December 26, 2009
Cape Verde Project Christmas Program
With all the Christmas season rush I am finally getting around to posting pictures of our Christmas program hosted on Tuesday by the Novo Juazeiro church. The purpose of this program was to raise support for the participants in the Cape Verde Project.
When the opportunity for this fundraiser first presented itself I set about to writing a script. Using our Cidade Feliz characters I wrote a story that "borrowed" elements of O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi, with a Christ-focused application. Once the script was written, we set out to design and build the set.
Here Nice and her daughter, Alane, work on one of the Styrofoam backdrops, made to represent the front of a house...
...while her husband Cícero paints one of the walls.
Our original plan was to do our presentation outside, as people dined. As you may be able to guess from the picture, however, God had other plans.
As it became obvious that the weather was not going to permit an outside presentation we moved everything into the sanctuary. As it turned out, God's plan was actually better than ours (go figure!) as the 300+ people packed into the auditorium would have had difficulty seeing our presentation had it been held outdoors.
The presentation went off without a hitch.
A great feature of this program was the musical participation of our "Christmas Troubadours".
Afterward I made a brief application and then introduced the team.
During the dinner that followed, our new character, Miudinho (translation: Tiny) visited all the tables asking for donations for the Cape Verde Project. He was a big hit, except with my son Nathanael, who was terrified of him.
In all, about $400 was raised during the evening.
For more information on the Cape Verde Project, click here.
Talk back to the missionary: Have a memorable Christmas program moment to share? Tell us about it in the comments section.
December 5, 2009
Cape Verde Project Video
As vacation time begins here at the seminary most of our students make their way back to their home churches. Those who are participating in the Cape Verde Project will be taking with them this video to show to their friends, family, and congregations.
I decided to post it here because it gives a nice visual overview of the two ministries involved in this project, as well as introducing the people involved.
If you are completely unaware of what the Cape Verde Project is, please click here.
Talk back to the missionary: If you have been praying for this project, give us a shout out here. It would be very encouraging to our students as they raise necessary funds.
November 21, 2009
Final Puppet Program of the Year
This morning the Amiguinhos de Jesus puppet team went to the Philadelphia (as in "brotherly love", not theUS city, home of the World Series runners-up) Baptist Church. There we gave our last "performance" of the year.
Here are some pictures:
Renata warms up backstage.
Nathanael waits in eager anticipation. There were almost 70 kids in attendance.
Max and Junior warm up the crowd.
The puppeteers talk to the kids. Don't forget to pray for the Cape Verde project, for which fundraising has begun in earnest. If you do not know what I am talking about, click here.
October 24, 2009
The Cape Verde Project
The following is our most recent letter, which details one of the most exciting projects we have been involved since our arrival in Brazil four years ago:
Dear Ministry Partners,
As I promised in our last prayer letter, today I am going to share with you what is possibly the most exciting project we have been involved with to date.
But first, let me tell you a little about the nation of Cape Verde.
A series of nine inhabited islands of the western coast of Africa, it was settled by the Portuguese in 1462. The over 500,000 residents of the archipelago speak Portuguese and a Portuguese-based Creole. Roughly 85% of Cape Verdeans are Roman Catholic. The rest are divided up between the various Protestant denominations and major cults. There is also a small Muslim presence.
Cape Verde is considered a developing country. It's current economy depends heavily on tourism and money sent by Cape Verdeans who have moved to other countries.
There has been a growing interest in Cape Verde among our Brazilian churches over the past several years. One of our seminary graduates is currently serving there as a missionary, and another has almost completed raising her support. Several young people from our area participated in a short-term mission trip there last year.
The country represents a unique opportunity for Brazilian missionaries, given common language and heritage, as well as certain cultural similarities.
So what does Cape Verde have to do with the exciting project I mentioned earlier? We will get to that. Before we do, however, let me tell you about our puppet ministry.
If you have been following our prayer letters or reading our blog, you know that we do a lot with puppets here. Of all our puppet-related ministries, two activities have born the most fruit: puppetry schools and the seminary puppet team.
The puppetry schools have put puppet techniques and materials into the hands of churches throughout northeast Brazil. They include instruction in basic and advanced puppetry techniques and using puppets in evangelism and Christian education. They also feature instruction in how to make puppets. Included in the course are the materials for the students to make their very own puppet. In short, every student leaves the class knowing how to make and use puppets, and with a puppet in hand (literally) to immediately put into practice what they have learned.
As for the seminary puppet team, they have traveled throughout northeast Brazil doing evangelism in some of the most diverse situations imaginable. If you go to our blog you can read about adventures we have had on an island camp, in a major metropolis, and in the middle of nowhere. We have even used puppets to minister to the deaf! The best thing about this whole endeavor is the number of young people who hear the Gospel. Our team members have had the opportunity to bring many children to Christ through this ministry.
"That is all well and good," you may say. "But what does that have to do with Cape Verde?" That, my friends, is the best part.
In talking with some Brazilians who were involved with ministry in Cape Verde, they mentioned that they knew of nobody working with puppets in that country. They said that if someone were to set up a puppet stage and put on a presentation it would be an immediate attention-grabber. Hundreds of kids were likely to show up. As they were talking, the wheels began turning in my head. What if, I asked, we were to take a group of people to Cape Verde who were experienced in puppet ministry? What if we could not only put on puppet programs in the neighborhoods, but also teach Cape Verdean believers how to do it, and give them the resources to carry on the ministry once we have left? The response from these brethren was very enthusiastic. When I broached the subject to the seminary puppet team and to my partners in the puppet-school project, they were equally enthused. Thus we began to explore the idea more seriously. This exploration has been going on for the last few months. Finally, we are at the place where we can "go public" and share with you the plan.
When? The target dates for the trip are December 6-18, 2010.
Who? Members from our seminary puppet team and our puppet-school team will be participating in this. Itacyara and I will not be accompanying them as we plan to be in the US at this time, sharing what God has been doing here in Brazil.
How Much? Each participant will have to raise about $1,800 to cover travel expenses and ministry materials. They have wholly embraced the project, writing letters to their churches and taking on special projects to raise the needed funds.
What are the Benefits? There are many. Let me list what I see as the five main ones:
1. Gaining an audience with Cape Verdeans who normally would not hear the Gospel.
2. Equipping Cape Verdean believers to carry on the ministry.
3. Giving our seminary students a taste for, and experience in, foreign missions.
4. Giving our local churches additional participation in foreign missions.
5. Extending your ministry through us beyond the borders of Brazil.
Can you see why we are so pumped about this?
How can I (our my church) be involved? So glad you asked. First, you can pray for us. There are many details to be worked out, and certainly many obstacles to be overcome, financial and otherwise. Second, you can contribute financially to this project. Baptist Mid-Missions has opened a special account for this project. If you have caught our enthusiasm and want to help you can send a check to Baptist Mid-Missions (the address appears below). Please note: in order for the money to be applied to this project, it needs to be designated to Andrew Comings National Assistance.
As Itacyara and I wind down our first term in Brazil and prepare for furlough, we are thrilled to see a ministry in which we have been involved "grow legs" and walk on it's own. Please join with us in this endeavor. From now until December 2010 every prayer letter we send will contain an update on the Cape Verde project.
Next week we will be back with updates as to what has been going on around here (and a lot has been going on!). I want to dedicate this letter, however, to the Cape Verde project, by far the most far-reaching extension of this ministry up to this point. You have been more than generous in your participation with us over the last four years. Please give this project a high-priority place in your prayers.
Andrew, Itacyara, Michael, and Nathanael.
Baptist Mid Misssions Address:
P.O. Box 301011
Cleveland, OH 44130-8011
I have put up a special page to keep you informed about the project. You are going to be hearing much about this in the days ahead.