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.
We would like to ask you to pray for us as we seek a larger facility to rent for our church services. Our current location has served us very well, but it has been difficult lately on Sunday evenings to have room for visitors. We could still squeeze a few more folks in, but we are concerned that some may eventually not enter just because things are tight.
Pictures: Church Services | June, July 2015
We really desire the mind of the Lord. The group we have has been quite faithful to the services, but until each becomes an official member, we know that a full commitment has not been yet made. Some may eventually go elsewhere. We, therefore, are wanting to act with a measure of caution and discernment, and at the same time, in faith.
A few men of the church are actively helping us search. We are finding a very wide range of prices, locations and buildings. Basically we desire a building that includes three parts: an auditorium, a bathroom and a Sunday School room for the children. Of course, if we had something with more rooms, we would certainly take advantage of them!
Your prayers would be deeply appreciated!
To God’s glory, a door opened for me to visit a few communities along the Wood River (Rio Madeira) in the Amazon. It was a great and unforgettable experience!
The Wood River is the largest tributary into the Amazon River. It is home to a massive variety of wildlife, and also the ribeirinhos, people living on the river. There are yet thousands of small communities spread throughout the Amazon river basin with no gospel presence whatsoever.
A great burden of ours is to see the churches we plant evangelize not just in their community but around the world. When I was asked to take this trip, therefore, I was delighted, knowing it could be a tremendous opportunity to film the experience and pass it on to the members of our church. I did just that last night. You can see the same video here, only with an English narration. Enjoy!
I do hope this video gives you a better understanding of this people group (which, in fact, was not officially recognized by the Brazilian government until 2007). They are extremely spread out along the rivers of the Amazon and can only be reached by boat. This video may not be on par with that of National Geographic, but I do hope it gives you a better glimpse into the need, especially from a missionary’s perspective.
So you better understand what you are seeing in this video, I traveled with a few Brazilians who know this part of the river well, along with a group of six Koreans on a mission trip. Years ago, this ministry was started by a bi-vocational Brazilian pastor named Melo. He has seen several communities trust Christ and churches started. On our trip we saw several people confess Christ, and, though I went to observe and film more than anything, I had the opportunity to lead 4 deaf teenagers to Christ, and I don’t even know sign language! (I wish that could have been recorded on the video, but I could not do both evangelism and filming at the same time. Just to explain, I learned they knew how to read, so I witnessed via handwritten notes. The Koreans joined in the effort.)
What is amazing to me was how much we traveled on the trip, and yet we still touched only a small piece of the entire puzzle. A host of laborers are needed to reach the Amazon region of Brazil. It is for this reason that we are burdened to see Brazilians rise up to the occasion. The ribeirinhos are ripe to receive Christ; that was obvious from my first experience! If we just had more laborers!
What would be necessary for our church to begin this outreach? I could mention spiritual growth, prayer and God’s blessing, and do mention those, but it seems only to make sense the a suitable boat would be necessary along with an inexpensive place to dock. We would also need someone living near the boat to take care of it when not in use. We are needing, therefore, to pray for God’s wisdom, timing and supply that such an outreach could be possible through our small congregation.
Would you pray for this?
We are often asked for specific prayer requests. I hope this post will be a special help to those who desire to make our ministry a matter of fervent prayer. We are deeply indebted to all of you.
Though we have been in Brazil since late 2009, this church plant only started in 2012. A building was secured for services in October of 2014. This work, therefore, still feels very, very new to us.
The people who attend our Bible studies and church services are very friendly. Many come ready to listen, some marking their Bibles during the preaching, others taking notes. We have all age groups represented. We have witnessed the convicting work of the Holy Spirit on many occasions.
Spiritually, we have just about all types of people possible. Some are yet unsaved. Others are saved but have grown little. Others have grown much. A couple came to us having a good background already.
Our greatest hurdle has been leading the people away from neo-pentecostal teaching and practice, which often is a very loose, works-based salvation, sort of church service, with an emphasis on personal blessings for being in attendance. There is much immorality in Brazil and it has sadly made much inroads into the churches as well.
The need for the development of good Christian literature is always present here.
Those things being said, here are some chief prayer requests:
- Wisdom in interacting with and preaching to our hearers
- Faith to take the next steps according to God’s will
- Resources for the church because giving regularly is not common among the people
- Theological development of our people
- Strengthened commitment among our hearers to the work of this new church
- Genuine conversions with clearly evidenced repentance from sin
- Growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ
- Salting influence of our church in this city and surrounding communities
- Development of literature for Brazilian churches in general
- Development of our gospel website
We could mention more, but these ten prayer requests really touch the heart of our situation here. Mentioning these requests before the Lord will be a tremendous encouragement to us and the work here!
It is obvious that the Lord has worked here in answer to prayer. God has given us a wonderful group of people to work with, and watching Him work in their lives is a great blessing. We remain encouraged, and ask for your prayers!
Our gratefulness for our supporters’ prayers, love, correspondence and giving continues. God is still blessing your efforts down here in Ouro Preto do Oeste. This Sunday, after working since 2013 with Jaqueline, she finally came to the point where she understood and believed salvation was provided 100% by Christ on the cross, and she wanted to identify with Him in baptism!
We have several people visiting our church, many nonmembers come regularly, and then a steadily growing group of actual members. Every decision for Christ made here thrills our hearts.
This particular month, the preaching is Continue reading
Prior to our return to the field, we prayed God would have people ready for us. The Lord graciously answered that prayer! He opened the door up for me to meet Thiago, lead him to Christ, baptize him and begin his discipleship. He has been such a fun person to work with!
Thiago is Junior’s cousin. (Junior was the first person to show interest in our ministry upon our arrival in Ouro Preto do Oeste back in 2012.) Shortly after returning, Junior took me out to his farm to meet some of the workers there. Thiago was present. Handing me a Bible, Junior asked if I’d preach a little to them.
I knew this was a gospel opportunity, and so opened God’s Word to Ephesians 2:8-10. Of the four hearers, two Continue reading