October 30, 2004

New Design

Check out the new design at our home page and let me know what you think.

Note: Not all the pages have been moved to the new design yet.

Posted by Andrew at 1:19 PM // Comments: 2 //
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Damage Control

So I went up on the roof yesterday, and discovered that the hurricane(s) did more damage than I originally thought. I just got off the phone with the insurance adjuster, and they will be sending someone out in the next couple of days to get me an assessment so we can do the repairs.

Posted by Andrew at 12:12 PM
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October 28, 2004

Justification by Association

This is the title of one of the articles in Tabletalk, the devotional booklet I use. The article, by Burk Parsons, is quick and to the point.

The general appeal of the evengelical church is just this: eternal salvation is granted to anyone who will associate himself with Jesus. Often, the reasoning of such evangelical pastors goes something like this: "If only we can get people into our churches by whatever means possible, then maybe we can get them to like us, expacially if we run our churches like big corporations and implement all sorts of cool programs that are purpose-driven.

This is a very perceptive observation on the state of modern Christianity. Parsons contrasts this philosophy with what the true message should be:

We are commanded not simply to associate ourselbes with Jesus, we are commanded to fall down at His feet and worship Him as our Lord and our God. We have not been called merely to shake His hand and befriend Him, we have been called to love and serve Him sacrificially.

Great words of wisdom for those seeking to carry out the Great Commission.

Posted by Andrew at 5:45 PM
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We Are Back

Just an update to inform everyone that we are back in Florida. We arrived Tuesday afternoon after a very smooth trip from Indiana. Now we engage in the task of setting up meetings for the next several months.

I plan to update this blog as much as possible during the next several months, however, as I have no phone line at my home (we use our cell phones), my posts will not be as regular as normal. I will writing them offline, then uploading them when I get the chance.

Posted by Andrew at 2:40 PM
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Missionaries Face Trials

Below are some portions of the latest prayer letter from the Leonard family in Brazil. Please be in prayer for them during this time.

On Wednesday evening, Jim came home announcing that his surgery has been scheduled for this coming Saturday morning. He had spent over four hours at the hospital waiting, talking to surgeons, and getting prep instructions. He will need to spend two days in the hospital and then come home for some more down time. The Lord's timing is perfect, allowing him a few "less busy" weeks before the end-of-the- year rush really begins at the Seminary. The doctor gave him a cortizone shot, orders for blood exams (done this morning), and put him on a preventive anti-biotic. Please pray that the surgery would go well and that it would be successful. He can't wait to breathe normally again! On Monday morning, we were able to have a phone consultation with Dr. Colin Driscoll, the Mayo surgeon who will be doing my surgery. PTL, he agreed that the treatment could wait until December. This will allow us to finish out the year at the Seminary and also the first semester with home schooling. We have reserved airplane tickets to leave Juazeiro on Sunday, December 12th. Lord willing we should arrive in Minneapolis on the 13th. We will be on stand-by from So Paulo, but there will be two flights instead of the usual one because of holiday travel. Pray that there will be no delays. We praise the Lord for providing courtesy tickets for the So Paulo - Atlanta trip. He knew that we needed them more now than when I went back in June, when they weren't available. The type of surgery that has been recommend is done through the ear canal. Obviously that will make me completely deaf in the left ear, but this procedure has greater success in leaving the facial nerve intact. The hearing loss doesn't seem to perturb me, but the risk of facial paralysis has become a harsh reality in the past few days through some more research. Please pray that I will be able to completely trust the Lord in this situation. He has a purpose for all this and we want to learn to trust even more.

God is doing a great work in Brazil, but the trials are great as well. Here is another portion of their letter:

Please let me share another urgent prayer request for Fbio, a young man from Juazeiro. Fbio was in the youth group when we were leaders at the First Baptist Church, soon after we arrived here in 1994. He is the architect for the Source of Light Baptist Church construction project and has worked closely with Jim over the past two years. A few months ago, Fbio became very ill with a disease generally common in dogs but that can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. The medication he was taking had some very adverse side affects. He was beginning to feel better a few weeks ago, was able to finish the blueprints for the Source of Light sanctuary project and delivered them on Monday evening. On Wednesday morning, Fbio was driving his motorcycle to pick up some exams at the laboratory. As he turned a corner, a bus cut him off and he took a bad fall. He was thrown under the bus but managed to get out except for one of his legs, which was pinned under his motorcycle. The bus didn't stop, but ran over his leg, which was crushed and literally splintered between the motorcycle and the pavement. Doctors worked all day to try and save the leg, but had to amputate just below the knee sometime yesterday afternoon. Fbio has been through so much, please pray for him. Fabio's in his late 20's, and recently married. He still has much to give to the Lord. Obviously, the Lord still has something very special for him.

Posted by Andrew at 2:33 PM
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October 21, 2004

Special Prayer Request

Please be in prayer for my father, Harold Comings, and Bible Baptist Church, where he pastors. Last night Robert Castelleanos, a 2001 graduate of their school, passed into eternity. His father is my Dad's physician, and Robert was a good friend of my brother Joe. Please be in prayer for the family, the church, and the school during this time. More details about Robert can be found at my Dad's blog.

Posted by Andrew at 11:10 AM
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October 19, 2004

New Pics From Brazil

Here are the promised pics from Brazil. Thanks to Jim Leonard for sending them:

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This is a picture of one of the booths set up to share the gospel with the religious pilgrims to Juazeiro do Norte.

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A couple of seminary students talking to interested listeners in Juazeiro.

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Jim Leonard holding a retreat for couples in the city of Fortaleza.

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Students from the seminary at a retreat.

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A recent arrival on the field, Steve gave a lecture to a bunch or seminary students, in Portuguese! He even aliterates!

Posted by Andrew at 8:34 PM
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I'm Back Online

Hey, I actually got online today. In an upcoming entry, I will be including some new pics from Brazil I received recently. Just a short update. I'm in Cleveland, but soon I will be in Indianapolis, then on to Florida and sunshine!

Posted by Andrew at 8:08 PM
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October 13, 2004

A Capitol Weekend

We had the privilege of visiting our nation's capitol this weekend. Below are some pictures we took.

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Mikey sitting in front of Abe.

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Me in front of the Oval Office. OK, not really. Actually it is a part of the Smithsonian made to look like the Oval Office. But don't you think I cut an imposing figure?

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As close as we have ever been to El Presidente.

Posted by Andrew at 3:33 PM // Comments: 5 //
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Not a Bad Idea

This is dedicated to all my friends at our home church, as well as all other Floridians who may read this blog:

florida.bmp

Posted by Andrew at 9:13 AM // Comments: 1 //
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October 11, 2004

Close To Home

On Sunday we had excellent meetings at Capitol Baptist Church in Lothin, MD. Today we took advantage of our proximity to Washington DC to do a little sightseeing. When I got back to the place we are staying, and checked my e-mail, the following news item from The Age, and Australian newspaper, jumped out at me:

Brazil bus crash kills 17 people
October 11, 2004 - 6:34AM

A bus carrying 51 people to a Catholic pilgrimage site veered off a country road in north-eastern Brazil, killing 17 people and injuring another 18, highway police said.

The bus driver, who was among those killed, lost control of the vehicle between two curves, local highway officer Francisco Gouvea said. The bus then fell into a five-metre-deep ditch. The police have not yet determined the cause, but suspect the driver may have been speeding.

The bus was on its way from the town of Imperatriz in Maranhao state to the pilgrimage site of Juazeiro do Norte in Ceara state on Sunday night, when it crashed near the town of Crato, about 2,000km north of Rio de Janeiro. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims flock to Juazeiro do Norte each year to revere a 27-metre-tall concrete statue of Roman Catholic Father Cicero Batista, who lived and preached there until his death in 1934. He is held as a saint in local beliefs after a Host he gave a pious woman during a Mass supposedly turned into blood, but was never recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church.

The city of Crato, where the accident took place, is where I spent most of my time in Brazil. Juaziero do Norte, where the pilgrims were headed, is right next door.

Also, the pilgrims were from the city of Imperatriz, which is in my wife's home state of Maranhao.

Since these people were headed to worship the statue of Padre Cicero (I will try to find some pics of him to post later), it is doubtful any were believers. This is truly sad. It is frustrating to hear of events like this, and realize that I am still here, not in Brazil sharing the Gospel with Brazilians.

Posted by Andrew at 9:45 PM
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October 8, 2004

News From Brazil

Below are a couple of paragraphs from the latest prayer letter from the Leonards.

The first is in regard to a prayer request regarding Julie's health. Here is the update:

We received word from the doctor at Mayo Clinic two days ago. He saw the MRI image, classified Julie's tumor as "medium-sized" and recommended that we not wait too long for surgery. She has also been having frequent head and ear aches, so he suggested she have another MRI done to see if the tumor is growing faster than normal. The new MRI showed no alterations in the neuroma, PTL! Our ear doctor made us another diskette and we'll send the images to Dr. Driscoll at Mayo tonight. He also prescribed a pain reliever for when the headaches won't let Julie sleep. There is no sign of a cold or sinus problems, so the pains remain a bit of a mystery. So, we're in the waiting mode again. Please pray that we can determine the type of surgery that will have fewer risks yet still accomplish the task and an approximate date so that we can make some plans.

The second is in regard to the donation for the music building at the seminary. They write:

We received word from some dear friends that their family has chosen to honor their parent's godly influence through a memorial gift to build a Chapel/ Music building on the Seminary campus. Our hearts are overflowing with praise! This providence is so timely, as we are needing added classroom space and we are hoping to develop our music department. This new building will free up the space currently being used as the chapel for classrooms, and it will also provide more classroom space, soundproof practice rooms, a recording studio, and a large chapel. Praise the Lord with us!

Finally, news from a family who was with us in candidate school, and is now on the field (we are so jealous!):

The annual Seminary retreat was held last weekend at the interior camp near Iguat. This is always a welcome break, allowing us time to spend with the Seminary students. All the graduating seniors give their testimonies during the various services. We had the privilege of hearing Steve Sundberg, a co-worker with BMM, preach. He has only been studying Portuguese for 7 months and did a great job. His courage and efforts were challenging blessings to the entire SBC family.

Congratulations, Steve. Looking forward to having long conversations with you in Portuguese when we arrive!

Posted by Andrew at 8:08 PM
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A Quick Update

I made it back from Florida safely on Wednesday night. Still no roofer for my house, but I am working on it. Had to spend over a grand on my car, but it was money well-spent, seeing as how our car is quite essencial to what we do.

Posted by Andrew at 8:06 PM
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October 5, 2004

My Kingdom for a Roofer

Well, this is a situation I have never encountered before. I have the money to get my roof fixed, and cannot get anybody to do it. Usually there are plenty of people to do the work, if only I had the money.

Of course, we just had three hurricanes go through this area, so most contractors are a little busy. Still, I had expected to be able to find someone to at least look at my roof!

Oh well. Other than the (seemingly perpetual) roof problem, the house is in outstanding contition. Praise God! As I mentioned in the prayer letter I sent out today, His goodness to me is far more than I deserve.

Posted by Andrew at 5:33 PM
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October 3, 2004

I'm Here

Got on my bro's computer just long enough to let everybody know that I made it to Florida safely. Thanks for your prayers.

Posted by Andrew at 12:25 AM // Comments: 2 //
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October 2, 2004

A Little Break

Not sure how much I will be able to blog over the next few days. In a couple of hours I will be boarding a plane for Florida, where I will be until next Wednesday. While in the land of hurricanes and hanging chads, I will be reporting to our sending church, taking care of house related issues, and contacting pastors there.

Pray for a safe flight, and for an effective time in Florida.

Posted by Andrew at 2:50 PM // Comments: 3 //
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October 1, 2004

A Close Call

Yesterday I went with a friend to the Word of Life complex in Schroon Lake. I will blog more about that trip later. On our way up to WOL, however, we were diverted off of the New York thruway, and onto side roads. It was quite a while before we were allowed back on the four-lane.

At one point we asked a police officer what had happened, and he mentioned a tanker accident. It turns out he was understating the case slightly. The details of what happened can be seen here.

Had we been a little earlier, we could have been caught up in that adventure. God was looking out for us!

Posted by Andrew at 2:46 PM
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