Sunday, 29 January 2017

Quite a wedding!

Liz and I travelled to Itaporanga this Saturday to conduct the wedding of Tica who leads our Old Cow Pen church. She married Ramos from one of our João Pessoa churches. They met a year ago at the special 10-day Outreach. They are a mature couple in their 40s. Philip arrived about the same time as Liz and I, around 6.30 pm, for a 7pm kick off. They will now lead the work together at Old Cow Pen.

When we arrived there was nobody there! The service eventually started over an hour late! They had organised an enormous number of witnesses - 20 for the bride and 20 for the groom! All these cerimonally walked up the aisle, at the begining of the ceremony, ahead of the bride. When the bride was reaching the door I had this strange intuition that I had been given the incorrect name for the groom! I dived over to the table where the legal documents from the judge were for the registry and I was right! So I had to quickly correct my script on the side whilst the bride meandered up to the front and I managed to slip into place by the skin of my teeth with a smile and nobody was any the wiser!

Philip had prepared 3 songs for different moments in the service which with me normally lasts 45 minutes. However... when the third song time came, as the register was being signed, there was me, the couple and 40 witnesses to sign! A total of 43! This must be a world record! Of course this dragged on for yonks and I whispered to Philip to just keep singing! Bless his heart he even lost count of how many songs he sang!

At the end I declared them husband and wife and had to get them to repeat the kiss, as the first one was more like a peck (I don't admit pecks in a wedding ceremony!), and then I prayed the final blessing and we were done, dusted, sweaty but smiling!

Finally there was the photographs session with a family member yelling into a mike the different ones she wanted to line up with the couple. But everyone was happy like that so who cares? Then they called everyone to eat so Liz and I slipped out, leaving them a gift with their regional pastor, and we got home pretty exhausted and to bed at 12.30 am.

My day had started with a Skype meeting at 7am, for which I was up at 5.30 am, with the EAB Board of Trustees. It was a very good meeting. It was however a long day! Now I'm ready to preach tonight in the Patos church. Your prayers are always valued.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Great 10-day Outreach!

I preached at the 10-day Outreach final public service on Saturday, as I do every year, and all went very well. This is the 17th year we've done this consecutively and it was my idea in the first place - so it's a great joy to see things going well with the team up by a third in size and folk were talking about getting up to a 100 in the team next year from this year's 80. PTL! The team was united and blessed. The RC church is in general terms no longer the challenge at these event but rather the "evangelical" lunatic fringe which is actually more than a fringe in Brazil! A great concern for all serious evangelical leaders. Anyway the Outreach bore fruit and I await final statistics which I will pass on, but I know some did make real commitments to Christ.

We got back very late of course on Saturday night but were in church in Patos as normal. The sermon this Sunday was especially blessed: "Water into Wine"! The 6th sermon in the John's Gospel series.

This Saturday I'll be conducting another wedding - this time at Itaporanga. The leader of our Old Cow Pen church - Tica - is marrying Ramos from João Pessoa. A mature wedding! Then of course we'll be back in Patos again on Sunday.

The authorities have at last started to sort things out at Jabre Peak and did a major clean up of both domestic and industrial rubbish there. PTL! I was interviewed about it on TV and radio today.

Monday, 16 January 2017


Last week Liz and I managed to fit in a 3-day break at Green Pastures which was very nice. I did lots of walking and Liz did lots of reading. It was really nice. No internet. In the daytime the birds nearly deafened you with their song and at night the silence, with a full moon, was deafening! I met up with this fox face to face. He growled at me a lot and it was quite a stand off, but he blinked eventually, turned and ran off into the bush. A lovely moment.

The 10-day Outreach at Flores in Pernambuco State has started well with an 85 strong team. On Saturday Philip took the Patos church band to lead the P&W in the opening service which was really blessed. I will be going there to preach this Saturday and our Care Centre team will be going there too. I will be back in Patos to preach on the Sunday. Last night's Sunday service went well. I continued my series in John's Gospel - sermon 5 - and finished chapter 1. Numbers were down owing to it being holiday month. 

It rained 16 mm at Green Pastures last night. PTL! Every little bit helps. The big rain Patos got on the 9th did not make it to Green Pastures unfortunately.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Excellent Weekend

The Lord really blessed the weekend's work and ministry. The wedding went off fine up in the mountains on Saturday. Our experience came in handy amidst lots of internal family tensions there at the wedding and all worked out fine in the end. PTL! The couple are further victims of horrific Brazilian evangelical legalism. They were very grateful for our support.

Sunday School numbers were up yesterday despite usually being down in January's holiday month (UK's August). The evening service was greatly blessed and the sermon touched many hearts I am told. PTL!

Please pray for the special 10-day evangelistic Outreach starting this Friday. The team in larger this year up to 80 from the normal 60. It will be held at Flores in Pernambuco State.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Jail Slaughter Chaos!

With 93 prisoners murdered in Brazilian jails in 6 days, many decapitated, it highlights the absolutely mess the prison service is in. 2 were murdered in the Patos jail. The jails here are unbelievably overcrowded and inhumane. Drug barons dispute power within the jails from where they command drug trafficking in the towns and cities. Drugs and violence prevails all over Brazil. Public safety is at an all time low and there is much public rejoicing at the prison deaths because the slogan used here is that "a good bandit is a dead bandit"! Many so called evangelical Christians advocate this! Please pray for peace, security and safely in Brazil.

Wedding Bells

We're going up the mountains to Santa Teresinha in the State of Pernambuco this afternoon to conduct the wedding of Mabelle and Cássio. I dedicted her as a baby and will now conduct her wedding. Philip and Louisa will be providing the music. 

My sermon is ready for tomorrow in Patos when I will be preaching on: "Behold the Lamb of God" as my 4th sermon of my series in John's Gospel. 

Philip has now taken on the responsibility of the Bible studies on a Thursdays and he is doing very well. Numbers are up and people are being blessed. PTL!

This week a group of 5 or 6 pastors and their families have stayed at Green Pastures for a break. I had a nice meeting with some of them at the end of my morning walk yesterday. I saw a pair of wild Puma Yagourundi cats and a pair of foxes.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Pastors' Retreat

It's nice this week to have a group of our pastors and their families for a week's break at Green Pastures. They asked if they could have the place for the week and we of course only too gladly said fine.

I was out there just before 6 am today and walked for 4 hours on my own. Wonderful! There were hundreds and hundreds of giant bumble bees on the flowers which have bloomed as a result of the bit of rain we've had. 

I am preparing to preach in Patos on Sunday and do a wedding in Pernambuco State on Saturday. Liz has been counselling a lot today.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Climate comparisons

You might be surprised to learn that the average annual rainfall at Green Pastures is 13% higher than that in London! Let me show you the statistics:

London's average rainfall is 621 mm (nearly 26 inches).

Green Pastures' average rainfall is 702 mm (a little over 29 inches).

So why do we get droughts and you don't?

Firstly it's because we get our rain exclusively in the first months of the year where as in the UK it is evenly spread throughout the year.

Secondly it's because our average temperature is 25,5ºC where as London's is 11.1ºC. This means that evaporation of the reservoirs here is a massive problem which is not so in the UK. For 7 or 8 months of the year we get no rain at all with belting temperatures evaporating the lot. All we need are a few below average rainfall years and we are in serious trouble like now! Virtually the whole of the State of Paraíba where EAB's headquarters are is in a major water supply crisis.

So the next time you feel like moaning about the rain please turn the moans into prayer for parts of the world like NE Brazil where people have great difficulty getting water at all. That's why EAB drills so many wells.

Monday, 2 January 2017

New Year's Weekend

Saturday night's watchnight service started at 10pm in the Patos church and ended about 12.30am. What a wonderful service it was with 3 baptized by Philip, a great choreography, a fantastically moving song by Sacha and I preached. The whole service was broadcast live and the video is available on the church's facebook page.

Érika is the young woman with Sacha (above). She was converted early in 2016 and the following week was diagnosed with breast cancer. On the night she was to go to João Pessoa to start her treatment Sacha phoned Érika and sang to her Psalm 40: "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry..." Sacha then prayed with her and said that she would sing the same song in church for her when she is cleared of cancer. Last week she was given an initial all clear and Sacha kept her promise. There were few eyes dry in the church! God is good! PTL!

On the Sunday night we had our normal weekly main service with numbers reduced owing to so many being tired from the New Year's celebrations. Nevertheless it was a good blessed service. A Happy New Year to everyone!

New Year Foxes

I watched this pair of foxes hunting wild guinea pigs this morning at Green Pastures and it made them thirsty! They were leaping over low bushes with the wild guinea pigs scampering for their lives beneath from bush to bush! They went to the watering hole in that same section of the Reserve and our automatic camera picked them up. It was something absolutely wonderful to watch!