January 31, 2009
Lest the Blog Languish...
Here are a few pics we took last Saturday of our little family outing to a nearby park, famous for it's therapeutic hot springs.
January 27, 2009
John Piper Addresses President Obama on Abortion
Wonder why HE didn't get invited to deliver the inaugural invocation.
h/t Justin Taylor, who also has the transcript.
January 26, 2009
Pastors, Missionaries, and Social Media
Maurilio Amorim, one of the guys I follow on Twitter, recently posted a piece on his blog about why pastors should consider using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc). I think he has a very good point. Consider what he says in the following paragraph:
Social media allows pastors to communicate real life issues with their congregants and potential congregants who find comfort in getting to know their spiritual leaders more intimately without being intrusive and needing to have "face time" with them. It also allows people to get to know their hearts outside the stage setting. Spiritual leaders are husbands, fathers, mothers, sons, bosses and face some of the same challenges everyone does. Social media allows for these real-life moments to be shared.
I think that in the case of missionaries, the advantage doubles because of the dynamic that it provides in relating to supporters.
Linking Log for 01-26-2008
Todays links are ones you may actually find usefull especially if you need to...
Print out blank sheet music, or...
Watch JellyTelly for FREE!
January 23, 2009
Mystery of the Twins Solved?
His task was to carry out experiments to discover by what method of genetic quirk twins were produced – and then to artificially increase the Aryan birthrate for his master, Adolf Hitler.
Now, a historian claims, Mengele's notorious experiments may have borne fruit.
For years scientists have failed to discover why as many as one in five pregnancies in a small Brazilian town have resulted in twins – most of them blond haired and blue eyed.
residents of Candido Godoi now claim that Mengele made repeated visits there in the early 1960s
A former mayor and town doctor, Anencia Flores da Silva, set out to try to solve the town's mystery. He interviewed hundreds of people, and discovered one character who crept on cropping up: an itinerant medic calling himself Rudolph Weiss.
"Nobody knows for sure exactly what date Mengele arrived in Candido Godoi, but the first twins were born in 1963, the year in which we first hear reports of his presence," he said.
January 22, 2009
Best Pro-Life Ad EVER!
I was thinking about this irony the other day. Now the Catholics made a video of it. Kudos to them!
January 21, 2009
Itacyara on Facebook
I am trying to convince the lovely and beguiling Itacyara to get in on the whole Facebook craze. Help me out by becoming her friend!
Random Cuteness from Naynay
Today's travels with the family yielded these priceless photo ops:
Mikey's New School
We just enrolled Mikey in a new school. We greatly enjoyed his previous school, but the time and expense involved in getting him there each day were a huge tax on the family.
His new school is run by one of our area churces--Igreja Batista Esperança. Below is a picture:
January 20, 2009
BMMB Northeast Region Family
Here is a picture of the group of missionaries we are privileged to work with here in Brazil. It is not a complete group, as there are a few families currently on furlough.
Advice to New Missionaries...
...from one who still fits into that category.
Jim over at Missionary Blog Watch recently challenged us missionary bloggers to give some advice to new missionaries on the field. What follows is my own humble contribution. The first two are about work with nationals, and the second two are about relations with supporters.
1. Learn the language!
Learning the language of a people is the cornerstone for being able to minister to them. Even if you are called to an area where English is spoken, unless it is the area you grew up in you will need to learn different ways of expressing yourself. I recommend starting the language-learning process before arriving on the field. Some disagree with me on that, but it worked well for me.
Once you get to the field, consistently put yourself in situations where you MUST speak the language. Avoid constant contact with other Americans (or Europeans...or wherever it is that you are from). This will be harder for those who are married and have children, but it MUST be done.
2. Don´t overestimate the importance of learning the language.
This may seem odd following the previous bit of advice, but it is true. Language is the cornerstone of cross cultural ministry, but it is not the entire house. You cannot build a house without the cornerstone, and you do not lay the cornerstone and claim to have built the house. In the long run, things like a genuine love for people, the ability to get along with others, personal devotional life, and family stability are of tremendous importance.
If there has been one thing that has made the difference in terms of relationship with those "back home" who support this ministry, it has been the fact that we have maintained a regular blog giving details of our ministry.
4. Embrace the Social Web.
As with everything new, there has been a fair amount of resistance to social websites such as Facebook. Personally, I feel that Facebook is the best thing for missionaries since transcontinental flights. It provides opportunities to keep current with individual supporters and people within supporting churches. Social sites also help the missionary make and develop contacts on the field. This is especially true here in Brazil where Orkut (a Facebook-like site run by Google) is a national craze.
In the three years we have been on the field, we have brought down four different groups of teens from the US. Participants in these groups maintain contact with their Brazilian counterparts to this day through Facebook and Orkut.
January 19, 2009
Book Review: The Purpose Driven Church
I approached Purpose Driven Church with a certain built-in antipathy. The theological circles in which I travel harbor an abhorrence of all things Purpose Driven. Because of this, my initial reaction to the book was somewhat tainted.
The further I got in the book, however, the more I found myself thinking "I am going to have to remember this when I start a church". Soon I was re-formulating some of my church-planting plans based on what I was reading.
At this point I think I need to make it clear: I in no way approve of some of Warren's more recent escapades--particularly where he has apologized for earlier statements regarding the sin of homosexual behavior, or his "accept Christ on a sixty-day trial basis" statement on the Hannity and Colmes TV show.
That being said, as a book of church-planting ideas from someone who actually was successful in planting a church, this book is indispensable. Here are some quotes which may challenge some of your pre-conceived notions:
On church buildings
I feel most churches build too soon and too small. The shoe must never tell the foot how big it can grow. I'm often asked 'How big can a church grow without a building?' The answer is 'I don't know!' Saddleback met for fifteen years and grew to 10,000 members without our own building, so I know it is possible to grow to at least 10,000. A building or lack of a building should never be allowed to become a barrier to a wave of growth. People are far more important than property.
On welcoming visitors
In America, the most common fear people have is going to a party where they will be surrounded by strangers. The second most common fear is having to speak before a crowd, and the third most common fear is being asked a personal question in public. The way many churches welcome visitors causes them to experience their three greatest fears all at once!
There are many more quotes which could be mentioned here. Instead, I will let you read the book. I will, however, close with two paragraphs. The first one is one that Warren has apparently forgotten:
There are two extreme positions: imitation and isolation. Those in the 'imitation' camp argue that the church must become just like our culture in order to minister to it. churches in this group sacrifice the biblical message and mission of the church in order to blend in with the culture. They are likely to endorse current cultural values such as the worship of success and walth, radical individualism, radical feminism, liberal sexual standards, and even homosexuality. In their attempt to be relevant, these churches sacrifice biblical theology, doctrinal distinctives, and the Gospel of Christ. The call for repentance and commitment is compromised in order to attract a crowd. Syncretism destroys this kind of church.
The following paragraph is one that we as biblical fundamentalists need to read with attention:
At the other extreme is the 'isolation' camp. This group insists we must avoid any adaptation to culture in order to preserve the purity of the church. They fail to see the distinction between the sinful values of our culture and the non-sinful customs, styles, and preferences that each generation develops. They reject new translations of Scripture, current musical styles, and any attempt to modify man-made traditions, such as the time and order of the worship service that they are accustomed to. Isolationsists sometimes have a dress code, and a list of what is permissible and what isn't regarding issues that the Bible is silent on. (It is human nature to erect theological walls to defend personal preferences.)As we see to plant churches that honor Christ, edify believers, and reach the lost, may we avoid both of the aforementioned pitfalls.
January 17, 2009
Linking Log 1/17/2009
This is based on the sale of Obama masks. Before he gets too happy, however, someone should mention that the sale of Obama masks here is second only to that of Osama masks.
Brazil's president hopes he makes nice with Chavez, Morales, and Fidel. Because, you know, those guys are just sooooo misunderstood!
Seems as though he is looking for somewhat of a bailout. Is it wrong that this makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside?
How do you define "tolerance"?
In Hollywood, it aparently means "acceptance of anybody except Christians". Makes sense.
The More You Know
Because public service announcements have apparently become all the rage, and in the interest of the general welfare, I would like to offer this.
If you should ever find yourself in Brazil, and for some reason need to transfer the title of a vehicle from an individual to a non-profit organization, you will need the following:
1. A certified copy of your ID.
2. A certified copy of the car documents.
3. A certified copy of the receipt of sale.
4. An official affidavit from the organization in question authorizing you to make the transaction, signed by the current president of the organization.
5. A certified copy of the minutes where the current president was authorized to give that permission.
6. A certified copy of the government charter for the nonprofit organization.
Oh...and 7. Roughly $600.00 in cash.
queue music and...
THE MORE YOU KNOW
January 8, 2009
First video from our conference. A group of missionaries got together to form this impromptu quartet. Enjoy!
January 7, 2009
Photos from the Conference
We are about to enter the third day of our annual regional conference. I thought I would post a few pictures of the goings on so far.
It has been very exciting to participate in this meeting. We are wrestling with issues that are going to have an impact on the way ministry is done here for years to come. These are amazing times to be a missionary in Northeast Brazil!
This year we are privileged to have as our speaker Pastor Aaron Blumer (rhymes with "plumber"), pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Boyceville, WI.
Some might recognize this name from another place, however. Pastor Blumer is the publisher of the popular fundamentalist site Sharper Iron. A few days ago he posted some reflections about how his time with us. His messages on Joy and Hope have been a blessing to me personally, and to our entire regional staff.
On a side note, the airlines lost his luggage as he was on his way here, and it has not yet been recovered. If you think of it, you might pray for this situation. Pastor Blumer has been very gracious, but it obviously does not reflect well on the airline that they have not even been able to positively locate his things.
January 5, 2009
Comings Family Ministry Report for 2008
What follows is the report that we will give on Wednesday here at the annual conference of the Northeastern Region field council of Baptist Mid Missions do Brasil.
This year has been full of challenges and blessings for our family as we seek to serve Christ and his Church in the Cariri Valley.
Cariri Baptist Seminary
In 2008 our main emphasis continued to be the ministry internship of the Cariri Baptist Seminary. We oversaw the work of 53 students in 27 churches and congregations and two seminary ministry teams. Our students faced many challenges in their ministries, and we are very proud of them. Almost every week we heard reports of people coming to Christ through their efforts.
Beginning the second semester, Andrew picked up Mark Lounsbrough’s “Panorama of Doctrine” class. This was a new and exciting challenge, which he enjoyed greatly. His students are a constant source of blessing to him.
Itacyara taught English 1 and 2 this year. Her studies at URCA have helped her refine her language and teaching skills. Her students demonstrated real progress during the year.
Andrew continued to direct the seminary puppet team this year. Transportation issues made it impossible to schedule events off campus. However they were able to do a presentation at the romaria in Juazeiro. The team put on five presentations where the Gospel was explained four times. Many of the spectators returned for all five presentations—thus hearing the Gospel twenty times.
The biggest challenge of our missionary career to date has been our work at the Iguatu Camp. Further information will be provided in the camp report, but highlights of the year included the ladies retreat, Carnaval retreat, two weeks of camp in July, and a church work day.
As was the case last year, Andrew and Itacyara were blessed with the participation of Luis Meneses and Pr. Clederson Conceição. Without their support it would have been impossible to run this year’s program.
We were privileged once again this year to host young people from the US. This year we were visited by groups from two churches—Bible Baptist Church in Cortland, NY and Grace Baptist Church in Batavia, NY—and one young person who stayed with us for three months.
These groups saw firsthand what ministry in Brazil is all about. They worked on projects in partnership with Brazilian young people, and formed lasting (thanks to Facebook) friendships with them.
This year Andrew continued his puppetry work with a couple from the Novo Juazeiro church. They administered two schools of puppetry and recorded several clips for the Razão Para Viver TV program.
Igreja da Paz
The Comings family continued active in the Igreja Batista Regular da Paz. For a few weeks (until transportation became and issue) Andrew led the youth prayer team on Wednesday nights. Itacyara has continued her informal ministry to the young ladies of the church as they continue to seek her out for counsel.
As a family, we confronted two major challenges this year: housing and transportation.
The beginning of the year saw us still living in the home of John and Jean Peterson while they were on furlough. A hunt for a new house proved fruitless. We finally settled on living in Bloco A of the seminary dormitory. This was dead last on our list of preferences, but has proven to be a blessing as we are able to interact more in the lives of our seminary students. It has also provided Mikey and Nathan with a huge, relatively safe area to play in and explore.
After three years of being relatively problem-free, the Hilux broke down this year in Minas Gerais as we were on our way to the Conferência Fiel. After much hassle, and an extra trip to Minas, we were finally able to sell the truck and purchase a Volkswagen Gol. Once again, this would not have been our choice, but in retrospect, it was the best choice.
In keeping with the theme of this year's conference, we can only be joyful at what God has done, and how He has worked in our lives throughout 2008. We consider it a privilege to serve with BMMB NER, and look forward to the great things God has in store for the future.
Andrew and Itacyara Comings
The blog has sat idle for a few days, but there has been a lot going on. More posts today and throughout the week, Lord willing. Let's break this inactive streak, however, with some interesting links from around the web.
The Languages of Europe--Color Coded!
Europe is far more diverse linguistically than even I imagined. This map is very interesting, if languages are your thing.
Interesting variations of the Google logo in honor of famous people throughout history. My favorite is the one for M.C. Escher.
I went through a phase as a kid where I really wanted a go kart...but this may be a little excessive. Hint: think "mini-Porsche"!
What happened when Jedi Knights stopped fighting the dark side and formed a rock band.
I am going to write about this in more detail later because it has all kinds of implications for missions...even here in Brazil. But for now, just read it. Serioiusly, if this is the only link you click on this post, it will be well worth your while.
January 1, 2009
Mikey's Christmas Present
The "college and career" group from our sending church sent a gift so we could get Mikey a bicycle for Christmas.
Since Christmas we have had regular bike lessons at the football court here on campus. As can be seen on this video, Mikey is making progress.
The flight is great, we just need to work on take-off and landing.