I took Zezinho to the bus yesterday. He is moving to Mato Grosso, another state a few thousand kms away. Zezinho has been with us since we met under the mango tree here in Marabá. He gave his heart to Jesus during our first Cristovál event, in February 2009. He was 14 years old. Soon after he started to learn to play the drums, and joined the newly formed Vinha Worship Team, under Annika’s leadership. (Annika was 16). He has been at it ever since. For his last night in Marabá the worship team got together, set everything up, and played worship songs all evening.
Zezinho writes things on his Facebook like (and I am translating loosely) “Everything was set up for me to go bad, but God found me and changed my story,” and “God must have a lot of patience. He is still working on me. kkkkkk (the “k”s are Facebook laughing, in Portuguese)”.
Zezinho is a good example of “Centered Set” Christianity. “Bounded Set” thinking means you are either in, or you are out, based on whatever set of rules your group thinks are important. “Centered Set” says you are in if you are heading towards God. The direction of your heart is more important than your haircut, for example. Some people are born into “good” families. Maybe they are only a -10 away in their behaviour and appearance. Other people are born into more challenging situations. Maybe they are a -200 in what they think is normal, compared to what the Bible teaches us. Let’s say they both grow at the same rate. After a year the first person will be a -5, the second person will be a -100. Who grew the most?
About four years ago Zezinho’s dad moved out of their home. “Too much violence and drugs.” He moved across the river from us, and still comes over to watch a soccer game here at the church on the occasional Saturday. About three years ago Zezinho’s brother-in-law’s brother started coming to our Pre-Encounter meetings. We were all very happy. Then he got shot, and ended up in intensive care at the hospital. Zezinho’s sister’s husband decided, “I will take my brother’s place and go to this Encounter meeting, since my brother is in the hospital.” During the retreat week-end he told me, in all sincerity, “This has been the best week-end of my life. I can rest in the afternoon. I don’t have to worry if someone is going to come in my house and kill me.” During the Encounter week-end, his brother died in the hospital. A few weeks later the killers came after him. He narrowly escaped a round of bullets by jumping over a wall. I remember the brother-in-law’s mom was screaming and waving in front of the gunman shooting at her son. She only had two sons, and one was already in the ground. Both boys were in their mid-twenties. Zezinho’s sister and brother-in-law left town and have not come back.
In September 2010 Zezinho’s mom told me she was going to move into the house right by the front gate of our church. “It will be safer for me and my family. And I love the church.” She never did move. In November she was killed. Five bullets. Zezinho, of course, was in shock. He moved onto our church property. Ivanildo and Monica took him in a cared for him like he was their son. They helped him keep going to high school. They got him a job installing TV satellite dishes.
This is a small part of Zezinho’s story. He is moving to another town to visit his sisters. We hear they are now Christians. May God bless Zezinho with a good church that he loves, and with some good friends who will help him along the Way.
“Friends That Are Closer Than Brothers”

Watermelon Cake

The girls are enjoying their summer holidays. Bella has been done school for a couple of weeks, and Emma wrote her last final on Thursday. Pre-Calc 11. And she pulled off an A for the year! She worked really hard for this A, and we are very proud of her.

On Saturday the girls made a watermelon cake, and then they invited some friends over and lived the fancy life for awhile. Big smiles all around.

TransAmazon Dust

The TransAmazon Highway is now mostly clouds of billowing dust, with
patches of ashfalt. There are long stretches when I have to keep my
eyes glued to the shoulder, where I can see a dim outline of the
direction the road. When we break onto the paved parts of the road it
kind of feels like we are floating, everything gets strangely quiet,
and we can see clearly what is ahead. Our family drove to Altamira and
back on Thursday and Friday for a leadership meeting. I am including a
couple of photos of people we passed on the way.
As the Lord leads us through unexpected twists and turns in our
journey, quirky bible verses take on meaning. Psalm 68:13 caught my
attention this morning.
“Even while you sleep among the campfires, the wings of my dove are
sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.”
The meaning for me as I pondered these unusual words is that even while
we are in a time of resting, God is blessing us in ways that are beyond
our imagination.
I trust this is your story too, that whether you are in a time of work
or rest, mourning or celebration, or whichever season you are in, that
you will find joy in God’s presence, and that your heart will be filled
with gratitude for God’s incredible goodness towards us, which reaches
to the limits of our imaginations, and then, it does not stop there but
races out to infinity where we will explore it and be filled with awe

and wonder for eternity. May this be your story today.


We had a baptism service yesterday.
Several singles and family groups got married including two moms and their boys, and two sisters.
Fransisco told me, “I really struggled to make the decision to get baptized today. I realized I would not be able to do several things once I take this step of commitment.” I think he is going to find out that our loving Heavenly Father is going to increase His love, protection, and relationship.
After the Bible Study and breakfast together everyone walks down the river frontage at the foot of the church property. A fisherman had his net in the perfect place, so he kindly moved on. About 30 seconds after the baptism ceremony and prayer, all the kids went for a quick swim.