law. She made a decision for Christ some time ago, but is not living a life consistent with her faith. I began to question her, and the more I did, the more horrified I became at the spiritual "training" she received from her church. She told me (with a straight face) how her pastor came one day and cast out a demon from the family cat! She also had demons cast out of her, as well as her mother. Everything that went wrong in her life was because of a demon. She also expressed the belief that it was necessary to be baptized to be saved.

I was able to explain many things to her from the Scriptures, but I have the strong impression that anything I said to her will be lost in the cacaphony of pseudo-Christian teaching she is getting from her church.

This has served to irritate me even more when I hear people say that we should seek to evangelize where there is no Gospel witness--with the implication that this part of Brazil is already saturated with the Gospel. I am here to say that the teaching my sister-in-law is getting has nothing to do with the Gospel. It is salvation by works, with a charasmatic sound track.

Last night I went for a walk in Parque Vitria, the neighborhood where my wife's family lives. I passed a Universal Church (charismatic, money laundering opperation), a National Baptist Church (gospel of works, connected to the hyper-charismatic G12 movement), an Assembly of God church (preaches you can lose your salvation, not saved unless you have the gift of tongues, etc), a Catholic church (by far the nicest building), and a Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The one church in this neighborhood that does preach the unadulterated Gospel is part of an association that has gone largely charasmatic and/or liberal. I have to leave Brazil on the 17th to continue raising support in the US. Who is going to spread the light and straighten out the confusion in this neighborhood?

I just got done with a meeting with Pastor Fransisco, pastor of one of our churches here in So Lus. He shared with me the many opportunities that exist in this area of Brazil. Never have I been so tempted to miss a flight!

There is much to be done, and I will not be able to do it in one lifetime. The only way it will be done is if God raises up others to help us.

Posted by Andrew at 5:14 PM // Comments: 2 //
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Os Confederados

I have written before about the Confederados, a group of ex-Confederate soldiers who emigrated to Brazil after the Civil War. This link takes you to a very good article on the subject.

Posted by Andrew at 4:32 PM
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April 7, 2004

Mission Trip Pictures

For those of you who cannot wait to see pictures of our trip, Shanna Riddle has posted some of the ones she took. You can find them here. Enjoy.

Posted by Andrew at 10:59 PM
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April 6, 2004

Adventures in So Lus

I am currently writing this from an internet caf in a shopping mall in So Lus. If you are keeping current with this blog (and, after all, who isn't?), you know that my own laptop went to the happy hacking ground in the sky last week. Therefore, these entries are apt to come from many exotic locations between now and the time I secure a replacement.

Itacyara and I spent most of yesterday on the town, seeing the various sights in downtown So Lus. There really is much to see. The old part of the town has a distinctly colonial feeling, while the newer section is decidedly urbane. We visited several quaint souvenier shops, as well as the major outdoor market. The tempreature was (and continues to be) extremely humid--kind of like having your own personal sauna.

One thing that made us quite sad was seeing the construction of a new cathedral for the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus). This is a Brazil-based cult built around the personality of one man who claims that if you give money to his church, God will solve all your problems. The cathedral he his building is huge, and quite ornate. It is one of many such structures being constructed in major cities all over Brazil. Many of the other charismatic denominations in Brazil are seeing the success of this group and adopting the "name it and claim it" philosophy for themselves.

The only other adventure I had yesterday was when I went into a public restroom, only to discover that there was no toilet paper. I asked the attendant about it, and he confirmed that, indeed, there was no toilet paper to be found. After I pressed him, however, he did offer a solution. He found a spiral notebook and ripped out two sheets for me to use. I had no other option. I discovered that if I crumpled and un-crumpled the paper several times, I could get it to "roughly" the texture of toilet paper.

Posted by Andrew at 3:58 PM // Comments: 2 //
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April 4, 2004

New Link

I have had this link for some time, but have not been able to put it on. It is for Igreja Batista Esperana (Hope Baptist Church), in So Paulo, Brazil. This is the largest of our works to my knowlege in Brazil.

Posted by Andrew at 3:51 PM
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Feliz Aniversrio

Today is Tassies birthday. I am not at liberty to say how old she is, but her age now contains the number 3...followed closely by a 0.

Posted by Andrew at 3:45 PM // Comments: 2 //
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Family Time

We have been in So Lus now since Friday, and we are having a great time with Tassies family. So Lus is considerably hotter and more humid than Minas Gerais or Cear. I have been walking around in shorts most of the time (sorry for the mental image there). This morning I took a shower by using a pan to dip water from a bucket onto my skin. Not very high-tech, but it gets the job done.

Yesterday we were invited to a service at a nearby house. We ended up not going, but we still heard the service anyway. Charasmatics here in Brazil have the curious habit of all praying at once, and accompanying their prayers with various other, non-recognizable noises. I am sure that, if I had participated, an asperin would have been needed.

There is an incredible need in this region for sound, biblical teaching. Please join Tassie and I in praying that God will soon send laborers here.

Posted by Andrew at 3:40 PM
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April 1, 2004

Computer Blues

On Tuesday night my laptop died. I took it to a computer shop, but there is nothing that can be done, short of retrieving the information on it (praise the Lord that was possible!). Today I will go and pick up the mortal remains of the computer, along with the information disk.

The problem was an internal one, and had nothing to do with the 220 volts used in outlets here in NE Brazil.

Please be in prayer that God would provide funds for a new one upon our return to the States, as this has become quite necessary for our ministry.

Due to the lack of computer, our travelogue will have to be updated when we get back.

Posted by Andrew at 9:07 AM
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