Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Feeling Brighter

My virus symptoms are diminishing. Thanks for your prayers. Our eldest daughter Deborah has been in hospital today on a drip, owing to dehydration, but is on the mend and should be back at her home to sleep.

We had another school visit to Green Pastures today for an environmental education tour but I didn't feel up to being their guide so our son-in-law Hutan did it as he knows the routes and all my stories that I tell kids about encounters with foxes, raccoons, snakes etc. as he always goes with me for school visits to take the photos.

Moving things always happen at the Care Centre and this week was no exception with three lovely children coming to our dentist for the first time in their lives at 7, 8 and 11 years of age. They were thrilled with their treatment and with their tooth brushes and paste too. The deaf fellowship also always has its meetings there of course. In fact the deaf consider the Care Centre as "the place to go" on a Saturday night. I really don't know where so many deaf folk appear from!

It was lovely to see 4 baptized at Mandacaru at the weekend. That's the place where the leader nearly died about a year ago with a terrible hemorrhage. He's now fine. PTL!

It was great seeing the youth, led by Philip, doing door to door evangelism in Jatobá borough where our school is on Saturday. They do this in the afternoon and hold an open-air evangelistic service at night in front of the school. Philip has a real gift for personal evangelism and it was wonderful to see him taking his son Lucas and his neice Alice (both only 11) and training them on the job to do door to door evangelism with him, which isn't easy.

The month of April draws to a close with some further small rains taking us up to 31 inches total for the year - so just 9 inches needed in May/June to reach our target. 

Please pray for our Mission EAB which goes through a difficult time in terms of finance. When I ask you to pray some might say it is a way of asking people to give - which it is - but it isn't just that. Prayer does change things, as we have proved over the years, and at this "rock bottom" time with zero contingency fund (a fund the mission seeks to maintain as a buffer for low income periods) we look to God who does intervene and can touch people's hearts to give or to act to raise funds. We praise God for Cadnam Methodist Church which raised money for the Mission last weekend with a concert and for Kira Taylor who is running a half marathon this weekend for EAB. We also praise God for those who regularly support the work here - both churches and individuals. Please do join us in special prayer for the work - which must press on for God's glory and in blessing - that lack of funds will not be a hindrance to the multiple aspects and ministries of the Mission.

Finally let me tell you that I am reading 2 good books at the moment - God's Strategy in Human History by Forster and Marston - and Cat Wars by Marra and Santella. The books are from rather different fields but both are equally difficult to stop reading!

On Thursday I start the ambitious journey, in the Thursday night church Bible studies, through the 'Key stories of the Bible' in chronological order, following the BibleGateway.com - Chronological reading plan. Thus we read different chapters and comment on them - starting this week with creation and the fall. Please pray for this too.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Masked Visitors!

Liz and I have a flu type virus. Liz is just getting over it and I am just getting going with it. However today we received such an insistent plea from a couple in the church who were desperate for us to visit them and talk to them that we adorned masks and went and had a blessed time of chatting, counselling and prayer with them.

I managed to give the Bible study last night but I don't think I would have managed it had it been today. Liz and I have had a church trouble shooting issue to work on too. Your prayers are valued but I can't give details.

The World Bank's latest report shows that poverty increased in Brazil in the period from 2014 to 2017, now affecting 21% of the population which is 43.5 million people! This is an increase of 3%, adding 7.3 million people to the list of those who live off up to just U$5.5 per day which is just over 4 pounds sterling. 

Monday, 22 April 2019

Spring Musical Concert in aid of EAB

A wonderful Easter!

We had a lovely Easter. PTL! The services on Sunday were electric. On Good Friday 23 took part in the personal evangelism and tract distribution in the morning followed by prayer and meditation in church. Sunday morning saw the fellowship church breakfast followed by praise and a reflection on God's Word and at night the ressurrection celebration was outstanding with the choreography group inspired as was our leading actress Dilma in an amazing presentation of the Easter message. Philip baptized one young man and I preached on John 18-20 after which 5 made commitments to Christ.

Earlier in the week we had our usual break from Wednesday to Saturday at Green Pastures. It was a lovely relaxing time and I walked over 20 km in the midst of nature. The highlight was to photograph well a killer snake 'Bothrops erytromelas' which crossed my pathway about 3 feet in front of me. The presence of such predators is an excellent sign for the scientists of the excellent level of preservation at Green Pastures , although it also highlights our need for caution and the wearing of boots and jeans etc. to avoid problems.

On the Wednesday Philip and Gylmara travelled to Barra de Oitis ex-slave community with food for the hungry. Their visit there was greatly blessed.

Around the EAB/ACEV churches there were all sorts of special services and events over Easter. News is flowing in from far and wide for which we praise God. His truth is marching on! Jesus is alive literally and in His people!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Busy but good week

I prepared this Sunday's sermon covering John chapters 15 to 17 which is an endeavour to show folk that Jesus' teaching and unity prayer etc. is set on the eve of His arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Many overlook this taking Scripture as isolated bits. This panoramic view of three chapters, with their application to us today, will prepare us for Easter the following week.

I have done lots of counselling and pastoral visits this week too. Maria Prata was 84 on Thursday and she was already a faithful member here when I arrived 47 years ago.

We also counselled a teenager being purturbed by Roman Catholic attacks of a doctrinal nature. We also have worked on the Patos School's extension team for the Saturdays which is passing through turbulence. We will be having lunch and a meeting with the whole team today to try and sort the problems out. During the week we had meetings with the head teacher and the team separately.

We also had a meeting with a projects leader and social worker about a new project proposed by Tearfund that we feel is too much for us to take on on top of everything else.

We travelled to Campina Grande (2 and a half hours drive east) on Thursday and had cardiologist routine check-ups. We held excellent meetings whilst there with Pastor Wostenes and his wife Gleydice and with Pastor Hamilton. Both their churches are going very well. PTL! We discussed a wide range of subjects.

In next week's Easter period we will endeavour to have our annual family break at Green Pastures and be back in church for Easter Sunday for which I need to prepare my sermon covering John chapters 18 to 20. Help! Please pray!

A Happy Easter to one and all!

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Induction Service in the mountains

We travelled up the Teixeira mountain last night to conduct the induction service of the new pastor Maésio there and all went well. The trip is dodgy at the moment because the heaviest rains in the mountains for 10 years are dislodging rocks and bolders which cascade down to the road. We are back safe and sound to tell the story!

Please pray for the church as it adapts to a new pastor and pray too for Conceição where Maésio used to be pastor - that we will be able to find a replacement.

Tonight I will be conducting the communion service in Patos as well as dedicating a baby boy. Earlier this week Liz and I visited a couple who also have just been blessed with a baby boy.

We also had meetings this week with the youth leadership teams and with the leaders of the mens and womens fellowships. All these meetings went very well. I gave the Bible study on Thursday too speaking on "What is the church"?

The rains have been good this week and at Green Pastures we are up to a total of 27.3 inches of rain this year - thus moving towards our target of 40 inches. Please keep praying.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Let it Rain!

Saturday night brought us the sort of rain we were waiting for! Heavy, intense and prolonged. At Green Pastures it rained 2 inches and the river dam overflowed and the lake took in quite a lot of water. PTL! In Patos it rained twice as much and up in the mountains at Teixeira 3 times as much. We rejoice with all this of course. We are now up to a total of 23 and a half inches of rain for this year at Green Pastures with 40 inches being our target. We pray for a few more rains like Saturday's during April because in May the rains always start dwindling.

This Saturday night's evangelism by the youth in the area of town where our school is was different! The door to door evangelism went normally in the afternoon and then the team debated whether to set the sound equipment and chair outdoors or not as it might rain? The base player Mailson, who is a bit of an amateur weather forecaster, decided the matter telling the team they could set up in the street as no way it was going to rain! They had just started putting things into position when... bang... down came torrential rain! So everything was set up inside the school and still a few people came to the indoor service from the borough joining our team and supporters. The Lord blessed and the work was done for God's glory. So rain did not stop pray!

Sunday I preached on John 14 and that went well though there were less in church for fear of more rain which didn't fall.

Yesterday Liz and I had a good meeting with the new pastor who will be inducted at the Teixeira church this Saturday. This morning we are visiting a couple who have just had the arrival of a little baby boy. Tonight we have another meeting... and so it goes on.

On top of all this I have constant meetings with leaders via WhatsApp audios. This is a great help as we are able to have good discussions and sort lots of things out without travelling miles. Hence yesterday I had long discussions with various leaders concerning stage 2 of our Recife church plant which was launched on Sunday. Please pray. I also had discussions regarding difficulties at our Conceição church and further varied discussions with the general leadership team.