March 31, 2005

How People Get Here

Every once in a while--when I am bored--I like to take a look at the control panel for this website and see what online searches bring people here. Being especially bored this afternoon, I decided to share some of the more interesting ones with you--with my comments, of course.

Continue reading "How People Get Here"

Posted by Andrew at 2:16 PM // Comments: 6 //
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March 30, 2005

More About Confederates in Brazil

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I know I have posted on this before, but I ran across another article on the subject of the descendants of American Confederates in Brazil.

Update: If you would like to see an excellent documentary on this subject, click here. Of special note is their reference to the fact that the "Confederados" started the first Baptist church in Brazil.

Continue reading "More About Confederates in Brazil"

Posted by Andrew at 2:06 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Andrew Gets Interviewed

I have joined the interview meme. For those of you unfamiliar with this trend that has been sweeping the blogging world (at least, it has been sweeping the blogs I read), it goes something like this: someone asks five questions, which you post along with tour answers to said questions. You then offer to interview five other bloggers, taking the first five who leave requests in your comment section. You then post your questions on your blog, and link to their answers.

Today I am responding to the questions put to me by Scott over at To Give an Answer.

1. How were you first introduced to Brazil as a mission field?

By a missionary slide presentation when I was 10 years old. (Remember slides? They are what we used before Power Point.) Anyway, for some reason I never forgot that presentation. When I was seventeen, I went to Brazil and spent two months with that missionary. I was never the same after that.

2. What currently living person do you think has had the greatest influence on fundamentalism or conservative evangelicalism?

Are you trying to get me in trouble?

3. Do you think that blogging itself can be an effective tool for evangelism? Why or why not?

"Effective" is a hard word to define. I think that bloggers can glorify God by their blogging, and that God can definitely use the testimony of bloggers to bring someone to Himself. I do feel that many times bloggers are "preaching to the choir", but not always.

4. What is the worst and what is the best aspect of life in Brazil?

Worst: The tremendous gap that exists between the haves and the have-nots in Brazil.

Best: The ease with which Brazilians develop friendships is amazing. American Christians could learn much from them.

5. If you were to die tomorrow, what three things do you hope would be said about you in your eulogy?

"He never gave up."
"The world is a better place because he was here."
"He consistently pointed people to Christ."

**So there you have it. Does anybody want to submit to a "Comings Communiqu" interview? If so, leave a request in the comment section of this post. First five takers will be interviewed.

Update: Apparently I didn't read the question right. Scott just pointed out that I was supposed to come up with THREE things to be said at my eulogy. My ammended answer is above.

Posted by Andrew at 12:44 PM // Comments: 5 //
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Brazil--Best Friend of Open Source

Below is another article, this one from the New York Times about Brazil and open source software.

Continue reading "Brazil--Best Friend of Open Source"

Posted by Andrew at 11:41 AM
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March 28, 2005

Caption Challenge for 3/28/05

This week's caption challenge is for all of us who have ever contemplated ways to save money on car repairs.

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Posted by Andrew at 2:20 PM // Comments: 20 //
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Happy Judas Day?

I did not put up a special Easter post yesterday, but today there was an e-mail awaiting me from the Leonards which I found quite interesting. It has to do with Easter traditions in the part of Brazil where we will be ministering.

While we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior on this special Sunday, the people of Crato, our city in Brazil, are celebrating what they call "Domingo do Judas" (Judas' Sunday). The religious holiday for them was on Friday, as they remembered the death of Jesus. Judas' Sunday is more of a festive revelry where each community makes up a dummy to represent Judas Iscariot and parades him through the streets of the city. Then Judas will be tortured for his betrayal of Jesus: the children will beat him with sticks while the adults, mostly men dressed as women, dance. Then he will be hung up by a rope around the neck and what remains will be burned after dark.

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"Judas Iscariot" being paraded through the streets of Crato


Interestingly, their is no celebration of the resurrected Savior. Though their church believes in the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection means nothing to a people who are still dead in their sins. The best they can do is reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus. To them He is still the dead body represented by the crucifix hanging around their neck and on every living room wall. And typical of the Brazilian culture, they always look for an opportunity to party. What could be more fun than to gain revenge on a man so cruel as Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus with a kiss?

Of course not everybody in Crato celebrated today in this way. On this Easter Sunday you could visit either First Baptist, Grace Baptist, Maranatha Baptist, Calvary Baptist, or Ebenezer Baptist. In each of these Regular Baptist Churches the ressurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ was proclaimed in a meaningful way. Interestingly, when our Bible College moved to Crato ten years ago the only one in town was the First Baptist Church. God is using the professors and students from the Cariri Baptist Seminary to shine the light of the Gospel in this spiritually dark setting.

Posted by Andrew at 1:55 PM
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March 26, 2005

Major Accomplishment

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I have taken up running as a means to keep in shape and take off a few excess pounds. Today I hit a major milestone by being running completely around Lake Hollingsworth (see map above) here in Lakeland, a distance of three miles.

Posted by Andrew at 9:17 AM // Comments: 2 //
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March 25, 2005

Padre Cicero, Rehabilitated?

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The statue of Padre Cicero Romo Batista, which stands in Juazeiro do Norte, and is the focal-point of worship for thousands of Brazilians

The part of Brazil where we will serve upon our arrival does not get much worldwide press. It is a semi-arid region, characterized by small towns and a largely rural lifestyle.

It is also characterized by fanatic Roman Catholicism, dominated by the veneration of a certain Padre Cicero Romo Batista.

I was quite surprised to open up my feed reader this morning and find an article from no less a source than the New York Times about the movement to cannonize Padre Cicero.

I have included the entire article below, but I wanted to extract a couple paragraphs from it and comment on them.

Each year, some two million pilgrims visit the sites and shrines associated with Father Cicero here in the heart of Brazil's arid northeastern backlands.

These pilgrimages provide some of the greatest opportunities for evangelism that we have in northeastern Brazil. God, in His sovereignty, is using the intense idolotry of the region to bring people to Him and glory to His name. Other pieces I have done about this event can be found here, here, and here.

But the veneration of Father Cicero is more than just a religious phenomenon. Barred from his priestly duties, he turned to politics. He became the first mayor of this city, which today calls itself "The Capital of Faith," and later was chosen lieutenant governor of his home state and elected to Congress, though he never served in either post.

Another name for the city is "Capital of Idolotry."

"Thanks to the pilgrims and their faith, the evangelical churches are not making many inroads here," Bishop Panico said. "Father Cicero is like an antivirus."

Either Bishop Panico has his head in the sand, or else he is deliberately misrepresented the facts. Consider the following:

1. Our missionaries have been in Juazeiro do Norte since shortly after Padre Cicero died. The "virus" there has grown to the point where there are several new church plants there each year.

2. Every year for the last several years successful evangelistic campaigns have been carried out among the pilgrims.

3. The Cariri Baptist Seminary--which started in Juazeiro do Norte, and now makes its home in Crato, Padre Cicero's hometown--brings students to the region from all over Brazil for ministry training, and then sends them throughout the country to minister. For a look at this year's student body, click here.

4. The Source of Light ministry in Brazil has its headquarters at the Seminary, and has a nationwide and international reach.

5. Off the top of my head, I can think of 14 Regular Baptist churches in the three towns that make up the Cariri Valley--Padre Cicero's center of influence. And this does not include all the churches in the small, outlying villages, nor does it include all the other churches of different denominations that preach the gospel in that area.

While the influence of Padre Cicero's particular brand of fanatical Roman Catholicism is still quite strong, the "virus" of the true Gospel is indeed making serious inroads, and at an ever quickening pace.

Continue reading "Padre Cicero, Rehabilitated?"

Posted by Andrew at 11:56 AM
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Rumsfeld Compliments Lula, or The World Turned Upside Down

The following is an article which highlights comments made by Rumsfeld on a recent trip to Brazil. I feel like Washington is finally seeing the light when it comes to Lula--that he is a far better ally than enemy. He is also the key for keeping the renegade Chavez in check.

Continue reading "Rumsfeld Compliments Lula, or The World Turned Upside Down"

Posted by Andrew at 11:41 AM
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...And Speaking of Pictures

These are the latest pictures from the Carir Baptist Seminary sent to me by Jim Leonard.

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The 2005 student body.

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The 2005 freshman class.

When we get to Brazil, we will have the privilege of serving some of these outstanding young people. Pray that God would get us there soon!

Remember, these pictures, as well as others from the Cariri Baptist Seminary, can be seen on our photo page.

Posted by Andrew at 10:25 AM
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March 24, 2005

More Photos!

I decided to go "pro" with my Flickr account, and have added a couple of new categories and many new pictures to our photo page. Enjoy!

Posted by Andrew at 4:15 PM
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March 22, 2005

A Pleasant Surprise

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I got in the car to return from my lunch break today, and turned on the radio to hear a classical arrangement of the Brazilian National Anthem by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, from the above-pictured cd.

Posted by Andrew at 1:37 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Quote of the Day, from John Piper

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I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term, than to gain a distaste for it, because of a superior satisfaction in God.

Posted by Andrew at 12:05 PM // Comments: 1 //
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March 21, 2005

Caption Challenge for 3/21/05

Here is the latest in the ever-popular caption challenge series. So let the captions roll, for better or for worse!

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Posted by Andrew at 12:28 PM // Comments: 20 //
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March 18, 2005

Brazilian Novela About Immigration

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Illegal immigration is a huge issue here in the US. But how does it look from the other side? In Brazil there is a novela playing right now which attempts to show the life of Brazilian illegals in the US--or trying to get to the US. Below is a still from a scene of the novela Amrica, as well as a description of the scene. The description gives us a pretty good idea of how immigration to the US is seen by many Brazilians.


America - Novela - Rede Globo


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Humiliating situation

This photo, made by the director of Amrica himself, Jayme Monjardim, inside shows Sol (Deborah Secco) hidden in the panel of an automobile, being found by the police. This is the way that the profiteer Alex (Thiago Lacerda) invents to take the young woman to the U.S.A. without being discovered. But, as can be seen, the plan fails. The situation is like this... After receiving a phone call from Alex and embarking with an immigrant group en route to Mexico, she finally finds herself just a step from the border. In Mexican territory, she waits for the moment of the passage in a cheap hotel room, along with Ftima (Bete Mendes), Mercedes (Rosi Fields), Inesita (Juliana Knust) and Rosary (Fernanda Paes Helm). As Sol is the first, by herself, to try to cross the border, Mercedes gives her a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe to protect her. Without any explanation, coyotes, as the profiteers are known, lodges Sol under the dashboard of an old car, that will be driven by a Mexican to the U.S.A. In a routine procedure, the vehicle is stopped by policemen, who check it superficially and then liberate the driver. When everything seems to have gone right, one of the officials comes back and discovers the suffocating Sol in her hiding place. Completely frightened, she says nothing while the policemen try in vain to communicate in English and Spanish. At this moment, as luck would have it, the image of the saint falls and the officers think that Sol is Mexican, since Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. Using to his advantage the surprise of the policemen, the driver confirms this and says that Sol is deaf and dumb, daughter of a neighbor who must have hidden her. For being confused with a Mexican, Sol has right to come back to Mexico in freedom. Recovered from the scare, Sol prays in gratefulness to the saint as she prepares for the next attempt to illegally immigrate in U.S.A. She does not give up.

Posted by Andrew at 12:47 PM // Comments: 1 //
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MIT Supports Open Source in Brazil

For those open-source fans out there, here is the latest in Brazil's shift to Linux.

MIT backs Brazil's choice of Linux over Microsoft | Tech News on ZDNet Reuters Published on ZDNet News: March 17, 2005, 4:23 PM PT


SAO PAULO, Brazil--MIT's Media Lab has recommended Brazil install open-source software instead of proprietary software offered by Microsoft on thousands of computers that will be sold to the poor, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

"We advocate using high-quality free software as opposed to scaled-down versions of more costly proprietary software," Walter Bender, director of the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a letter to the Brazilian government. "Free software is far better on the dimensions of cost, power and quality."

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several ministers may decide as early as this week whether free software or a simplified version of Microsoft's Windows will be installed on computers for a new effort called PC Conectado, or the Connected PC.

The effort aims to sell up to 1 million computers, with costs partially subsidized by the government, to lower-middle-income Brazilians this year.

A decision on which software to install has been delayed several times. Some cabinet members think consumers should have a choice between buying a computer with open-source software and paying slightly more for a machine with Microsoft software. They think this approach would make sense to reach consumers who are already familiar with Microsoft software.

But free-software advocates within Lula's administration believe Microsoft should be excluded from the program.

Brazil, the world's fifth most populous country and a growing economic power, has taken a prominent role in the so-called free software movement, an effort that champions free computer operating systems like Linux as an alternative to Microsoft's Windows program.

Many government agencies are migrating to Linux to cut millions of dollars in software licensing costs.

"Since sustainable economic growth lies in contributions to the creative and knowledge-based economy, it is obvious to us that the best path is providing the greatest possible saturation," Bender and the co-author of the letter, Research Scientist David Cavallo, said. "It is also obvious that the most powerful technology at the lowest cost provides the greatest penetration."

Bender and Cavallo also said open-source software cheaply allows for the development of a skilled community of software writers.

"If the source code is proprietary, it is hidden from the general population. This robs them of a tremendous source for learning," the authors said.

"(Open) source serves not only as an example of programming ideas and implementations, but also the development community serves as an accessible social learning community of practice."

A Microsoft spokesman in Sao Paulo declined to comment.

Posted by Andrew at 12:27 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Mary for Protestants? What?

Al Mohler (who I actually met in person a few weeks ago!) has a very interesting article on the resurgence of Mary-worship in Protestant circles.

As a missionary on his way to Brazil--one of the most "mariolatrous" countries in the world--I found his thoughts very timely. According to Mohler, this movement among Protestants has its roots in the feminist movement.

The background of this includes the argument put forth by feminists that a male-oriented world of biblical scholarship has ignored the roles played by Mary and other women of the Bible. Going beyond this, some feminist scholars argue that the Bible is itself warped by a "patriarchal" bias that sublimates and hides the role of women. Added to all this is the doctrinal evacuation of many mainline Protestant denominations and the influence of New Age forms of spirituality, often packaged as a "do-it-yourself" mix of whatever elements appear to be most interesting.

After exploring the background of this view, Mohler summarizes with characteristic biblical clarity:

Of course, referring to Mary as "Mother of all Believers" is characteristic of Roman Catholic piety and devotion. The New Testament clearly presents Mary as the human mother of Jesus, and affirms her role as the submissive, obedient, and trusting virgin in whom the Christ was conceived. Without doubt, Mary is presented in the biblical text as a model of faithfulness and devotion. Furthermore, her song of praise to God, commonly known as "The Magnificat" [Luke 1:46-55], offers a masterful tapestry of prophecy mixed with some of the most elevated theological themes found anywhere in Scripture.

Nevertheless, to refer to Mary as "Mother of all Believers" is to go beyond the biblical text and to assign to the mother of Jesus a role that is, to say the least, not explicitly found in Scripture.

In Brazil, I have discovered that people have a tremendous emotional attachment to Mary. Not only is she (in the form of Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Our Lady Who Appeared) the patron saint of the country, but she holds a special place in the hearts of the oft impoverished and mistreated people, who see her as one who sympathizes with their sufferings. (One of the clearest presentation I have seen of this view from a Brazilian context was in the Brazilian film O Auto Da Compadecida.) As a result, many of them react to Protestant missionaries who try to marginalize the story of Mary, or worse yet, make her out to be some sort of evil person. One TV preacher from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (a charismatic cult many Brazilians identify as being Protestant) even went so far as to kick repeatedly a statue of Mary repeatedly on his program. The national outcry was enormous.

Al Mohler treats this subject of emotional ties to Mary quite well:

Those who argue that Mary offers us a more compassionate understanding of God than is revealed in Jesus Christ alone insult both the person and work of Christ and accept the worst excesses of Catholic piety.

Personally, I think the best tack to take in a Roman Catholic country such as Brazil is the one expressed by Dr. Mohler in the last paragraph of his article:

In the end, perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from Mary is found in the instructions she gave to the disciples of Jesus at the wedding of Cana in Galilee, at which Jesus performed His first miracle: "Whatever He says to you, do it." Take it from Mary.

Posted by Andrew at 11:50 AM
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March 17, 2005

I'm Going Home

I am going to go home early today. Why? There are a number of reasons:

1. I am not feeling all that well. Coming down with a cold or something.

2. I have spent entirely too much time looking at a computer screen.

3. I have many things I can do once I get there.

4. BECAUSE I CAN!

Posted by Andrew at 3:44 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Beethoven and Books

Last night I got home from prayer meeting, put some Beethoven on the CD player, and sat back to do some reading. I am reading two great books right now.

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For serious reading, I am digesting George Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life. It is a fascinating look at one of my all-time spiritual heroes. Last night I was reading about the first great awakening among the people to whom he ministered. I was amazed to discover that the amazing response of the people (by all accounts it had an effect on pretty much the entire town of Northampton) came partly as the result of a series of messages he preached on (get this) Calvinism! Go figure.

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After I had listened to Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies in their entirety (the Sixth is by far my favorite, especially the last movement) I picked up Magic Kingdom For Sale--Sold by Terry Brooks. A friend of mine from my high-school days just loaned me the entire series, and so I decided to read through them.

It is really an interesting concept: a succesful but disalusioned lawyer who's wife has just died sees and advertisement for a "magic kingdom." Deciding he needs a change of pace, he purchases the kingdom for one million dollars, although he remains somewhat skeptical of the validity of the advertisement.

He discovers that not only is the kingdom--called Landover--real, but that it is in dire straits. The plot of the book centers on how he establishes himself as king. Very interesting reading.

I have made a decision to read at least two books a month--one serious and one for fun. I will read more if possible. In the busy life I have led up to this point, reading--once one of my great passions--has fallen by the wayside. I am going to pick it up again.

Also, I am going to listen to a lot more Beethoven.

Posted by Andrew at 10:54 AM
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Support Increase

Just a note to let you know that our support level took a jump yesterday to 68.8%. Thank you for your prayers, and a big THANK YOU to the folks at Bible Baptist Church for making it happen!

Posted by Andrew at 10:31 AM
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March 15, 2005

Caption Challenge for 3/15/05

Here is the caption challenge for this week. Have fun!

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Posted by Andrew at 11:25 AM // Comments: 23 //
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News From the Front Lines

Here are excerpts from the latest prayer letter received from the Leonards.

Greetings from the hot, humid Cariri Valley. At least that's what we have this week. Our normal rainy season (December - April)has been very poor this year, and most of the crops have been lost, bringing difficulties and despair to the subsistence farming communities around us. But this week God showered us with some nice rains which have cooled the evenings. They have also given a jump start to the thousands of seedlings we planted on our college property in the past month. We hope to have a nice little forest of trees in a few months.

Now I am going to inject a comment right here. This year it is a poor rainy season. Last year there was so much rain that it caused rampant flooding. Northeast Brazil is the embodiment of the phrase "If it rains, it pours."

God brought us a large incoming class of dedicated young people this year. I believe we have the largest student body ever, with 76 full-time and 27 part-time students. Every one of these students shows clear signs of God's hand on him/her, leading into a life of ministry.

God's hand of blessing has truly been on Jim's ministry at the seminary. When I arrived there as a student in 1994 (shortly after Jim took over as director), they had about 20 students in run down facilities. Now they have over 100, on a beautiful campus.

The evangelism team of five students who are working in our neighborhood, Grangeiro, are doing a good work. Last Saturday three children prayed to receive Jesus as Savior at the Kids' Club. Two more homes invited them for a Bible Study, which keeps them busy in the later afternoons. This coming Saturday night we have invited the parents of the children who come to the Kids' Club for a meeting where we plan to show them what we are teaching the children, and ask them to help their children memorize the Bible verses. I will also bring a study on why they should have God be a part of their home in raising the children.

This is one of the most exciting aspects of the ministry of the Cariri Baptist Seminary, and one that we will be intimately involved with upon our arrival in Brazil. The students not only learn in the classroom, but they put their learning into practice.

On another subject, we had to stop the construction of the Source of Light Church auditorium for a while. Our plan was to put up the walls and roof for this building which would be about half of the cost for this project. In this way the church would already use part of the building while they gradually did the finishing work. However with the U.S. dollar being very weak right now, and the project being quite large, we did not have the conditions to get the walls up and roof on. Please pray that in God's time He would provide for the completion of this project.

You have prayed with us for the purchase of a property for the New Jerusalem Baptist Church. We have been waiting on a piece of land that we felt was very good for this church, but it was tied up in a divorce settlement. Last week we located another property that is actually larger and more centrally located between the four "villas" we would like to reach with this church. Please pray that God would lead in a very definite was as we make an offer on this land this week. Last weekend I spoke at the installation service for Pastor Porfirio, the young missionary who will be developing this work. They are already packing out the rental house where they meet, and definitely need a larger meeting place.

Despite the financial difficulties mentioned, it is important to notice that these are TWO church plants going on in the Cariri Valley. This region is known as "the capital of Brazilian idolatry". Yet it is obvious that God is doing great things there. We are so anxious to be a part of it!

I have posted pictures of the Seminary here, so you can see for yourself what God is doing.

Posted by Andrew at 10:57 AM
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March 12, 2005

Al Mohler

Bear with me for one last post about the Shepherd's Conference. Here is a pic of Daniel, Pastor, and myself with the Rev. Al Mohler.

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Posted by Andrew at 10:31 AM // Comments: 4 //
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March 11, 2005

"Evolution" in Progress

I never thought I would be so happy to be a "Crawly Amphibian".

Posted by Andrew at 10:18 AM
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New Missionary Blogs Added

I have added a few new missionary blogs to the blogdigger list. So far, I am still the only missionary to Brazil that blogs, that I know of. If there are any others, please let me know!

Posted by Andrew at 10:16 AM
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March 10, 2005

Sweet Carolina

I am currently bunked up in a hotel in North Carolina, on my way back to Florida. I had a great visit today with a good personal friend, and supporter of this ministry, who is known as "The Chairman" (though of what I am not at liberty to say). We had a great time of catching up at a restaurant near Dulles Airport.

I also got word of additional support coming in, which brings our support level up to 65.4%!

Very much looking forward to getting home to my lovely wife and wonderful son tomorrow.

Posted by Andrew at 11:05 PM // Comments: 1 //
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March 9, 2005

Blogdigger

The other day I got a letter from a missionary blogger, asking why his comments were not appearing on the site. In his letter (we fixed the problem, by the way), he happened to point me to his blogdigger page. I was intrigued, and have set up my own blogdigger page. In essence, what it does is show the most recent updates to a list of blogs that I make (in my case, blogs about or by missionaries).

Posted by Andrew at 10:53 PM // Comments: 2 //
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Help Me Out Guys

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When I got home from California, my wife surprised me with a new hairstyle. The photo on the left above is the old style, and on the right is how she looks now.

I think her new style looks absolutely marvelous, and here is where I need your help. She is contemplating going back to the old style. Leave us a comment here and tell us what you think--new style or old style.

Posted by Andrew at 1:05 AM // Comments: 12 //
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March 8, 2005

Traveling...Again

I really have some great posts coming up...if I can ever get a chance to publish them. Right now it is 1 AM, and I am in a hotel in North Carolina. I was hoping to make it to Virginia today, but that was not to be. So, here I am.

I am going to get some shut-eye, and then hit the road bright and early tomorrow.

Posted by Andrew at 1:15 AM
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March 7, 2005

Back

Just a quick note to let everybody know that I am back in Florida, for the time being. Please be in prayer for Itacyara's meeting with immigration today.

Will write more details later.

Posted by Andrew at 8:10 AM
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March 6, 2005

Shepherd's Conference: Final Photos

Well, we are home. Right now I am laboring into the wee hours of the morning to finish a presentation for tomorrow morning. For your viewing pleasure, here are some more pics from the conference:

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Here is a picture of John MacArthur preaching. I am sorry that he came out so small in it, we were sitting near the back.

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Al Mohler preaching. Ditto about the distance. We actually got a close-up of us with Dr. Mohler, but it is still on my brother's camera. Will post it as soon as I get it.

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The church was equipped with wireless internet for the conference, and even had a row of laptops on which people could check their e-mail. Here is Daniel taking advantage of that feature.

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And, speaking of Daniel, here he is living the life of luxury at our hotel.

Posted by Andrew at 3:34 AM
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Shepherds Conference: The Thoughts of Others

Scott over at To Give An Answer has some interesting thoughts about the "Dead Right" seminar at the Shepherds Conference.

Posted by Andrew at 3:32 AM
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March 5, 2005

Shepherd's Conference: Live Blogging Al Mohler

I am sitting in the auditorium of Grace Community Church in Burbank, CA. This is the last session we will be attending of this year's Shepherd's Conference.

Right now Al Mohler is preaching. I have long enjoyed Al Mohler's weblog, and his preaching is even better.

His text today is Ezekiel 37, which tells of Ezekiel's vision of the valley of the dry bones. He is treating it as a parable for ministry in a post-modern age. I really enjoyed his background information on Ezekiel--including modern attempts to psychoanalyze him.

In illustrating what is wrong with the Church today, he just cited an article in a British newspaper which stated that the Church of England is sending to all of it's congregations a 750 page manual on customer service published by (of all places!) McDonalds.

According to Dr. Mohler, we as ministers of the Gospel cannot view ourselves as professionals. Once we begin to see our work that way, there will be the "stench of death".

God did not tell the bones to rise up directly, he instructed Ezekiel to tell them. For Ezekiel to speak to lifeless bones took an act of faith. Many times, for us to speak the word of God to those who are dead in trespasses and sins takes the same faith.

Ezekiel's vision illustrates for us a picture of the pattern of revival which characterizes God's working with His people down through the ages.

Excellent quote from Dr. Mohler: "This text was fulfilled in Israel's experience, but let us remind ourselves that this text was fully fulfilled in Christ."

Another quote: "The big question for us as we leave this place is this--do we really believe that it can happen again?"

Dr. Mohler offers four hallmarks of Reformation as found in this passage.

1. Reformation cannot be orchestrated.
2. If Reformation comes, it will be for Gods own names sake.
3. God brings Reformation through preaching.
4. True Reformation issues an evidence of new life.

Final Quote: "This is a great time in which to live, because God is sovereign, and he made us to live in these times!"

Posted by Andrew at 12:25 PM
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Shepherd's Conference: Freezing Fingers

I am sitting here before the Shepherd's Coference begins it's last day. The "internet caf" is located outside, and today is definitely not a representation of the term "sunny California". If anybody was inspired by a certain Momma's and Papas song to come to California today, they will be sadly disappointed.

Well, the service is about to start, so I am going to hear Al Mohler preach.

Posted by Andrew at 11:48 AM
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March 4, 2005

Another Team Church

We interrupt our running commentary on the 2005 Shepherds Conference to bring you the news that we now have a new supporting church to our team of investors. First Baptist Church, in Cincinnatus has taken us ons! This brings our total support to 64.8%. A brief look at the chart on the right of this page will show you that we only have $1430.00 left to raise. Praise God!

Posted by Andrew at 4:02 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Shepherd's Conference: Rethinking Missions

I right now sitting in a seminar dealing with the subject of missions. The main purpose of this session appears to be to promote The Master's Academy International--the "missions wing" of The Master's Seminary.

The program has a three-step approach to theological training on the mission field:

(1) Local church based training program. This is a training a program for people in the local church, teaching them how to teach the word of God.
(2) Advanced students. This will train qualified men to take leadership rolls in the church.
(3) Trustworthy pastors. Those who make it to this level will be the biblical expositors of their culture.

As this conference progresses, a couple of things are concerning me. It seems like there is a disregard for the work missionaries have done in these countries over the years. The guy who is speaking now just spoke disparagingly of puppet ministries!

I guess I am always wary when people present something and say "this is the only way to do it...and people who have been doing the work of missions for the past decades have been all wrong." Perhaps this skepticism comes from my days in the Bill Gothard ministry, where he would say things like "we have done more in Taiwan in two weeks than missionaries have done in the last 50 years."

After this is over, I will be talking with representatives from different fields. I will update this post after those conversations.

Update: I just talked to a gentleman who works in Brazil with this ministry, and I am very interested in confirming a couple of things he told me. Sorry, no details here.

Posted by Andrew at 2:08 PM // Comments: 2 //
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Shepherd's Conference: Touring Pictures

Here are some pictures of our trip. More pictures of the conference will come.

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This was my first view of the rockies, as seen from the airport in Salt Lake City.

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This shirt was seen on our layover in Salt Lake City. Those familiar with LDS history will doubtless get a kick out of it.

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We flew into the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Thanks for the memories!

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This is the PT Cruiser we rented upon our arrival. According to the car-rental guy, it is a "very popular car in California."

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We took a trip to West Hollywood, and were accompanied part of the way by the Goodyear Blimp.

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A sunset over the pacific, at the end of "Sunset Boulevard".

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The skyline of LA. I had plenty of time to take this picture, as traffic was horrendous.

These are pictures of our adventures on the day of our arrival. I will post more conference-releated pictures as we go along.

Posted by Andrew at 11:32 AM // Comments: 2 //
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March 3, 2005

Shepherd's Conference: Dead Right

I just got finished listening to a seminar by Dr. Phil Johnson. He offered a witheringly accurate appraisal of the Fundamentalist movement (not of Fundamentalism, per se, but of the movement, mind you. In fact, he began his session by saying "In the historic and literal sense of the word, I am a fundamentalist.").

I hope the people who are here from our association were listening, because we needed to hear this.

Posted by Andrew at 4:54 PM // Comments: 3 // TrackBack: 1 //
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Shepherds Conference, Session Three

This morning we had the privilege of listening to R.C. Sproul. His session was a very informative look at the origins of the Reformation. He cleared up some popular mis-conceptions about the Roman Catholic Church, and showed how they have not changed significantly in doctrine since the days of Luther.

Posted by Andrew at 4:36 PM
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Shepherds Conference: Session Two

Last night we heard an excellent message from Luke 11:37-54, where he continued his theme of spiritual terrorists by giving us four signs of a false religion: (1) love for symbols, (2) a love of sin, (3) a love for the simplistic (shallow doctrine), (4) a love for the secondary (inconsequencial), and (5) the love of status.

For illustrations of these five loves, he pinpointed the Catholic Church many times, commenting on his shock at hearing Billy Graham call the Pope the greatest spiritual leader of the last one hundred years. He made it clear, however, that these signs can apply to any godless religion, and even include professing evangelicals.

For me the session was a wake-up call to greater discernment in the area of doctrine, as well as intense self-examination as to my own motives in ministry.

Posted by Andrew at 1:53 PM
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March 2, 2005

Shepherd's Conference: A Man After God's Own Heart

This is a first for me. I am blogging the second seminar of the conference while it is happening. Carey Hardy is speaking on the subject of "A Man After God's Own Heart".

The premise of this seminar is that when you talk about the desires of a man's heart, you are talking about who he really is. We are talking about developing a passion for Christ in our own lives in the lives of those to whom we minister.

People need to see in us a genuine passion for Christ. We are passionate for many things, but are we passionate for Christ?

He makes an excellent point, that some who have reacted to the artificial passions of televangelists that they have let themselves grow cold.

"Wrong affections do not mean that we should not have affections." Jonathan Edwards

Mr. Hardy offers this evaluation: "Sadly, some groups are known for what they are separated from, not what they are separated to." Ouch!

Mr. Hardy shares with us two facts about spiritual desires, based on David's plea in Psalm 63.

(1)They have the right object. David longed for God; not for what God does, or any number of things he could have longed for at that moment--he longed for God.

(2) They have the right intensity. David longs for God with everything he has, including his deepest emotions.

He shares with us how an overbearing love for Christ will see us through difficult times in our lives and ministries. He quotes an early church historian writing about men who were burned at the stake for their faith: "They felt the fire around them, but they felt the fire of their love for Christ even stronger within them."

Posted by Andrew at 6:16 PM
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Shepherds Conference: A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry

I just got out of the first seminar of the conference, entitled A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry, and given by Irv Busenitz, vice president for academic administration at the Masters Seminary. It was a very good, very thorough seminar devoted to the overarching principles of ministry.

His approach was five-fold: (1) a high view of God, (2) an affirmation of God's word, (3) an accurate view of man's nature, (4) a correct understanding of the purpose of the church, and (5) godly, qualified leadership.

According to Mr. Busenitz (and I agree), the ministries and activities of the local church must be evaluated in the light of these five "pillars".

While he was talking about the accurate view of man's nature, Mr. Busenitz gave a quote from Voltaire, which I thought was very perceptive, especially for a reprobate secular humanist:

"God created man in His image, and man has forever been trying to return the favor."

Posted by Andrew at 5:46 PM
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Shepherds Conference: Session One

The conference opened with a bang. As an introduction to the service, we were treated to the church orchestra's rendition of Brethren We Have Met To Worship, followed by the Masters Seminary Choir, accompanied by the orchestra, singing The Church's One Foundation and Soldiers Of The Cross.

John MacArthur is an outstanding expositor of the Word of God, and his message this morning did not disappoint. His text was the book of Jude, and the title of the sermon was The Long War on the Truth.

The message was basically a call to battle against the apostasy that is creeping into the church. He likened those who teach a watered-down doctrine to spiritual terrorists, comparing them with todays islamist terrorists: hidden, unknown, and embedded in the church.

At one point in the message I was convinced he had been collaborating with my Dad, because he made this statement regarding the state of the church today:

"We are far more concerned with style than substance."

I plan on blogging this conference, giving a brief summary of each of the sessions I attend. I will also post pictures as they become available. I have created a new "Shepherds" category where you can see all of the posts in one place, as I will probably be blogging about other things also during the remainder of the week.

Posted by Andrew at 3:51 PM
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Caption Challenge for 3/2/05

While I am in California, I am still fulfilling my caption challenge duties. Here is the challenge for this week.

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Posted by Andrew at 12:02 PM // Comments: 11 //
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California Here I Am

I am presently blogging from the internet center at the Shepherds Conference at Grace Community Church, in Burbank, CA. The conference has not started yet...people are still registering and trying the various breakfast selections offered by the church.

Our trip out here was un-eventful...we arrived yesterday at about noon Pacific Standard Time, and spent the rest of the day driving around the the greater LA area. We tried to get in to a taping of the Tonight Show, but with no success. I have pictures of our travels yesterday, which I will share at a later date.

I looking forward to blogging this conference, and sharing with you the blessings we recieve here.

Posted by Andrew at 11:50 AM
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