June 29, 2010

Scenes of Victory

In case you missed it, or are American, Brazil beat Chile to advance t the World Cup finals yesterday. The score was 3 to 0. Thus, at the house where we watched the game, the following scene was repeated three times:



For some reason, Brazilian player Kaka is a special favorite among the young ladies. Go figure...

Talk back to the missonary: Any predictions for the upcoming Brazil x Netherlands match? Leave them in the comments section.

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June 27, 2010

End of an Era

Last night was the final presentation of the Amiguinhos de Jesus, a puppet ministry that began sixteen years ago. Incidentally, our last presentation was at the Faith Baptist Church in Juazeiro--also the site of the first presentation "way back in the day".

I mentioned this to one of our puppeteers, and her response was "Wow! I was five back then!"

There were almost 200 people in attendance, most of them children. As the organizer and trainer of the group, this was one of my proudest moments. The Gospel was presented several times, all in ways that never once lost the kid's attention.

Below are some pictures from the evening.


Daniel, a member of the team from years gone by, brings to life one of his famous magic tricks.

Last Puppet Show

A final farewell from the Amiguinhos de Jesus puppets and puppeteers.


Daniel and Bagaço clowning around after the show.

Last Puppet Presentation

A final group shot. *snif*

And finally...

For the Birds


Some more pictures just became available. Rather than make a new post I am going to include them here.

Todos os Animais

"Mestre Misarevlis" and Laraginha teach the kids a song.


And of course a momentous occasion such as this had to end in pizza!

Talk back to the missionary: Anybody have puppet-team related memories? Share them with us in the comments section.

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June 26, 2010

More Conference Pics

Here are some pictures given to me by one of our students of the Intentional Discipleship seminar and Theologcial Conference.


Here is another picture of me translating for John A. Stewart. Notice how I am "one with the microphone".

Prayer Time

Every day we began the session with prayer for the progress of the Gospel in different parts of the world. Our students took this very seriously.

Profound Studies

Every morning of the conference was dedicated to the Intentional Discipleship course.

The Fear Factors

What excuses do people give for not engaging in the discipleship process? Here students vote on the top excuses--or "fear factors"--they have heard/used.

Student Participation

Students shared what they learned...while I whispered furtive translations into Dr. Sterwart's ear.

Female Quintet

In the evening our sessions were preceded by special music from the students. Here a female quintet does a lovely a capella number. I hope to have video of this for next week's Musical Interlude.

Talk back to the missionary:
Going back a couple pictures, what excuses have YOU heard/used to not be involved in the discipleship process?

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June 25, 2010

Musical Interlude: Calmo, Sereno, Tranquilo...Vocal Version

I was hoping to have some cool post-game video to show now...but this game was a sleeper. So, I give you this, our seminary vocal group singing the song "Calm, Serene, and Tranquil" (not a bad metaphor for the game I just watched) during last week's conference.


Talk back to the missionary: Any comments about the game? Vent your frustrations in the comments section.

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June 23, 2010

Divine Appointment

The above phrase--"Divine Appointment"--is a difficult one to translate into Portuguese. The word "appointment", as in a doctor's appointment, is translated "consulta", which carries more the idea of a consultation. But the phrase "divine consultation" does not at all carry the same meaning as "divine appointment".

I discovered this last week as I was translating for John A. Stewart, founder of Lamplighters ministries. Mr. Stewart was telling our students about his ministry, which promotes intentional discipleship. At one point he used the phrase "divine appointment"...and I was stuck. How was I supposed to translate that?

My mind raced back and forth, flipping through Portugues synonyms and antonyms, cognates and false cognates. Nothing. Finally I settled for something lame like "an encounter ordained by divine providence."

Regardless of how I translated it, the whole seminar from last week was indeed a divine appointment, at least in my life and ministry.

As many of you know, we will be relocating to São Luís after our furlough in order to begin a church-planting ministry. Very clear in my mind is how I want the church to "look"--the culture of worship, discipleship, and outreach that I want to form. Let's call that "Point B". The difficulty has always been how to get to Point B from where I am now (aka Point A).

Enter Lamplighters Ministries. Up until two weeks ago I knew nothing about them. Then I was informed that, as the only American missionary available for the task, I would be translating for Mr. Stewart as he gave his seminar to our students. At about the same time I received an e-mail informing me that I would need to translate the Power Point presentation that would accompany the sessions. All of this while packing for a move and preparing for furlough.

With no small amount of under-my-breath grumbling I began the task. But as I made my way through the material, I began to realize that this was exactly what I was looking for. And as the seminar began and Mr. Stewart shared the details of his discipleship/leadership training/evangelism/Bible study program I became more and more enthused. Right in front of me were the tools necessary to get from Point A to Point B--and beyond!

Me translating "divine appointment" and other tricky phrases.

If you have never heard of Lamplighters, and are interested in a more effective discipleship ministry, I would strongly encourage you to check them out. For me, this was truly a Divine Appointment, or an encontro ordenado pela divina providência, if you will.

Talk back to the missionary: Ever had something happen to you that could only be described as a divine appointment? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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You Know I Have To Post This...

US 1, Algeria, zippo! It was a beautiful thing.

Talk back to the missionary: Anybody care to make any predictions as to how far the US squad goes from here?

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June 22, 2010

Flooding in NE Brazil

These pictures, and the following comments, are from friend of mine, missionary in the city of Recife. Our part of Brazil has been spared this flooding, but this is just 8 hours away from where we live. Please pray for the church as they mobilize to help the people effected by this disaster.
It must seem ironic, but we are in a state that from time to time experiences draught & flooding - the two extremes.  Usually the flooding is closer to the coast which is our case now.  A pastor from my mentoring group just sent our church a plea to help his home town that was hard hit by these recent floods.  I saw that even CNN headlines featured our state of Pernambuco today.  Here are some pictures Pastor Paulo took the other day.  We are gathering food and clothes from our friends in Recife to help these folks.  Please pray for those suffering great losses.  There have been dozens of deaths and hundreds reported missing.
Talk back to the missionary: Why don't you head on over to Roger Smith's blog and let him know you are praying and/or that you would be willing to help.

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June 21, 2010

The Art of Falling

As long as we are on the subject of the World Cup, I have to share these two videos. First, one that shows the difference between the training regime of the Brazilian team and the Argentine team.

And then a scene from yesterday's game, demonstrating that it is not only Argentines who have mastered this art. I am still seething over this.

Here's another video, where Kaka talks about the event. He says basically that the images speak for themselves, and manages to be magnanimous to the ref and the "fall prone" player, while at the same time skewering them royally.

Talk back to the missionary: Anybody else out there watch the game? Share your impressions in the comments section.

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What's the Score?

If you have been watching the World Cup, and have been as annoyed as I have with the vuvuzela, this musical transcript is for you.

Vuvuzela concerto. - PBH3
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Talk back to the missionary: So what do you think? Should we keep the vuvuzela, or should it get a red card?

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June 14, 2010


There is a Missionary Max episode in the pipes, but first I have to make up a test for my students and take care of a couple other administrative tasks.

In the meantime, I live you with this, which comes to me via RioGringa. Enjoy.

Talk back to the missionary: Brazilians take no end of delight in messing with their neighbors to the south. Can you spot the Argentine in this ad?

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June 12, 2010

Happy Brazilian Valentines Day!

June 12th is the day Brazilians celebrate Dia dos Namorados, roughly equivalent to our valentines day. Incidentally, back in the early days of this blog, I posted about this and included an image which has become one of the top images in Google for "dia dos namorados". Consequently, the hits on my site have gone up exponentially in the last few weeks.

Not exactly what I had in mind for the target audience of the blog, but hey, we take what we can get.

In the spirit of the day, I cannot miss this opportunity to wish a happy "Dia dos Namorados" to the lovely and talented Itacyara, aka The Brazilian Bombshell.

Missionaries Kissing

So...my best Valentines' Day present so far? The tie between England and the US in their 2010 World Cup debut.

Talk back to the missionary: Now that the first games have been played, what are your predictions for the World Cup championship?

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June 9, 2010

Oh Please!!!!

C'mon, people! Seriously?

This screen cap is making its way around Brazilian cyberspace.


Talk back to the missionary: Anybody else have any blatant examples of American geographic ignorance?

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A Brazilian at D-Day

June sixth has come and gone, and there was barely a blip in the national consciousness here about it being the anniversary of D-Day. Indeed, more people here observed the National Day of the Environment than the taking of the beaches of Normandy.

The participation of Brazil in World War II is not on the "radar" of most Brazilians. For some reason they prefer to focus on the more unsavory aspects of their history. This is a shame, because the bravery and heroism of the Brazilian troops during that great conflict should be a source of great national pride.

João Barone--the drummer for the popular Brazilian group Paralamas do Sucesso--became interested in World War II, and began to research Brazil's role. In the process he discovered that there was one Brazilian who participated in the D-Day invasion. The video below is his documentary of the event. It is mostly in Portuguese, but there are a few interviews done in English with American and British veterans. It is worth the watch just for those moments.

Talk back to the missionary: Do you know someone who was present at D-Day? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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June 5, 2010

Keeping Up with the Joneses

A while ago my brother blogged about his resemblance to Emergent personality Tony Jones. The resemblance is uncanny, but thankfully does not extend into the realm of theology.

Me? I resemble another well-known individual whose last name is Jones.


Talk back to the missionary: Who is your celebrity twin?

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Planet Universal

After yesterday's post I had not expected to return to the subject of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God any time soon. However, as I perused the blog of Mrs. Cardoso today (morbid curiosity led me to add it to my RSS feed reader), I was surprised to see a post singing the praises of a brand new social network--Planet Universal.

Better Than a New Pair of Shoes
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From what I can see, this is the first ever direct reference to the Universal Church at the Succeed in Life website. What's more, Mrs. Carsoso's post includes a link to the Universal Church's US website, something I searched in vain to find yesterday. Interestingly, the website is tagged as "beta".

I'm not going to flatter myself into thinking that my piece posted yesterday was the catalyst for today's announcement. This blog is way too "small potatoes" for that. However, I do find it interesting that up until now there has been no mention of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God on the SiLC website.

Mrs. Cardoso's ariticle includes the following gem:

Unlike other social networks, Planet Universal has been created to help you grow spiritually and be around people who seek to do the same. In fact, not everyone can get in. That’s right, we are not looking for numbers but for quality.

The idea of invite-only membership is hardly new, and as to the "numbers versus quality" bit, all I can say, based on everything I have seen of the Universal Church so far, is "riiiiiiiiiiight".

A little further on she states,

Alternatively, here’s another way you can get in. Planet Universal is giving away 100 invites to successful applicants.Check here to see if you have what it takes.

I'm pretty sure I don't have what it takes. Here's why:

I'm not willing to give my entire life savings to a self-styled bishop in order to receive some material blessing God never promised me in the first place. Two thousand years ago, on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price in order to reconcile me to God. He became the only Sacrifice necessary for me to obtain God's blessing. Everything I give to Him now is out of pure gratitude, with no thought of receiving anything in return. I have peace with the Almighty, what else could I want?

Talk back to the missionary: Anybody out there part of Planet Universal?

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June 3, 2010

Houston, We Have a Problem...

An alert reader recently sent me some information about a new church in Houston, Texas called the Succeed in Life Center. A quick perusal of the website shows that the pastor is one Renato Cardoso--a distinctively Brazilian name.

Hmmmmm. A church in Houston being pastored by a Brazilian? Not impossible, but definitely...interesting. One automatically wonders who the church is affiliated with. A quick examination of the site yields this information, from the about us section:

SiLC is based in Houston and affiliated with churches that work in over 90 countries.

Not exactly forthcoming. Still, nothing to worry about, right? Let's take a closer look at the pastoral staff. On that page we find information about Bishop Cardoso and his wife, Cristiane. Her bio intrigued me:

Succeed in Life Center - Meet the Pastors
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Missionary's daughter? As a missionary in Brazil, I was curious if she was related to anybody I know. I clicked on the link to her blog. I scrolled down...articles on family living, church activities...and...WHOA!!!

Better Than a New Pair of Shoes-1
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Unmistakably a picture of Cristiane with her father and mother, and her father is none other than Bishop Edir Macedo, founder and big kahuna of the Brazilian group known as Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

I've written about this outfit before. They are the health-and-wealth "gospel" on steroids. They are also phenomenally wealthy, and expanding at a rapid pace around the globe. The church has spawned at least two spinoff churches with the same mentality.

So, what level of affiliation does Houston's Succeed in Life Center have with the Universal Church? I moseyed on over to the Universal Church's main website to find out. At first, I looked in vain for any links to the Universal Church in the US. I know they are there. Here, for example, is a picture of a Universal Church that has taken up residence in a former Catholic Church (file this under "from frying pan to fire") in Philadelphia.

UniversalDiag1_WEB.jpg (JPEG Image, 500x669 pixels) - Scaled (93%)
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img src

So why no online presence for their US enterprises?

About to give up, I clicked on the "blogs" link and...JACKPOT!!!

ArcaUniversal: Compromisso com a Verdade
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And there they are, all three: father, daughter, and son-in-law. The people of Houston, Texas can rest assured that the Succeed in Life Center is, in fact, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

Not convinced? The following is from a site which gives information about trademarks:

SUCCEED IN LIFE CENTER | Free Online Trademark Search | Trademark by The Universal Church, Inc.
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Some questions I have:

Why no mention of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God on the Succeed in Life website?
Why no mention of their US affiliate in any of the Brazilian material?
Why no US website like they have for the UK and South Africa?
Why all the secrecy as to their affiliations on the "about us" page?

For more detailed information about the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, I am making available (with the author's permission) research done on them by one of my colleagues. You can download it here.

Talk back to the missionary: I would love to know if this chameleon act is being repeated in other cities in the US. If you suspect that it may be, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.

Update I just posted an article that explains the fundamental doctrinal error of this group. You can read it here.

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