Monday, 6 April 2020

Zoom is helpful

The church youth in Patos had their meeting on Saturday via Zoom again, but included our Juazeirinho and Teixeira church young people as well together with Beatriz who is on an exchange year in Demark

We, as most of our churches, did live broadcasts on line at the normal time of our church services. Strange, difficult and stressful times for all of us. We pray for each other.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Adapting

This is an unbelievable time of adapting to a new world reality and we are certainly working hard on this. The work load is incredible coordinating all the different teams and church leaders around EAB/ACEV's 88 churches. Let me try and give you an overview of some little bits of everything.

The senior leadership team of 10 has regular coordination meetings to discuss umpteen questions that arise. Please pray for pastor Umbirajara's wife (one of the team) whose wife has discovered she has a malignancy and is being operated on right now. 

Then there are issues linked to funds to support this outlying pastors in small churches. How to manage this? Then there is the problem that next month is statutory time to elect a new team (this is done every 4 years), or re-elect the old one, at our annual Leader's Conference, which almost certainly won't happen. This has to be officially registered with a public notary which is closed. Without this registered change in the leadership board the banks won't work for us and we wouldn't be able to do bank transfers to pay workers, projects etc. We can organize an internet general assembly for the election under these exceptional circumstances, I think, but will we be able to get a public notary to register it so as to have legal public value before the banks and authorities? I am sharing the details of this one issue, or a long list, just for you to understand the dilemmas and challenges facing us as leaders of the Mission. Please pray and support. Thank you.

88 EAB Churches preach the Gospel in Lockdown

With church services cancelled everywhere the Church of Jesus Christ adapts and reaches out with teaching and preaching the Gospel. The church buildings may be closed but the church moves on. Of course we miss the physical company of everyone, but the body of Christ continues in fellowship with Christ and His body.

I was encouraged by Brother Paulo, speaking to him on WhatsApp yesterday, from the ex-landless community not many miles from Green Pastures. He spoke to me from his little farmstead he received from a government project where EAB/ACEV drilled a well for the community and set up a community market garden project. I checked he was being duly careful even though he is in such an isolated community. He assured me they are. Then he told me that they had heeded my advice, from some time back, to hold little daily family times of prayer, praise and Bible reading, by who can read. He said these times "are being a great blessing to him, his wife and family, because they are learning to pray more and praise from the heart"! So this is one example of a cloud having a silver lining. Please continue to pray for us and support the work here in these difficult times. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Rains slow

The rainy season this year for Green Pastures is well down on the last 3 years. On the other hand the reservoirs for Patos have done much better and one is overflowing. The big reservoir at Coremas, from where Patos has its pipeline, has also taken in a massive amount of water. So things vary from area to area with the Patos area doing really well but not at Green Pastures where the lake is nearly dry and the river bed is dry. All very green, but it doesn't get passed this as rain which comes in small quantities doesn't accumulate in lakes and reservoirs. We pray that April will be better because its the last month in which we can get big rains.

In the work of the Lord we press on with internet being our means of communication like it is for you. We bring messages, praise and prayer through this means and use Zoom for some fellowship groups. Lots of prayer and counselling goes on via WhatsApp too. Clearly we really do need your prayers as I know you need ours. We must stand together in Christ. 

We are carrying out supplying food parcels where we can for our poor Action Child/Schools children as they are very poor. This we are being very discreet about as we can't do it for everyone so we are saying nothing about this on Facebook to avoid possible tumults. The whole situation here is very complex and precarious. The political chaos is hindering a lot with lack of emergency healthcare preparation abominable. Please pray.

Please pray for us personally, for our family and all our leaders and church members. We are constantly under pressure. We look to God - our refuge and strength. 

Thursday, 26 March 2020

I am shocked to the core!

Brazil's president has just decreed that "church services are essential services" like water or electricity supplies - thus bowing to the mass of fanatical evangelicals who elected him. It is an unbelievable decree! This means the prosperity theology lot and many others can gather their money as usual. 

Tragically Brazil's president is not taking this virus serious. We can only cry to God to intervene. Please join us.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

(1) However do these things happen?


Liz was born in 1949 in a house in the street where our church is in Patos. I was also born that year, thousands of miles away, in a maternity hospital in London, England. The chances of us ever meeting were very remote, like winning on the lottery, but when God...

Liz was involved in the EAB church in Patos from very young. Liz is an amazingly strong devoted Christian. Many don’t realize what a rock she is because she rarely says much about it. I talk the hind legs off a donkey, but Liz gets on with the work, serves the Lord and never turns away a poor person in need. She taught a Sunday School class with 120 children when she was only 13 years old.

I was in Notting Hill, London at this time, at my church called Peniel Chapel. I too was involved in the church from very young, and I too was involved as a teenager with children’s work. My job was to go round with driver Steve Grantham in the church mini-bus and collect the kids to take them to church 4 times a week! My job was to knock on the doors of houses and flats and get the kids into the mini-bus. Our record number was 252 children one Tuesday night and not one was white! I loved the Anglo/West Indian community and still do.

My church was missions mad! Founded by pastor Ben Griffiths who was fruit of the 1904 Welsh Revival, he was a tremendous man of faith and missionary vision. We supported dozens of missionaries all over the world and this included Brazil. Our missionary family in Minas Gerais, in south east Brazil, were the Roults, and on their visits to the UK they stayed with their family a couple of streets from where I lived. I started hearing a lot and to feel God’s call on my life, and was already planning to head for Brazil one day still in my teenage years of child evangelism. It was just a matter of turning the West Indians into Brazilians!

I had never heard of north-east Brazil. Who had? My church worked down south and I thought one day that I might head there. However, 1966 (the year that England won the Football World Cup) was far more significant for my life for another reason. In the October the Millbrook Church youth from Southampton came to my church in London for a united youth service during which a young lady, who had recently arrived from north-east Brazil, was asked to sing Psalm 51 in Portuguese. My jaw dropped at her beauty!

I tried to chat to Liz after the service, but to no avail. I prayed a lot over the following weeks! In the New Year I went to run with my Cross-Country athletics club at Southampton and in the evening I went to see a Christian film for youth at a Baptist church and prayed that Liz would be there – and she was! But no amount of insistence for her to have an ice-cream with me after the film worked, but I kept praying. Then I heard that my church had invited EAB’s Frank Dyer to preach at our Good Friday morning service and of course I wondered could this be my answer to prayer? I contacted my friend David Irish in Southampton to invite Liz, Frank’s daughter, to my house for lunch after the service if she was coming with him. David “Sherlock” Irish discovered she was coming, together with her brother Sam, so he invited them both and they accepted! The rest is history.

Our courtship (see photo) lasted from Easter 67 to November 69 in which time I went to Liz’s house one weekend at Dibden Purlieu near Southampton and she came to mine on the other. All I heard constantly was about EAB and the needs of north-east Brazil! Frank, Liz’s Dad, showed me slides and told me endless stories about the Mission and I soon realized they had a point. The needs of north-east Brazil were incomparably greater than where my church was working in the south. Thus we got married at that same church in Southampton, who had visited mine 3 years earlier, and where God had brought Liz and I together. Pastor Winston Shearing conducted our wedding (leader of the Board of Trustees of EAB), Albert Mundy (EAB’s founder) also took part in the service as did Reuben Gunter, then pastor at Peniel Chapel, and Jack Dyer (pastor at Liz’s local church in the area at Hardley). Of course EAB missionary Frank Dyer gave away the bride and our good friend Pastor Colin Whittaker was also present. 6 ministers at one wedding did the trick!

Liz and I married committed to working with EAB in north-east Brazil and I studied at the IBTI in preparation for this. Later on I did a degree in theology at LBC (this was great) and a master’s degree at Leeds University. So at the beginning of August 1972 we took off to Patos, Paraíba, north-east Brazil, with our 4-month baby Deborah. And here we still are serving the Lord, but now with a bigger family. But I’ll tell you more about how our first years went here in Brazil in my next chapter…

Flooding

With so much in lock down it's services on line, lots of counselling via WhatsApp or by phone, and lots of meetings online with different teams of our leaders. I am also seeking to maintain a positive approach doing creative and enjoyable things such as reading (a commentary on Galatians at the moment), praying and Bible reading, and writing stories of our experiences in the work of the Lord over the years. I'll post here chapter 1 today and I pray it will bless you.

We're in the rainy season here and at Green Pastures rains are quite poor, but further to the west the rains are much heavier. We have just received news from Flores that our Pastor Nemias and his family have had to move out of their house and move into the church on higher ground for fear of severe imminent flooding. Please pray for this on top of everything else.