We are building about 150 meters of wall, so we can have a church yard. This will enable us to close the rest of our property occasionally, in order to have week-end retreats and events. As part of this upgrade we are also securing our property better. A harder group of young people, who are involved with drugs and stealing, have started using our property. While we want to befriend especially these people, the wall will help up.
Brazilian humor…do you think it is the same or different than ours? The night before the baptism Ivanildo and some of the guys went spear fishing at night. While they were in the river Zezym got a bit of poisenous foam on his lip. All the Brazilians thought his fat lip was hilarious. Zyzym thought so too. He soaked up the attention. Later I heard that the day before one of the girls had an insect bite on her face and he kept trying to get the “perfect” photo of it with his cell phone.
Baptism Sunday starts with a “family” breakfast. Everyone brings some breakfast food such as bread, butter, hot chocolate, pop, and coffee. After eating and hanging out together for awhile the baptism candidates meet to go over once again the significance of what they are about to do. Then everyone treks down to the river. I wish you could participate in one of these. It makes you want to do it again.
Jesus told us to make disciples and to baptize people. One of these commands takes our whole lifetime, and the other takes a few minutes. There is always a lot of joy in a baptism Sunday. May God protect these young people even more now that they have made this public declaration that “Yes, I am doing this act of obedience because I am becoming a disciple of Jesus.”
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Here is the next generation’s worship team. This is still a practice. These kids all come from tough backgrounds. We wrestle with what are minimum standards to be in this group, as far as lifestyle. If our only standard is whether they are heading towards Jesus or in some other direction, they all qualify. But what about other minimum standards? May God give us wisdom, and may His presence be strongly felt among us.
“Oh Lord, please let Your healing water flow through our church.” This is my main prayer every Sunday, during our worship service. We just cannot heal ourselves or fix ourselves up. I see many who come to this gathering with filthy, infected wounds, coming to the hospital for help and encouragement. When the wounds are physical, in some ways it is easier to show compassion and help people in practical ways. I don’t know how to help people who have been abused emotionally and spiritually except to ask God for more healing and grace. I see God’s river running in crystal clean through the west wall of our church, and flowing out the muddy color of the Amazon out the east wall. It flows in clean, swirls through us and carries out lots of junk. I see people’s wounds getting cleaned out, and some healing happening. Our hope and prayer is that people will leave in better shape than they came.
In preparation for our sending church’s annual Mission’s Sunday they asked for some photos of me ministering. I am usually the one taking photos, so I am in very few. I found it kind of strange to give two of the guys in our church each a camera in order to capture some idea of how I look in a Sunday service.
Here are the photos that Izak took last Sunday during our main service.
September 7th is a national holiday in Brazil, Independence Day. Monica and Ivanildo planned a Work Bee, cleaning the church, followed by lunch down by the river for all the helpers. Everyone who participated really enjoyed themselves! How did you spend your last National Holiday? Do you think you had as much fun as this group did?
A small confession: I helped clean the church, but I mostly took photos. I went to the river with the group, but once again I only took a few photos, and was glad to see how much fun was going on. I did not stay, or swim, or eat the food. For me personally, being part of a large crowd down by the river is hard work. Since so many from our team consider this easy, I left them to it and went back up to our house and main campus. No one was up there, which is rare and not too wise. Being up here alone is easy for me. Maybe this is the way God gives gifts to the church. He lets us love different things, making us a greater group because of our diversity.
We’re changing it up. We are going to focus on how to make our church Good News to our community. This means us leaders will all spend more time praying about our activities, and especially about if the results of our activities are increasing our church attendance. The more people that come to our church, the more exposure to good teaching, the more questions get answered, the more our neighborhood will change for the better.
How can we be Good News to our neighbours, in a way that THEY consider to be Good News? If we simply say, “We know this medicine tastes bad, but you have to take it to have a better life,” that is minimally helpful. For one thing, the medicine does not actually taste bad. As we change our diet, our taste buds become more sensitive to what is really good food, and our happiness index will go up. Does that make sense to anyone but me? I know it’s true.
Let me put this another way. “I know our meetings our boring. But this is the pre-req for getting to heaven.” No church leaders would say those words, but how many of us think this? Does it make sense to you that the author of Life would have boring meetings while the author of Death would have fun, lively meetings? It doesn’t make sense to worldly people either. I am not saying we have the answers, but having the question is a long way towards the solution. And deep down we KNOW the author of Life has Great Meetings in His storehouse, if only we can learn how to get them off the shelf.
In this first photo we are talking to our Church Leadership Team about some of the upcoming changes, fielding questions, looking for suggestions. It’s all pretty new now, but I think we will see really positive results by Christmas.
In the second photo, we are breaking ground on an expansion project for a new front face for our church, in line with our vision for church growth.
In the third photo…more changes. The guys do the dishes after the Leadership Lunch, while the girls go downstairs and play Wii Dance. This hints of a Major Cultural Shift for our neighbours.
Two years ago Phil, Jen, Faith, and Luke came to visit us for a month. They went home, prayed about it, talked to their church, family and friends, and started taking steps towards becoming full-time Long Term Cross Cultural Workers. LTCCWs. This week they arrived. It is amazing to me how God takes us on incredible journeys when we step out in faith.
Phil and Jen lived just down the road from Art and Cyndi, back in Ontario, Canada. David, the Rae’s oldest son, worked for Phil in construction for a season.
We celebrated their arrival by having a team lunch!