April 30, 2007
Book of the Week: The Civil War: A Narrative (Vol. 1)
Possibly THE definitive work on the Civil War. This ponderous first volume in Foote's series brings to life the perspectives, personalities, and perplexities of that great American conflict. The colorful characters that made up that cast of that grand drama are painted by the author in vivid--yet well researched and accurate--colors. The conversations crackle and the battles leap off the page.
In this first book Foote does a masterful job putting together the complex and confusing pieces that formed the enormous puzzle of this tremendous conflict. The contrast between Lincoln's and Davis' personalities is clearly demonstrated--with the resultant divergences in leadership style that in turn effected the events of the entire war.
The reader feels the tenderness of Davis toward his family, the frustration of Lincoln with his generals, the angst of a divided nation, and the horror at the mass carnage of battles such as Shiloh and Antietam.
I cannot imagine anybody who is remotely interested in the Civil War who would not want to read this book.
Caption Challenge for 4-30-2007
Lost, Found, and Lost
Three weeks ago we were returning from the ladies retreat at the Iguatu camp; exhausted, and with a plate full of things to do. In the course of the running around that we did throughout the course of that day--dropping people off, picking up supplies, etc.--our truck was broken into and several things removed. As evidence of how busy we were, we hardly even noticed. The things taken included a CD player, my collection of travel CDs, and Itacyara's Bible.
Fast forward to last week. One of the girls in our youth group was approached a friend, who offered to sell her a Bible. When she was shown the Bible, she said "I know that Bible! It belongs to Itacyara." The friend said she had gotten it from a guy she knew who had "found it somewhere". Of course I know where he found it--in the front seat of my truck!
There is little chance of us recovering the other "found" items, however. The young man who "found" them was killed last week, apparently while he was "finding" other things in a house not his own.
I really could care less about the CD player or the CDs. I'm glad Itacyara got her Bible back. I really wish, however, that the young man in question had taken time to read the Bible he had "found" and in the process, found Jesus.
April 29, 2007
Speaking of Puppets
Yesterday Em and I, along with a group of our teens and youth leaders, went up to Jacksonville for the WoL regional Teens Involved competition. It was a fun day, filled with lots up puppets (for me anyway since I was one of the judges) and of course...driving. One of the highlights of the puppetry judging was when a sister church in Lakeland did a puppet skit called "Culligans Island." Which was written by one Andrew Comings (though I had to take away some points when they spelled it "Cummings"....I didn't really take the points away...that would be wrong.). Anyway...it was kind of cool even though I think they edited out some of the obvious Comings humor that was in the script.
Puppet Tutorial, Part 2
Finally we got it finished. The quality on both of these videos is not the greatest, but that is mostly because I did the editing on the PC instead of the Mac.
April 28, 2007
Puppet Tutorial, Part One
Here is part one of the video from last night's puppet-making session.
Update on Tim Gelatt
The following e-mail just arrived in my inbox regarding Tim Gelatt, for whom we had asked prayer in an earlier post.
Thanks so much for your prayers for and notes sent to the Tim Gelatt family. These have been a real encouragement to them. Tim came through the biopsy procedure on Wednesday very well. It had been thought he might be in ICU for a couple of days afterward, but he was able to go home the next afternoon for which we praise the Lord.
Please continue to pray as the Gelatts wait for biopsy reports. They hope to know something by this coming Friday. Thanks for your concern!
Rev. Steve Fulks
Administrator for Church Relations & Enlistment Baptist Mid-Missions
Yesterday we scheduled a puppet-making fest. Here is the result of my efforts:
On a whim, we decided to film a little puppet-making tutorial. As soon as I get it edited, I will show it to you. It's in English!
April 27, 2007
I just found out, via my brother's blog, that Roger Bennett has passed away. It appears that his homegoing was actually on March 17th.
Still, I am saddened. However, with George, Glenn, and Roger in heaven, the singing has got to be GREAT!
A tribute (not made by me...)
Roger's wife has continued posting over at his blog since his passing.
Dan Phillips on Tolerance
What is below are just excerpts. I would encourage you to read the entire article.
Every spiritual blessing in them and abounding?yet Jesus has something against them: they tolerate false teaching. It isn't enough that they are personally holy, alive, growing. These are good things, they are signs of personal health. But there is a vital, crucial, missing element. A body that does not fight off infection, whatever its other strengths, is not a healthy body.
The job of a shepherd is not merely to guide and feed the sheep, though it is that. It is also to protect the sheep, by fighting off the wolves, even if it costs him personally. It is this commitment that sets him apart from a mere hireling (John 10:12-13).
Wonderful church, Thyatira. Good pastor. But -- he wouldn't draw the line, and so they didn't. They wouldn't enforce the edges.
And Jesus has that against them.
Just a little excerpt from my morning devotions:
God, show yourself strong in the world today. Make yourself known to
those who blaspheme your Name. Pour out your grace and mercy upon
them. Do works among them that only You can do. May the nations know
today that God sits on the throne. Amen."
April 26, 2007
I got two e-mails yesterday informing me that the forum had sustained a somewhat nasty spam attack. The fact that I heard this from others indicates just how often I actually visited the forum.
So, from this point on, the forum is no more. If you want to get information about missions, I can't think of a better resource than the exhaustive list of weblogs by missionaries over at MissionaryBlogs.
April 25, 2007
Education Reform in Brazil
The quote by President Lula about the TV programs kids are watching was very important--I am glad to see him speak out on this.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has unveiled the details of a $4bn plan to improve standards of education across the country.
The president said that failure to act in the past has meant that today Brazilians watched television programmes about young people involved in criminality and girls aged 15 to 17 working as prostitutes.
Concern about educational standards is widespread in Brazilian society, and the implementation of this plan will be watched carefully to see if it lives up to its promise.
Update on Mikey
We took Mikey to the pediatrician today. It turns out he had a virus that has been going around--nothing serious. Both he and Itá have a clean bill of health. Itá has a regular pregnancy checkup tomorrow.
Thank you very much for praying.
Paddle Boat from Recycled Materials
Li Zhiyuan assembles a paddle boat made of recycled materials on the river at a park in Hefei, east China's Anhui province, April 23, 2007. Li, the designer of the paddle boat, spent one and half months making the boat using trashed wood, bottles, cans and bicycles which cost him less than 100 yuan (USD 12), local media reported.
April 24, 2007
Given the vast readership of this blog, there has to be at least one of you who woke up this morning thinking "I wonder what a VeggieTales(tm) song would sound like in Portuguese.
Well, wonder no longer!
Billy Sunday? Billy Graham?
Nope, just me.
One of our seminary students who works at the Esperança church snapped this picture during my message on Sunday.
Today was picture day on campus.
This picture shows the entire family of the SBC--students, teachers, and spouses. These are the people in whom God has given us the privilege of investing our lives. You couldn't ask for a better group.
This is the freshman class, standing on the steps of the new (and still slightly unfinished) chapel.
These are the sophomores. The the tall guy in the red shirt is from our church.
The Junior class.
And these are the seniors, who will be graduating this December.
And last but not least, the teaching staff. Check out the distinguished looking guy on the far left, back row.
April 23, 2007
Quick Prayer Request for Mikey
We would appreciate your prayers for Mikey. He has developed a rash that covers a good portion of his body. We have a doctor's appointment scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Book of the Week: War of Words by Paul David Tripp
Caption Challenge for 4-23-2007
April 22, 2007
This evening I had the chance to preach at one of our local churches. The theme given me was "The Scarcity of Missionaries". Taking advantage of recent studies in Matthew, I shared three ways to end the dearth of missionaries in the local church: 1)develop an eternal focus, 2) revitalize prayer for missions and missionaries, and 3) take the Great Commission personally.
God saw fit to speak to several people through the message. Many raised their hands to indicate that they were committed to daily missions, and one person indicated that he felt called to pursue career missions.
I was also pleased to see the impact our seminary students are having in the church.
One third of earth?s people call themselves Christians. One third of non-Christians live in already reached people groups. One third of non-Christians live in unreached people groups. 680 million people (11.5%) are Evangelicals or Bible-reading Christians.
U.S. missionaries make up only 30 percent of the world?s missionaries. Our slightly declining annual number is being overtaken by increased participation from Africa, Latin America, and Korea.
Of those involved in missions in the US, 98% are Senders (Financial Supporters, Prayers, Letter, Mobilizers, Pastors, etc.), 0.5% are Servicers (Mobilizers, Administrative, Tech Support, Training, communications), 1.5% are Missionaries (Church Planting, Development, Tentmaking, Tribal Outreach, Health Services).
April 21, 2007
Bolivia Tightens the Screws
Supplies to the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Santos will be reduced from 24.6 million cubic meters (869 million cubic feet) a day to 24 million cubic meters (847 million cubic feet,) while exports to the the eastern Brazilian region of Cuiaba, which received 1.2 million cubic meters (42 million cubic feet) a day, will be cut off entirely, the minister said.
April 20, 2007
Catholic Church buries limbo after centuries
Urgent BMM Prayer Request
This morning I received the following e-mail from the Baptist Mid-Missions home office. With permission I am passing it on to you. Please pray.
Dear BMM Family,
I've faced some pretty difficult things in my nearly 33 years of ministry, but this will be remembered as one of the hardest. This past Wednesday morning, Rev. Tim Gelatt, our Midwest Representative, phoned to share with me that he has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had been with him just two weeks ago as we had ministered together at Northland Baptist Bible College. Tim was immediately scheduled for an appointment with an
oncologist on Wednesday and a neurosurgeon on Thursday. After seeing
these two physicians it was determined to perform a biopsy next Wednesday, April 25. The results of this procedure will give his doctors direction as to what means of treatment should be prescribed. In a conversation with Tim this morning, he asked that this be shared with the entire BMM family.
I would ask that each of you be in earnest prayer for Tim, Anita and their
4 girls during these next days. Would you also please ask your congregations to lift them up before the Throne of Grace? Thank you so much.
As you can well imagine, the Gelatts have a lot on their minds right now, so phone calls should be kept to a minimum. If you would like to send them an email of encouragement, you may do so at email@example.com. I know this would be a blessing to them. I plan to be with the Tim and Anita next Wednesday during the procedure as the doctors determine how they will proceed. Thank you for caring for the Gelatts.
Rev. Steve Fulks
Administrator for Church Relations & Enlistment Baptist Mid-Missions
The Eyes Have It
A short, silent video showing me making eyes for the puppets to be used in our upcoming puppet school.
April 19, 2007
Pictures from Iguatu
On Saturday we made a trip to Iguatu to take care of some business at the camp. A friend with a digital camera went along and snapped some great pictures. With his permission, I share them with you.
Cacti like this dot the campus.
This bridge crosses a small ravine at the camp.
An inlet in the lake.
Another picture of the same inlet.
One of the boy's cabins.
The view from the top of the dam.
A delicious fruit--called ata in some places and pinha in others.
What a nice family!
Slashing through the jungle in search of lost tribes? Nope. Just walking around the Iguatu Camp.
April 18, 2007
Dad in Albany
The picture shows Dad (on the right) with the senator from our district.
April 16, 2007
Caption Challenge for 4-16-2007
Book of the Week: The Great Democracies
This is the fourth and final volume of Churchill's magnificent "History of the English Speaking Peoples." It covers basically the period of the reign of Queen Victoria--dealing with both American and British struggles and expansion during those eventful times.
One cannot help but wonder, based on what we now know of history, if perhaps it would have been better had the Pax Brittania lasted longer and been allowed to hold sway.
The last paragraph of the book is instructive in this regard:
Here is set out a long story of the English-speaking peoples. They are now to become Allies in terrible but victorious wars. And that is not the end. Another phase looms before us, in which alliance will once more be tested and in which its formidable virtues may be to preserve Peace and Freedom. The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.
Based on when the book was published, the other "phase" to which he refers can only be the struggle against Communism. I would contend that, were he alive today, he might say the same thing about the war on islamic terrorism.
April 15, 2007
Speaking to the Heart
Pastor Mauro Clark
During our conference in Fortaleza last month, I had the privilege to spend some time with Pastor Mauro Clark. Pastor Mauro is the founder and president of Falando ao Coração (Speaking to the Heart) Ministries.
Based in Fortaleza, CE, this ministry draws on over 20 years of Pastor Mauro's ministry experience to provide quality Bible studies, messages, and materials to the lusophone (Portuguese speaking) world.
Besides the website, Falando ao Coração also hosts an annual conference in Fortaleza. Many of our seminary students--as well as local pastors and missionaries--have attended and been very blessed.
One of Pastor Mauro's burdens is to make the ministry available to Portuguese-speakers the world over. With that in mind, he sent me the following letter in Portuguese, which I am printing here in its entirety.
If you don't read Portuguese, then you might want to check out this link instead.
Olá! Eugostaria de apresentara vocêo sitewww.falandoaocoracao.com.br, composto de pregações, artigos e meditaçõees com sólida base bíblica e aplicações práticas.
O material do site, fornecido gratuitamente, é fruto do meu trabalho como pregador e escritor, amparado por uma experiência de vinte anos no ministério pastoral.
Eue a equipe que meassessora pretendemos alcançar pessoas quefalam o português, espalhadas por este mundo. Queremos exporo Evangelho para quem nãoo conhece beme edificaros que játêm compromisso com Cristoe desejam crescer espiritualmente atravésda Internet. Caso vocêdeseje receber nossos Boletins por enviados em tornode 10 em10 dias, ou nos enviaralguma outra mensagem, entre em contato conosco. Para mais detalhes vocêpode consultarno próprio sitea seçãoSobre o Ministério.
abraçoe que Deus lheabençoe.
April 14, 2007
Testimony of an Ex-Priest
A while back I posted a report about our annual All-Brazil field conference, and mentioned a letter read by an ex-priest about the ministry one of our missionaries had with him. I have been eager to share this with you, and have finally been able to get it translated.
A big "thank-you" to Dorothy Kettelwell who helped with the the translation and provided the pictures.
Missionary Alice Smith: Grace and Peace!
Certainly you must be finding it odd that this "foreigner" from
, Ceará, is contacting you! But I will try to explain and to justify my intention. Fortaleza
The years, yea an entire lifetime has passed and, certainly, you do not remember me... The years I have lived have separated me from my youth, and I also have been unsuccessful in visualizing your appearance in my mind, no matter how much I want to and how hard I try...
But, the appearance is still strong, very strong in my mind, if not a bit foggy because of the number of years I have lived, of your beloved and unforgettable husband, so dear to the memory: Pastor Neal Smith.
I do not remember very well the year that I had the privilege to know him. Memory has not served me well. Probably between 1966 or 1967, I do not know for certain. But dates are of little the importance now. The fact is that I had the privilege to know the remarkable person of Pastor Neal Smith, your unforgettable husband.
At that time I was a Capuchin Seminarian (belonging to the "Order of the Minor Capuchin Friars OFMCap", in the minor seminary), studying in the so called, "Semiánrio Seráfico de Messejana". I do not know if you remember this catholic seminary, right next to the
Messejana Lake, in . Fortaleza
I always liked music a lot, even though I have never studied it. I did not have chance, for when I began to show an interest, my fixation was so great for it that the Friars, my superiors, thought that it was personal vanity, and so they never let me learn music. Imagine my frustration!
As seminarians, we came to give catechism lessons to the resident children in the neighborhood of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, more accurately, on
Jaime Benévolo Streetor Baron of Aratanha Road--there is doubt as to which. On one particular day, I stayed for supper in a residence where we were giving catechism lessons to the children. And there, as we prepared to return to the Convent of the Capuchins on Duque de Caxias Avenue, I heard the sound of an accordion (also called concertina) played with much enthusiasm by a certain gentleman of good physical stature which caught my attention.
I was informed that this was a "protestant" (as in earlier times were called here among us, in a pejorative way, those who believe in Jesus), that he was trying to gather up the catholics to his church, mainly our catechism children. I was brave, and I determined to go meet him in order to "get an explanation" and to ask him to play his songs and to preach his sermons in another place. I left that house in the direction the other house, determined to do this.
Upon my arrival he was playing a hymn that has NEVER left my head and my heart! It took me years and years to discover the title and the words of the hymn, but its melody never could be "extinguished" from my memory!
I am a stranger here, within a foreign land;
My home is far away, upon a golden strand;
Ambassador to be of realms beyond the sea,
I'm here on business for my King.
This is the message that I bring,
A message angels fain would sing:
âOh, be ye reconciled,"
Thus saith my Lord and King,
"Oh, be ye reconciled to God."
When he finished playing and singing, with his strong, well-tuned voiceâalbeit with a strong, obvious accent, he looked at me and smiled a full and friendly smile, and gently--as was his custom--invited me to come into the house. Evidently I, with a scowling face, refused his invitation and, after a few moments had passed I left, but not before he had time to read a text from the Gospels, that speaks about the meeting of Nicodemos with the Lord Jesus.
What left me more irritated was that the Pastor Neal (after this I came to know his name) came to preach exactly on the day of the catechism lessons that I taught the children of that street. And some of them wanted the lesson to finish early, "because the American protestant pastor was already arriving", and I was "ticked off", because of what our children were saying. It was in the middle of the week that your husband went to
Jaime Benévolo Streetor Baron of Aratanha Road, I do not remember which. I only know that it was close to our Convent. I remember that he had a jeep, more like a land-rover, and when he arrived he was very communicative, greeting all who were there in that neighborhood. His smile always disturbed me greatly, for I did not know how to smile...
And there he was playing, singing and preaching! From far off the sound of his concertina and his distinctive voice could be heard! I was curious, and at the same time, very angry because of the fact of his "stealing" our children...
One day I could no longer be silent so I went to that house, again. Upon my arrival he threw me a smile--that smile that, most certainly you never would forget. He came to meet me and gave me a big hug--so big, in fact, that, I being skin and bones, it almost broke me in two! He told me that he was happy for my presence and made me feel right at home! I was not accustomed to this...in the Convent people always live very isolated from others, you see... We became friends, a little... I was all flustered, but not to be outdone, since he had broken the barrier between us, I asked him timidly:
"Are you not going to play another song?â I inquired of him.
"What hymn do the brethren desire now?" He asked the people present.
Quickly I answered.
"The one about the pilgrim...... can you play that one?" I suggested to him.
"Ah, you like that one?" He asked to me.
"I heard it sung a few weeks back." I answered him.
And he played and sang! Wonderful! He knew I was a seminarian friar. But always he dealt with me with a special affection, which never gave me an opening to fight with him because of our catechism children. Already I was getting used to hearing him a bit, before returning to the Convent.
One day before beginning his work, I was already close by and he came over to me on the sidewalk, and started to talk with me. I was very nervous. He asked me questions which I have already forgotten. I only know that we talked and talked. It told me that he was "planting"(or something like that) a church in the Tevelándia section of town--I did not even know where that was. He asked to me if I wanted to go there, that he would come and pick me up.
"NO, I cannot!" I answered quickly "I do not have permission to leave the seminary like that, especially with you." I informed him.
Time went on and one day, towards the end of that year, I said to him that I was going to be transferred to another seminary - the greater seminary, in Parnaíba, Piauí. I noticed that he was afflicted. And he did not waste any more time. He "lowered the boom" as we say here. He spoke to me of Jesus, quickly, and looked me in the eye and said to me: -
"You have the skill to be a pastor, not a priest. I am determined to help you go to our Baptist Seminary in the Cariri, that is in
. I will speak with my friends, and I will open the doors. But first you need to accept Jesus as your only and sufficient Savior. You think about this come and talk to me later. Do not go without coming and speaking with me and making your decision." Juazeiro do Norte
I remember perfectly what he said to me word for word. What most impressed me, was that the man spoke with me with tears in his eyes. I did not know how to cry, I had ` forgotten what it was like to spill a single tear drop. We were being taught thus, it was part of the Rule of the Order.
I did not have time to talk to him again. That was the last time that I spoke with him and he with me! I may even be confused with his face, but his voice, the one that sang "I am a stranger here..." never has been extinguished from my mind and my heart!
Ah, how the time passed... I was ordained a Capuchin priest, in Santo André, greater
between 71 for 72. I became a ferocious persecutor of the people of God, mainly when I returned to Ceará, in the decade of 85 to 86, and went to work in Quixadá, in the Sertão Central region. I was there for the last the 10 years of the 22 years that I was a Roman Catholic priest. I was an implacable persecutor of the believers, independent of their denomination. São Paulo
Until one day I was reached in a dramatic way, by the Grace of my Lord! He is Sovereign!
I started my life anew at 44 years of age, when I left the so-called " Roman Catholic Church ". Difficult days! Tribulations were not lacking! But how good it is to believe in Jesus! How good it is to follow Jesus! How contagious the joy therein! How great it is to praise and worship Him "in spirit and truth" and to have certainty of eternal life!
I went to study theology again. I finished the bachelor in theology course and was consecrated to the Baptist ministry, on October 8th of 2000, first among the Baptists of the Brazilian Baptist Convention. Already I have covered Brazil almost entirely, I have visited its capitals and main cities, recounting my testimony of life in the Lord, fruit from the seed--I do not have a shadow of a doubt--planted by the work of your husband, by the sound of his concertina, by his distinctive voice through that hymn that he always liked to sing! And oh how he sang!
I would that all the missionaries working in
â¦know that it is worth it to be "a stranger here, in a foreign land". Brazil
Pastor José Barbosa de Sena Neto
It is time I update you on what is going on with the Cidade Feliz. Currently, our team is working hard on three projects.
1. We are preparing for our second school of puppetry, which will be at the end of this month. These events are great opportunities to teach Brazilians the art of puppetry for use in evangelism, scout out new talent, and raise funds for our filming projects.
2. There are two short vignettes currently in production. Below you can see some of the pictures of the puppets that are being built for these.
Cicero and Nice, our puppet builders extraordinaire, have also been working on developing different styles of puppets, like the ones below.
3. We are developing a story line, props, and puppets for half-hour productions which will be made available on DVD. As can be imagined, this is much more work. Part of the story line in development involves and evil scientist named Baltazar, who lives in a tower and is constantly plotting the overthrow of the Cidade Feliz. Below you can see pictures of the construction of a model of Baltazar's Tower.
Please continue to pray for this ministry. We see in the Cidade Feliz project the opportunity to communicate the truths of the gospel to many people. The imagination and enthusiasm on the part of our team are boundless.
April 10, 2007
Ladies Retreat at Iguatu
Over Easter weekend I had my debut/baptism by fire as the director of the Iguatu Baptist Camp. It was hard work, stressful, challenging--in short, a lot of fun!
Camp is definitely going "high tech". The ladies set up a little studio, complete with computers and sound equipment. Dubbed "USAF FM", it provided a musical background for the event--including 5 am (!) rise-and-shine.
There were casualties during the week. I was awakened at 3 am on Saturday to take this lady to the hospital. She had twisted her ankle while navigating the trails by the cabins late at night. It was very swollen and needed attention. Thankfully, there was no break in the bone.
In all there were two hospital runs--not too bad considering that there were 270+ ladies in attendance.
Of course no camp would be operational without an effective kitchen staff. We are grateful for the ladies God has provided to work in this capacity. They do a tremendous job.
As you can see from the picture, one of our more urgent needs at the camp is a revamping of kitchen facilities. Pray that God would supply these funds as He sees fit.
Feeding 270 people is no picnic, but from the smiles on the ladies' faces, we pulled it off!
BetÃ¢nia, wife of a beloved pastor who passed away some years ago, brought the devotionals with the theme "Loving In Times of Crisis". By all accounts, she did a tremendous job.
There was a good representation of ladies from Peace Baptist Church.
Itacyara was not there for that picture, but she is very much in evidence in the one below--taken during one of the competitions.
The Coke(tm) cans were filled with small stones and used as noisemakers to rally the team cheers.
On Saturday evening the women dressed up for a banquet.
The dining hall was decorated, and a special meal was prepared.
Apparently, it was wildly successful!
On Sunday morning the everybody woke up early to have a sunrise service. It was a very special time.
Itacyara and I came away from the week very exhausted, but pleased at the results of the week--as well as excited about potential for the Iguatu camp. You will be hearing much more about it as time goes on. The next big events are the junior and teen weeks in July, for which preparations are well underway.
April 3, 2007
Going to Camp
Tomorrow the family will be packing up for camp, for the ladies retreat. I doubt I will be online much between now and then, but I will give a full report when I get back.