November 26, 2004

Missionary Man Unveiled

For those of you who have been breathlessly following the Missionary Man feature on this site, and who have been wondering what he will look like when he gets all his equipment and goes out into the world to fight the realms of darkness...the wait is over.

Below, courtesy of the hero machine, is Missionary Man in all his glory.

missionaryman.jpg

Posted by Andrew at 6:07 PM // Comments: 4 //
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McDonalds, the Dictator?

A couple of days ago I wrote about Burger King's foray into the Brazilian market. Today, on CNN Money, I read about their marketing plan:

BGK president Luiz Eduardo Batalha, who also happens to be one of Brazil's biggest cattle breeders, said Burger King will open stores right next to McDonald's in shopping malls and erect billboards across town challenging consumers to give the newcomer a try.

"Down with the dictator," the billboards will read, in a brash reference to the military government that ended only two decades ago in Brazil. "Burger King has arrived. You now have a choice."

So, here we have a foreign company referring to another foreign company as the dictator. I wonder if Burger King, which is a British firm, will try to use anti-Americanism as an advertising ploy...seeing as how the Brazilian dictators of the '60s and '70s were propped up in part by the US government.

Posted by Andrew at 10:58 AM // Comments: 2 //
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Score One for the Brazilian Police

To balance out the article about the Brazilian police getting robbed on their own bus, here is something from the New York Daily News which shows that they are actually quite competent:

A reputed member of the Gambino crime family wanted on homicide and drug charges in the U.S. has been arrested in Brazil, officials said yesterday.

John Alite, 44, was collared by Brazilian federal police as he walked in a ritzy beachside neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, officials said.

"It was a prepared action," said a Brazilian police spokeswoman. "The man has been living in Copacabana since last December on a tourist visa that has already expired."

Click here for the full article.

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November 24, 2004

Brazil's Schindler

Today I discovered the story of Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas, who is the Brazilian equivalent of Oscar Schindler. Below, courtesy once again of Brazil Magazine, is his story.

Amid the years of Holocaust atrocities, Ambassador Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas, in charge of the Brazilian diplomatic mission in France, challenged both French and Brazilian dictatorships to grant hundreds of diplomatic visas for those fleeing Nazi Europe, to enter Brazil.

During the 1940's, he steadfastly confronted Brazilian immigration policy. which did not allow entry to “undesirables” defined as Jews, communists and homosexuals escaping from the horror of Nazism.

With his actions, Souza Dantas saved more than 800 people from extermination.

He became the Brazilian equivalent of the German industrial Oskar Schindler, who saved 1,200 people from the Holocaust, in accordance with what was narrated by Steven Spielberg in his movie, Schindler's List.

The memory of the diplomat's actions was forgotten for years. Only recently has his story gained public awareness, both in Brazil and internationally.

In June of 2003 he became one of the few to receive the “Righteous Among Gentiles” distinction from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, an honor granted to those who, under the Nazi yoke, risked their lives on behalf of others.

Souza Dantas' actions are not yet chronicled in schoolbooks. For decades they were restricted to the memory of those families he helped save.

An important part of that story was confined to the documents of the bureaucracy of the State, kept as memos in the historical files of Itamaraty (Brazilian State Department) and in the National File.

By putting together those two sources of information, a historian from Rio de Janeiro, Fabio Koifman, built a more precise biography of the Ambassador.

Out of the testimonies picked during those four years of work, one concerned the director of the Polish Theater Zbigniew Ziembinski, considered one of the greatest scenic arts revolutionaries in Brazil.

It was due to Souza Dantas that he arrived Rio de Janeiro in 1941, after wandering through Europe in search of an exit of the hellish war.

"I had people lying on the floor, next to the embassies, begging, waiting, subjected to the worst derisions, to the worst tortures", remembered Ziembinski years later in an unprecedented registry of his memories.

"Until the moment that, suddenly, we learnt that there was a Quixote... the famous ambassador Dantas."

From Koifman's careful work arises one of the most dignifying Brazilian biographies.

The Foundation

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) is a public non-profit organization, dedicated to keep the example of Raoul Wallenberg alive all over the world, with the aim of promoting peace among nations and people, as well as developing educational projects based on concepts of solidarity, dialogue and understanding, with no distinctions.

Raoul Wallenberg is the Swedish diplomat who disappeared in January 1945 after saving the lives of tens of thousands of Jews condemned to certain death by the Nazis during World War II.

He was captured by the Soviet troops which, in January 1945, took control of Budapest, never to be seen again.

The Foundation, with branches in Buenos Aires, Caracas, Jerusalem and New York, has focused all of its efforts to honor Raoul Wallenberg and carry his heroic legacy to future generations.

The whole article can be seen here.

Posted by Andrew at 12:53 PM
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Who Owns Brazil?

One of the biggest issues in Brazil today is land reform. The following article, once again from Brazzil Magazine, gives a nice overview of who is involved in this issue, and what is at stake.

The president of Brazil's National Confederation of Agricultural Workers (Contag), Manoel dos Santos, declared that water and land, humanity's most precious possessions, have become the province of large landowners in Brazil and run the risk of turning into private property.

From his viewpoint, it is important for workers to be prepared to discuss these issues.

Santos is participating in the National Land and Water Conference, which began this week in Braslia.

Around 10 thousand people are participating, including small farmers, landless rural workers, resident descendants of runaway slave communities, representatives of indigenous populations, and people affected by dam projects.

The agenda of the meeting includes Brazilian State policies for the countryside, among which is the development model adopted by President Lula's Administration, the outlook for the rural sector, water usage, job creation, energy production, biodiversity, and cultural diversity.

The Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, is also participating in the event.

"We are creating a rural development agenda in which agrarian reform plays an essential role," he declared shortly after his arrival.

The event began with a series of theatrical presentations in defense of the land, water, and the environment.

Immediately thereafter, the participants held a minute of silence to revere the five rural workers murdered last week in the state of Minas Gerais.

This was followed by a round of applause to honor the economist Celso Furtado, who died Saturday, November 20, in Rio.

At the end of the discussions, a document will be drafted to be presented to President Lula.

Gilberto de Oliveira Fontes, coordinator fo the National Forum for Agrarian Reform and Rural Justice, which is formed by around 40 organizations present at the Conference, emphasized that for the rural population to obtain its rights, it is not enough to submit a list of grievances to the Minister of Agrarian Development or President Lula.

"We must establish organic conditions in Brazilian society to press the federal government for the social inclusion of small producers in the less favored regions of Brazil," he pointed out.

Fortes reflected that the major concern of the National Forum for Agrarian Reform and Rural Justice at this moment "is not the route of agribusiness export production but democratization of the land."

Posted by Andrew at 12:04 PM // Comments: 1 //
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November 23, 2004

BK, Brazilian Style

I guess it was only a matter of time. According to this article in Brazzil Magazine, Burger King is in Brazil. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Burger King Corporation announces today the opening of its first franchised restaurant in So Paulo, Brazil. Located in the prime location of the Ibirapuera Shopping Center food court, the restaurant is one of 50 restaurants planned for So Paulo state in the next five years, creating approximately 3,000 direct new jobs.

Two additional restaurant openings are already scheduled within the next few days in Metro Tatuap and Interlagos.

Nish Kankiwala, President of Burger King's International region, comments, "The Brazilian market is one of the most attractive growth opportunities for the Burger King Corporation around the world.

"Our value proposition in terms of great-tasting food, the famous fire-grilled Whopper, combined with a world-class business partner and franchisee Luiz Eduardo Batalha at BGK do Brasil, will be a winning formula.

"In Batalha we have found an experienced and successful entrepreneur who will take this brand from strength to strength."

Batalha comments, "It's been my dream to bring the Burger King brand to Brazil for years, as I have been committed to quality my whole life.

"The brand is also known for quality; it offers by far the biggest, best and only fire-grilled burgers in the industry and I know it will be the preferred burger of the Brazilian people."

Julio Ramirez, president, Burger King Latin America, says, "We worked effortlessly over the past year to build our local team to prepare the entry in this market, select our local suppliers and to open our first restaurant. Together with BGK do Brasil, we are building an effective platform to catapult this brand into the Brazilian market."

Posted by Andrew at 5:24 PM
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Fun With Mozilla Firefox

A few weeks ago I started using Mozilla Firefox as my principal browser, and I have never looked back. The other day I had great fun downloading extensions.

Among the extensions downloaded were a spell checker (for which the readers of this blog will be eternally grateful), a Gmail notifier, a JustBlogIt feature, and Smileys!

Posted by Andrew at 5:01 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Storming the Gates

I love this opening sentence in an article by the president of our mission board, Dr. Gary Anderson:

When in the course of the divine plan for the ages, it came time for God to deploy a force to storm the gates of Hell to redeem lost souls, he did not send an army of angels, He sent His church.

Posted by Andrew at 4:57 PM
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November 22, 2004

Missionary Man: The Mission

Last week, mild-mannered missionary Leonard Wilson pushed the button on the mysterious watch, and his life was forever changed. We find him now on his motorcycle, riding to the place to which he had been directed by the guy in the watch.

Gradually the tiled-roof houses of Ciudad Capital came into view. The capital city of the island republic was not very impressive, although it was somewhat popular with the tourists. As Leonard weaved his way through traffic to the center of the town, he saw something that put ice in his veins.

For three years now he had labored tirelessly at the Iglesia Bautista de Ciudad Capital. The congregation was running around a hundred now, and they had just completed a building, of which his people were very proud. Now, as he rode past where the building should be, he saw that all that remained of it was a smoldering ruin. A couple of police officers were there, taking notes.

He was temped to stop and inquire about what happened, but thought better of it. His mind racing, he gunned his motorcycle toward the airport.

The airport was on the far end of town. Arriving there, he found Avenida de la Revolucion and took a left as he had been instructed. Sure enough, a couple of kilometers into the jungle was a little hut on the right. He turned his motorcycle and drove right through the opening that served as a door. Then he stopped. As his eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, he had a sinking sensation.

What in the world...?? Leonard suddenly realized that he was being lowered, motorcycle and all, into the ground, like he was on an elevator. The elevator continued to descend until he could no longer see the opening in the hutin facthe could no longer make out the hut. Everything was pitch black, and the only sensation the missionary had was that he was still descending.

After what seemed like several minutes, the elevator came to a stop, and at the same time, a very disoriented Leonard was flooded with light. He squinted, trying to make out his surroundings. Finally, he was able to make out a form moving toward him. It was the man he had seen in the face of the watch.

Greetings, Mr. Wilson, and welcome to the field laboratory of World Missionary Defense. I am the director. Codename The Backpacker.

Where did you come up with that codename?

Its a long story. Ill have to tell you sometime. Right now, we have things to do. I need to show you your equipment. The Backpacker started to turn away.

It just seems continued Leonard that if your codename is The Backpacker, you should have a backpack or something.

The Backpacker sighed. Just follow me.

Seeing that he was not going to get an answer to the whole backpack issue, Leonard followed the man down a long, cement hallway, illuminated by fluorescent lighting. He pushed his motorcycle with him. Presently, they entered a large room that appeared to be a laboratory of some sort. The walls were lined with all kinds of computers and communication devices. The tables on the center were filled with gadgets and tubes that you would associate with a laboratory.

The Backpacker turned around and looked at Leonard. Are you ready for your first mission?

I guess so. After all, I am a missionary. The feeble attempt at humor fell flat. What I would really like to know is what happened to my church.

The Backpacker ran his hand through where his hair might once have been. Listen, Leonard, there are forces at work that you have not begun to imagine. For two years we have been tracking the activities of a group known as CBS.

Central Broadcasting Service?

No, Christ-less Bankrolling Societyalthough there may be a connection. After all, how did someone with Dan Rathers face ever make it onto TV. Kind of makes you wonder. But I digress. We suspect the Christ-less Bankrolling Society of funding several anti-missionary movements in the recent years. They obviously stand to lose if the cause of Christ advances.

How exactly do they stand to lose? wondered Leonard.

OK, youre going to have to pay more attention here. Their name is the Christ-less Bankrolling Society. You do the math. Anyway, these are the guys who were behind Basils untimely demise.

Did they destroy my church building as well.

Uh oh said The Backpacker, in a not very reassuring way. This is not good.

Why? What? The missionary was officially confused, and not a little disconcerted.

I did not know about your church. This means they have connected us to you, and are sending you a warning.

Well, its not working Said Leonard, surprising himself with the words coming out of his mouth. These guys messed with the wrong missionary. What do I do now?

Glad to see you are fully on board. Obviously our first task is to get CBS off this island. Then, we will fight them on a worldwide scale. If you are in, we will get you your equipment.

Oh Im in said Leonard, still thinking about the pile of rubble that had been his church. Lets get going.

Next week: Equipment

Posted by Andrew at 11:24 AM // Comments: 1 //
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November 21, 2004

Speaking of Watching...

I am now seated at a friend's house, watching Disney's Home on the Range. Watching paint dry was only slightly less interesting.

Posted by Andrew at 6:29 PM // Comments: 1 //
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November 20, 2004

Watching the Paint Dry

Well, today was supposed to be pretty much of a day of rest. In the afternoon I took Mikey to an AWANA function at Chuckie Cheese. Afterward, I stopped by the church to check my e-mail and update my site.

That is when the trouble started.

I turned my back on Mikey for a couple of minutes, and when I turned around, he had drawn something closely resembling a Picasso on the wall with dry-erase markers.

Now in case you don't know, there is absolutely nothing that takes dry-erase marker off of a wall. I found this out a couple of hours of hard scrubbing.

So finally, after taking Mikey home to his mother (which I should have done FIRST) I searched in the church closet until I found the exact paint used on this particluar wall. I then needed a paintbrush. It was at this point that I discovered that our church has about two thousand side rooms which may or may not contain painting equipment.

After about twenty minutes of looking, I found a paint roller and pan, and proceeded to paint the wall. Oh, and I forgot to mention that, to stir the paint, I had to go outside, break off a small branch from a tree, and bring it back inside.

Now I am sitting here, blogging, and waiting for the paint to dry to see if it will blend in with the rest of the wall.

So how was your evening?

Posted by Andrew at 7:40 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Google Ads, Part II

I have been informed that there is a good way for me to remove offensive Google ads. Therefore, I am re-instating them. If you should happen to visit this site and see something inappropriate, please do not hesitate to e-mail me, and I will immediately put it on the blacklist.

Funds genterated by viewers clicking on the ads will be used to defray the costs involved in maintaining this site.

Posted by Andrew at 5:13 PM
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A Survey

I seldom put surveys on this blog, but I was interested in what type of blog it would turn out to be. Can't say as I was really surprised. The guy in the picture actually resembles me, except I never wear turtlenecks.

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read. Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few.
What kind of blogger are you?

Posted by Andrew at 4:02 PM
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November 19, 2004

An Article Published

My brother runs a site called Got-Musings.com, and he recently published an article I wrote. Check it out.

Posted by Andrew at 4:43 PM
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November 18, 2004

Google Ads

I just added google ads to the website. This is an experiment, and an attempt to help defray the costs of maintaining the site. If the ads become troublesome, I will remove them.

Posted by Andrew at 5:16 PM // Comments: 2 //
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November 16, 2004

That Sinking Feeling

The passengers watched helplessly as the water quickly overtook their vessel. What had started out as a pleasure cruise had turned very quickly into disaster. With screams and cries of desperation, they abandoned ship. Somewhere in the distance, Celine Dion began to sing.

Ok, so it wasnt quite on the proportions of the Titanic, but last Saturday, on our teen camping trip, I managed to capsize the canoe we were riding in. Praise the Lord, the only thing that was hurt was my pride. Thankfully, we have no pictures of the event. And if we did, I would not publish them.

Posted by Andrew at 8:06 PM // Comments: 1 //
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The Adventures of Missionary Man: Pushing the Button

Last week, Leonard Wilson, mild-mannered missionary to the Republica de las Bananas, was visited by a mysterious Englishman--representing an organization called World Missionary Defense--who offered him a job as a sort of missionary super-hero. Then the Englishman was blown up in his hellicopter. We left our hero as he was pushing the button on the strange watch given him by the now-departed Basil.

The LCD screen popped to life. The letters WMD appeared, then faded away to reveal an apparently balding man with thick glasses, who was staring at Leonard as intently, as one stares at a computer screen.
This is command post beta. Am I speaking with Mr. Wilson? Leonard looked for a microphone somewhere on the watch, then gave up and just spoke at the face.
This isuhLeonard WilsonanduhI thought you might want to knowuhthat the guy who gave me this watch just got blown up in his helicopter.
There was a slight pause. The man speaking from command post beta looked around, and then directed his attention back to Leonard. We were afraid of that, he said tersely. Mr. Wilson, you must listen to me very carefully. You may be in grave danger. It is important that you get to us immediately so we can continue. Is your motorcycle nearby?
Yes, ithey, how did you know I had a motorcycle?
No time for that now, was the reply. You need to get a suitcase, get on your motorcycle, and head for Cuidad Capital. When you get there, make like you are going to the airport. It needs to look like you are getting out of town. Just before you get to the airport, there is a little road called Avenida de la Revolucion. Take a left down that road. There is nothing on that road, except jungle. About half a kilometer, on the right, you will see a little grass hut. Just drive into the hut, motorcycle and all.
Then what?
We will take it from there. Just get there in one piece. Over and out.
Well that was comforting, Leonard thought. Stopping briefly to put the watch on, he grabbed a suitcase, filled it with some random clothes, then ran out back to where his motorcycle was waiting. Quickly he strapped the suitcase on the back, hopped on, kicked the engine to life, and turned down the road in the direction of Ciudad Capital.
...................................................................

It looks like you were right, senor. Our missionary friend just left in the direction of Ciudad Capital, with a suitcase on the back of his motorcycle. It would appear that we havehow you saykilled two stones with one bird. The shadowy figure hoisted his weapon and disappeared into the jungle.

Next week: The Assignment

Posted by Andrew at 7:59 PM
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November 12, 2004

More News from the Field

I received a letter from Jim Leonard about the most recent evangelism campaign among the religious pilgrims in Juazeiro do Norte. Here are excerpts from the letter, along with some pics from the event:

We had a successful evangelism campaign among the Romeiros this year.

We worked with a team on the Praa Padre Cicero, and another team near the Franciscanos. Some distributed water, some tracts, and some got people's attention with the "3 Doors". The greatest number worked at the personal counselling. There were times when we had 15 romeiros being dealt with one-on-one at the same time, and others waiting their turn.

We did not use the puppets this year. They equipment is not in good shape, and we haven't had any students (or faculty) dedicated to this ministry. Do you remember, Andrew, that you were in on the first campaign we had, and how the puppets were such a hit? What year was that?

The final counts were: nearly 300 counseled one-on-one, with name and address registered for follow-up. All of these received the Source of Light course to study the Bible at home. >From these we registered 72 salvation professions. These are from nine different states: Cear, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, Piaui, and Maranho.

We are following up on all of the counseled ones with a letter.

The tract written by Edson turned out nice, and it was a real success. We had 40,000 of them made. We also had 20,000 cordeis made; this was a new one written by Jackson, Petinha's brother. The tracts are an effective tool, but the personal counselling stations, where we just set up chairs on the praa, has been the most effective method to witness, confront, and lead people to Christ.

The puppets he mentioned were taken to Brazil by myself in 1994. That autumn we took on the project of evangelizing the romeiros who come every year to worship Padre Cicero (I will include a short biography of him in a future post). That first effort used puppets almost exclusively. Now, as you can see, they have branched out significantly.

Now for the pics.

romaria06.jpg

This is the "mother church" in Juazeiro do Norte. It is interesting to note the Padre Cicero was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, and yet the Church in Juazeiro continues to host these pilgrimages in his honor. Then again, it is a tremendous source of income for them.

romaria07.jpg

Seminary students ariving and setting up the water barrels. This appears to be the same park where we held our first puppet shows in 1994.

romaria05.jpg

On a hot Brazilian afternoon, free water is a big attraction for the pilgrims of Juazeiro, most of whom have traveled there on the backs of large flat-bed trucks. Besides the sign advertizing the free water, there is one containing the text of John 4:14: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

romaria03.jpg

One of the seminary students giving a Gospel presentation to a group of pilgrims.

romaria08.jpg

One of the seminary students in a counseling session.

Posted by Andrew at 11:12 AM
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November 10, 2004

Albert Mohler on Missions

For the past several months I have been reading Al Mohler's weblog. For those of you who don't know, Mr. Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

His post for today was especially interesting. It is entitled Missions at Risk, A Failure of Nerve. In my humble estimation, he hits the nail on the head. Here are a couple excerpts:

America's evangelical Christians are facing a critical testing-time in the twenty-first century. Among the most important of the tests we now face is the future of missions, and our faithfulness to the Great Commission. At a time of unprecedented opportunity, will our zeal for world missions slacken?

This is the question we all need to be asking ourselves. I see the need for this question to be asked almost every time I visit a church, and regularly as I call pastors to set up meetings. There is a lot of interest in missions, but very little zeal.

Mohler again gets it right when he examines the root of the problem.

At base, the issue is a failure of theological nerve--a devastating loss of biblical and doctrinal conviction. The result is retreat on the mission fields of the world and regression on the home front. Since the middle of the last century, the mainline Protestant denominations have been withdrawing from the missionary enterprise, some even declaring a "moratorium" on the sending of missionaries charged to preach the Gospel. Among these denominations, the total missionary force is now a fraction of that during the 1950s, and many of those who remain on the fields have been assigned duties far removed from conversionist witness.

I know that I have been asked on a number of occasions why I am going to Brazil when "we already have so many missionaries there." Just for review, Brazil is a country larger than the continental US, with 180 million people, the vast majority of whom are bound by one false religion or another. The missionaries we have there are obscenely understaffed and outnumbered. Meanwhile, there are 5,000 Mormon missionares in Brazil at any given time.

Ok, enough of my soapbox. Back to what Al Mohler has to say.

The essence of this belief is universalism, the belief that all persons will be saved, whether or not they have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Universalism presents itself in many forms, including modern inclusivism, pluralism, and relativism. In its boldest and most honest form, it is the absolute declaration that all persons will be saved (if indeed there is anything from which to be saved). By this account, all religions have an equal claim to truth which underlies the "religious" character of humanity.

But universalism also takes other, more subtle guises.

Universalism also presents itself in a naive form, in which Christians refuse to deal with the issue and simply declare no position or conviction on the issue. Their stance betrays their lack of conviction and even compassion. Their conscience is uncluttered by concern for the lost.

I am convinced that Al Mohler has put his finger on what is happening in evangelical churches today. We must ask God to restore our passion for the truth, and for the lost.

You can read the entire article by Al Mohler here.

Posted by Andrew at 9:47 AM // Comments: 1 //
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November 9, 2004

The Adventures of Missionary Man: The Call

Leonard Wilson?

It had been awhile since Leonard had heard his name pronounced in English, even if the speaker did have a distinctively British accent. Mostly he was used to hearing himself referred to as Seor Leonardo on the island nation Republica de las Bananas, where he had served as a missionary for the last four years. His eyes blinked as he looked up from his hammock at the tall man in a trench coat and fedora who stood over him. Not exactly appropriate attire for a tropical island. What can I do for you?

Actually, there is something very specific you can to for us. Can we talk?

Um, sure Leonard sat up in his hammock and rubbed his eyes. One of the easiest aspects of the culture to get used to in Republica de las Bananas had been the afternoon siesta. It was then he noticed the black helicopter resting not twenty yards from where they were, its rotors slowing reluctantly to a stop. Who are you?

My name is Basil Hamilton, and I represent a top secret organization called World Missionary Defense.

WMD?

Yes. We were going for a name that would be, well, elusive. WMD was formed a year ago to facilitate the work of missionaries around the world. We have spent the past few years setting up the infrastructure, and now we are ready to put an agent in the field. Thats where you come in.

I dont understand. Leonard was beginning to wonder if he was still sleeping.

Missionaries around the globe face many threats, which up until now they have had to deal with alone. We suspect that these threats are not random, and are organized by people or groups who stand to lose if the Gospel spreads further. Simply put, our job is to identify the threats; your job will be to eliminate them.

Why me?

We did some thorough research. The Englishman pulled a piece of paper out of his trench coat. You spent four years with the Army Rangers

So?

including a stint in Afghanistan, also a couple of years in Army intelligence.

Im sure Im not the only one who...

You were rated expert in marksmanship.

Well, that was more than a hobby than anything else.

It would appear you had some other 'hobbies' as well. You are licensed to operate anything that flies. You are a blackbelt in a number of martial arts, including karate, tae kwan do, and fencing. Mr. Leonard, as you Yankees would say, you are one bad dude. Actually choosing you was somewhat of a no-brainer.

You forgot my stamp collection, muttered Leonard under his breath.

What was that?

Nothing. Look, Mr. Hamilton, youre forgetting one very important thing. I have a ministry here. What about that? I cant just leave. I have a congregation to attend to.

Oh, that is a plus, actually. You will continue to carry out your ministry in Republica de las Bananas, as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. It will be a vital part of your cover.

Leonard ran his hand through his sandy brown hair, then shook his head. Im sorry, Mr. Hamilton, but my work here is quite consuming. We have good church started in Ciudad Capital, and things are going great. I could not possibly take any time out for whateverpardon my expressioncrackpot scheme you and your friends have cooked up.

Mr. Miller, things may seem to be going well for you here, but they are not for many of your colleagues around the world.

Then I suggest you find someone else from one of those more troubled parts of the world to help you out. I am not interested.

Ah, but there lies the problem. You see, there is nobody else. Our profile of you indicates that you are uniquely qualified for this task. Should you refuse, as you have every right to do, we must begin from square one.

Well, sorry to send you back to the drawing board, but I guess that is going to have to be the way it is. As you Brits saywellokI cant actually think of anything you Brits would say. But I am definitely not interested. Leonard stood up and stretched.

I am certainly sorry to hear that, Basil replied. I wonder if you would do one thing for me.

Whats that?

Take this watch. He handed over a rather ordinary-looking digital wristwatch. Should you change your mind, simply press the red m you see on the face. Mr. Hamilton turned to go. As if on cue, the rotors of the waiting helicopter jumped to life.

Wait a minute! Leonard stood up. What happens when I press the m?

Mr. Hamilton smiled ever-so-faintly. I guess you will have to find that out for yourself. With that, he turned and jogged toward the helicopter.


The target is returning to the helicopter. The figure crouched in the bushes adjusted himself slightly to be able to hear the response better on his satellite phone.

Excellent. Wait until it is in the air, then waste it. And Miguel?

Senor?

Dont fail us.

Si senor. Miguel pocketed the sat phone and hefted his RPG launcher.

Leonard watched as the helicopter lifted off and headed out over the ocean. His house was located in an ideal setting next to the beach, surrounded by palm trees, with the jungle directly behind him. It was secluded, and allowed him some repose from the pressures of his church-planting ministry. A dirt road lead from his house, about seven kilometers to Ciudade Capital.

The missionary was just about to turn around and head back to the house, when the helicopter exploded, raining down fire and debris into the water about one hundred yards from the beach. Leonard stood rooted to the spot for just an instant, and then instinct kicked in. He hit the ground and crawled as quickly as possible to his house.


Target destroyed, senor, Miguel was on the sat phone again.

Excellent work, Miguel.

What about the other guy?

He is not a player, and we do not want too many people asking questions. The important thing was to take out this operation before they get on their feet. Right now what remains of their helicopter is on its way to the bottom of the Atlantic. As to our American friend, he is being given a powerful warning as we speak. I would not be surprised to see him look for other ministry opportunities stateside very shortly.

Leonard Wilson had never expected to see anything like this on the mission field. He had dedicated his life to missions after his tour with the military had ended, at a missionary conference where a retiring missionary had showed slides about the needs in Republica de las Bananas. A couple years at Bible College, a couple more on deputation, and Leonard had arrived on the field just in time to replace the retiring missionary who had challenged him in the first place. A year on the field had confirmed that this was the place for him. A small congregation was flourishing, and he had never been more fulfilled.

Now, all of a sudden, that had been blown apart. First a weird, Dick Tracey look-alike with a British accent comes up out of nowhere telling some wild story that he was supposed to believe, then, returning to his helicopter, he gets blown to smithereens.

Leonards head was spinning. It took him several minutes before he remembered the watch. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at it. Its face was black, with a rather large LCD screen in the middle. Right below the screen was a button in the shape of the letter m. The American turned the watch over in his hands for a couple seconds, and then pressed the button.


What happens next? Tune in next week to find out...

Posted by Andrew at 7:55 PM
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A New Series

Starting today, I will be posting the weekly adventures of Missionary Man, the prototypical missionary superhero.

Hope you enjoy.

Posted by Andrew at 7:53 PM
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November 6, 2004

Online Donations

I have added a Paypal donations link to the sidebar of this blog, and to the main website. All donations will be sent directly to our account at Baptist Mid Missions, and used to support this ministry.

Posted by Andrew at 5:48 PM // Comments: 1 //
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November 4, 2004

A Day in the Life

Today I had a pretty accomplished day. Here is the rundown.

Out of the 38 churches I called today:
I got 17 answering machines.
I got 6 "no answers".
I talked to 15 pastors or secretaries.
I set up 2 meetings, and had two more "probables", and set up a lunch with one pastor.
As a result of todays calls I sent out 8 e-mails, and will send out six packets, so far.

This is the life of a missionary on deputation. As I was half way through the day, I realized that I was having fun! Tomorrow morning I will hit the phones again. My goal is to have a meeting for every Sunday and Wednesday in 2005. So, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Posted by Andrew at 7:25 PM // Comments: 2 //
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November 3, 2004

News From the Field

Here is the latest from Jim and Julie Leonard in Brazil. For those of you who may just be tuning in, Jim and Julie are missionaries we anticipate working with very closely when we get to Brazil. Please read this and keep them in your prayers.

As we follow the results of the Presidential Elections in America we are reminded of God's sovereign control over the nations, even in the choice of rulers. We praise Him for enabling the citizens of America to spread the Gospel to the distant corners of the world. And we are priviledged to be your representatives in this corner of Brazil.


During the past three days our Bible College has been involved with an evangelism project we have called "The Gospel in the Hands of the Romeiros". The "Romeiros" are religious pilgrims who come to the city of Juazeiro by the thousands in an effort of working towards salvation. They place their hope in "Padre Cicero", the city's founding father, who is believed by many to be a part of the Holy Trinity. We distributed 60,000 gospel tracts written and printed specifically for this occasion. Several different methods were used to catch the pilgrims' attention. Couseling centers were set up in public places around town for those who desired to know God's plan for Salvation. Hundreds were counseled, though we don't have a final count on how many salvation decisions were made.

There are many stories I could share, but let me just share this one that I witnessed. One of our counselling centers was set up on the town square called "Praa Padre Cicero". Two men came along and showed interest in the sign that was placed above a wooden display with three doors. The sign read: "3 THINGS GOD CANNOT DO." A student, Ronaldo, standing nearby encouraged the men to open the doors to see what God cannot do. The first door read "God cannot change". The second, "God cannot lie". The third confronted them with, "God cannot allow into heaven the sinner who is not born again." Then Ronaldo asked the men if they knew what it meant to be born again. They did not. He asked if they would like to have it explained to them. When they agreed they were directed to Marcio, a senior student who had some chairs set up for those who wished to be counseled. Marcio presented the two men with the Gospel message. The men were overwhelmed by their lost condition, and God's love that offered salvation so freely. Within 30 minutes, both men, in tears, prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. It turns out both of them are drivers who had each brought a truck load of pilgrims.


A couple of weeks ago we asked you to pray for Fbio, the young engineer who lost his leg in an accident. Fbio is home and is healing well. One of the first things he did when he arrived at home was to call about the blueprints he was working on for the Source of Light Baptist Church. We are planning to begin the building just as soon as possible of an auditorium that can seat 400 people. Please continue to pray for Fbio's healing and for the construction of the Source of Light Baptist Church.


The Igreja Batista da Graa, our church in Crato, is now searching for a pastor. Since our former pastor resigned in January the church has been struggling to resolve several relationship and discipline issues. The past several months have been painful ones for the entire church, but we are beginning to see positive results. The church is stronger and more mature now than at the beginning of the year. And better yet, through this process some members have been restored to active useful ministries, and we have not lost a single member. Now the church feels prepared to search for a pastor. Please pray for God to send us the pastor of His choice.

On October 23 I (Jim) had some polyps removed from my nose. After spending two days and a night in the hospital, I returned home to continue taking it easy for the week. It sure feel good to be able to breath through the nose again after several months of nearly total blockage. A big thanks to those who prayed for me during this treatment. I praise the Lord for the competent doctors we have here in the Cariri. They are more than professionals; they are our friends.


Please continue to pray for Julie's health, and decisions we must make about her treatment. The tumor must be removed as soons as possible, to avoid further damage to the brain and other nerves. Julie and I are scheduled to fly to Minnesota on December 13, and Julie should have surgery within that next week. We are now trying to figure out the cost of this treatment, and how it will be payed for. I'm sure you have stories to tell about health insurance; what is covered and what is not. We figure that whatever we can nail down before surgery is to our advantage. We are confident that God will provide our needs, as He always has, but we feel that as wise stewards we must do our part. We have literally spent hours on the telephone with various doctors in the U.S. and with the Insurance company. Please pray that God will make His will clear to us for Julie's treatment.

Thank you for allowing us to have a part in your ministry, as we serve the Lord of the Harvest in Northeast Brazil. You too have an important part in our ministry through prayer. May God bless you.

Posted by Andrew at 8:41 PM
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Victory

I would just like to say that I am a Florida voter, and am very proud of that fact. I must have sweated off a couple pounds last night and this morning, watching the election returns. I was greatly pleased at the thought. The thought of Michael Moore having to pack his cameras and head for Ohio makes me laugh even now!

Blogging has been a little scarce here, partly because I was a little distracted by all the political goings on.

In all the euphoria over the victory of a candidate who seems to espouse our point of view on many important subjects, it is important that we remember to redouble our efforts to win the lost for Christ. It is only as hearts are changed that society will change.

Posted by Andrew at 5:06 PM
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November 2, 2004

I Voted

And now I am nervously watching the election results. Looks good so far.

Posted by Andrew at 7:42 PM // Comments: 1 //
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November 1, 2004

The Message

I just added four digital tracts to the message page. They are courtesy of Gospel Literature Services. Check them out!

Posted by Andrew at 1:23 PM
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