Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Just leaving for Barra de Oitis & Vazante

Liz and I are just about to leave for Barra de Oitis where we are to officially hand over 8 toilet/shower kits and hold a community thanksgiving service where we will preach the Gospel. Please pray for us. 

On the way, in a round about way, we will be visiting Vazante where we also have a church.

Monday, 27 May 2019

The main decisions taken & announcements made at our Annual General Conference

We now have 88 churches (up 5) including large, medium and small. Christians in our churches total 3,171 (up 151). We have 36 of these people doing theology courses by distance or presential Colleges. Our annual Leadership Conference will be from September 13th to 15th this year at Green Pastures. The annual Youth Conference will also be there next month.

We plan to construct new church buildings at Barra de Oitis and Travessia. We decided to improve our monitoring methods so as to keep in touch better with the growing number of churches. The Annual General Conference next year will be at Princesa Isabel. At Princesa Isabel their church plant in the borough of Maia was moved up in status to be recognised as a fully established church.

It was decided to tighten our safety measures with the transportation of people at our annual 10-day outreaches and any other Mission activities. Whilst it is good fun with a big crowd of young people on top of a lorry singing praises to God along the way - such travelling is both dangerous and illegal. 

This year's theme for all our churches is: "My Goal is Christ" (i.e. His full stature as stated in Efesians 4:11-16).

We have 5 regular radio programmes continuing from radio stations at Imaculada, São Vicente do Seridó, Campina Grande, Juru and Teixeira. 

We heard special reports on church plants at Pocinhos, Belem, Jurema, Travessia, Campina Grande Novo Horizonte, Lagoa de São João and Bahia. Of special concern for prayer was the awful persecution our family of workers at Belem are suffering with their 6 year old son even being subjected to considerable bullying at primary school because he is an evangelical Christian!

It was decided to create an online distance theology and practical Christianity course in Integral Mission. 

Annual General Conference

The EAB/ACEV Annual General Conference is always in the month of May and this year was held at our second church in Campina Grande in the borough of Presidente Médici. Liz and I left Patos at 9 am and drove the two and a half hour journey going straight to the church for the 12 noon fellowship lunch together which started the event. Philip travelled separately with some young folk.

Straight after lunch we got into our first General Assembly at 2 pm and this ended at gone 6 pm. We then had our evening meal all together and were off again into our second general assembly by 7.30 pm. For the Conference our leaders gather from all our churches in the 5 north-eastern States we have work in: Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará and Bahia. Liz and I got to bed on the Friday night at gone midnight!

We restarted with the third general assembly which lasted from 9 am to 1 pm and then all had lunch together. Everyone had another meal together at 6 pm and at 7.30 pm we commenced our final celebration service which ended 2 hours later. The whole event was very tiring of course, but very good and really blessed by the Lord. The general assemblies saw, as usual, all our decisions taken unanimously and the celebration, at which I preached and ordained one new minister, was beautiful. We got to bed at midnight and drove back to Patos on Sunday morning so as to be back in good time to lead the evening service. Thank you for praying.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Doors that God opens

I have long prayed for a greater opening in São Mamede County where Green Pastures is. It is true that some years back I was given the 'Freedom of the County' title but, though this was good, it was a formal one-off thing. However as the Green Pastures Christian Camp, Conference Centre and Nature Reserve has become increasingly well known so the County Council finally decided for the first time to appoint a Secretary for the Environment. He has been to Green Pastures twice, has asked me for my thoughts on a number of issues and today invited me to speak at 2 schools on International Biodiversity Day. I really feel we are seeing a breakthrough for God's Kingdom in the County as a whole at last. The talks I gave went particularly well. PTL!

In São Mamede County EAB has its church and school at Green Pastures plus other smaller works including the one at the ex-landless community there. God is moving by His Spirit! God is speaking to people through our concern and pratical care of His creation. God's creation has always been a means of glorifying the Lord!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Prayer stops school!

At EAB's Action Schools for poor kids the children are naturally taught to say grace before meals. Today in one little boy's regular school he was horrified when snack time came and the teacher wasn't going to pray first! So he caused such a scene that the teacher had to halt everything prior to praying and he only calmed down and would let everyone eat after a proper prayer was said and the teacher promised to do this everyday from now on! It just goes to show the importance of teaching children simple things concerning the ways of the Lord.

Over the weekend the Christians in Action group were really blessed in Onça community in Patos County and the youth and deaf fellowship groups went well too. In Recife 14 from our João Pessoa main church travelled to help do evangelism in the area where the church plant is. This is just getting going and will take a long time but the Recife folk are sticking to the task and we value your prayers for this.

We had another half an inch of rain at Green Pastures as the rains dwindle to an end. This takes us up to 35.5 inches so just 4.5 inches to go to out target for this year we've been praying for. At Green Pastures we identified another species of Lizard about half a meter in length called 'Ameiva ameiva'. It is particularly beautiful and takes the number of Lizard species identified there to 15. We have also identified 13 species of snakes and 18 species of frogs and toads.

We travel to Campina Grande on Friday for the annual EAB/ACEV Churches Conference and value your prayers. We plan to be back in Patos for Sunday's evening service. 

Saturday, 18 May 2019

EAB Board Meeting

EAB’s UK Board of Trustees met at West Wellow in Hampshire today and I took part via Skype. It was a very good meeting which heard an up-to-date report on the work in northeast Brazil and the importance of increasing support for the Mission from individuals, churches and special events.

The importance of support for EAB’s Action Schools was stressed and it was also encouraging to learn of a group of young folk who will be climbing the highest peaks in England, Scotland & Wales for EAB! It was also decided that I will preach, via live link, at EAB’s 81st Celebration on September 28th.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

We didn't see that coming!

In the early hours of today a good rain started to fall which was not forecast and totally unexpected, but MOST welcome! We had 2 inches of rain at Green Pastures and the dam started overflowing again. This takes us up to 35 inches for the year and so leaves just 5 inches that we need to reach our target of 40 inches. (A good rainy season in the first half of the year needs to be around 40 inches) It doesn't rain here in the second half of the year so it is good when we receive water enough to get us through till the following year. It needs to be remembered that it also gets increasingly hot as the year goes on and that accelerates the evaporation of water in the reservoirs. 

So thank you for praying and please don't stop!

Monday, 13 May 2019

Annual EAB Charity Concert at Chineham

My sister Jean is one of the best music teachers around and this year had total success with all of her pupils passing their exams. Every year she organizes a charity concert at her church, to raise funds for EAB, in which her pupils perform. We are very grateful to Jean and all the young musicians who always make the afternoon a very enjoyable one. We also thank the parents who bake cakes or savoury pastries for the interval and which makes the concert even more enjoyable!

This year's concert will be held on Saturday, July 6th at 3 pm and all money raised for tickets and refreshments will be to support EAB's projects in northeast Brazil. The address to go to is:

Christ Church, Reading Road, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8LT. 

Please do support this event if you live in Hampshire and may God bless all who perform and go to the event.

Hospital Church

EAB's Patos church is a hospital church! By that I mean that we are a church which cares with God's love for the broken hearted and for those who are needy in all sorts of ways. We receive people in the Name of Jesus and seek to love them like God loves us - and no - we don't push aside Biblical principals in the process.

I say this because we have just held a Patos church leadership meeting in which we have decided unanimously to accept 2 new people into fellowship as it is a joy to see how God is blessing them and ministering to them in their needs. I cannot give any details here about the cases - nor would I - but it is wonderful to see the Gospel of God's healing love working in people's lives and healing deep wounds and scars. Thank you Jesus!

Mother's Day

Mother's Day in Brazil is on the second Sunday in May - yesterday. We had a good special service in which I preached on the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). It was a lovely service in which we also dedicated two children and received another 2 new members into fellowship. The church was really full.

On Saturday the Patos church band travelled to Juazeirinho for the service there and this was really blessed too. The youth held a Bible study at the Jatobá church plant, where our school is in Patos. The Christians in Action group held a service in São Mamede County after a service on the Friday at Ipueira in Rio Grande do Norte State.

We have been distributing more goats as part of EAB's 4 Legs Project. The Gospel is being preached in so many places and it's being practiced in so many ways for the glory of God.

100 not out!

Veteran EAB supporter Ivy Yoakley reached her century last week at Ledbury in England. Well done Ivy! I must confess that I find it difficult to call her 'Ivy' as she was always 'Mrs Yoakley' - and woe betide anyone that called people by their first name in those old days at Peniel Chapel which was my first church in Notting Hill when I was a child! Her husband went to glory years ago but she has never lost contact with us. We praise God for her faithfulness to the Mission. I was glad to hear that her son Richard was over from New Zealand for her birthday. He was who gave me the 'Blue Grass' monkey when I was a teenager which he smuggled into the country as he was in the Merchant Navy and brought it back from Africa! But that's another long eventful story! Another interesting link with Ivy is the fact that Liz's parents stayed at her house just off Ladbroke Grove for their honeymoon in 1948! Exotic honeymoon locations were the order of the day then!

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Men's Fellowship

12 in the Men's Fellowship group tonight which is not bad for a Tuesday evening. Tomorrow is the Women's Fellowship group. Small groups are an important part of church life for fellowship, edification and evangelism.

I have had talks with a number of our church leaders today. Contact is always important sharing about different issues that affect each one. 

Liz visited a young woman called Jane who has had a hysterectomy and is recovering well. She told Liz how blessed she was watching the Sunday night service via Internet. We prayed for her recovery in the service and she was particularly thrilled because when I congratulated those who had had birthdays last week, as we do every week, I looked to where she sits as it had been her birthday. Just the fact that I knew where she always sits made her so happy! It just goes to show how details in church life can be so important.

Monday, 6 May 2019

A War of Loves

I have just read the book by David Bennett called 'A War of Loves: The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus' with the foreword written by N.T.Wright. It is an excellent book which was a blessing to read. Very well written, a wonderful and moving story which expresses the same Christian position on the field as I share. 

Yesterday in Patos I preached on 'The Presence of Jesus changes everything' based on John 21:1-14. To God be the glory for the great impact the sermon had on so many people.

On Saturday we had a 7-hour leadership meeting preparing for our national conference later this month to be held at Campina Grande. The 10-person leadership team gathered in Patos on Saturday from Manaira, Itaporanga, Imaculada, Patos, Campina Grande and João Pessoa. The meeting was excellent and took some important unanimous decisions.

Yesterday Kira Taylor ran the Southampton Half Marathon to raise over 500 pounds for EAB's work and projects. We thank Kira and all who sponsored her. It is encouraging to see a young person getting involved with the Mission in this way.

A decision for Christ has been reported in Teixeira and another in the rural area of Juazeirinho. PTL!

We'll be inaugurating a number of new toilet/shower facilities at Barra de Oitis later this month.