August 31, 2004

Brazil Olympic Roundup

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Well, the Olympics are over, and it was a wild ride for Brazil. Their favored gymnast, Daiane dos Santos, stepped off the mat. The men's indoor and beach volleyball both won the gold. The women's soccer team lost to the US and ended up with the silver. Vanderlei de Lima, on his way to a gold medal in the marathon, was attacked by a fan and had to settle for a Bronze. Brazil is appealing.

Below is a list of the 10 medals won by Brazil this year:

Gold

Sailing (two gold medals)
Men's Beach Volleyball
Men's Indoor Volleyball

Silver

Women's Soccer
Women's Beach Volleyball
Equestrian Jumping

Bronze

Judo (two bronze medals)
Men's Marathon

Source

Here is a link for a good article which gives a good analysis of Brazil's sports psyche.

Posted by Andrew at 2:39 PM
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August 30, 2004

Preaching in Jeans

Yesterday,for the second time in our deputation career, I had wardrobe issues. The first time was at a mission conference in Winston Salem, NC, when we forgot to pack dress pants for me. You can read about it here.

I do not know what it is about dress pants, but we forgot them again this weekend. Unfortunately, we were unable to get to a Wal-Mart in time to make the change.

The happy ending for this story is that the church we visited had absolutely no problem with my preaching in jeans. In fact, they encouraged me to ditch my tie and jacket as well.

I was amazed to find that preaching could actually be done in jeans. Many people came up after the sermon and mentioned how much they had appreciated the message. Nobody commented on the jeans.

I do not plan to make a habit of preaching in jeans, but I did get a glimpse of a congregation that knew what is important and what is not.

Posted by Andrew at 12:11 PM // Comments: 1 //
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New Website

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Baptist Mid-Missions, the agency under which we serve, has recently upgraded their website. Take a look!

Posted by Andrew at 11:38 AM
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Superheroes, Brazilian Style

Tvindy just posted some Brazilian comic book covers featuring familiar characters. This reminds me of the fact that when I was in Brazil, I found comic books to be a great way to learn the language. I still have some Brazilian versions of Beetle Baily, Asterix, and Disney characters. If I can find them, I will scan the covers for posting.

Posted by Andrew at 11:30 AM
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August 27, 2004

Po de Queijo

Tvindy is a blog I follow because the author spent quite a bit of time in Brazil, and has some interesting observations about the country. His entry for today made my mouth water, as he talked about po de queijo--a delicious Brazilian pastry.

He also has some very interesting comments on the problem of illiteracy in Brazil.

Posted by Andrew at 1:49 PM // Comments: 2 //
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Brazil Falls to US in Women's Soccer

The US women's soccer team showed it's dominance once again, by defeating Brazil for the gold medal.

I have noted to a few friends who call to offer their condolences that it is a wonder the women's team made it that far at all, given the male dominance of sports in Brazil. I took a couple of college students to Brazil once, and one of them--a girl--wanted to play basketball. The guys would not let her play, even though she was probably better than most of them. About the only sport women play casually with any regularity in Brazil is volleyball. Not surprisingly, the Brazilian women eliminated the US women in volleyball.

One interesting contest coming up will be the US/Brazil women's basketball matchup--in the likely event that Brazil beats Australia.

These two teams have become rivals over the years. There are a couple of players on the Brazilian squad who play for the WNBA.

Posted by Andrew at 11:46 AM // Comments: 1 //
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August 26, 2004

A Couple New Links

I recently added a new section in the links page of our main web site for co-workers with Baptist Mid-Missions in Brazil who have websites. The first missionaries highlighted there are the John Swedberg family, and Ben Jacobs.

Be sure to visit their sites, see what their ministry is all about, and pray for them.

Also, please pray that the Comings family will receive the funds necessary to go and work with them in Brazil.

Posted by Andrew at 2:24 PM
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August 25, 2004

One More Percentage Point

Thanks to a dear friend who has invested in this ministry, we have added one more percentage point to our support level. We currently stand at 53.7%.

Praise God!

Posted by Andrew at 2:19 PM
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Brazil Olympic Roundup

So far, Brazil has one gold medal (open single handed dinghy), one silver (women's beach volleyball), and two bronze (judo). Daiane dos Santos did not get any medals.

Further results can be seen here.

Posted by Andrew at 2:04 PM
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August 23, 2004

This Should Be Good...

The US and Brazil meeting up for the gold in women's beach volleyball.

Too bad I won't get to watch it. Oh well.

Posted by Andrew at 3:40 PM
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Brazil Strikes Gold

Brazil's first Olympic gold medal for 2004 came today with Robert Scheidt winning in the Open Single Handed Dinghy competion.

I have no clue what an open single handed dinghy is, but you can be sure that with this win, there will be a heightened interest in Brazil in the open single handed dinghy.

Posted by Andrew at 1:51 PM // Comments: 1 //
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August 21, 2004

Bibles in Brazil

Several people have sent me this story, but World Magazine beat me to the punch in reporting it. Oh well.

It seems the Brazil has become one of the world powerhouses for Bible printing. Here are a couple of my own takes on this story:

1. This is a tremendous example of the power of God at work. I have talked to veteran missionaries who can remember when people were persecuted in Brazil for selling Bibles. One missionary told me of a time when they went to a particular city, and found a sign awaiting them at the entrance which read "Dear Protestants: Please stay out. Barbalha of Saint Anthony is already evangelized." I had the privilege of being in the service where the grandson of the man who erected that sign accepted Christ. God is truly at work in Brazil.

2. The danger is that this kind of article will give the impression that Brazil is already an evangelized country. The assertion made in the article that 15% of Brazilians are "evangelicals" uses a very broad definition of the term. Many of these so-called evangelicals belong to fringe groups--such as the explosively growing Universal Church of the Kingdom of God--which preach a watered-down version of the gospel at best.

3. Careful attention should be paid to the following quote from the article:

The Bible craze is not limited to Protestants. Seibert said the charismatic movement among Roman Catholics is also strong in Brazil, generating even more demand. The society, although rooted in Protestantism, does not hesitate to print Roman Catholic Bibles.

Brazil's tradition of piety has also made the Bible into a kind of status symbol and Lobello said nearly every family owns one.

This "tradition of piety" encourages people to own a copy of the Bible--and this is good--but not to read it. The Bible becomes yet another idol or good-luck charm in a home filled with such idols and charms.

Posted by Andrew at 12:04 PM
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August 19, 2004

Gwen and Mike

Found another missionary blog that is worth reading. Gwen and Mike are on their way to Italy, and have interesting thoughts. Be sure to pay them a visit, and leave an encouraging note.

I feel that weblogs are one of the greatest forms of missionary communication available today. If you find one that looks good, please send it my way.

Posted by Andrew at 11:17 AM // Comments: 2 //
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August 18, 2004

Family Day

Today is Family Day, so I will not be around to blog. I will, however, leave you with this quote from J. Oswald Sanders' book Spiritual Leadership:

The greatest achievements in the history of missions have come from leaders close to God who took courageous, calculated risks. More failure comes from an excess of caution than from bold experiments with new ideas.

Posted by Andrew at 10:39 AM // Comments: 1 // TrackBack: 1 //
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August 17, 2004

This Should Come as No Surprise

Brazilians are good at beach volleyball. Go figure, what with the miles and miles of beautiful beaches they have to work with...

Posted by Andrew at 3:04 PM
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I Missed This...

It appears that on Saturday, the Brazilian women's basketball team set an Olympic scoring record against Japan.

Brazil usually fields a strong women's basketball team, which includes a few players from the WNBA. Their matchup against the US should be interesting.

Posted by Andrew at 12:34 PM
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The Black Pearl

I mentioned Daiane dos Santos--the Brazilian gymnast heavily favored to win gold in Athens--in a previous post. Here is a good article about her.

Posted by Andrew at 1:37 AM
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August 16, 2004

One Year of Blogging

One year ago today, the Comings Communiqu was born. I must say that blogging has been a tremendous experience for me.

When I first started out, I wrote about anything and everything. It was my goal to write somethinganythingfor every day. I soon discovered, however, that quantity is no substitute for quality. After about 100 articles, I made the decision to write exclusively on two subjects: missions and Brazil. The result has been a much more focused (and, hopefully, much more edifying) blog.

Many bloggers have been an inspiration to me along the way. Kevin Davis got me started, and patiently tutored a guy who was light-years behind him in technological savvy. Irene Q inspired me as to the potential of a weblog. Tim over at Missions Safari has been a model as far as missionary blogging, and, more recently, Joe Missionarybe sure to check out his "Theology Thursday"has been an inspiration. He and the Faith Gambler, along with Nikkiana and Kevin, are also the reason why I am a slimy molusk--instead of an insignificant microbe--on the TTLB ecosystem. Finally, the folks over at blogs4God have been a wonderful resource for the Christian blogger.

I really feel that, in todays world, blogging is a tool that should be explored, embraced, and exploited by missionaries, as a means of getting their message out to a global audience. I know that I plan to blog for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Andrew at 1:16 PM // Comments: 2 // TrackBack: 1 //
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First Brazilian Medal

The first medal won by a Brazilian in the Athens games came to Leandro Guilhermo, who tied for third with American Jimmy Pedro in the mens's 73kg jujitsu competition.

Posted by Andrew at 1:09 PM
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August 14, 2004

Woman's Soccer: US Hangs Tough Over Brazil

Despite some fancy footwork by Brazilian stars, the US women's soccer team pulled out a victory in the last half of their game today.

Click here for details.

Posted by Andrew at 3:59 PM
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Brazil and the Olympics

I have added an Olympic medal tracker to the sidebar, in hopes of keeping everybody updated on Brazil's progress in Athens. So far, no Brazilian medals.

Of particular interest this year is Daiane dos Santos, a young Brazilian gymnastic phenomenon. The country is excited about her chances of winning the gold.

I will attempt to keep you updated as to her progress, as well as that of other Brazilian athletes.

Thanks to Mike over at gwenandmike.com for showing me the medal tracker.

Posted by Andrew at 2:13 PM
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August 13, 2004

...And This Just In

I just got an e-mail from our mission board saying that yet another family has partnered with us in a financial way, thereby taking our support level to 52.7%.

These two additional investors in one day, together with a friend of mine who today secured a much desired job, are doing much to erase the stigma of Friday the 13th.

Of course, it appears that my house is in the direct path of a hurricane, but even that could be a blessing in disguise...

Posted by Andrew at 2:32 PM // Comments: 1 //
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The Big Five-Oh

No, I am not talking about my age. I still have several years before I reach that milestone. Neither am I talking about a 70's cop show set in Hawaii.

What I am talking about is our support level. I got a call this morning from Steve Little, Pastor of Servants Baptist Church in Camden, NY. They just voted to take us on for support, bringing our support level to 50.2 percent.

The progress can be seen on our thermometer on the side.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Posted by Andrew at 9:29 AM // Comments: 0 // TrackBack: 0 //
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August 12, 2004

Preble VBS Pics Are Posted

I just got finished posting pictures from our Vacation Bible School in Preble. Click here to check them out.

Posted by Andrew at 3:26 PM
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Family Day

Yesterday--as is the case with all Wednesdays in the Comings household--was family day. It was quite a busy one, actually. First, we spent some time in the Arnot Mall in Horseheads, NY. Then we went to Big Flats, to the National Warplane Museum. Click here for some pictures of our visit.

Finally we continued over to Corning and visited with the Gomes and Fadul families, friends of mine from before I went to Brazil. They are the ones who gave me my first Portuguese, and I have not seen them in probably about eight years. It was neat to catch up on what has been going on in that time.

We topped off the evening with a nice dinner at the Old Country Buffet.

Posted by Andrew at 1:42 PM
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August 10, 2004

Requiem For My Alma Mater

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I just got done watching a video yearbook/history/requiem for my alma mater, Spurgeon Baptist Bible College. The campus where I spent four years of my life has been sold, and the school itself has been taken over by Piedmont Baptist Bible College.

I suppose there could be worse fates for a Bible College, but it was very sad for me to watch the pictures on the video I was sent. Many memories were made there, and God used the school to develop significant things into my life.

Below is a picture of the quartet I sang in--called "Sanctuary"--during my senior year (I am farthest to the right).

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I would have to say that my participation in Sanctuary was perhaps one of the most enjoyable activities I engaged in during my time there. This is not to say that I did not participate in a lot of activities. I was RA of the guy's dorm, president of the missions Fellowship, member of the Associated Student Body. I sang with three different musical groups (Spurgeon Singers, Spurgeon Quartet, and Sanctuary). I also held down outside employment during my entire student career.

What made Sanctuary unique was that it was entirely student motivated and organized. We put together our own program, got funding for our trips and our uniforms, and did things pretty much the way we wanted to. The tour we took during spring break was one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.

In retrospect, Spurgeon had everything it needed in order to survive. It had a great location, a wonderful appeal, a great educational program. What it lacked was sound decision-making and vision on the part of various leaders down through the years. It seemed while I was a student there that the school would just begin to make progress, and then shoot itself in the foot.

It is too bad, because, as one of her former presidents said, "The last thing the world needs is one less Bible college."

Fortunately, it appears that the resources left over will be used by Piedmont Baptist Bible College to develop an online training program. I am all for online stuff, however nothing can beat the camaraderie and fellowship of a campus setting.

Rest in peace, Spurgeon Baptist Bible College, and may your sons and daughters carry your vision and memory throughout the world for years to come.

***Below, in order that they may be preserved for posterity, are the words to a song that our quartet sang to promote Spurgeon.***

The Spurgeon Song
(to be sung to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Surfin'")

(Chorus)
Spurgeon is the only school, the only school for me
So come, and learn, with me!

Verse 1

Graduated high school and I don't have much dough.
I was lookin' at the college scene, to see where I might go.
And when my pastor told me that Spurgeon was fine,
That's when I knew I'd learn God's Word and have a good time!

Spurgeon Baptist Bible College (etc.)
(Chorus)

Verse 2

From the early morning to the middle of the night
We'll be checkin' out our Bibles just to get our doctrine right
And when we graduate, and leave this place,
We'll go on out and set this world a blaze!

Spurgeon Baptist Bible College (etc.)
(Chorus)

Verse 3

Now our time is ended and we really must go
But Spurgeon is here to stay, and that you should know.
Yeah, we're going back to Florida to bask in the sun,
So come on down and learn with us and join in on the fun!

Spurgeon Baptist Bible College (etc.)
(Chorus)

Posted by Andrew at 11:40 AM // Comments: 3 // TrackBack: 0 //
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August 9, 2004

New Feature

I have once again stretched my knowledge of web design, and have added a "Random Quotes" section on the sidebar. At present, there are only four quotes. So, if you have any good quotes you feel those who read this blog would enjoy, by all means send them to me.

Posted by Andrew at 3:40 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Machiavelli and Missions

Recently a friend gave me the book Machiavelli On Modern Leadership by Michael A. Ledeen. Up until that point my perception about Machiavelli had been that he was somewhat of a monster, dedicated to absolute authoritarian rule, and the use of any means necessary (ethical or otherwise) to preserve said rule. After reading the book, and then researching Machiavelli for myself, I discovered that I was wrong. In fact, the more I delved into Nicolo Machiavellis philosophies, the more I discovered thatunsaved though he washe had some good things to say which are relevant to the 21st century missions movement.

That a reprobate such as Machiavelli could have anything of value for us as believers should come as no surprise. In Luke 16:8, Christ states that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

The following are some Machiavellian principles which need to be applied to missions on a personal and global level.

Risk Taking vs. Playing It Safe

When those indolent princes or effeminate republics send a general with an army into the field, the wisest order they can think to give him is never to risk a battle, and above all to avoid a general action. (Machiavelli)

In the above statement, Machiavelli reviles the political leaders of his native Italy who could not bring themselves to take risks. Unfortunately, this lack of risk-taking is a characteristic of modern missions. Todays missionaries go out with huge insurance packets and retirement funds. They are evacuated from the field at the slightest hint of political disturbance.

Gone are the days of Adoniram Judson, William Carey, and Hudson Taylor. Gone with them is the pioneering spirit that took the Gospel to the four corners of the globe.

One pastor shared with me, after I had finished presenting our ministry in his church, that he felt missions today tends to play it way to safe. I concur.

Missionaries are the front line soldiers in a fierce war for the heart and soul of mankind. As in any war, risks must be taken if victory is to be achieved. I propose that we make it our goal to win the war, not to keep the soldiers safe.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Hebrews 13:6)

Welcoming Change vs. The Status Quo

It is this that causes the varying success of a man, for the times change, but he does not. (Machiavelli)

Ronald Reagan is quoted as observing that status quo is Latin for the mess were in. There is no group of people so bent on maintaining the status quo than believers, and no believers so skilled at it than missionaries. For evidence of this, look at how missionary churches invariably reflect the culture and tastes of the missionary, instead of those of the host people. Or, look at how quickly and efficiently the cults are able to get missionaries to the field, and yet we seem to lack the ability to make any significant changes in the way we do it.

As the times we live in change, so must we. Of course I am not talking about a change in message. This would be to abandon everything we as believers and missionaries stand for. I am advocating that we look at the way we do things, and evaluate their effectiveness in the world in which we live. In short, we need to use the brains God gave us.

If we are to win the battle for the hearts and souls of mankind, it is imperative that we adopt the philosophy of the apostle Paul:

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
(I Corinthians 9:19-23)

Action vs. Ease

They thoughtthat it sufficed for a prince in the writing-rooms of palaces to think up a sharp reply, to write a beautiful letter, to demonstrate wit and readiness in saying and wordsnor did these no-accounts realize that they were preparing themselves to be the prey of whoever assaulted them. (Machiavelli)

This rather sharp criticism by Machiavelli is leveled at the leaders of Italy, just before their defeat at the hand of foreign invaders. It should be a sobering reminder to us in the work of missions, that there is no substitute for action.

We are very good at weaving theory about missions. However, if we are not actually engaged in the warfare of missions, we can expect no victory. Each day, those of us involved in the missionary endeavor (that is, every believer) must ask ourselves, not what do I think should be done, but what am I doing?

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few (Matthew 9:27)

Pro-action vs. Reaction

Because the Romans did in these instances what all prudent princes ought to do, who have to regard not only present troubles, but also future ones, for which they must prepare with every energy, because, when foreseen, it is easy to remedy them; but if you wait until they approach, the medicine is no longer in time because the malady has become incurable; for it happens in this, as the physicians say it happens in hectic fever, that in the beginning of the malady it is easy to cure but difficult to detect, but in the course of time, not having been either detected or treated in the beginning, it becomes easy to detect but difficult to cure.

for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others; moreover they wished to fight with Philip and Antiochus in Greece so as not to have to do it in Italy (Machiavelli)

These to quotes, from Machiavellis The Prince, serve as illustrations of the value of forward thinking, and of taking the battle to the enemy.

My observation is that the modern missions movement is very good at reacting. We reacted to the liberation theologians, to the charismatics, to the New Age movement, and to post-modernism. It seems like every time we turn around, we are reacting to something new. I long for the day when we, as the army of the Lord, will take the battle to the enemy, and force them to react to us.

This is what happened in the early church. Note the reaction to the disciples in Jerusalem:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. (Act 5:27-28)

Christians went on to fill, not only Jerusalem, but the known world with their doctrine. We have lost that edge. We must get it back.

Posted by Andrew at 2:31 PM
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August 6, 2004

The Faith Gambler

I got to talk online the other day with the Faith Gambler. It seems he is going to El Salvador.

Everybody is going to Latin America but me!

Posted by Andrew at 11:46 AM // Comments: 1 //
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August 3, 2004

Support Update

We are pleased to announce that our support level has just increased. We now stand at 47.6% of our needed support. We are also pleased to add Grace Baptist Church of Batavia, NY, to our ministry family.

Posted by Andrew at 10:48 AM // Comments: 3 //
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August 2, 2004

Another (more important) Milestone

Just received word from So Lus today that the Regular Baptist congregation in that city has just been officially organized into a church. This makes two in that city of over 500,000 people.

There should be pictures arriving shortly, and when they do I will be sure to post them.

Posted by Andrew at 11:12 AM
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A Milestone

The month of July, 2004, was the first in which there were over 1,000 unique visitors to this site. We have gotten close a couple of time, but never broke the 1,000 visit barrier.

So, even though I am still a lowly insect, there is reason to rejoice!

Posted by Andrew at 10:48 AM // Comments: 1 //
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