Last evening we held our first Wednesday church service. The attendance and participation were a great encouragement! God blessed with a group that met and exceeded expectations. The initial emphasis of these midweek services is two-fold: prayer and family. After a sermon from Psalm 127, dealing with the Christian home, the people were divided into small prayer groups (for the first time). Some of these folks have never prayed with others before. There were questions of what to say, and exactly how to pray in a group. As these questions were resolved, the praying moved forward, and the service concluded. Please continue to pray for the Independent Baptist Church of Ouro Preto do Oeste.
We also had the joy of celebrating the New Year with the Jeremy Tyler family in a city several hours south of us. The weather was good, and the fellowship was encouraging. Our children had a great time playing once again with the Tyler boys. I was asked to preach the New Year’s service, and was encouraged by the folks’ interest in God’s Word. Please do pray for that work in the city of Vilhena. There are two other missionary families with the Tylers, the Divino and Cook families.
On our way back, we were able to spend some time with Renan. I have been teaching him the Bible with hopes of a work starting in his city one day. Please be in prayer for that as well. Since he lives so far from us, we cannot go there nearly as frequently as would be ideal.
Also, I am working to expand the Saturday English class. It is now divided into two levels: basic and intermediate. The first sessions of 2016 will be this Saturday. Please pray. We have been able to reach deeper into the community from this, and although the goal includes being a simple service to the community, some of the attendees have already visited or begun attending our church!
To see the current photos for January click below:
To see the photos from back in December click below:
You may be able to spot my parents. They spent a couple weeks with us, and showered us with gifts. We had a wonderful time with them, and wish they didn’t have to leave so soon!
It had been a burden of mine for several months to do something special for Christmas with our fledgling congregation. I was not even sure we could do much else other than a simple get-together, and, of course, a series of sermons on the significance of Christ’s incarnation throughout December.
The time came to make a decision, and I opted to work on a Christmas Cantata through the children of our congregation. Faithfully they came early to every Sunday evening service. The practices for the most part were quite shaky, but the kids kept showing up, and by the night of the cantata, they proved themselves! Several of those in attendance said the cantata was “bonita”, and that’s a good thing.
We were delighted in the effort put forth by the children, and by the rest of the congregation being present on the evening of the cantata. The excitement was noticeable and several visitors were in attendance.
My main goal was to set in motion the idea that our church is a real functioning organism, not just some experiment. I believe the Lord honored that, and also gave us the opportunity to present Christ to everyone present.
Here is a lo-res video of the Cantata:
We are working on improving our sound equipment currently. We also hope to work on improving the front of the church, with paint and a larger sign, if the Lord permits. Whatever the case, we continue pressing on and are deeply indebted to your love, care, prayers and support. We are getting to witness first hand the results of your support or our ministry. Thank you from our hearts!
This past weekend was full of great things.
On Friday night, we celebrated Children’s Day by having parents and their children come to our home for a time of food, fellowship, games and preaching. It was very well attended and we were encouraged by the participation of those who came. Things went very well, and the gospel was once again proclaimed to the young people.
Sunday was a great Sunday, though attendance was low. We were able to see three people baptized (a father and his two boys) and another man join the church in the evening service. This all but made up for the lower numbers!
We are working toward having a special service for Christmas Cantata in December. Please be in prayer as the spiritual needs here are great. Thank you!
To see all of this month’s photos, click below:
Rondônia is a beautiful state in which to serve the Lord. We have been here since 2012. Nestled in the northern region of Brazil, the climate is tropical (read hot and humid). It is a great place to come face to face with many of those exotic creatures the typical American only sees on National Geographic or at the zoo. We have already had the privilege of seeing animals like capibaras, pacas, cotias, parrots, tarantulas, monkeys, worm lizards, snakes, large river fish, and, of course, ants of all shapes, colors and sizes. (We are still waiting to see some of the wildcats.)
The greatest part of living here is the people. There are over 1,500,000 people living in this state, which was founded less than 40 years ago. The great majority call themselves evangelicals; though, we’d estimate that about 90% of the evangelicals here are neo-pentecostals at best. Many use the Bible for spiritualism. The influence of Catholicism is definitely here, but much less than all other sections of Brazil.
Below is a video that plays Rondônia’s anthem and shows you the beauty of this part of the world. Please keep praying for us!
The Lord has given clear direction to our little church! At a price much lower than expected we were able to rent the building adjacent to our own and knock out the wall between them. This more than doubled the seating capacity possible, to assist both with current and future growth.
The folks of the church are quite pleased. The growth has encouraged them, and the larger space really helps with air circulation; it had gotten very hot when the smaller place filled up!
The maximum seating capacity before was probably around 45. We believe that now we could fit around 90. We’ll be looking to purchase more hymnals and chairs as this takes place.
The picture above was our first evening service with the wall removed. The blue wall is the new section of building. We have turned everyone 90 degrees to better utilize the larger space. Currently, I have more room when preaching, and the people have more room to move around.
Since it is common for people to be missing (for example, in this service pictured above four key families and some singles were missing), we do not set up all the chairs. Thankfully, some of the men gladly grab extra chairs from the back when the place fills up.
Our goal now for the new section is to get the electric working, paint the walls, repair the area where the wall was removed and redo the floor. Please pray!
Along with this enlarged auditorium, we also have an extra bathroom, a small kitchenette and another classroom!
Thank you so much for your steady prayers. The Lord has answered them once again!
Please continue to pray, as we still have a high number of attendees who are not official members of the church; some have never been baptized and others have never made a clear profession of faith. The instability of the human heart is all too real, and a person faithful to services today, may suddenly stop attending the next. We are hopeful but cautious. Please pray for genuine conversions and steadfastness to Christ!
Also, if you would like to see more images from August and September, click here: http://1drv.ms/1i0UURh.
There is no shortage of buildings up for rent in the city of Ouro Preto do Oeste. This town suffers from certain unemployment issues, and several businesses have closed up shop. Along one of the main drags are a number of storefronts with a rental sign in the window. We are running into two issues: (1) either the building is priced far higher than our fledgling congregation can afford to rent each month or (2) the cost to renovate a work in order to just have a our first church service is altogether too high. We have not lost hope though!
Thankfully, the folks of the church have really encouraged us. Regularly they are looking for buildings as well. The men have gone out of their way meeting me at rentals, giving me advice and joining me in prayer. I can’t help but think that their readiness to help is in part due to the Lord answering your prayers for our ministry! As much as I do not enjoy the delays in this hunt, watching the folks of the church show such a genuine interest has meant a great deal to our family.
This photo represents Continue reading
Our city is surrounded by farms. Each year, it hosts the Agrishow and the cavalcade shown in this video. Due to high amounts of drunkenness and revelry, we of necessity have to avoid much of what goes on. This is truly sad because our children absolutely love horses. Thankfully, this procession passes just in front of our neighborhood, and we were able to see it.
(By the way, Christian likes helicopters and one of those just happened to be filming the event from overhead. You’ll see his reaction too!) All of our children are doing well. They are on a short break before getting back to their homeschooling. Pray for them and for Julie as she guides them along.
Please keep praying for our work in this city also. As much as we desire to see a strong church planted here, we would also love to see a transformation in this community. The need is great! God is greater!
God bless and thank you for your love, prayers and support!
The Lord has opened the door for a new church to be started in a city a few hours south of us! This city, Cacoal, is home to about 80,000 Brazilians (twice the size of Ouro Preto do Oeste). Our main contact in the city, Renan, grew up there, and he is saddened to tell us that the city’s churches are not clearly and readily preaching the gospel. The few churches that once would have preached a solid message have abandoned it for neo-pentecostalism. This is the heartbreaking story for many churches in this region. The message of the cross is being eaten up with a promise of earthly blessings and prosperity.
We made our first trip to visit Renan and his family on Thursday. He gave us a tour of the city, introduced us to family and friends, and showered us with numerous theological questions. We spent time discussing what could be done and explaining several points of Scripture. He is a very alert student of Scripture, and craves to see a solid Independent Baptist church planted in his city.
The hard part about this opportunity is that we are unable to leave the work here in Ouro Preto do Oeste. The work we do in Cacoal, therefore, cannot hurt our main work here. This was discussed at length, and a plan of attack has been decided. We will have regularly contact with them both in their city and here, plus studies provided via our website that they might continually be discipled and prepared for the future church. Please pray that they can clearly grasp and put into practice the doctrine taught.
We truly are excited, as Renan shows tremendous interest in biblical accuracy and sound doctrine. There is a certain intensity about him that is very refreshing.
Our prayer is that the Lord would give us his grace, power and wisdom for this new work. Please pray with us! We have much to do; time is short!
Here is a short video of pictures someone posted of the city:
We are deeply indebted to all of you who prayerfully care for our ministry from afar. Every good thing that is happening here is by the amazing grace of God. I wanted to share a few things with you, to encourage your hearts and to strengthen your prayers for us.
Just today our church hymnals came! Called the Voz de Melodia (Voice of Melody), these hymnals are a great collection of Portuguese hymns fit perfectly for a congregation desiring to worship the Lord reverently and in holiness. One of the greatest parts about these hymnals is that our family did not pay for them! The folks attending the church contributed to make this possible!
Sunday was Mother’s Day here just like in the States. We had a breakfast before the morning service. It was well attended giving us a great opportunity to emphasize godly motherhood. Sadly, the home has been riddled with holes in this country. Immorality is rampant. It some senses, it makes America look innocent (I know that, for some, this is hard to believe). As we continually present God’s Word on matters of faith and practice, we are seeing conviction and a real value change.
Just last evening a man in our church, the first baptized here, told me that Continue reading