Saturday, 29 June 2019

Fellowship in the Light

I have prepared this Sunday's sermon on Fellowship in Christ's light from 1 John 1:1-10 and I've sent the order of service to our visuals man so all ready for our main Sunday service.

On Thursday I led the Bible study in Genesis 12 as having covered the creation and the fall we are now into Abraham and Isaac as we follow though a series right through the Bible focusing on its main stories.

Yesterday Liz and I had a further meeting with our deaf pastor Luis Carlos, with the help of interpreter Geralda, preparing for the Deaf Conference at Green Pastures from July 19th-21st. 

I have also be handling a variety of issues this week trying to sort out a problem between two of our church leaders at one of our churches, discussing possible ministry from one of our Bible School students at another church, managing some difficult issues with a complicated person in another church and dealing with some tense family problems that another of our church leaders has. I can't go into details with these matters as the world is too small today! However please pray on these matters as God knows the details. Things like the above crop up all the time but God helps us in these times.

Tonight we will be supporting the Youth in their church planting endevours in the Jatobá borough of Patos where we have our school. It was interesting how this week the school got out church Firefighter Romildo to go and give a talk to the kids' parents on how to avoid accidents with the children in the home and on what to do if they happen.

Please pray for us as we prepare for ministry in a couple of week's time in João Pessoa on the coast and with the church plant in Recife also on the coast. 

Friday, 28 June 2019

Stay cool in Europe!

We hear on the news of the extremely hot weather being experienced at present in Europe, so here are a few basic suggestions to help:

1. Stay OUT of the sun.
2. Take AT LEAST 3 cold showers a day.
3. Drink lots of cold water from the fridge all day long.
4. Wear light tops, shorts and sandals.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Youth Conference approaches final meal together

The EAB/ACEV 16th annual Youth Conference is at this moment in its final service and then everyone will have their final meal together before returning to all their different towns and churches. From all we saw and have heard it is being a great blessing and we await everyone's return to Patos to get the full picture and report. Liz has just left for Green Pastures to transport a visiting speaker from João Pessoa to catch a coach home. I am working here in my office and will have to heat my own lunch up in the microwave! I value your prayers!

Last night's service in Patos went very well despite very low numbers. This was due to 3 factors. First of all the Youth Conference has all our youth there of course plus others from the Patos church working in the kitchen at Green Pastures. Secondly because last night was the main annual bonfire night creating lots of smoke in the streets plus street parties which made it difficult or impossible for some to get to church. Thirdly because today is St. John's day and as everything in Brazil is celebrated on the eve of whatever day it is - plus the fact that St. John's day is the biggest day (like Christmas Day in the UK) for Brazil's north-east, this meant that some people felt the cultural pull more than the Christian one! That is, they sort of preferred John to Jesus, which I am perhaps a bit harsh in saying, but that's what happened with some. 

Nevertheless we had a good blessed service with Sacha alone on vocals and just brother Temistocles on guitar as all the rest of the worship band was away at the Conference. However the worship went really well despite this. My sermon on Genesis 3 went very well too. In fact I am already getting requests for me to preach the sermon again in a month or so's time when we have everyone there! So I probably will do this.

We value your prayers for all the activities during this week in the work here. We value your financial support too. May God bless you this week!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Youth Conference in progress

The 16th annual EAB/ACEV Youth Conference started on Saturday morning at Green Pastures and Liz and I joined them for the afternoon and evening. There must be about 200 present although I don't have the exact figures yet from the leaders. It is lovely too see such a fine number and body of enthusiastic Christian youth, which speaks well for the present and the future.

The leaders are formed by a team including our granddaughter Louisa and her fellow law student Rayla + journalist Ray. The overall leader is Philip. Also in a support role are Dilma, Bia, Brenda and João Filho + the kitchen/cleaner team + the 2-man basic Green Pastures regulars of Tarcísio & Francisco + Liz of course! The whole team has worked extremely hard for the success of the Conference.

On the Saturday afternoon I was asked to lead a guided tour of the nature reserve and teach on the way that caring for God's creation is a very basic and essential part of the mission of the church. If you don't emphasize this fact in your church perhaps you might try reading the Bible! Please start with Genesis 1:28 and 2:15 and read God's first ever "job description" for mankind which must make it somewhat important! I also taught how walking alone in the woods is a great place for prayer and excellent to combat anxiety and depression.

We then had a meal together and stayed for a lovely service when they ran out of chairs with so many there. It was a blessing. This was followed by an after-service fun time round the pool area, with live regional Christian music, and all sorts of games like fishing from the pool, hoops etc. plus lots of food made from maize which is tradition here in June + toffee apples and candy floss and coffee of course! It was all beautifully well organised and lovely fellowship. Liz and I got home to bed though at 1 am! Ugh!

I will be preaching and leading the service in Patos tonight. I will be preaching on "What a mess the serpent made"! (Genesis 3) I value your prayers. The Patos church will run as normal whilst the Youth Conference continues at Green Pastures. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

11 baptized in Campina Grande

Our 1st Campina Grande Church baptized 11 on Sunday. PTL! Both our churches in that city are thriving both spiritually and numerically. Please keep praying and supporting.

Last night one decision for Christ was made on a farmstead near Green Pastures when 11 men from our Men's fellowship went there to preach the Gospel. 

I photographed and filmed a beautiful Coral snake yesterday at Green Pastures. This 'Michrurus ibiboboca' is lethally venomous. The biologists are thrilled with my daylight registers of this species more commonly only seen at night. 

Monday, 17 June 2019

Visiting the Flock

Liz and I visited one of our senior ladies today. She has had 3 husbands who all died. She has 2 sons, one of which is very problematic and has been in jail twice. We listened to her, talked things over and prayed with her.

We then went to visit a man from the Patos church who went down with sudden deafness in one ear some months ago giving him noises in the ear all the time. He has just been operated on for the third time. We prayed with him too and for his elderly Mum and sister who cares for her.

I have spent some time reading today. I read 3 more chapters of God's Strategy in Human History and one chapter from Christianity: The Evidence. Both books are by Forster & Marsten and are excellent. 

Liz has been helping the youth sort out what they are going to feed the participants at the Youth Conference this weekend at Green Pastures. Liz has also been counselling someone from church who has severe family problems. We always value your prayers for all aspects of the work of God we are involved in because our battle is definitely not just with "flesh and blood" but is much more sinister than that which meets the eye!

"All things"

I have been blessed reading Roger Forster and Paul Marston - God's Stategy in Human History and found their thoughts on Romans 8:28 very interesting. The question is whether it is 'things' or 'God' who works?

The famous saying that "the translator can be the traitor" is clearly applicable in this verse which has so many Christians understanding that somehow 'things' abstractly or fatalistically control our lives. In fact what is true is that, as the alternative translation in the NIV margin gives it:

"We know that in all things God works together with those who love him". We as Christians are challenged by this verse to be co-workers with God in the spiritual warfare against evil. It is God who works with us in all things! (Mark 16:20, 1 Corinthians 3:9 and 2 Corinthians 6:1) Thus this verse is saying:

"Nevertheless, what any Christian can be sure of is that, whatever disaster may strike and however bad the situation may be, God will be there, wanting to work together with that Christian and with other believers, to bring good into the situation".

Jesus asked: Do you love me?

Last night's service in Patos was really good with much blessing on my sermon which focused on Jesus' questioning of Peter: "Do you love me?" Normally preachers focus on Jesus's commision to Peter to feed his lambs or sheep but I felt a real leading from God to focus on the question! In fact, I was out walking at Green Pastures last Tuesday when God clearly asked me just that! "Do YOU love me?"

How true it is that one always needs to know God Himself better and love HIM more!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

A lad called Lazarus

A lad of 11 called Lazarus wandered into the Care Centre this week as he'd heard about it from his mates. He's very timid and self conscious of his teeth which are all over the place as a result of a fall earlier in his life which removed one tooth and everything else started moving out of place from then onwards.

Normally we have appointments for the kids to see the dentist as things need to be organized to not have the dentist sitting and waiting etc. However we soon realized Lazarus was a special case and we needed to fit him in somehow.

His father was murdered soon after getting out of jail some years back and his mother dumped him and has run off never again to be seen. Lazarus is brought up by his very poor grandmother who herself is ill with elephantiasis which is caused by parasitic worm infections which cause enormously swollen legs and other body areas. 

Lazarus was attended and will be with us for some time having a series of teeth fillings prior to doing what is possible with a brace to straighten his teeth as far as is now possible. Please pray. 

North-eastern Brazil's traditional festival period

June is the traditional time for regional music and street country dancing festivals in northeast Brazil built around the catholic saints of St. Anthony (12/13th), St. John (23/24th) and St. Peter (28/29th). I have no problem with these things in their original "barn dancing" form but these have been taken over by vulgar music with immoral words and dances which I detest. For nearly 20 years the united evangelical churches have run a public Christian outreach in this period with good Christian music and this Friday and Saturday was this year's edition.

However, as thing have developed the Christian outreach has slid into simply being shows. On the one hand they are a good getting together of Christians from the region. A sort of "united" show of force and the music is good Christian stuff. On the other hand it has lost any sense of being evangelistic outreach and is simply a social gathering of the evangelicals with food to sell from make-shift snack bars. It is impossible to worship God eating a hot dog at the same time! 

It goes on till very late and Liz and I stuck out a couple of hours last night, but I will be glad to get into church later to be able to worship and praise God and preach the Gospel.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Busy week

Friday night is here after a long day working on loads of EAB administrative stuff for the second day this week. 

I prepared my sermon for this Sunday earlier in the week and am looking forward to preach on John 21:15-25. This will bring a long series going through this gospel which has been good. The Bible study went well yesterday when I completed the first chapters of Genesis on creation and the fall. Next we move on to Genesis 12 as we are following the key stories of the Bible in chronological order as in the Bible reading plan. We move on to Abraham and Isaac now. Then it will be Job. Our mid-week Bible studies are informal with those present free to chip in or ask questions. Derek Kidner's commentary on Genesis is excellent - just in case anyone is interested!

We visited a family which needs your prayers this week. A new baby girl has joined her sister. Her Mum has her hands full. It was lovely to see the Men's Fellowship going out to the rural area of São Mamede County on Tuesday too when they supported our church's work in that County led by Tarcísio from Green Pastures.

Please pray for the Youth Conference at Green Pastures next weekend which will run from Saturday (22) to Monday (24) which will be a public holiday. We look to the Lord for much blessing. 

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Pentecost Sunday

I have just got home after preaching on this Pentecost Sunday. The service was really blessed. Last Sunday was also really blessed too when I also preached the Word as well. God is good and has really been blessing. 

On the Saturday we preached at Itaporanga and that was a blessing too, but getting there was a headache owing to a priest, in a town you have to go through to get to Itaporanga, blocking all the through-traffic in homage of his Saint Anthony! It is unbelievable that this medieval way of carrying on is still strong in these parts. He was throwing "holy water" on all the vehicles bringing everything to a standstill! We arrived late at the service in Itaporanga but we made it and we preached Christ!

We have been dealing with a complicated leadership problem this week too between 2 of our church leaders a long way from Patos. I can't give details but ask for your prayers. So there is always so much to do in the work but God is our strength!

Bitten by Bat

Our eldest grandson Felipe is on an anti-rabies drip in the outpatients department of Patos General Hospital right now having been bitten by a bat. It is obligatory to have such a drip as vampire bats are transmitters of rabies. Of course many species of bats are not vampire bats, feeding on fruit or insects, but as defining which species of bat is involved is not simple this precaution is always taken. We value your prayers.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Just off to preach in Itaporanga

I will be leaving in a couple of hour's time for Itaporanga to preach at the EAB/ACEV church's 74th anniversary service. I'll watch some of the Champion's League Football final before leaving.

This week has been busy. Liz and I visited Capim Grosso where Albert Mundy and Frank Dyer started a work for God back in the 50's. That eventually ended with people moving away with the droughts, but now it has revived! "His Word will not return to Him void"! The seed was planted and has reemerged! PTL!

We also visited Vazante where the church in that small village has reached 60 strong and is the only Gospel witness in the place. We had a lovely meal with Pastor Nezinho and his wife Sonia and their daughter Nielma who travels every day to Patos to study biology at the university here. Pity Liz can't eat fish but I had lots whilst there they had caught in the lake nearby. Delicious!

We also went to Barra de Oitis where we visited homes where another 8 toilet/shower units had been built. We also spoke in the thanksgiving service which started late afternoon and went into the evening. All was really beautiful. We thank those who support and have given to this project. You can't imagine the difference it is making in unbelievably poor people's lives!

My cousin Andy is with the Lord

I have spoken to my cousin Peter via Messenger following the death of his brother Andy, aged 78, who went to be with the Lord in New Zealand this week. Our prayers and thoughts are with cousin Peter (Weston Super Mare) and his sister Faith (Ledbury). All three are the children of my Mum's sister Gladys and their Father Fred who were a wonderful Christian Aunt and Uncle whom I remember fondly from my childhood and youth.