March 30, 2011

Common Ground

Pete and Loiana

This weekend Itacyara and I had the privilege of hosting at our home Pete and Loiana Garbacki (pictured above). If you peruse the comments section of this blog, you know Pete as "pregador27".

We share many things in common with Pete and Loiana, from the Brazilian/American nature of our families (Loiana is from Manaus), to the number of children (the Garbacki's have two girls...hmmm), to our passion for the country of Brazil.

Right now Pete and Loiana are praying for what God has for them in the future. Please pray with them that God would open the doors for them to go to Brazil soon (and, selfishly on our part, that He would allow them to minister with us in Maranhão).

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Jonah Silverberg Update--Please Pray

Please continue to pray for Jonah Silverberg, infant son of BMM missionaries to the Bronx, Marty and Val Silverberg. The following is from the latest communication they sent out:

Jonah's condition has taken another turn for the worse. His Sepsis infection has returned, he is running a fever, his central line is infected, and he is generally doing very poorly. Three attempts were made to put in a new line, all failed. The cardiac team does not want a line put in his upper body,as they still hold out hope for the next round of surgeries to save Jonah's life. Upper body lines would eliminate the chance for such future surgeries. The team meets today to discuss what to do. Jonah is still unable to digest nutrients, and is on the ventilator attached to his trach tube. We are very worn out as well. Thank you for your continued faithful prayers. Jonah will be 13 weeks old tomorrow.

Related Posts:

Please Pray for Jonah Silverberg
Successful Surgery

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March 28, 2011

Purity Conference in Brazil

Renate Reiner (missionary colleague and blogger at Renate's Reflections) posted some pictures of a recent purity conference at their church in Petrolina (State of Pernambuco, Brazil). With her permission, I share them with you.

Atitude 438

The conference used the Atitude 434 program, which takes its name from I Thess. 4:3-4.

Kelly and Deborah

Colleagues Kelly (aka Carlos) and Deborah McMaster spoke at the conference...

Cley did their co-workers Cley and Kelriene Batista. On a personal note, it is awesome to see Cley, a former student of ours at the Cariri Baptist Seminary, being used of God in the ministry.

Girls Session

According to Renate, there were over 100 young people in attendance. The picture above shows one of the girls breakout sessions.

As it is here in the US, sexual purity for teens is a major issue in Brazil. We are thrilled to see our churches addressing the subject, and pray that the message will be taken to heart by those who were present.

Related Posts:

Island Adventure
Weekend in Lavras

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March 26, 2011

Jonah Silverberg Update--Successful Surgery

It would appear that little Jonah Silverberg has successfully undergone a trach surgery. For more details, read my Dad's blog.

Related Posts:

Please Pray for Jonah Silverberg
Much Prayer Needed
Encouraging News

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March 25, 2011

Support Update

On Tuesday we sent out a prayer letter explaining our support level, and the possibility that I might have to stay in the US for two months of "mini-deputation" while Itacyara and the boys return to Brazil. If you did not get a chance to read that letter, you can do so here.

We were amazed at the response. In two days five individuals responded, pledging a total of $180.00 in monthly support! It was very exciting to see God work through His people in this way.

Please continue to lift our situation up before God in prayer. Our preference would obviously be that our family be able to go to Brazil together. In the end, the best we can do is trust in God's sovereign will.

Related Posts

About that Support Level
Poor Dollar

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March 22, 2011

Book Review: The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley

Have you ever watched somebody self-destruct and, as they are suffering the consequences of their decision, thought to yourself They should have seen that coming. Or perhaps you have found yourself in trouble, thought back on the decisions that brought you to that point, and lamented How could I be so dumb?

It is for just this reason that Any Stanley, pastor of North Point Ministries, wrote The Principle of the Path (Thomas Nelson, 179 pages, plus a study guide). The premise of the book--that one's decisions mark the beginning of a path which has predictable outcomes--seems obvious enough. Yet the reader needs no convincing that many people ignore such common sense, believing that they will achieve their goals despite decisions to the contrary.

Stanley writes in an engaging, personal style. As I read, I could picture him sitting across from me at McDonalds, passionately exhorting me to clear-headed decision-making. The book is full of both biblical examples (he borrows heavily from the book of Proverbs, as well as from the lives of David and Solomon) and personal anecdotes. As he spoke of people who "seek affirmation instead of counsel", I was flooded by memories of people we have counseled, as well as by those of decisions we have made in exactly the same way.

If I have one complaint with the book, it is that, in my opinion, Stanley missed a few key opportunities to present the Gospel. One could read this book and take advantages of the principles therein, without ever confronting their ultimate need for Christ.

Besides this, however, The Principle of the Path is a great book for those facing momentous decisions, and for those to whom they go for counsel.

Don't forget! This and other great books are available at our Amazon bookstore. A purchase there is a help to our ministry.

Sadly Obligatory Legalese: I received this book from Thomas Nelson as a part of their BookSneeze program in exchange for a review on this site. I am in no way obligated to write a positive review.

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Baptist Mid Missions in Japan--an Update

The following is from Dr. Gary Anderson, the president of our mission board. It was posted a few minutes ago on the BMM Facebook page:

Thanks for joining BMM on FB. Japan is on all of our hearts and minds. As you pray, thank the Lord that we know of six Japanese Christians on the team bringing the Fukushima nuclear reactor under control. At least one attends a Baptist church affiliated with BMM. God has sovereignly put children in a place to render a great service to their homeland. Please pray!

Talk back to the missionary: From my Google Analytics reports I am aware that this blog is read every so often from Japan. Does anybody out there have any personal anecdotes to share about the events surrounding the earthquake and tsunami? If so, please share them in our comments section.

Related Posts:

All BMM Missionaries in Brazil are Safe
Corcovado, Sung by Lisa Ono

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March 21, 2011

Obama in Rio

Here is a picture, from the official White House page, showing Obama going through the Rio favela called Cidade de Deus (City of God). This slum was made famous because of a ultra-violent movie of the same name.

Uploaded with Skitch!

In yesterday's speech to the Brazilian people, I was heartened to hear Obama end with a Portuguese phrase (muito obrigado--thank you very much) instead of something in Spanish. Unfortunately, someone still needs to inform his White House staff of the difference between Portuguese and Spanish. The official caption under the above picture calls the favela "Ciudad de Deus". Ai, caramba!

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March 19, 2011

Not Feeling the Love

A Brazilian cartoonist weighs in on Obama's visit.
clipped from

Obama (dressed as a conquistador) is asking the Brazilian beach-goer, “Where is the pre-salt?”  (The pre-salt layer, according to Wikipedia, is an oil-rich geological formation on the continental shelves off the coast of Africa and Brazil.)

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Yes We Can: Cebolinha and Obama

Brazilian cartoonist Maurício de Sousa has made this special picture showing beloved cartoon character Cebolinha together with Obama, much to the consternation of his eternal nemesis, Monica.


Update: I made a valiant attempt at avoiding political commentary, but alas, I am weak, and the corollary is too obvious. If you are familiar with the recurring plot line of the Monica cartoons, you know that Cebolinha is constantly devising new plans for absconding with Monica's stuffed rabbit. In the poster, it is clear that Obama is in favor of Cebolinha's "rabbit redistribution" efforts.

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Salada Mista: Obama in Brazil

Many of you are aware that the Obama clan is currently soaking up the Sun in beautiful Brazil. Here is a roundup of some of the commentary on his visit from around the web:

The New York Times reports on the purposes of the presidential visit, as well as on some of the conservative sniping going on. While I am inclined to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on this, I have not forgotten that Bush could not sneeze without being called Hitler, so...

Speaking of conservatives, Senator Marco Rúbio has an interesting perspective on the importance of Latin trade to the US Economy. Money quote: "In South America, China has replaced the United States as Brazil’s largest trading partner."

And finally, the always perceptive Rio Gringa has done several interesting posts on the Obama visit to Brazil. Her most recent deals with some of the public relations missteps that have occurred so far.

At this point I am without opinion. I don't know of any major deals going down that will dramatically impact our own life and ministry in Brazil.

I will say this, however: it will be a major embarrassment to the current president if he cannot at least out-samba his predecessor.

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March 18, 2011

Moses Cohen Henriques: Jewish/Portuguese/Dutch/Brazilian Pirate

In doing research for upcoming books in the Missionary Max series, I encountered this real-life pirate with a fascinating story.
One such pirate was Moses Cohen Henriques, who helped plan one of history's largest heists against Spain. In 1628, Henriques set sail with Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, whose own hatred of Spain was fueled by four years spent as a galley slave aboard a Spanish ship. Henriques and Hein boarded Spanish ships off Cuba and seized shipments of New World gold and silver worth in today's dollars about the same as Disney's total box office for "Dead Man's Chest."
Henriques set up his own pirate island off the coast of Brazil afterward, and even though his role in the raid was disclosed during the Spanish Inquisition, he was never caught, Kritzler told The Journal.

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March 17, 2011

The Cost of the Gospel

I am constantly in awe of the intrepid band of missionaries who planted the seeds of the Gospel in the northeast region of Brazil--the region where our family now works. These hardy men and women suffered tremendously for privilege of spreading the good news to the nordestino.

It is an honor to be able to count as a friend the son of one of those heroes of the '30s and '40s. He provided me with the following pictures, which provide a snapshot into some of the hardships faced by those pioneer missionaries.

Broken Chairs

The above photograph shows the aftermath of a disrupted service. One of the tactics that the Roman Catholic priests used in those days was to gather together a mob, inflame them with fiery rhetoric, and send them to disrupt the service of the "foreign Protestants". The damage you see in the picture is the result of such a mob.

Broken Window

In this picture we see the window of one of the missionaries' cars. It has been given a new "spiderweb" design by someone disgruntled with their work.

What follows is a first-hand description of some of the persecution, written by Edward McLain, the first Baptist missionary to work in the Cariri Valley:


While the Gospel continues to face opposition in Brazil, today it takes subtler forms. Those of us who work in Brazil today must never forget the sacrifices made by those who went before.

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Put this on Facebook and Twitter a couple days ago...I guess it fits into the "family" category here. In case there is any doubt, the guy on the left is my second-born.


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March 14, 2011

Rio de Janeiro's Olympic Tower

A friend just sent me these pictures. According to the website, this impressive structure will hold the flame and be the symbol of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

I especially like the third picture, where the amphitheater section reflects the design of Rio's famous sidewalks.
clipped from

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March 12, 2011

Musical Interlude: Bebel Gilberto sings Harvest Moon

One of my favorite Brazilian artists is shown here, backstage at Carnegie Hall, doing an impromptu rendition of Harvest Moon in her inimitable soft, swaying style.


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March 11, 2011

All BMM Missionaries in Japan are Safe

The following is from the website Baptist Mid Missions, the board with which we serve.
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All BMM missionaries confirmed safe after Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunamis.

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, Japan was rocked by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, which pushed tsunamis across the Pacific toward the US west coast. Baptist Mid-Missions' Crisis Management Team has confirmed that all missionaries serving in the affected areas of Japan, Chuuk, Guam, and Hawaii are safe.  Baptist Mid-Missions' Crisis Management Team continues to gather information and will be posting it regularly as we receive it.

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Dan, Fred, and Gaston

Dan, Fred, and Gaston

My brother Daniel, he of Divine Satisfaction fame, is currently in the Philippines with a group of men from our church. At last word they had suffered none of the collateral effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. I am sure they would appreciate your prayers, though, as they continue their project.

The picture is of Daniel with two little Filipino boys who have yet to tell him their names, and whom he has subsequently nicknamed Fred and Gaston.

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March 8, 2011

Musical Interlude: The Battle of New Orleans...Lego Style

I am currently working through a section on the War of 1812 with Michael. I was telling him about the battle of New Orleans, and decided to see if there were any videos on YouTube featuring the classic 1959 song by Johnny Horton. It turns out there are several...and one of them uses Legos!


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The Great Brazilian "Jewell" Robbery

My friend and colleague Mike Jewel received some unexpected visitors last month. Here is his report of events:

I was sleeping and heard my dog bark. When I looked from bed I saw a shadowy figure in the kitchen. He ordered me to bury my face in the mattress. He asked me a question and I looked in his direction. It looked like he had a pistol. He threw what looked like a sock and felt like a rock at my head and hit my chin. He then came behind me and put something to my head and said "quero dollar."

I told him I didn't have dollars. He then said "Where's the money! We know you have money!" I told him where the reais were. He made me show him. He then ordered me to the floor where he tied my hands with electrical tape. He tied my feet with a rope that I had in the room. He then told his buddy Zé "vamos embora! (Let's get out of here)"

They left with the keys to the house and my van. As I sat thanking the Lord that I was still alive I was able to slip out of my bonds. So, at 2.00am with the house basically open i took a look around. It was what I would say a typical robbery scene with stuff scattered everywhere.

* * *

Robbery is a fact of life in Brazil. When we arrived we were told it was not a question of if but of when. Our family was spared the kind of trauma you read of above during our first term. We had some items "appropriated" from our yard once, and twice from our car. It wasn't until we came back to the US that we actually had a vehicle stolen.

What impresses me most about Mike's situation is his attitude toward the events, as evidenced by the subsequent posts on his blog. What follows is one particularly thought-provoking paragraph that he posted shortly after the robbery, re-posted here with his permission:

The night before last as I sat in my own house, in my boxers, tied hand and foot, Christ was all that I had. I could not depend on my super strength. As I had imagined doing in such situations. I could not depend on a super hero coming to my rescue. Though it would have been a choice time for the U.S. Cavalry to have showed up. I couldn’t even trust that one of my captors might all of a sudden fall to his knees and ask Christ to save him from his wicked ways. Though I had prayed audibly and asked for Gods help for both he and me. Christ was there in my weakness. With nothing between me and death but inches of musty air, Christ was both with me and in me. He was all that I had. It was at that moment that I discovered that he was all that I need.

I encourage you to read the rest of what Mike has written. You will be encouraged, challenged, and motivated to pray for your missionaries.

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March 4, 2011

Book Review: Judgment Day

Suzanne, an obnoxious, self-absorbed TV reporter gets framed for murder, and is forced to hire a detective--who happens to be an ex-boyfriend she once betrayed--to exonerate her. As the detective and his beautiful assistant dig deeper into the case they discover an organ-harvesting plot that goes to the highest levels of Washington DC society.

Thus the plot of Judgment Day, A Novel by Wanda L. Dyson. I found this book to be an engaging read. The plot seldom drags, and for the most part the characters are well-developed.

Thought billed as Christian fiction, the Christianity of the novel was incidental, at best. Other than the fact that the heroes of the story were billed as Christians, and indeed never bedded each other or anybody else, the overt biblical worldview expressed in the novel was limited to a couple short paragraphs. Those paragraphs could be removed and it would have little or no effect on the overall plot.

To summarize, Judgment Day is a good read, an excellent contribution to the world of detective fiction--with some incidental Christian overtones.

Tragically necessary disclaimer for the avoidance of frivolous litigation: This book review was written in return for a free copy of the book from Multnomah. The author was in no way pressured to write a positive review.

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