Below you will find links to the latest prayer letter from our family and ministry. Thank you for all your love, prayers and support!
[If you are viewing this in Facebook, Google+ our LinkedIn, you may need to click on the post heading to see the link to the actual prayer letter.]
The Brazilian state of Rondônia is roughly the size of Oregon. Rondônia, however, is much newer (founded in 1982) with a population of 1.749 million as of 2014, less than half or Oregon. This being the case, Rondônia is a land of settlers, their children and grandchildren. The presence of missionaries has been limited, but within the past decade that number has increased a good bit. For July 4th, we were able to get together with many of them for a traditional American cookout and even fireworks!
There were folks representing seven different missionary families in attendance. Being able to catch up with each other’s lives and ministries was a tremendous blessing. Of course, thinking once again about the blessings we have as Americans leaves us extremely grateful.
The Tyler family is serving several hours south of us in the city of Vilhena. They arrived a day early, and were about to be in our church service. Jeremy both preached and played the piano. It was a great service, and several decisions were made.
If you’d like to see more photos of these special days and all of the month of July, please click below:
In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is on the 12th of June. The actual name for this special day, I reckon, would be Sweetheart Day in English. It is always a great time for churches to emphasize that dating done right should lead to a godly, Christ-honoring marriage.
This year we kept things simple with a few sermons that led up to the special day. Sadly, immorality is even further down the road here than in the States. That may be hard for some to believe. Typically once a couple begins to date, they quickly begin to refer to each other’s families as in-laws. They call each other husband and wife. This often happens even before they are living together. Repeatedly we have found out that a “married” couple was not married at all.
We thank the Lord for the sensitivity of several people we have worked concerning this matter. This has not, however, led everyone who visits or attends our church to correct their relationship status. We have discussed why people are so averse to being legitimately married, and they tell us that marriage is in many ways like prison. Right now they can live together without feeling so bound up, and if things don’t work out, it is much less expensive to separate. So, our mission to encourage godliness, even in this area, will continue. We pray they would begin to value true lifelong commitments consecrated by vows before God as of much more value than a loose-living relationship.
Your prayers for this would be deeply appreciated. We need God’s wisdom and tender hearts. The spiritual progress of a church is directly connected to its obedience to the Biblical pattern.
If you would like to see photos for the month of June, please click the link below:
The following was in Gleanings from the Missionary a few months back.
What constitutes a legitimate marriage in God’s eyes? A wedding ceremony? Signed documents? Government recognition? Vows? Physical union? The mere declaration that two people are now one? The birth of children? The Bible has the answer, though a perfunctory reading will not be able to draw it out. This is primarily because the Bible is not an explicit handbook on marriage, but a record of lives, events, laws, genealogies, writings and so forth wherein the nature of marriage is instead simply assumed. Marriage’s conditions, then, are a given in Scripture, and we must draw from multiple implications the nature of marriage. This is not to say that the Scriptures keep things vague. On the contrary, a careful study of the Bible yields tremendous results in this area, and shows there is certainly an accepted pattern for a marriage to be legitimate. The lazy reader, however, will not discover this, neither will the soul who already has a predisposition to accept perversions of marriage. Having lived in America, and known only a Christian home, my conscience has been hardwired to view marriage in a particular way, and it was only through witnessing the constant immorality in our field of service, that I realized I had never systematized my theology of marriage. This realization has only grown with the coming of marriages between people of the same gender, and so forth. Seeking counsel from other missionaries, and my own personal Bible study have yielded some very helpful results, and I hope these gleanings can also be of help to you. I’d like to highlight several points that hopefully will be a blessing to others seeking God’s answer on marriage.  Marriage is founded on man’s general need of a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:18), though not all people are required to have a spouse (Matt. 19:12).  Marriage is symbolic of the extremely vital relationship between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:22-33).  Marriage is brought together by God (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:6).  Marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:18-25; Rom. 1:26-28).  Marriage is a covenant between the man and woman, and their families and God (Mal. 2:14; Gen. 24; Pv 2:17).  Marriage is an inseparable bond, through vows publicly recognized and binding, which can only be extinguished through death (though, in the Old Testament law, divorce was structured into an orderly process due to the people’s hard hearts) (Gen. 2:18-25; Deut. 22:13-30; 24; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:7-12; Mc 10:1-12).  Marriage is not mere sexual activity by two people who agree to live together (Deut. 24; Jn. 4:18).  Marriage, born out of a public ceremony, is significant enough to God that of the few events we know Christ attended, a marriage ceremony was one of them (Jn. 2:1-11).  Marriage is useful to help avoid sex outside of marriage (which is the sin of fornication) (I Cor. 7).  Marriage, as presented in Scripture, is rooted in the Jewish betrothal process which included a very clear public declaration that a man and woman were permanently joined together, such that there were penalties for abandoning it or violating it. Beyond these basic gleanings, it should be noted that (1) God’s permission of polygamy in the Old Testament is not the same as His condoning it, (2) though within the biblical culture it appears that government recognition of the marriage is not required to make it legit, within a culture where such recognition is the norm, the believer is best to go through with it to avoid all appearance of evil, (3) a mere private agreement between two individuals to live together is never endorsed in Scripture nor shown to be a legitimate marriage, and (4) the modern attack on marriage should make us, as believers, just that much more alert to keep everything above board.
Midweek services started this month. The Lord has graciously stirred up several of the people to be in attendance. It is a full-fledged church services, with a prayer time afterward.
Our church has recently had a bout of health needs, and these midweek services have been an opportunity to join together and pray for the hurting. There are of course many other matters we have been bringing before the Lord, including hurts in the home, financial needs, the progress of our church and the salvation of the lost.
Each time one of you writes us to tell of your prayers, we are able to reflect on what the Lord is doing in our congregation. Too many things have happened beyond the scope of our ability or wisdom for us to take the credit. God has been at work! Please keep praying! This community needs a solid Independent Baptist church, and we are committed, by God’s grace, to see to it that that happens.
If you would like to see a few more photos of our midweek meeting, click below:
Admittedly, I am left scratching my head. The Lord led me to preach an entire message on the unpleasant subject of Hell. It is simply not an enjoyable matter to focus on for 30 to 40 minutes. In our day and age when so many people outright deny it as even true, it becomes more and more a sermon to provoke hostility (especially if people are not used to hearing about it). Led of the Lord, however, I prepared myself, and sought out several prayer warriors. I could not just ignore this matter (however potentially explosive it may be), knowing our people need to be keenly aware of the reality of God’s justice against unrepentant, faithless sinners.
During the service, the people paid great attention. There was that stillness that comes with this type of message, but not a stillness of those who are upset. There was a spirit of deep consideration—another answer to prayer.
One of my greatest concerns was the nature of my presentation. I wanted it to agree with the subject matter and with the fact that neither I nor the Lord desire sinners to be cast into Hell. The Lord gave me great grace; something I observed throughout the message.
I was amazed at the response. Though Hell is a shocking matter to consider, especially for someone who has heard little about it, our hearers did not show any disdain. In fact, a new couple, who has only been in our services a couple weeks now, told me at their home last night how much it was a blessing! They said the message was clearly of the Lord!
I do not ever regret preaching the Bible, even its most difficult subjects, but when this particular subject produces smiles on people’s faces, I started scratching my head.
What made this message, of all the messages preached, so well received?
A part of my conclusion is that the people are happy to hear the Bible unapologetically preached. They are not hearing human invention or self-help messages that skip around through Scripture. Even though the subject was Hell, it remained a breath of fresh air; it is exactly what they wanted to hear.
For our fledgling congregation, there yet remains much sin to be dealt with. Our great desire is that the preaching of the truth of Hell and of other important subjects settles deep in their souls to awaken them profoundly to the reality of God, of eternity and of all that is most important.
We still long for a day when we see a rush of God’s grace over the congregation, manifesting itself in a great turning from sin. There is yet a sort of spiritual sleepiness over the eyes of many. They come. They rejoice because of what God is doing, but they have not yet made key decisions: some to receive Christ, others to be baptized, others to join the church, and others to renounce very prominent sins in their lives.
We really need the Lord to give us the proper patience to handle these things. We cannot strong arm sinners into saints; we cannot fabricate a Christ-centered congregation. Either the Spirit of God does the work, or there is nothing worthwhile going on at all in the Independent Baptist Church of Ouro Preto do Oeste, RO.
Your continued prayers are deeply appreciated. We are still renovating the building. This week the floor has been put in, and the painting begins today.
If you would like to see this months photos, click here.