April 29, 2005
Brazil Minsitry Update
Just recieved a prayer letter (with pictures!) from the Leonards that I thought I would share with you.
You would have enjoyed coming with us for a special service at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church last Sunday night. This is the new congregation God is raising up near the airport in the city of Juazeiro do Norte. Because most of the sewage runs in the dirt streets of this poor neighborhood, there are quite a few mud holes. The van got stuck in one of these on our way to the meeting. After several friendly neighbors pushed us out we made it only 15 minutes late. The congregation has outgrown its small rented building, so all of the benches and chairs were placed in the street out in front. There were over 100 people gathered, and already singing praises to God. Immediately my nose noticed the raw sewage running in the gutter. Since nobody else seemed to be concerned I quickly forced this out of my mind. Even though the service was in the street the people were reverent. Occasionally a passing car or motorcycle would distract our attention, but these were few. After I preached a message on the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18), three people came forward showing a desire to receive God's forgiveness and Salvation. One of these was the wife of a faithful man who has been a founding pillar in this new church.
New Jerusalem Baptist Church Meeting in the Street
This special service culminated with thirty-one (31) people receiving diplomas for having concluded one of the Bible courses from our Source of Light Bible Correspondence School. Two of those who were save had also just finished our first course called "Pathways to Peace".
31 diplomas were given to those who concluded a Bible Study
We are close to closing on a piece of property where the New Jerusalem Baptist Church will be able to build. Praise the Lord with us that He has provided for the purchase of this property in the most fantastic way.
April 26, 2005
No, this is not an entry about the Arabian Nights. Nor am I referring to the binary code for 9 (thanks, ohyo for that little piece of information). No, what I am talking about is comments.
That's right, as of this writing, this blog has officially passed the 1000 comment mark. Thank you Connie (Madrid, I think) who put us over the top, as well as all of you faithful readers (if somewhat sporadic commenters) who helped us get there.
In another number related item, our car--the famed Missionary-mobile--just hit the 99,000 mile mark yesterday. I have to say, I am not quite so enthused about that milestone.
News From São Paulo
Marvin and Diane Fray are missionaries with our mission board, working in the heart of the city of São Paulo. I first met them on July 17, 1994. It was my first day in Brazil, and I was able to attend a service at the Esperança Baptist Church before I caught my connecting flight to Fortaleza. The Frays were there, and were very encouraging to me as I began what would be a two-year stay in Brazil.
Today I received their most recent prayer letter, and asked them if I could share a portion of it here. They agreed. I hope you find it as encouraging as I did.
Wednesday night 30 youth departed on a missions' trip to a new church plant in a town about eight hours to the north of us. They had planned and prepared well and got off to a good start. Friday night Pr. Sérgio and Célia arrived home from the yearly conference of our fellowship of churches saying it was the best conference ever. The theme was Missions and they felt that pastors and leaders answered the challenge to greater outreach in their own areas as well as more investment in missions and missionaries. Sunday morning we were happily surprised to see good attendance even with the youth gone and others out of town over a prolonged weekend. Sunday night found the entire church in tears. Brazilian missionaries to Senegal reported on their ministry as they get ready to go back. Then 12 new Christians were baptized, including five from the ministry with the handicapped. All these touched our emotions, but one boy with a severely deformed body caught everyone's heart with the huge smile on his face and the joy he had in sharing the verse on which he based his salvation. The service lasted three hours but all left rejoicing, not complaining. About 11pm Sunday night the mission team arrived back and they were all so happy they were ecstatic. They had spent three days evangelizing through a morning VBS and then afternoons and evenings in the town squares. Many, many decisions were made and many visitors then came for the Sunday morning service. All the way back to São Paulo the team prayed, sang and shared testimonies. The impact on their lives will have eternal results, as will the impact on the town. PRAY for Pr. Rodinele and his wife as they follow up on this ministry.
April 25, 2005
Caption Challenge for 4/25/05
This week's Caption Challenge is dedicated to the obscure field of bovine aquatics.
Back From Orange City
We just spent an incredible weekend with the folks at Open Bible Baptist Church in Orange City, Florida (suggested city motto: "Nothing Rhymes With Us!"). We had a wonderful time of fellowship at the church picnic on Saturday, and many opportunities to share our burden for Brazil on Sunday.
Now we are back home, and getting back down to business. We have a full plate for this week, with many exciting potentials for future minsitry.
April 22, 2005
This is sort of a continuation of a previous post. I ended up making some significant changes to the site today. For one, when people type in the url www.comingstobrazil.com, it now brings them directly to this blog. I have retired the old ministry website, and put all the vital information here.
Up on the header you will see links for our profile (which includes contact information), our photo page, and the online calendar. For the benefit of churches who visit here to inquire about us, I have included in the top menu a recommendation from a missionary currently serving in Brazil.
Yet to come are extensive changes to the sidebar. I am open to suggestions as to further improvements that could be made on this site to make it more user-friendly.
As always, a huge THANK YOU goes out to Kevin for helping me with the technical and aesthetic aspects of these changes.
I am working at making all ministry information available from the blog. My intent is to be able to retire what is now my homepage, and run everything from here. This will make things more user-friendly for viewers, and alot less time-consuming for me.
To that end, I have set up an online calendar where people can see our schedule. It will be updated regularly, so you can keep track of our progress, and pray specifically for meetings we will be having.
April 20, 2005
AWANA Grand Prix
I am here at Fellowship Baptist Church, taking pictures of our AWANA Grand Prix and car show. Below are a couple of the great cars we have on display.
This Mustang belongs to one of our area pastors.
One of three Corvettes on display here.
And of course, the obligatory picture of Mikey. Incidentally, the Mustang he is standing next to belongs to my brother Daniel. I asked if they wanted to use my Cavalier for the show, but the response was less than enthusiastic.
For more pics of this event, click here.
April 19, 2005
By far the most entertaining aspect of watching the instalation of a new Pope (ie, leader of arguably the largest false religion in the world) was an online conversation I had with a friend of mine during and after the proceedings. The first part of the conversation can be seen here.
Later on, our conversation turned to the possibilities presented by the near universal TV coverage of the proceedings. Below are our ruminations on the concept of a new reality show based on this event. This sort of thing is usually limited to my Xanga site, but I figured readers of this blog would be entertained by this as well.
[14:43] me: survivor...vatican city
[14:44] kev: survive the papal mosh pit
[14:44] kev: or be voted out of the priesthood
[14:44] me: LOL
[14:44] me: all the contestants gather in a conclave at the end of each episode
[14:45] kev: if the smoke puffs black, you've been excommunicated
[14:45] me: LOL
[14:46] me2: they blow out your mitre and you get kicked out of the papal state
[14:47] kev: if it puffs white you can pick a stupid name for yourself and be buried in a santa suit
[14:48] me: LOL
[14:48] me: ROFLOL
[14:48] me: and you get a lifetime supply of eggs benedict
[14:48] kev: lol
They Have a Pope
And he is German. It will be interesting to see what impact this event has on ministry in Brazil.
He is standing on the balcony now, waving to the crowd. Pope Benedict XVI is speaking to the crowd for the first time. There does not seem to be anything earth-shattering in this speech. Time will tell what kind of an impact this has on the Roman Catholic world.
The crowd is acting like they are at a rock concert, or a World Cup soccer game.
I am going to close this narrative. Please be in prayer for missionaries who are serving in Roman Catholic countries.
Brazilian Pope Live Update
It has just been announced that a new Pope has been chosen. I am watching the live coverage now--very interested to see if the Brazilian candidate is chosen. I see many Brazilians (waving Brazilian flags) in the crowd.
Update: The bells have stopped ringing, and people are waiting for an announcement.
Update: The announcement is being made.
Some dear friends of ours have just committed to support this ministry on a monthly basis, bringing our support level up to 70.1%. Praise God!
April 18, 2005
Brazilian Pope Update
Lakeland Air Show
On Saturday Itacyara (Tassie) and I had the opportunity to volunteer as translators at the Sun-N-Fun Air Show here in Lakeland. It turns out that this is a big destination for Brazilians. Below are a few pictures.
The most beautiful translator in the international booth!
Aggie and Sue tabulate the results. Brazilians represented the third largest group of internationals at the airshow, following Canada and England.
A British Spitfire. Pilots of these planes during WWII were the subject of Winston Churchill's famous quote: "Never was so much owed by so many to so few."
This is a row of privately-owned Czech training jets. Built in the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War, they are now sold to the public. One Czech man told me of someone who bought one from the Romanian governement for $10,000.00! Hmmmmm...wonder if I could use one of these on the mission field...
Mikey found an airplane that was more his size.
Mikey had a very exciting day. Here he is pointing at a couple of jets doing aerobatic maneuvers nearby.
If you would like to see the remainder of our airshow pictures, click here.
Caption Challenge for 4/18/05
April 15, 2005
Happy Birthday McDonalds
Today McDonalds celebrates it's fiftieth anniversary. Normally, food industry news does not make it to this weblog. However, seeing as how I spent almost six years of my life "working for the clown", I thought this deserved at least honorable mention.
At the anniversary website there is a link to a place where former McDonalds managers and crew can write about how great McDonalds was for them, and how much they learned. I don't think I will participate, but I have come up with a top-ten list of the things I learned during my tenure at Mickey D's.
10. For some people, hamburgers are REALLY IMPORTANT.
9. The slogan "We love to see you smile" was invented by someone who never worked in a McDonalds restaurant.
8. So was "I'm lovin' it."
7. Irony can be defined by somebody getting mad and throwing their Happy Meal at you.
6. Every customer has been waiting for 20 minutes.
5. When a customer has not been waiting for 20 minutes, refer to number six.
4. Play-place is ONLY fun for kids. (I realized this the first time a customer came to me and said "I think my son may have thrown up in the ball pit."
3. Nobody knows how to a read a receipt.
2. When people finally decide what they want, chances are good they will ask for a Whopper.
And, the number one thing I learned while working at McDonalds is: no matter how bad a day you have, it could be worse. You could be working at Burger King.
Speaking of Burger King (and a little more "on-topic" for this blog) they have now expanded to Brazil. Their ad campaign, pictured below, takes direct aim at McDonalds. They Portuguese reads "never again". Not sure it is too smart to include a large version of your competitor's logo in your ad.
Pray for Chaz
Chaz Smith is a friend of ours from our home church here in Lakeland, Florida. His parents are both MK's from Brazil, and Chaz spent his childhood there as well. After moving to Florida, Chaz was in our youth group back in the day when I was it's leader. He is now in his early twenties.
Last night Chaz was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. Apparently someone ran a red light and broadsided him. He is still in the hospital. Please be in prayer for him, as well as for his family during this time.
April 14, 2005
I can remember being in a music store in Fortaleza, Brazil, and seeing for the first time CD's by a Roman Catholic priest named Padre Marcelo. I had asked the attendant for children's music for possible use with our Amiguinhos de Jesus (Little Friends of Jesus) puppet team.
Later on I heard some selections from the CD, and was surprised to learn that Padre Marcelo had co-opted some songs commonly sung in evangelical Sunday Schools, and was using them to re-vitalize the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil.
The Washington Post today had an interesting article on the subject.
Hugo Chavez Prepares for War
As an American who is in love with Brazil, the following story worries me to no end. Venezuela is very close to Brazil, both geographically and ideologically.
Microsoft Angles for the Brazilian Market
Microsoft has launched a (very) scaled-down version of Windows XP, which they hope Brazil will include in their government program to supply low-income families with computers. As it stands, Brazil is leaning towards using the Linux open source operating system in the programs. I really do not see how Microsoft's version is going to be any more atractive.
In related news, I just set up my first Linux OS at my house, using a donated cpu, and an old keyboard, monitor, and mouse I had lying around. There are now three opperating systems working at my place: Windows XP, Ubuntu Linux, and Mac OS X.
You can read the entire article about Microsoft's new release below.
Brazilian Pope Watch
Hey, I am sorry I have not blogged since Monday. I know that many of you depend on this blog as your source of information about missions, Brazil, and the Comings family, so I apologize once again for the silence.
To start things off today, we have an interesting article about the chances of a Brazilian being the next Pope. It would appear that there is some campaigning taking place on behalf of Cardinal Claudio Hummes...and even by his initiative.
April 11, 2005
Caption Challenge for 4/11/05
Here is proof that our caption challenges have gone to the dogs.
We had a great ministry over the weekend. Our first stop was Berea Baptist Church in Palm Harbor, where we were participants in their missionary conference. We enjoyed getting to know the people there, and the fellowship with other missionaries was great. A special privilege was being able to see J.J. Cheloudtchenko again. J.J. and his wife, Valerie, were in candidate class with us back in July of 2002. We had not seen them since.
Immediately after our presentation at Berea Baptist on Saturday--which went well despite some technical difficulties--we packed into our car and headed south to LaBelle, Florida, just east of Ft. Myers. Pastor Zimmerman and the congregation at Grace Baptist received us well, and we had a wonderful time presenting our ministry on Sunday morning.
We arrived home Sunday evening, and are now actively preparing for this week's ministries. These include making contacts, meeting with pastors, and two more churches to visit on Sunday.
I just got done adding the Ubuntu version of Linux to a used computer I was given over the weekend. Does this increase my "geek quotient"?
April 8, 2005
In a few minutes I will be packing up, heading home, and getting ready for a weekend of ministry. We will be at two different churches this weekend. In all, we will be in four different churches over the next two weeks. Pray for God's blessing on these events.
April 6, 2005
A Brazilian Pope?
I am hearing more and more about the possibility of a Brazilian becoming the Pope. This evening I ducked into the church office to check my e-mail, and found this article from Yahoo.
Here are a couple of highlights:
SAO PAULO, Brazil - As bishop of a working-class district 30 years ago, Claudio Hummes gave refuge to metalworkers staging an illegal strike â€” among them a fiery union leader named Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Silva is now Brazil's president, and Hummes has risen as well, to the rank of cardinal. As speculation mounts about the possibility of a Latin American pope, Hummes' name repeatedly surfaces â€” the top candidate from the world's most populous Roman Catholic country.
Interestingly enough, the catholic priests who participated in the leftist movements in Brazil were part of the Liberation Theology phenomenon--which was soundly quashed by Pope John Paul II.
Today, he has won respect as a conservative on doctrine and a progressive on social issues, though not sharing Arns' explicit support for radical "liberation theology."
A classic case of "having your cake and eating it too.
"We are living in a period of ebullition," Hummes said. "The Church's challenge is to keep pace with the ongoing progress we are seeing so it can have answers to the new problems that are arising."
Protestant moment here: the Bible HAS the answers...there is not need for the Roman Catholic Church to make them up.
Among his concerns is the rapid growth of evangelical Protestant sects in Brazil, said Monsignor Dario Bevilacqua, spokesman for the Sao Paulo archdiocese.
If he is elected to the papacy, it will be mainly for that reason. I may be in the minority among my missionary colleagues on this one, but I kind of hope he is elected, for a couple of reasons.
First, it will put Brazil back in the church-going public's eye...which will make my job talking to churches here in the US a lot easier.
Second, it will throw the differences between Catholicism and the true Gospel into sharp relief, separating the sheep from the goats in our churches in Brazil.
To be fair, my wife--who is Brazilian--is disagreeing with me vehemently on this. She feels that a Brazilian Pope would energize the Catholic church in Brazil and make our job more difficult. I understand this point of view...but still hold to my position.
She gets to be beautiful all the time...so I should get to be right at least once in a while...right?
If you are interested, click below for the entire article.
Update: I just had it pointed out to me that if you do a Google search for "brazilian pope", this site is number three on the list. Wow.
April 4, 2005
Caption Challenge for 4/4/05
The theme for this week's Caption Challenge is "parallel parking".
Happy Birthday, Baby!
Today is my wife's birthday. Her age is, of course, classified information. We have a romantic evening planned for tonight, and there are reports that it will include Red Lobster.
The Spiritual State of Brazil
I have mentioned before that one of the biggest obstacles I have faced in getting to the field is the conception on the part of many that Brazil is a "Christian" nation. The article below conflicts with this view.
Brazil and the Pope
As is to be expected, there was much sadness in Brazil this weekend over the death of the Pope. For me, the saddest part of this event is that a man who probably thought he soent his life serving God discovered that all his good works (and they were many, by human standards) were as "filthy rags".
I found a couple news articles this morning that have to do with Brazil and the Pope.
This article details the sometimes-rocky relationship between John Paul II and Brazil. Here is an example:
Under Pope John Paul's watch, the Brazilian church backed pro-democracy protests that helped end a 21-year military dictatorship in 1985 and has been one of the most outspoken and active forces in the modern-day fight against poverty.
But the pope was also instrumental in quashing the Marxist-tinged ''liberation theology'' of the 1970s and early 1980s that called on the church to defend the poor against repressive governments.
Be sure to read the rest of the article, it is very informative as to the influence of Romanism in Brazil.
This headline jumped out at me. What better way for the Roman church to boost it's flagging membership in the largest Catholic nation than by appealing to Brazilian nationalim? And what better way to do that than to appoint a Brazilian Pope? You can believe I will be keeping my eye on this one.