Monday, December 20, 2010

Servant Evangelism and Christmas Service

On Saturday and Sunday we handed out a Panetone (Traditional Christmas Bread) and a church calendar to contacts we had made over the past year. It was great to see the converts getting involved as well. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. Some were hesitant to recieve a free gift, but all in all people were surprised and grateful. We also handed some out to folks we had never seen, and several spoke of their intentions to visit the church! May God use this simple gift to draw many to Himself.

Currently doing a study with this family: Giliarde and Elizete (Eloisa and Gabriela)

A freind of Roberto's: Bruno

A friend I have done many Bible studies with: Adelar. His wife will not allow me to come to their house, so he has to come here secretly.

A neighbor that has a construction store: Samuel. He gave me a tape measure right after I gave him the bread.

It was so good to have a good group in our service Sunday night! Sharon and Christen spent several weeks teaching the kids some Christmas songs many of the parents came to see their kids perform. My brother brought an excellent message from Luke 2 reminding us of the greatest joy of Christmas! James went deeper with some facets on God's grace, while keeping the message clear and understandable. After the service, Roberto told me he was really affected by James message! May God grant him saving grace!

After the service we gathered around for some food and fellowship. It is so good to start seeing God's church being edified. Last year we had a party among many unbelievers, but this year - the body (though small) was gathered in Serraria (Saw Mill)! That is priceless!

Thank you all for you prayers as God is doing a work here. We are having a couple studies and contacts are developing. It is so good to see some progress.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This and That

Since our last post, we've had a few different things going on. Instead of dedicating a different blog post for each one, I'll just mention them each briefly to bring you up to speed.

About three weeks ago, the bulldozer came to clear off our little piece of hillside property and begin digging out the garage/basement. God has been so good -- it will take another post just to write about all of His blessings in getting us to this point.


A couple weeks ago, we left for Curitiba after our Thursday night Bible study to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with our family and other missionaries there. Gabriel had been looking forward for several days to seeing his grandparents and playing with the other mk's. And of course it's always nice for us to see our family and missionary friends too.

For some reason, kids aren't nearly as interested in eating the Thanksgiving meal as the adults are ... :)

Our children are very privileged to be growing up in Brazil with both sets of grandparents living just a short drive away. Juliana is not too sure about the bite of blackberry pie Granddad Nunley gave her.

Juliana and her little friend, the daughter of my good childhood friend who is also working as a missionary here in Brazil.

Valeria, the girl on the right, is expecting her third child this month. She and her husband have been attending our services for a couple of months now and both professed to be saved. Christen and I offered to give her a baby shower, but it's a normal custom here for the expectant mother to throw her own shower. So we went to her shower to show her our love and support, and it was neat to see that there were more women from our congregation at her shower than her own family and friends. I think it was a testimony of the love of Christ that unites people into a family who might have nothing else in common except Christ Himself.

Enjoying plenty of good snacks at the baby shower ...

This week, Christen hosted an afternoon tea for the women with small children. She worked so hard for several weeks putting together advent calendars to give them to teach them to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with their families. For most of them, it will be their first Christmas as believers and even though Brazil is a religious country, the real reason for Christmas is not emphasized.

The women have already commented about what a good time they had together that afternoon and one has said she wants to have everyone over to her house for coffee and a Bible study one day soon.

Our fun and creative advent calendars -- I even got one too! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unbelievers Affected!

Last evening God blessed us with a good group - many unbelievers. My brother James preached from Colossians 4:7-18 on the New Family of God. The passage paints a clear picture of what it looks like to be part of God's family and how incredibly different this is from the worlds view of family and relationship! James was careful to communicate clearly the HOW one becomes a part of God's family. Selfless giving and concern for one another emanates from the cross and establishes communities of people committed to Christ and each other. May God grant repentance and faith to those who heard the gospel this past evening.

On a side note - one of the men that attended is a professional soccer player. I thought that was pretty cool. He came here - to my house in little old São José and heard of Christ!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sheep before its Shearers

Two days ago a neighbor I have witnessed to several times invited me to help him sheer some sheep. My enthusiasm level as I left the house was pretty low. An hour at a coffee shop would have worked for me, but God had something else planned.

As we arrived, the sheep were scattered so they needed rounding up. An initial banging on a food bucket brought them out of the wood work. Now from the big pen to a smaller one. This move had the sheep going bonkers! Let's just say that sheep have "wheels" and "ups"! After quick set up of the electric sheers, Adelar whips a sheep into full submission tying up all four legs into one. At this point, the sheep lays there helpless while his eyes say hopeless. The sheep is as vulnerable as one can be. Each one just lay there quietly as my friend shaved it all off, sometimes cutting into the skin. Once he's done, the sheep gets up and wobbles off like one who has been humiliated. All I could think about was this verse:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. Is. 53:7

This verse means more to me today than ever. Why would Jesus do that for me?

Thank you for the cross Lord!

Pray for Adelar to be affected by the cross!

Our First Juntar-Panela (Pot Luck)

Ok, so this wasn't a big neighborhood outreach effort, but I thought I'd share about our potluck lunch with our little church group on Sunday. The reason it was encouraging to me was that it was so nice to see people interact with each other and the kids playing together, just enjoying the fellowship. Most of our people didn't know each other until they met in our meetings, and we want to encourage them to develop friendships amongst themselves. Several of them commented on how good it was to have everyone together, eating together and enjoying each other's company. And of course, the food was great and everyone contributed to the meal.

God blessed us with this sweet couple a few months ago. They are mature believers who were wanting to help in a new church plant and God allowed our paths to cross. They have joined us and have been a huge help in several different ways. Here they're holding our groups' two babies, Juliana and Ana Julia.

Having our own children definitely helps to attract other children to our meetings. A couple of the boys in the top picture often come by themselves. They are good friends with Daniel and now are friends with each other too. It was interesting that last Sunday, when Daniel was out of town, they both still came, even knowing that he wouldn't be here.

Last year, David and a friend built a homemade ping-pong table. It has served a great second purpose in that it fits a lot of people around it for a meal. The young couple in the front of the picture (yes, I know you can't see their faces, sorry) recently professed conversion. They mentioned to us that already their friends are making fun of them for being "crentes" (believers). Pray that God will be their satisfaction and source of strength, that they will grow spiritually and remain strong.

The young man in the foreground is our good friend who has been with us just about from the beginning. There were months and months when he would be the only one who would show up for a meeting. We are thankful for him and we ask that you pray for him as he continues to count the cost of following Christ whole-heartedly. We are in a battle for each person's soul and we've definitely fought hard for this one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day Update

Today we set up a tent and table at the cemetery. You can read about the holiday "All Souls Day" here. We were able to hand out at least 500 gospel tracts. While several were willing to stop and hear the good news, at least triple that number had no desire whatsoever. The extremes today were interesting.

One response came back: "I don't like Jesus." To which I said "well He loved you." To which he replied: "I sure hope not!" That must be the definition of total depravity- right?

On the other hand, Maria talked to me for at least 30 minutes. She recognizes her sinfulness before God and that something has to change. She said she has a lot of resentment in her heart. So we read through James 4 and she realized that resentment is a result of a sinful heart. Maria said she had never come to the cemetery on this holiday - but felt like she should today and that she was glad we met. Praise God. May God work in her heart.

Before we left I took some tracts and walked through the cemetery. The hopelessness is overwhelming. Hundreds of people burning candles for their loved ones in hopes of speeding up their life in purgatory, or that they might please those who have gone on that they might be looking down on them in favor - in hopes that their loved one might guide them in this life.

I asked a man named Baurilho why he was burning candles. He said: "I don't know why we do this. It's just what I've always done." I asked if he would stop if he found out that it was in vain, to which he said he wouldn't.

This country needs Christ to save them from false tradition. You've heard me say this before, but it is unbelievable what is assumed and believed about God and the afterlife here. May God grant Brazilians eyes to see his glory.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kids Month Wrap-Up Update

25 Kids showed up - looks like a trampoline is the key to get kids here.

Christ was proclaimed and the kids were attentive. I'm not sure of conversions - only time can tell. Two incredible truths were made clear though - 1. we are undeserving sinners, 2. Christ died to be a substitute for sinners! I'm so glad more kids in this neighborhood are now aware of that. May they come back and bring their families.

Ok - so here's the final product. I admit that I photoshoped a bit before I took the picture - but you can get the idea. Got some work to do - but I will definitely use this tool again. Thanks Dad Nunley for giving me the paints, a board, and the confidence to do this. May God get all the glory!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kids Month Wrap-Up

This month we have hosted a simple Bible club for kids every Saturday. We have used the Jesus Storybook Bible to tell stories of kids in the Bible. The book is excellent for the way it takes each story and uses it to point to Christ!

So tomorrow is the story of Abraham and I will attempt telling the story with paint. Here is my board ready to go. Maybe you can fill in the blank if you're up to speed on your Portuguese. Please pray for me as this is a first for me. More importantly pray for good weather, many kids present, and repentance and faith among the children.

I will take a picture with it all filled out and an update tomorrow night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All Souls Day

Next Tuesday Brazilians will celebrate All Souls Day, a holiday connected with a doctrine of the Catholic church. The idea is that this day is set aside for people to go pray for the "faithfully departed" who did not quite attain sanctification before leaving earth. This is designed to guarantee a shorter stay in purgatory and a quicker arrival in heaven. Although most just go to the grave to leave flowers. Read more about it here.

We plan to reach out to those who come on Tuesday with true hope - the gospel. Our goal is to address people as they leave the grave side. We've designed a t-shirt that should cause them to ponder where their soul will end up. Pray that God would grant good opportunities and cause many to repent and believe in Christ!

(Corpo - Body, Alma - Soul, Vida Eterna - Eternal Life, Morte Eterna - Eternal Death)

Pray with us on Tuesday, November 2nd in the morning!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Opportunity/ Dificulty

Opportunity - About an hour ago I left home headed for a friends house on foot. My plan was to invite him to church tomorrow. I lined my pocket with some bridge tracks for opportunities along the way. God immediately put 3 (cool, nose and ears studded) teenagers in my way. "Will you give me five minutes to share some good news with you three?" All three agreed and I was pleased.

Difficulty - Often, someone will say that they feel unprepared to share Christ with others, but this time I felt over-prepared. Please understand the spirit with which I share - for God's glory. My struggle was to share the glorious gospel in a simple way. Surely some simple logic would work with these guys - oh but no! One thing I said for example: "Should I be arrested if I take someone's life in this neighborhood?" Pretty basic - right? Let's just say that it looked like I had asked them the square root of 83094098.

Eventually there seemed to be some understanding in their eyes - but ideally we would go straight there, not after a few strikes. Sometimes the difficulty lies not in lack of content, but in the proper use of it! Pray for us to be clear, concise, and complete! We cannot afford to leave certain things out of the gospel, regardless of education! God, Man, Christ, Response are the minimum! BUT WE MUST COMMUNICATE!

Pray for Wilson, Christiano, and Geovani.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pray for Jhonata

Jhonata is my 16 year old neighbor and was recently in a bad motorcycle accident. They had to put a titanium rod in his right thigh. I went to see him in the hospital and his attitude was one of anger and pride. He was not thankful for another opportunity in life. He was not thankful for anything his parents would do for him. His response was disheartening in light of a life threatening accident. Since then I have prayed about ways I could reach him, for fears that he might be strongly opposed to anything God or Bible. Yesterday, upon my request, he came over for a Bible Study. We read the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. I showed Jhonata that Christ loves us even though he shouldn't because of our sin - the same way the servant girl loved Naaman, a prideful captain, even though she didn't have a reason to. That Christ died to substitute sinners, absorb God's wrath, and forgive us from the penalty of our sin. That in the same way that it was required of Naaman to humble himself and trust in Elijah's word, we must humble ourselves, repent of sin, and believe in the payment Christ made for sin on the cross. Jhonata listened, interacted, and suggested we have more talks like this. Let's pray for his salvation! His younger brother comes to our services on Sundays and is thoroughly enjoying it as well - his name is Vitor. Vitor said to his mom the other day that he doesn't want to go to Catechism anymore because he doesn't understand anything, but that at our church it makes sense - go figure!

God be glorified for this opportunity.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Club Update

So things haven't gone as we had hoped for our children's outreach every Saturday this month. We've had a really low turnout both weeks so far. The first Saturday was cold and rainy -- like winter decided to have one last party on its way out.

Juliana dressed for the weather

The second Saturday was a beautiful day, but since it was the Saturday before Children's Day, a local community association hosted a free all-afternoon event for the neighborhood kids. It was a little sad to see train load after train load of kids drive by our house. Many of them were kids we know who have come to our events in the past. They would smile and wave at us and I wanted to yell, "Please! Come here to our club! We're having fun here too!" But, well, it's hard to compete with the Fun Train. :) But the few kids who did come seemed to have a great time and we're glad for the opportunity to teach them about Jesus' love and His salvation.

Here are some pictures of the fun games David planned for the kids:

What team can get through the giant maze first?

Don't let the ball drop as you race down the line!

Run through the chalk maze on the ground ...

and take a bite out of a hanging "rosquinha" (no hands, Saimon!)

David telling the story of Naaman the leper and his servant girl

Craft time -- thanks to one of James and Christen's supporting churches who sent some fun craft materials

Eating canjica for snack

Learning the Bible verse with gestures

In hopes of getting more kids to come the next three weeks, David rigged some speakers on top of the car and made a recording inviting neighborhood kids to come participate. Right now, he's driving around with the recording playing loudly. Now, before you think that's a little odd, it's actually very typical here to announce things this way. Several cars drive by our house everyday announcing everything from the sales at a local grocery store to the healing and miracles service that will be held at a certain church. Let's see if this method helps get the word out and bring new kids to our club. I'll post a brief update either tomorrow or Monday about how things go today and tomorrow in our services.

*Update: Well, we didn't have the turnout we had hoped for, but we did have a few more kids show up, which was great. We had a fun time playing games and acting out Bible stories. We are still praying that some kids will come back with one of their parents for a Sunday service so they can win their free book.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Two Birthdays and October Plans

Gabriel and David both have birthdays in September, so it's a special month for us. Gabriel has been looking forward to his big day for a long time now, and we were able to celebrate his birthday with both sets of grandparents and some friends in Curitiba.

Here he had just woken up from his nap and was so excited to see all the birthday preparations.
He sat at the table kind of mesmerized by everything -- the cake, candy and presents.

Gabriel is a very determined child and loves having a routine. He has been a big challenge for us in the parenting aspect, but we are very blessed to have him as our son. He loves to sing, watch tar-coons (cartoons), sneak onto Daddy's computer and move the icons around, take things apart and try to figure out how they work and eat apples -- sometimes several a day. He is a great big brother to Juliana, who just adores him. Sometimes he just looks at her and she starts grinning. He has an endless source of energy that I wish I could tap into, and he's also very shy but he's learning to greet people when they come to our home for services and to play with the kids who come instead of clinging desperately to David or me. Almost everyday he says something really cute or funny that makes us laugh out loud. Like the time his pants were too big around his waist and in frustration he said, "Mommy! My pants keep walking away!" Or the fact that he calls David "Uncle David" instead of "Daddy" when his cousins are around. I'm so thankful for this playful, sweet, strong-willed little boy and pray that one day he will learn to love God and place his faith in Jesus for salvation.

David's birthday was yesterday and it was nice to celebrate it with James and Christen and their kids. Having family around to work with and share special days with is a blessing that we try not to take for granted. God blessed me more than I could know when I met David almost 8 years ago. It has been great being married to this man for just over 6 years now, to follow his leadership, to learn from him as he grows in his walk with Christ and to share my life with him. I admire his wisdom and patience in dealing with different aspects of ministry, his love for God and His Word, his desire to see Christ exalted in all things and his passion to see people be saved. I'm thankful for the good father that he is to our children, taking time to play with them, correct them, and care for them.

On a completely different subject, for those of you who keep up with the happenings in our ministry here, we will be having a kids' club every Saturday this month. Brazil celebrates Children's Day, which falls on October 12th, and it's a pretty big deal here. We're using this as an opportunity to reach out to the kids in our neighborhood again and hopefully get to meet their parents as a result. As an incentive for coming to a Sunday service with a parent, we will be giving away the Jesus Storybook Bible -- one per family that comes. This is such a well-written book, very Christ-centered, and we were so excited to find it already translated into Portuguese. Here is a link to the book if you're not familiar with it. We ask for your prayers this month, that God will give us fruit as a result of this outreach effort.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy 188th Independence Day, Brazil!

Today, September 7, is Brazil's Independence Day, so I thought I would acknowledge that in a blog. We don't have big plans to celebrate today. There probably won't be any fireworks tonight, but people do have the day off and probably did most of their partying last night so they could sleep it off today. There might be a parade downtown, but I honestly don't know if there is or not.

The thing is, Brazilians aren't overly patriotic, unless it's the World Cup. Then they will put up flags and wear their green and yellow. I don't know of anything that unites Brazil as a whole like the World Cup. The country comes to a stand still when their team (beloved, if winning) is playing. When a goal is made, you can stand outside and hear the entire city celebrate with firecrackers and honking horns.

When Brazil sadly lost this year in the quarter finals, the flags quickly came down and the yellow team shirts were put away. Our big consolation at losing so soon in the World Cup was that at least Argentina lost too!

We love Brazil. After all, both David and I were born and reared here, and now we have a daughter who was born here as well. It's a part of who we are and now we even own a little piece of it. :) God has placed us here, and our plans are to spend our lives here laboring to teach and spread the true gospel among a people who are so misled and deceived by false doctrine and religion.

We are fighting for Brazilians in a spiritual sense. Sometimes our efforts seem so frail and meager in comparison to how huge the need is, but slowly we are seeing the difference that the gospel is making here in our neighborhood as a person here and a person there are being affected by it. Our service this past Sunday night was so encouraging in that we had our biggest group up to this point. A young mother who came last week for the first time came back with her husband and their two children this week. Another young mother who took her daughter to our VBS a couple months ago came for the first time with her daughter and her niece. She has been doing a Bible study with James and Christen and has shown an understanding of the gospel.

So today we celebrate, or at least acknowledge, Brazil's Independence Day, the day it declared freedom from Portugal. But we are far more excited to be involved in the process of freeing Brazilian people from the captivity of Satan.