May 28, 2007

Let's Remember

Living overseas, it is easy to forget about a particular holiday. It was past noon today before I remembered it was Memorial Day.

That is one holiday that should not be forgotten--especially by me. I am increasingly aware of the fact that the reason I have the freedom to do what I do is because of the men and women who have shed their blood down through the years to preserve it.

The drawing below by Cox and Forkum illustrates well the sacrifice.


May their struggle not be in vain.

Posted by Andrew at 2:19 PM
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Caption Challenge for 05-28-2007

I am busy preparing for the missions team that will arrive from the US tomorrow morning (roughly 2 am!), but that doesn't mean we don't have time for a little caption challenge!

Have fun!

Posted by Andrew at 8:01 AM
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May 27, 2007

Book of The Week: The Civil War, A Narrative--Volume 2

This is the second in the outstanding and comprehensive series by Shelby Foote about the American Civil War. It narrates the change in fortunes that occurred in q863--turning the tide of victory from South to North. The beginning of the narrative finds a northern army beleaguered by such disasters as Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville--while the South rides the wave of victory created by the genius of Lee and Jackson.

By the end of the book, Jackson is dead, and the North has tasted victory at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Missionary Ridge. The narrative finishes with Grant and Sherman meeting in Ohio to plan the final destruction of the rebellion.

One aspect of the late Shelby's writing that I greatly appreciate is his neutrality. Though Southern (Mississippian) by birth, he is complimentary and critical of northern and southern figures alike, based on their merits or lack thereof.

Given that this series was written at the time of the centennial of the Civil War (the 1960s), the following text from the bibliographical note is instructive. In thanking those who contributed to the work Shelby states,

In a quite different sense , I am obligated also to the governors of my native state and the adjoining states of Arkansas and Alabama for helping to lessen my sectional bias by reproducing, in their actions during several of the years that went into the writing of this volume, much that was least admirable in the postition my ofrebears occupied when they stood up to Lincoln. I suppose, or in any case hope, it is true that history never repeats itself, but I know from watching these three gentlemen that it can be terrifying in its approximations, even when the reproduction--deriving, as it does, its scale from the performers--is in miniature.

In this polarized time of American history, may the only repeat of history be the courage and fortitude shown by the descendants of those on both sides who shed their blood during that great and terrible war.

Posted by Andrew at 5:12 PM
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Brazil in the Blogosphere

The following are some links to interesting articles relating to Brazil that appeared in blogosphere this past week. They do not necessarily have a bearing on our ministry here--although they might.

If you think of Brazil as a third-world country, a trip to the city of Curitiba might change your mind.

Brazil is a big country, and not all of it is as hot as where we live.  Take So Paulo, for example.

The saga of the Gol crash continues.  It looks like the American pilots will still be prosecuted, but there is at least some admission of guilt on the part of the airline controllers.  In my opinion, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of a corrupt system that underfunded the whole air traffic control system.

Speaking of corruption, even the Christ the Redeemer statue is not exempt.  Is nothing sacred?

Posted by Andrew at 5:04 PM
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May 24, 2007

Youth in Missions

The following is an interesting video originally sent to me by the pastor of one of our supporting churches.  In a creative way, it addresses one of the pressing issues in missions today.

Posted by Andrew at 7:56 AM
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Gods andGenerals

The book I am currently reading is a history of the Civil War. Anybody who knows me is aware that I love history--and I am particularly interested in that turbulent period in America.

As can be imagined, the War Between the States is not a hot topic here in Brazil. Even my lovely wife merely tolerates my ramblings about Gettysburg, Shiloh, Vicksburg, etc.

Last night, however, I treated myself by renting God's and Generals from our local video store. From the opening credits--which scroll over various battle flags from both sides as they blow in the breeze--I was transfixed.

The storyline could have been better. In truth, a whole film could have been made about each of the battles (Manassas, Fredricksburg, and Chancellorsville). Instead, the film chronicles the actions of Stonewall Jackson (and, to a lesser extent, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain) during this time-frame. Thus, little attention is given to the changes in Union generals, and the smaller campaigns and events that took place between these major battles. People not up on their Civil War history could get a little confused.

What the movie lacks in plot continuity, however, it makes up for in breathtaking battle scenes. Great care was taken to insure the accuracy of troop movements, as well as reproduce the sight and sound of the battlefield. Many times the viewer gets the impression that he is watching the actual battle take place.

Particularly moving is a scene from the Fredricksburg campaign, where a Northern unit--made up entirely of Irish immigrants--attacks a fortified Confederate position--defended by Irish immigrants. The fierceness of the battle, combined with the emotion shown when both sides discover that they are firing on their own countrymen, makes for a heart-rending scenario.

Of particular interest was the film's treatment of how religion influenced the main players of the war--especially Jackson. For a film produced by Ted Turner (he even has a small cameo in the movie--as a Confederate officer), the treatment of Stonewall's faith--how it affected his loyalties, his relationships, his strategy--is surprisingly sympathetic. The tenderness he showed to his wife (esposita) and to children accurately portrays the human side of this oft-misunderstood historical figure.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is also portrayed as a believer who's faith influences him to take up arms--albeit on the opposite side--in order to free the slaves.

If you are at all interested in Civil War history, this is a must-see film.

Posted by Andrew at 4:34 AM
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May 23, 2007

Missions Gear--New Blog by BMM Missionary

I just stumbled across another blog by a BMM Missionary.  Birch Champeon, who works with Bibles International, has started a weblog called Missions Gear.  Here is what he has to say about it:

When you haul stuff half way around the world, you really don?t want it
to break the second time you use it. Many times you need it to last 3 -
4 years. MissionsGear is a blog about useful tips and equipment for
missionaries. MissionsGear will cover travel, driving, health,
productivity, and technology and how they affect missions life.
The site is very well-designed, and should be a great resource for everybody involved in missions.  You can check out the Champeon's personal website here.

Posted by Andrew at 9:31 AM
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May 22, 2007

Welcome to Buga Buga Land

In "Cidade Feliz" project, we are developing a series of shorts using a tribe of puppets called the Buga Bugas.  They will illustrate, in a humorous way, various principles found in the wisdom books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes).  Ccero and Nice have been hard at work designing the sets for these shorts.  The videos below are test shots for the Buga Buga village. 

One of the biggest problems we are facing right now is lack of funding. We are doing this with what money we can scrape together. There is a possibility that one of our local churches will take this on as a ministry--which will provide at least some income. Pray for God's provision in this regard.

Posted by Andrew at 9:29 AM
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May 21, 2007

Swing Low, Sweet Dollar

You may or may not be aware that the dollar is taking a beating internationally.  Nowhere is this more evident than here in Brazil.  When we arrived here in October of 2005, the dollar was hovering at around 2.20 in the local currency (the real).  That following summer, it even got up to around 2.40.  Since then, however, it has been in a virtually uninterrupted free fall.  As of this writing, it as showing up as 1.97 reais per dollar. 

In layman's terms, this means that every $1,000 that comes from donors in the US is now only worth R$1970, as opposed to the R$2200 it was worth in late 2005--a loss of R$230 (roughly 10%). 

Meanwhile, prices continue to rise here in Brazil.  For example, while I could buy diesel for my truck for R$1,80 a liter in October of 2005, now it costs about R$1,97--an increase of about 10%.  The same applies to the cost of other things as well. 

If you are keeping track, this means that your missionaries in Brazil have suffered a financial hit of about 20% since October of 2005.

So how does this play out in the day-to-day life of the missionaries?  In some very interesting ways.

The Good

The Economic Difference Between Brazilians and Americans Diminishes.  An example: My (Brazilian) pastor goes every year to a large conference in S�o Paulo--similar to the Shepherd's Conference in the US.  He pays his own way.  I have wanted to go, but have lacked the funds.  Please understand that I am not complaining.  I think this is a good thing.  It is now easier for Brazilians to see missionaries as co-workers, and not cash cows.  Not too long ago a Brazilian friend of mine asked why I did not visit him in Jo�o Pessoa.  I told him I didn't have funds to be traveling that far very often.  He smiled and said "Now that's contextualization!"

Brazilians Step Up to Support Brazilian Ministries.  I was encouraged at a recent pastor's meeting to here the area pastors discussing ideas on how they could support missions and send more missionaries.  The ideas did not include trying to get funds from the US.  This did not happen overnight--but the weak
 dollar is certainly contributing.  We are trying to take advantage of this at the camp by encouraging churches to take up various repair projects.  Of course, contributions from the US are still quite welcome, and put to good use.  But seeing the Brazilian churches take up the reins is very gratifying.

The Bad

Missionaries are tightening their belts.  Itacyara and I have done some serious re-evaluating of financial priorities--especially with a new baby on the way.  As a result, we have decided to move out of our house.  For eight months we will stay in the home of a missionary who is on furlough, during which time we will look for something smaller and cheaper. 

I am also selling things.  My projector was the first to go--to be followed up shortly by my Palm Pilot.  We are not the only ones in this situation.  One of our colleagues just sold his house!

Projects Languish.
Many of our larger projects--such as the new chapel on our campus--are
funded by large donations from the US.  A donation made a year ago to
cover all the expenses of a construction project now covers 20% less of
that new project. 

The Ugly

Everybody Wants to Buy Electronics in the US.  It works like this: The strong real against the dollar makes electronic items from the US (laptops, projectors) cheaper for Brazilians.  They are not cheaper here in Brazil because of exorbitant taxes.  E-bay makes it quite easy for Brazilians to buy goods in the US.  The only problem is getting the merchandise here once it has been purchased.  Here is where the missionaries come in, for while we have less buying power, we still have access to the US.  The result is that at least twice a week I have someone approach me asking if I could help them get a digital camera/laptop/pen drive.

It gets old.

So, these are interesting, nay, exciting times to be a missionary in Brazil.  There are unique challenges and just-as-unique opportunities.  One thing is for certain--God is working the good, the bad, and even the ugly for His glory.

Posted by Andrew at 12:03 AM // Comments: 0 // TrackBack: 0 //
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May 19, 2007

Joe and Kalyn Wedding Update

The pictures don't lie...they got hitched!

Is that a handsome looking family or what?

Posted by Andrew at 8:28 PM
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Joe and Kalyn--Wedded Bliss!

Today my "little" brother Joe is getting married! The grow up so fast (snif).

Congratulations, Joe and Kalyn. May God be honored in your marriage, and may you have many, many years of happiness before you.

Posted by Andrew at 6:47 AM
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May 16, 2007

Iguatu Camp from the Air

In doing some research, I found this shot of the Iguatu Camp, taken from the air.  If you click on the image, you will see where I have labeled the various buildings. 

Posted by Andrew at 8:57 AM
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May 15, 2007

Does This Ring True?

The following was a story told by the speaker for last week's missionary conference:

A certain barber was cutting a man's hair.  When he finished, the man started to pay, but the barber held up his hand.

"You are a man of the cloth, aren't you?" he asked.

"Why yes I am," was the reply.  "I am the priest at the local Catholic church."

"Then you do not need to pay," said the barber.  "In my shop, the servants of God get free hair cuts."

The priest thanked the barber and went on his way.  When the barber opened his shop the next day, he was surprised to find a bottle of fine Italian wine, with a note from the priest thanking him for his courtesy.

Some time later, the barber finished cutting another man's hair.  As the man began to pay, the barber held up his hand.

"You are a man of the cloth, aren't you?" he asked.

"Why yes I am," was the reply.  "I am the rabbi at the local synagogue."

"Then you do not need to pay," said the barber.  "In my shop, the servants of God get free hair cuts."

The rabbi thanked the barber and went on his way.  When the barber
opened his shop the next day, he was surprised to find a basket full of different kinds of bread, with a note from the rabbi thanking him for his courtesy.

Once again, as the barber finished cutting yet another customer's hair, the customer reached into his wallet to pay.  The barber held up his hand.

"You are a man of the cloth, aren't you?" he asked.

"Why yes I am," was the reply.  "I am the pastor at the local Regular Baptist Church."

"Then you do not need to pay," said the barber.  "In my shop, the servants of God get free hair cuts."

The pastor thanked him and went on his way.

The next day as the barber opened his shop, he was surprised to find a long line made up of all the Regular Baptist pastors within a 100 mile radius.

Posted by Andrew at 8:24 AM
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May 12, 2007

The Effect of "Protestantism" in Brazil

A rise in crime and drug use, accompanied by a rise in evangelical Protestantism. Methinks our impact is not what it should be. Also, most who are termed Protestant here have absolutely nothing to do with Luther and Calvin.

Many use the rise in "evangelical Protestantism" here to suggest that we need to send fewer missionaries. The other statistics, however, indicate that there is much work to be done here by people dedicated to Christ, regardless of national origin,
clipped from
Brazil is the second-largest consumer of cocaine after the United States, according to the U.S. State Department, and big cities across Latin America's largest nation are plagued by drug violence.
Driven by gangs that control street-corner dealing, the problem is particularly acute in the teeming slums of Rio de Janeiro, where gangs lure children into lives of violence and engage in near-daily shootouts with police that kill innocent bystanders.
Brazil's census shows the percentage of citizens characterizing themselves as Catholics plunged to 74 percent in 2000 from 89 percent in 1980, while those calling themselves evangelical Protestants rose to 15 percent from 7 percent.
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Posted by Andrew at 4:27 PM
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May 10, 2007

Update from My Dad

I got to talk to Dad earlier this morning.  He is in good spirits, and appreciates all of you who have written or left notes saying you would be praying.

Rather than try to summarize all he said, I will repost what he wrote on his website this morning.  Be sure to read it all the way through, because the last part expresses my Dad's heart.

It's not melanoma - the worst kind of skin cancer.

It's probably not basel cell - the most preferable kind - easily removed.

Most likely squamous cell - which can be removed and is easily treatable when caught in time but does carry the potential of the cells getting loose in the system if they have a chance.

This particular occurrence is unusual in that skin cancer normally begins on the surface. This has begun beneath the surface. I would have totally missed it had it not been right where I could see something a little out of the ordinary when I shaved. We do not know how deep or wide it might be, but the Doctor agrees with me that we are probably looking at a patch instead of a spot.

Upcoming after Joseph's wedding will be a surgical procedure with the surgeon cutting and the pathologist doing biopsies on the spot until they are satisfied that they have all of the little rascal outta there.

So...basically...I'm not out of the woods (it is cancer) but there doesn't seem to be a wolf near by (not life threatening at this juncture).

Thank you to all who are praying and to the many who expressed encouragement at the platform approach to dealing with something like this. I don't want to give the impression that there are not emotional ups and downs. However, the objective is to represent Christ well during this particular phase and whatever phases might follow in time.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about dying lately. (No, not morbid preoccupation - just occasional reflection.) I have stood beside many people as they died and, with this fresh reminder of my own mortality, I have begun to ask God for something. If it will fall to me to approach my death consciously, I hope to be able to be like Pilgrim's friend in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress." As Pilgrim and Hopeful stepped into the River of Death, Pilgrim suddenly became gripped by fear and felt the waters go over his head. However, Hopeful caught his hand and said, "Be of good cheer, my brother; I feel the bottom and it is good."

As I reflected on this it occurred to me that this is one of the primary reasons why God lets us grow older. If we have walked with Jesus as we ought we should be saying authentically to the next generation in a wide range of scary circumstances in life - "Be of
good cheer, my friend; I have felt the bottom and it is good."

Posted by Andrew at 10:01 AM
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Hezbollah in Latin America

clipped from
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it, according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the continent.
From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier, Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among about 25,000 Arab residents whose families immigrated mainly from Lebanon in two waves, after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1985 Lebanese civil war.
It is surprisingly easy to move across borders in the Triple Frontier, where motorbikes are permitted to cross without documents. A smuggler can bike from Paraguay into Brazil and return without ever being asked for a passport, and it is not much harder for cars and trucks.
 blog it
I have talked about this before, but people in the US need to wake up to the threat that is on their doorstep. Sadly, so do the governments of the tri-border countries, including Brazil.

Posted by Andrew at 9:51 AM // Comments: 0 // TrackBack: 0 //
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May 9, 2007

Give Your Kids a Bible and a Legacy

Some may have a hard time seeing as how the following idea came from Michael Card, and others may wince when they see that it was posted on the official ESV blog. Yet I thought the idea was outstanding, and am going to start now to put it into practice.
clipped from
Once when he was giving a concert, I heard Michael Card say that he was reading his daughter?s Bible, which he explained that he bought each of his kids a Bible and read it before giving it to them. And as he read it, he made notes in the margins, speaking directly to whichever child?s Bible he was reading? so that years later as they read it, their father would be speaking to them in the margins concerning the text and its application for their lives. I was fascinated by this tradition? I loved it and wanted to do it immediately, but it scares me a little. I figure I?d get 1/3 or 1/2 through the first one, and that?d be it? one kid would get an incomplete effort and the other none at all. Still, it?d be powerful if I had more confidence in my own discipline to be able to finish it.
 blog it

Posted by Andrew at 2:29 PM
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Here Comes the Pope

Pope Benedict begins his sixth apostolic journey today, his first papal trip outside of Europe (excluding Turkey), to the most populous Catholic country in the world, Brazil.
The 9,477-kilometer flight is expected to last twelve and a half hours and the papal plane is scheduled to land at the international airport of Sao Paulo / Guarulhos in Brazil at 4.30 p.m. local time, 9.30 p.m. in Rome.
At 6.10 p.m. (11.10 p.m. in Rome), the Holy Father will travel by popemobile to the monastery of Sao Bento where he will be staying during his time in Sao Paulo.
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Brazil is in a tizzy about the upcoming visit of the Pope to this country. There is talk that Friday will be declared a holiday here in Juazeiro--even though "o papa" will not be coming anywhere near here. Indeed, for him to show up here--where the majority of the populace worships a renegade priest who was "officially" ex-communicated by the Catholic Church--would probably be a little uncomfortable for him.

On a related note, I have often felt that if I were Pope, I would have a hard time resisting the urge to fan out my cape, turn to the nearest cardinal, and say "Quickly! To the popemobile!"

Posted by Andrew at 2:26 PM
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Brazil Stands Up to Bolivia

Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Tuesday he would negotiate with Brazil over two Brazil-built oil refineries in Bolivia and denied any conflict between the two countries, news reaching here said.
"From the moment we base ourselves in legality and respect for property, and by fulfilling agreements, there will never be problems. I am convinced of that," Morales told a press conference in the Palace of Government in the capital La Paz.
Petrobras has given Bolivia a deadline of Wednesday to respond to a purchase offer, threatening to take the matter to international arbitration and warned of a possible "negative impact" on bilateral aid.
 blog it
The money quote is this one by the Bolivian president: "From the moment we base ourselves in legality and respect for property, and by fulfilling agreements, there will never be problems. I am convinced of that,"

That is a significant change of tune from the one he was singing a few months ago when he sent troops into the Petrobras plants.

A Brazilian I talked to yesterday is of the opinion that this new-found backbone on the part of Brazil is due to Lula's recent chumminess with Bush.

Time will tell.

Posted by Andrew at 7:12 AM
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May 8, 2007

Puppet Practice

The Cidade Feliz filming project is picking up speed.  Last night we had an awesome practice session, seeking to build up the professionalism of our team.  Here are some outtakes:

Posted by Andrew at 8:28 AM
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No Book of the Week This Week

Due to time constraints, I have not been able to finish a book this week.  It is also due to the size of the book I am reading (note to self: if I am going to read one book a week, I might want to chose books with less than 900 pages).

For those of you who depend on this blog to recommend good reading material, do not despair.  You can always check out the library and see all the reviews of past books I have read.  Also, I recently revamped our Amazon store--where you can find Comings-tested, Comings-approved books at your fingertips. 

Hopefully the Book-of-the-Week feature will return in full force next week.

Posted by Andrew at 8:21 AM
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Caption Challenge for 05/08/2007

Posted by Andrew at 8:09 AM
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May 6, 2007

The Things You Find on E-bay!

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- The government has ordered an Internet auction site to remove an advertisement in which a Brazilian man offered to sell his wife for about $50.

The Estado news agency said it wasn't clear if the ad was meant as a joke. It said Mercado Livre told it the ad hadn't been noticed earlier because of the large number of products offered on the site - nearly 1 million.

The described his wife physically and listed her qualities as a homemaker and companion. He reportedly said she was 35 and "worth her weight in gold."

 blog it
So...if she is "worth her weight in gold", and the asking price is fifty bucks, she must not weigh much at all.

Especially when you consider the current devaluation of the dollar.

(Observation: Mercado Livre is the Brazilian version of E-bay)

Hat tip to sidegik for the clip!

Posted by Andrew at 5:31 PM
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Camp Website

One of the first things I did as director of our camp in Iguatu was set up a small website.  Today I did some work on it, and added a blog with a post introducing the new director.  If you click on the calendar link, you will notice that it is fairly empty until July, and also quite empty afterward.  One of my goals in the course of the next year is to fill that up.

Yesterday I had a great meeting with Pastor Clederson (the local pastor who is putting together July's program) and the counseling staff for the junior week.  I am very thankful that there is no shortage of people who are eager to help out with the various aspects of the camp.

Posted by Andrew at 5:10 PM
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May 5, 2007

Update on Dad

While we are doing updates, here is the letter my Dad sent out with regard to his carcinoma:

Here is some information that I think you would scold me for not telling you. I shared it with the folks last evening. Now I'm sending it out on line.
In recent weeks I have watched a small spot on my face. Didn't look like much - something like a tender spot that my razor irritated. However, I finally decided to have a doctor look at it. A biopsy was scheduled. The doctor said the sting from the novacain would last about ten seconds.

For the record, it lasted fifteen.

The results came back positive - a carcinoma. Whether it is basal cell or squamous cell is still not certain. So, now I have an appointment with a specialist next Wednesday (May 9th). As the word has gotten out, especially through prayer requests sent out by Andrew and Daniel, folks have dropped me a line to let me know that they are remembering me in prayer. It is so good to hear from them. Part of my reply to correspondence contains this generic paragraph which I thought I would send along to you as a general expression of where things are.

In recent days God has been reinforcing the word "platform" in my thinking. The events of our lives are platforms upon which we can represent Christ. I have no idea what direction this is going at the moment. At this point I am a little suspicious that there is more than just one small spot involved. Next Wednesday will probably tell the story. My Dad has had to keep watch of skin cancer for several decades.

His brother died of cancer which developed from skin cancer. Several years ago, with another cancer scare which proved to be a false alarm, I worked through how I wanted to approach each stage which I have observed in walking with others down that path. Representing him well does not mean stiff-upper-lip. It takes into consideration all of the emotional ups and downs of facing one's mortality. It embraces the "through" of Psalm 23.

Keep on keeping on.

Make a big deal out of God.

Make a big deal out of people.

Once again, I and my family thank you for your prayers.

Posted by Andrew at 10:17 PM
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Update on Tim Gelatt

The following is the latest I have from the home office on Tim Gelatt:

I know many of you have been praying for the Tim Gelatt Family, and I wanted to get you an update on his condition.

Both Tim and Anita have expressed heart-felt gratitude for your many prayers and notes of encouragement, and I wish to thank you as well.
Yesterday, Tim had an appointment with the neurosurgeon who performed the biopsy a week ago.  Pathology reports from the biopsy samples taken from the tumor in his brain indicate that Tim is in stage 4 of a very aggressive type of cancer.  This kind of cancer is rated in 5 stages so you are aware of the seriousness of Tim's condition.  However, I am pleased to report to you that both Tim, Anita, and their 4 girls are experiencing the grace of God in this trying time.  They are not despondent and are looking to the Lord for what he has for them in all of this.

Tim will meet with two doctors on Monday morning to determine what kinds of treatments might be available to him.  Let me encourage you to continue to uphold the Gelatts in prayer and to ask our Heavenly Father for continued grace and complete healing if that would be within the framework of His will.

Thank you for caring and may the Lord give you a fruitful weekend of ministry for His glory.
Rev. Steve Fulks

Posted by Andrew at 10:03 PM
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God's Mission or Ours, Part Two

I thought I should include some more clips, including some of the conclusions the author draws.
So another piece of unlearning we must do is breaking the habit of using the term mission field to refer to everywhere else in the world except our home country in the West.
This God-centered refocusing of mission turns inside-out our obsession with mission plans, agendas, goals, strategies, and grand schemes.
We want to be driven by a purpose tailored for our individual lives, when we should be seeing the purpose of all life, including our own, wrapped up in the great mission of God for the whole of creation.
We wrestle to "make the gospel relevant to the world." But God is about the mission of transforming the world to fit the shape of the gospel.
We invite God's blessing on our human-centered mission strategies, but the only concept of mission into which God fits is the one of which he is the beginning and the end.
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Hat tip to the Kouya Chronicle for the link.

Posted by Andrew at 4:31 PM
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God's Mission, or Ours

Below are some interesting statistical clips from an article that appeared in Christianity Today. The author goes on to challenge some pre-conceived notions about missions and mission work. I would urge anybody interested in this subject to click on the link and read the whole thing.
The map of global Christianity that our grandparents knew has been turned upside-down.
More Christians worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Britain, Europe, and North America combined. There are more Baptists in Congo than in Britain. More people in church every Sunday in communist China than in all of Western Europe. Ten times more Assemblies of God members in Latin America than in the U.S.
Christianity has never had a territorial center. Our center is the person of Christ, and wherever he is known, there is another potential center of faith and witness.
There are many more Korean missionaries than British, and some Nigerian evangelical mission organizations are larger in personnel than most Western ones (while operating on budgets that are a fraction of their Western counterparts').
So you are as likely to meet a Brazilian missionary in North Africa as a British missionary in Brazil.
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Posted by Andrew at 4:26 PM
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Funny Headline

clipped from
The Catholic Church in Brazil has stopped losing members
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Good to know that they are no longer misplacing the faithful.

Seriously, if you follow the link, the article seems to indicate the opposite of what was claimed in the previous article I posted. Of course, the source is a RC website, and Brazil is getting ready for a visit from the Pope--so there may be a little spin going on.

Just maybe.

Posted by Andrew at 12:18 PM
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Growth of "Protestantism" in Brazil

The next time someone says that Brazil no longer needs missionaries, point them to articles like this. While many Brazilians are rejecting Catholicism, what they are putting in it's place can hardly be seen as better.
Although Brazil still has more Catholics than any other country in the world, with about 125 million, the percentage of believers that practise the Vatican's brand of Christianity has been dropping rapidly in the last three decades.
"The face of Christianity in Brazil, and all over the developing world, is increasingly Pentecostal,"
They belong to denominations such as the Assemblies of God and the Universal Church, which was started in a Rio de Janeiro funeral home in 1977 and now has more than two million members.
Pentecostalism is especially strong in poor urban areas, where the precariousness of daily life - blackouts, violent crime, high unemployment - can make people seek divine intervention.
"The language of evangelicals is simple, direct, with minimal theology, making it easily understood by the masses,"
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Posted by Andrew at 12:11 PM
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May 4, 2007

Do You Speak English?

This made me laugh.  I needed to laugh.

Hat tip: The Roes

Posted by Andrew at 1:36 PM
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May 3, 2007

Meet the World

Jason is a missionary here in Brazil (working in the southern part of the country) who is married to a Brazilian and has a great blog. He recently posted the following, which I found to be incredibly interesting:
This is a pretty cool art project done by a Brazilian artist by the name of Icaro Doria. Look closely at the flags and then at the legend to the right. Icaro uses the various colors of the flags to make some social statements about each country and our world in general.
You can click on the flag to see a larger version that is easier to read.
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Posted by Andrew at 8:53 AM
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May 1, 2007

A Special Prayer Request

I would count it a personal favor if you would lift up my Dad in prayer.  He has been diagnosed with a cancerous growth on his face--the technical term is "carcinoma".  At present it appears to be fairly localized, but he will be going to a specialist in the next couple of days to find out if it is anywhere else.

When I talked to Dad on the phone earlier, he asked for prayer that he would be able to use this circumstance in his life as a platform to proclaim the glory of God.  It's ok to pray that this not be serious or life-threatening--indeed, that is how I am praying--but God's glory is his main desire.

My Dad is my hero.

To get a glimpse into his mind as he faces this battle, you should read his most recent Meditation Moment, published today. 

Posted by Andrew at 6:52 PM
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