Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Party

The Taylor team decided to invite our neighbors and friends for a gospel party under the code name of "Christmas Party". The event was to start at 7, but by 8:20 there were only 4 friends here. It wasn't long after that - things took off!

We started off with some games to get everybody losened up. Seems like the adults enjoyed the games more than the kids.

After some games, mom Taylor and Christen took the kids to learn of Christ birth and I was able to share why Jesus came using the Matthew 1 passage. My emphasis was on Jesus name and it's meaning - primarily to save his people from their sins. Our neighbors were extremely attentive and I believe God was glorified.

The kids came back in and acted out the Christmas story for us - a nice finishing touch on the evening.

May God cause many of our neighbors and friends to repent of their sins this Christmas season, and put their faith in the work and person Christ. And may we look to Jesus as our Savior and Lord this Christmas season and glorify Him as such - above all other things (i.e. presents).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November Update

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. I Pet. 2:24
Dear Friends,
Why did Christ come? I have heard a dozen answers to this question in the past two weeks. What do you say? While the answer is multi-faceted, the Bible declares a primary reason: the salvation of lost sinners for the glory of God the Father and the good of man! God is granting us opportunities to declare a clear gospel!
Unfortunately it is not so clear to everyone. Christiano and Debora are a young couple with no exposure to the gospel and curious. I asked him last night: “What makes Jesus any different in your mind than the man who discovered Brazil?” He said: “Nothing – I don’t know much about either one.” This comes as a bit of a relief to us in the sense that most Brazilians are so tangled up in a religious web, that it is difficult to sort through it all. The night before, my brother James and I sat with Aguiar and Vanilda. Aguiar is a Spiritist/Catholic that believes that if a person will exercise love, forgiveness and charity for a good part of his life, he will gain favor with God and enter heaven. The debate was long and hard! The Scriptures seemed to press him against the wall as he made every effort to wiggle out of their implications! Pray for us as we teach patiently so that “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 2:24-25)
Pray also for other studies we are having with: Maurino and Luci, João and Patricia, and João and Maria. We are also doing studies with the two that have professed salvation: Roberto and Andréa.
We have one request that is on our hearts and would ask for your prayers. We believe that God has led us here indefinitely and we would like to purchase property and build a home. The difficulty we are having is in regards to acquiring financing for a home. In speaking to a certified CPA, we were advised that the best option would be through someone state side who might take out a loan on our behalf to whom we would pay off the mortgage. This is before the Lord and His plan is best and we wait on that.
We are grateful for a ministry called the Christian Hospitality Network. They granted us a 4 days and 3 nights, expenses paid vacation at the Iguaçu Falls. It was fun to go with most of my family and enjoy some relaxation.
Sharon is doing very well with were her pregnancy and if you haven’t heard we are expecting a girl! Name suggestions are welcome as we are having difficulties.
FYI – Gabriel has now changed his name from Bagel to Gabers.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!
David, Sharon and Gabe
P.S. Please let us know if you now have an e-mail address and would rather receive our updates via e-mail!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Candidates for Grace

João (69) and Maria (65) live in a one bedroom, one bath, and kitchen. They have taken in two children off the street to raise and occasionally house a couple of granddaughters for days. They make a wopping $240 per month. After rent and utilities - that's $50 for groceries and everything else. They have 5 daughters and 1 son. The kids behaviors range from prostitution to drug addiction. One of the granddaughters is having baby #2 at 18 years of age. João does what he can to make some extra change, but his children drain him faster than it comes in. João and Maria have attended the health and wealth gospel church and bought into some of the lies. They are seeking Jesus for what he can give them, but then wouldn't you if in their shoes?

My original title for this post was "Soap Opera". I am so deeply affected by lives like theirs, especially on thanksgiving day with deep gratitude in light of God's grace. First off, I must humble myself to understand that though my bank account is stable, my spiritual account is as deeply bankrupt apart from God's saving and sustaining grace. I must also acknowledge God`s electing grace and realize that His grace comes by no merit of mine which He might look ahead and save me for! Who am I and what makes me any different than João and Maria? Simply God and His sovereign purpose for His infinite praise! May God use us to the praise of His glory to speak truth into the lives of João and Maria. May their eyes be opened as mine were. May we never gloat self-righteously in our condition - because we too are ever so wretched candidates in need of His grace!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Andrea's Story

This summer, we had two weeks of Children's Bible Club which we blogged about here .
A woman named Andrea happened to see the sign outside of our house advertising the club, and decided to bring her son to attend the last two days. She mentioned that she was interested in learning more about God and the Bible, and a few weeks later, we began a six-week Bible study with her. She was always attentive and seemed interested in the gospel. What she had been taught all of her life had caused her to be afraid of God, knowing that her life was not pleasing to him, but not knowing how exactly to change that. She was trying to change some sinful habits in her life so that she would be acceptable to God because she felt he wanted nothing to do with her because of her sin. When I asked her what she would say to God as to why he should let her into heaven, her answer was that she really wanted to get in.

Her understanding of the gospel continued to grow as we studied, and when we were finished the six-week study, she said she wanted to continue. Last week, she told me she was facing a difficult decision in her life and didn't know what she should do, but wanted to know God's will. As she shared the details with me, I immediately knew that God already had a couple things to say in the Bible about her situation. I asked her if she considered herself to be a Christian and her reply was "yes." Not wanting to place doubts in her mind, but wanting to know if she truly understood what it meant to be a Christian, I asked her some more questions about how she knew she was a Christian. She said that she was trusting in Jesus for her salvation and believed that he had died on the cross for her sins. She said she finally understood that God's love for her was personal and that she didn't have to do any works to receive his salvation. Amazingly, she said that the Christian life was not a life of suffering, like she had always believed, having to follow a list of rules of what to do or not to do to earn God's favor, but the desire to make necessary changes in her life came naturally once she placed her trust in Christ.

Yesterday, Andrea and her son, Saimon, joined us for our Sunday morning Bible study. She and I currently meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to study the Bible and when I invited her to come on Sunday too, she was excited and said that she gets sad on Thursday because it will be several days before we have another study. Andrea is a talented musician, and she brought her guitar to play along with David. She quickly picked up on the songs and David said she was filling in places with notes he wasn't even playing. It was great to see her using her talents to praise God.

I am learning more and more the power of the gospel to change lives. God chooses to use us in the process of salvation, and that is amazing. Just recently we were discussing all the other religions we are in "competition" with in this neighborhood. It's easy to get discouraged when we are automatically associated negatively with another religious group. What distinguishes our message from every other message out there being taught to those around us? We concluded that our message is the only life-giving one. It's the only one that has the power to give someone new life in Christ and fellowship with God. We are here in São José, Santa Catarina, Brazil because God wants us to take this life-giving, life-changing message to the people here.

Last week we began a study with a woman named Adriana, and this week we will be starting one with a couple named João and Patricia. Wednesday, David and James are starting a study with a man named Aguiar, and James and Christen are currently involved in two other Bible sudies. Sometimes the work seems slow, but then God begins to open doors and give us entrance into people's homes and lives and it's exciting!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vilson and Jandir

Please pray for these two men today. Last night they were in my home and we discussed in detail that the gospel is God-centered. We studied Mark 7:20-23 where Jesus makes very clear the origin of all sin and rebellion - deep within us! Vilson has heard the truth several times now, and last night he brought his brother as well. Jandir is a former Pentecostal, convinced that he's been baptized in the spirit, spoken in tongues, and therefore will be accepted into heaven. I would ask then that you pray that God would open their spiritual eyes and turn them from darkness to light. God has given us wonderful entrance into the lives of these men and we are grateful. Thank you for praying.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Soccer and Religion

If you have an incredible memory you might just remember a comment in our deputation presentation in regards to values that are a huge part of Brazilian culture. Soccer and religion rank among the top. Interestingly enough, there are incredible likenesses among soccer fans and religious fanatics: likenesses that shed light on why they are so valued among this people.
Some of these very thoughts stemmed out of a conversation with an unbelieving friend.

My objective is to share some core values that each hold and allow you to make the connect.

Soccer Fan Values:

1. Fair weather devotion - a devotion strictly based on their teams performance. Cheering, chanting, and fireworks are the norm for my winning team, but so is rage, anger, and cussing should they lose!

2. Spectator Critics - everyone is doing it all wrong and I can see it all - (the ref was unfair, the other team cheated, and my own team can't kick a ball) Given the chance - this person could do much better, but would never try.

3. Status Symbol - highly esteemed when this is one of the few status symbols one can afford. Currently one of local teams has a record better than in the past 30 years - you can imagine.

Religious Values:

1. Man-centered worship - a search for the perfect church on the basis of it's charisma, leadership, and worship (code for music). Permanence in such a church last's only as long as the bang. The back door swings open and the backstabbing begins.

2. Passive behavior - one who reluctantly follows religion, criticizes it's inconvenience, and eventually walks away from its pressures.

3. Evangelical attention - displayed by it's new found evangelical vocabulary, and fancy black suit - drawing a fresh look from it's long despised neighbors and their pre-critical looks.

I would conclude these things to be true of any people group in some fashion or other. Almost daily conversations have burdened my heart for a people that - like the man I see in the mirror - are extremely man centered. The gospel smorgasbord is available and you will find a wide variety of "what's in it for me" gospel. The true gospel has strong competition because the true gospel is the diametric opposite of religion - preaching about a man who came and died a horrible death! I beg of you that you pray for us in our weakness and insufficiency as missionaries, that we might boldly speak of a God-centered salvation that solely based on Christ's merit, once for all who would believe, and is not negotiable. I recently heard a speaker say in reference to Charles Spurgeon: " He can certainly preach the gospel better than I can, but he can never preach a better gospel than I can!" This is fuel for my fire and I pray it will be for yours. May God so help us to be less concerned with ourselves, our thoughts, our desires, our money, our politics, our families, our dreams, and more concerned with the proclamation of His glory.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

We are grateful for two weeks of successful VBS! Between our two homes we shared Christ with 50 kids and 11 parents. One of the parents has requested a 6 week evangelistic study in her home. Andréa is a single mom in need of a Savior - pray for her. Our intentions are to follow up in the homes of the kids. Now that we have built their confidence, a Bible study might come easier. Thank you for your prayers and support! God Bless!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bible School

God blessed us last week! The Bible school was at my brothers where we were able to communicate the gospel clearly to 20 kids and 8 parents. This week we transitioned to our place and God had entrusted us 30 each day so far. Each day we meet for 2 hours divided in four segments - games, song and story time, craft, and a snack/wrap-up. Our objective is two-fold. 1. Communicate the gospel clearly to the children that they might be saved. 2. Make contacts with parents so we might teach 6 week evangelistic studies in their homes. Pray with us! Here are some pics and a video

We'll let you know how it all ends!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Update with some Funnies

#1 - The Bible study in our home is going well. There are 5 teenagers and 2 adults who have been faithfully hearing a gospel truth each week. Lesson 1 was on the authority of Christ, lesson 2 on the crucifixion of Christ, and last week we studied about the resurrection of Christ. Tonight our study will take us to a definition of grace - I can't wait as this is of utmost importance in a culture where grace is dependent on works! Ironically 6 of the students have been coming because of me, right? Wrong. One of the adults has relentlessly pursued his friends to come. Trust me - I am delighted that they are here - no complaints. The last two studies have been interesting though. Imagine yourself teaching the lesson, when all of a sudden you are interrupted, so that a student can clarify something or explain a brand new idea vs. maybe asking a question. He is interesting in that he will explain the whole thing with all confidence, many times using information I have shared with him in private, and then at the very end say something like - correct me if I'm wrong David. You must believe that I am delighted this is happening! My prayer is that he will repent and believe in Christ so that these truths will be a personal reality to him and he will go on to teach himself!

#2 We have recently been watching the Confederations Cup - a soccer tournament among 8 teams. The tension in the room is always high - especially anytime Brazil plays. Little did I know this enthusiasm was contagious. It seems my son quite enjoys Brazilian goals as well. See for yourself.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ransomed, Resurrected, Called

Just a quick reflection from a book our families are studying together on Sundays. Yesterday we addressed the question: "How are we born again, or how does God regenerate us?" Notice these three verses in I Peter 1.

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,

Because of our depraved hearts and sinful rebellion against God, he bought us back with His Son's precious blood - imperishable.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

The resurrection births us to new life and our life becomes his life in us. Our new birth is a result of his new life in the resurrection!

23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

The abiding word of God is what makes the effectual call in our lives to see the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ! Praise God for making me alive unto salvation!

There is a reference in each text to imperishability. We are united to Christ in these works, and our union is imperishable. This is the only imperishable reality a human can experience in this world! Rejoice in the imperishability of your salvation today - not even a bad day, or a bad performance on your part can alter your status as a genuine believer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Day God Planned for Me

I left home around 10 with intentions of dropping off a package at the post office, paying a bill, updating my military status and getting my car inspected. This was a little more ambitious than I thought. I pulled number 43 at the post office - only 3 in front of me - great - this should be quick. Number 41 walked up with his package - and only a package - no tape, and no address! Meanwhile a disgruntled number 42 decided to fill my ear with his thoughts about number 41. I waited a full 10 minutes with my tiny little sealed, addressed, package. Ok - now let's go to the bank to pay my bill. This time the wait would be longer - 10 in front of me. I got comfortable, reading a good book. Meanwhile I watched a teenager walk in and right up to counter to be seen. Not sure what was going on there. I decided to get some information for my next stop with the guy after me as we clearly had some time. He was well-intentioned and being new in town- I believed him. After 30 minutes at the bank, my agenda took me across town, across the bridge, into down town Florianopolis. I arrived at the military joint only to find it closed for lunch. So I had some food and headed back an hour later. Sargeant Djalma kindly informed me that my need would take me back across town - close to where I began. Ok - here we go. I arrived at a very small office - one desk, two computers, and 4 employees - 2 outside smoking - 2 helping another person. My sense was that of an invisible man. My need seemed to take a back seat to any distraction in the room - phone, mail, interesting conversations of any sort. After a good while, my situation was made clear and simple. Here's what you will do: I need a copy of your social security, your license, a proof of residence, your birth certificate, your military document, and a picture. All this simply to do internet research on my situation which could take anywhere from 3 days to a month. Ok - that makes sense. "Just another 45 minutes and you will be set to go." Let's go get a car inspection - this should be quick! Honestly, an hour and a half went by quick in light of the rest of the day! I'm also not suprised that I've failed the inspection. "Just head back once you've made this $100 fix and we can sign you off."

If you've read this far and think I'm venting - your wrong. I strongly believe that God planned this 8 hour adventure, to prepare me for 1 hour this evening. I arrived home looking forward to some fellowship with my brother and family. God decided to wrap up the day by bringing a freind to the gate - who came for a Bible study. How did my day prepare me for this? I confess that for part of the day - I objected God's sovereign plan for me. There seemed to be a conspiracy against the flow of my day - let's slow it down - however possible. By the end of the day though, the Lord had granted me an incredible level of patience to sit down and calmly share His Gospel graciously. The result: a clear understanding of the cross, repentence, and faith. Glory be to God. He has crafted my day for His purpose and for my good. My advice to you: never take a bad day for granted!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Long-overdue Post

It's hard to believe that almost three months ago we left the city of João Pessoa to move 3000 km away toFlorianópolis. We are glad for the year God gave us at Valentina Baptist Church and thankful that we were able to leave them with a Brazilian pastor. The church members hosted a going-away lunch for us and we were touched by their many kind words, gifts, letters and even tears at our parting. This is Pastor Gildo and his wife Lúcia.

The search for a house to rent in Florianópolis took longer than we thought and there were many obstacles in the whole process. In fact, there were times when I think we both wondered whether God actually wanted us to move there or not. But everything has worked out so well and our house is only 10 blocks away from James and Christen's house (David's brother and sister-in-law with whom we will be starting a new work here). Here are some pictures of our new home.
David's study (Gabriel loves to mess in Daddy's top drawer -- so much fun stuff in there!)

Part of the kitchen/dining room

Our bedroom looks out onto the front street

Gabriel's room

Our living room

Our house -- I love the contrast of the pine tree and the palm tree

We went on an outing a couple of weekends ago to a place someone recommended to us. Just the drive itself was so beautiful and we were amazed at God's creation over and over again. Here are some pictures to entice you to come visit us sometime.

On a different note, pray for us this week as we begin a series of Bible studies in our home. It's a six-week study that uses the book of Mark to explain Christianity. We have gone out several times this past week to invite our neighbors and hand out flyers. Pray that people will come and that many will be saved. Several have said they will be here, so we are encouraged by that. Pray for wisdom for David and James as they lead these Bible studies and for Christen and myself as we teach a class for any children that may come. We are excited about what God has in store for us. Thank you for your faithful prayer and support!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Affected by the Gospel

During this time of transition between ministries, we have been privileged to sit under the ministries God has entrusted to both Sharon and my families. Last week I heard my brother preach the word faithfully in the morning service and then had the same treat in the evening, this time by my father. My mind takes me back to a recent service in Joao Pessoa where we were pastoring. I asked the congregation to raise their hands if the majority of their close family was unregenerate. At least 90% raised their hands and my heart sunk. I have so much to be grateful for! The greatest of all treasures has changed the lives of the ones we love the most!

Last evening I was deeply affected once again by the gospel. We attended New Life Baptist Congregation, a congregation I had a part in helping get started with dad back in 2002. My brother and family have been helping there in the past year. The choir (a dozen out of 35 who attend) brought a series of 8 songs reflecting on the blood shed by Christ for our sins. After the music, my brother brought our attention to Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. He focused his brief thoughts on the last three words of this verse. Ransom - price paid for our rescue, For - not so much "in benefit of" but rather "in the place of", Many - those who will repent and believe! The exposition combined with James passion and zeal for the lost impacted me greatly. I am so glad that we are moving south with such a strong message, as well as a brother and family who are committed to a God-centered proclomation of the gospel. May God glorify himself through His message and our faithfulness to proclaim it in São José.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Praying for a House

Just a quick update for the three of you who check our blog ... :) We arrived in Curitiba safely last week. Our car was waiting for us when we got here and our belongings are waiting in São Paulo for us to release them once we find a house to rent. Last week, David and I traveled to São José along with James and Christen to look for a house. We found one that would have been a good option, but someone else is ahead of us on the waiting list and we won't know until this weekend whether they got it or not. Even then, we still would have to be approved as renters -- a process which can take several days. The amount of documentation that realties here require just for renting is amazing and often frustrating.

Yesterday, David drove back to São José with his dad to keep looking for a house. There just aren't that many available and of the ones that are available, most of them are not good options for us due to size, location and/or price. However, we are confident that God has called us to serve Him in São José and that He has the right house for us there. We have to patiently wait on Him while we pray and continue looking for a house.

Here are some specific prayer requests:

* patience as we wait for God's clear direction
* quick approval as renters once we find a house
* safe arrival of our belongings
* contentment as we adjust to living in a new place
* opportunities with our neighbors to share the gospel and have home Bible studies

This is a picture of the house we are on the waiting list for, just so you can have an idea.

Thank you for your prayers for us.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Current Events

Hello All,

As of recent the Lord has encouraged our hearts in very visible ways. Unfortunately we are more inclined to notice and cling to these blessings, as if they were better simply because we notice them. May God help us realize that each day comes loaded with benefits from the Almighty!

First off - we are grateful to have been with family for Christmas, and for the opportunity to survey the city of Florianópolis in Southern Brazil. We drove up and down different neighborhoods, looked at real estate and rental options, and even slipped in a steak house. We believe God is directing us to a city of 200K called São José, just outside Florianópolis. We believe this to be an area deficient of gospel proclamation. May God direct and bless our endeavors!

Second, we had a wonderful week of teen camp last week. 85 teenagers showed up and I believe God visited us there! We encorporated a stronger emphasis on spiritual matters, and the difference was evident. For example - one cabin of guys showed up on Monday ready to party, but by Wednesday, they repented of their attitudes, and even shared the gospel with a lost soul in their cabin. The comment as I heard it was: "We have'nt acted like Christians yet this week, but we are committed to doing that now!" This kind of change of mind seems to be evidence of the Holy Spirit's work! I was very encouraged on Friday evening as one of the teens gave evidence of saving grace in his life with a wonderful testimony of genuine conversion! Praise God!

Last, but not least, we are grateful for a 21 year old named Israel. He attended our church all day on Sunday at his own will. After the service, one of our deacons began sharing Christ with him. After a while I was invited to the conversation, and so I too questioned his reasons for wanting to be saved. Israel made a profession, but I would ask for your prayers for him. He seemed to be looking for relief from his problems, vs. redemption from his sin! I was as clear as I know how and my visits to his house have already begun! May this be true repentence and genuine conversion, and may Israel follow Christ all the days of his life!

These are some of the joys. There are many more that are brewing and we will keep you posted! God bless you all and please do not forget us in your daily talks with our Sovereign Lord!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy 2009!

With all the Christmas activities at church and then getting ready for a three-week trip to visit family in South Brazil, I've neglected to keep up with our blog. This will be a quick summary of the month of December for us.

Since every Saturday night, the men, women and teens each have their own meeting, they each also had their own Christmas party. I spoke at the women's Christmas get-together and David spoke at the men's and teens' get-togethers.

This is a pretty typical cake to have at parties. Gotta love the huge chocolate shavings on top. So good!

One of the families at Valentina have a little beach house that they graciously make available to the church for special occasions. The men had their Christmas party there.

The teens went to the beach at night and had fun playing games in the sand.

I taught the kids a couple of new Christmas songs and had them present them at our Christmas service. The picture doesn't do it justice, but the kids all dressed up in costumes -- angels, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, wise men -- and sang their songs. The first song started off by inviting children from different lands to come see the newborn Jesus, so some of the kids were dressed in outfits from different countries (hence the little boy wearing a sombrero in the manger scene) and they gathered around Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. It was a lot of work to put that short presentation together, but it was worth it and the kids did a great job.

The past couple of weeks we have been in Curitiba spending time with our families. We had some difficulty getting here since we forgot to take any kind of document for Gabriel to travel and then our flights kept getting delayed, but we made it only about 7 hours after we were originally supposed to have gotten in.

Gabriel is having fun playing with his cousins. He especially loves to follow Jeremiah around, who is less than a year older than Gabriel. I can see those two getting into a lot of trouble together ...

David and Gabriel model their Christmas presents -- their soccer team jersey. Note: I do not claim this team. I cheer for a team that's actually good. Haha.

My parents, Gabriel and I at the New Year's Eve service at the church where David grew up. The service started at 9 PM and David was the special speaker. Then we had supper around 10:30 and everyone stayed until past midnight to bring in the new year together.

So that's it in a nutshell. Tomorrow David heads to Florianopolis with his brother and Dad, so I'm guessing our next blog will be about his trip. Happy New Year from the Taylors in Brazil!