March 2016 Updates

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March was dedicated to the Easter story in our church.

On the first Sunday of the month, I preached a sermon on the revealing details of Christ’s humanity and prayer in Gethsemane. The second Sunday’s sermon was on Christ’s seven sayings from the cross. The third was on the infallible proofs of the Resurrection.

These three messages were preparatory for the final Sunday of the month, in which we presented an Easter Cantata. We retold the story of Christ’s suffering and resurrection through preaching, teaching, singing and piano playing.

It was a true joy to have the participation of my family as well as a handful of the church folks. Some sang, others played piano and others spoke. The Lord really brought it together. Praise His name!

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One of the men in church speaking about Christ’s suffering. He and all the others did very well. We were delighted in seeing how prepared they came.

The last Sunday of each month is also birthday night. We had 5 people in attendance with March birthdays. That made it extra special. We have been encouraged by having nearly everyone stay afterwards to serve the goodies and participate in this after-church fellowship.

Our emphasis for April is Continue reading

A Couple Sunday Blessings

Yesterday was an encouraging Sunday. Our little congregation, Independent Baptist Church, received two new members and also had our first baby dedication!

In the morning service, a couple that was reached early on in our ministry came to present themselves and their new little one, Benício, to the Lord. Along with the family, came the little guy’s two grandmothers. It was a true blessing!

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In the evening service, we were able to receive a young couple for membership. I had been talking off and on with the husband for some time, and on occasion we dealt with the assurance of his salvation. The Lord has given that him!

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We are deeply encouraged by the hand of God on our ministry. Your prayers, no doubt, have been a major factor in that. Thank you for continuing to bring this fledgling work to the Lord. We need His continued mercies, blessings and grace!

Click on the image below if you would like to see all the photos from February, including those from when missionaries Tom and Cindy Brewer surprised in our midweek service!

Midweek Services

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.

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Congregational singing.

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:

Midweek Service, Small Photo Album

Headway in 2016

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.

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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.

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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!

2015 Christmas Cantata

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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!

Is Door-to-Door Soulwinning Worth It?

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Is door-to-door soulwinning worth it? I have been asked this question on several occasions. In short, yes. Though I cannot speak for every country and culture in the world, I can speak for two: the USA and Brazil. In both of these places, the Lord has clearly honored this simple way of getting out the gospel in my own life.

I suppose that in our cellphone culture, we might imagine that door-to-door evangelism only “works” if it is as instant and exact as tapping an app on the home-screen. We think it should work just like this: knock on the door (or clap before the gate in Brazil), give the gospel and lead the sinner to Christ, who shortly thereafter begins to attend church, is baptized and begins growing in Christ and serving in the church. That type of instant result is a rarity in my experience, but I still believe door-to-door is worth it and, in fact, works for the ultimate results that we desire—new believers serving Christ in the local church.

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One of the greatest points that the Lord has kept before my mind is that His manner of honoring our evangelism may turn out to be different than we’d expect, and, in fact, He may do it in such a fashion that only He gets the glory, and not we. (We have fruit, for example, in our ministry that has come though not through our direct evangelistic efforts.) If He simply operated so that everyone who heard the sound of my voice should fall on his knees before Christ, I suppose I would be interpreted as some sort of Old Testament prophet. In fact, I would be even more than that, because not even they had such power of conviction upon human hearts. God just doesn’t do it that way. And, beyond that, the hearer of the gospel is just as responsible to respond as I am to preach. There will always exist those who simply reject Christ, in one way or another. (And, undoubtedly, there are those pockets of people in every community which, in general, are harder to reach. Let me emphasize though that within those communities there are yet people who if talked to will certainly respond positively to the gospel!)

Our little church here in Brazil most definitely has the fruit of door-to-door soulwinning. Just two weeks ago, for example, I had the privilege of baptizing a father and his two sons. How did we meet them? By going door-to-door soulwinning. It has taken over a year for them to get to this point. For months we held an evangelistic Bible study in their home. The boys’ parents, during this time, went through marriage trouble. I never knew what might come of it. God worked though, and through that little clapping of the hands at the gate, the mother first received Christ, was baptized and begin to attend the church, after the which the father and their boys.

That same day another man joined the church. His son had already joined. How did I meet them? In a very round about way, though door-to-door. Let me explain. One evening, going door-to-door we met a mother who happened to attend another church. She invited us in, and we had a wonderful talk. I attempted to set up an evangelism meeting at the school where she worked, but it fell through. She, nevertheless, never forgot about us. Several months later, her son, in his 20s, contacted me through Facebook because she had mentioned us to him. I had never met him before. He wanted to study English. I began to teach him. That went on for about a year. I went on furlough, and several months into it, I received a message from a friend of his. He had been looking for a strong, conservative church. We talked through things, and shortly after our return to Brazil, he joined our church. Then just a couple weeks ago, so did his father! If we had not done the simple door-to-door evangelism, this would never have happened. Both this father and son have been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to our congregation!

One of the most faithful couples in our church was reached through door-to-door soulwinning as well. After going to their door a few times, we established a weekly in-home Bible study in order to evangelize them. When a church building was secured they attended faithfully, but due to some various circumstances, they stopped coming. We were heartbroken, but never forgot about them, continued to pray for and visit them. Suddenly one Sunday they returned and have been faithful ever since! They have gone out of their way to love us and help us with the church here. We have deeply appreciated all their contribution to the ministry, which has all been possible because one day we did door-to-door evangelism.

Let me say though, that as much as I believe door-to-door evangelism works, we cannot reduce the entirety of Christian service down to it. I have seen this tragedy happen repeatedly. To avoid this error, therefore, we work to have special events in the church, we host in-home Bible studies, we pass out tracts while we are on the go, and do whatever we believe would honor the Lord and point people to Him throughout the community. We, furthermore, constantly encourage the people to go out of their way to speak to those they know about Christ, the Lord’s working in their lives, and, of course, our church. We have seen results from all of these various efforts.

I remember just a few weeks after arriving in this city (a city we knew very little about), I was getting our keys duplicated at the locksmith. He was a Seventh Day Adventist and wanted to talk religion and America with me. He also took a while on my keys. I ended up passing tracts out to each person that entered, as he talked with me. Eventually, the son of the mayor entered with is his friend. They were so happy to have our family in town, they took me around the city, just so I could get to know it better. From that little tract distribution effort, our first Bible study was born here. There were forty in attendance. That very same in-home Bible study exists to this day, though it has bounced around in locations since 2012.

The hard part about door-to-door soulwinning is that seeing immediate results which are also long-lasting are very rare. I am convinced, however, that God may very well stir someone else up in the city to visit the church, in honor to our faithful soulwinning, though we may have never spoken to this person before. We have been amazed at who has simply shown up on Sunday, and delighted as some of these newcomers have remained with us ever since their first visit. God be praised for this!

I do hope that this post from a little missionary in South America is a help and encouragement to someone out there. God loves sinners, and God loves you. No doubt, your efforts to win others to Christ will not go unnoticed by Him. You may not see results in the manner you would expect, but never let the devil convince you that your labor is in vain in the Lord. Your labor is never in vain in the Lord.

God bless!

Exciting Things in October

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.

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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!

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Esdras (Ezra) is the newest member of our church. His younger son was already a member and has been a great help to us!

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: