Monday, February 22, 2010

Youth Retreat

I was asked to bring some challenges to the youth retreat in Curitiba - where I grew up. Sharon and I drove up and Sharon stayed with her folks as she is about 8.5 months pregnant. The grandparents didn't seem to mind too much.

Meanwhile, the Lord blessed in wonderful ways. On Saturday my focus was true conversion and the righteousness of Christ. On Sunday we jumped into the life of Peter to see how conversion and Christ's righteousness became evident in his life. Monday morning, we opened up for a time of questions and answers. Myself along with 2 other pastors answered all sorts of questions the teens had. Here are some of the questions they asked:

1. If a Christian commits suicide, does he loose his salvation?

2. Did God purposely harden Pharoah's heart, so as to keep Israel from being freed?

3. How can the Bible help our understanding with ethical issues such as stem cell research, euthanasia, and the death penalty?

4. If someone commits a sin, and repents, but unfortunately commits the same sin after repeatedly confessing, could this person still not be saved?

5. How should we respond to God's love toward us, who placed our sins on Christ shoulders, considering us justified before Him?

I was pleased to hear these good questions. It is a reminder that we must never assume that a group of "Christian" kids has come to understand or appreciate the fullness of God's Word. I believe many there were affected by the Biblical answers and God was truly honored in this.

On Monday evening there was a bonfire and several shared of what God had been doing. I chose to impersonate Peter's denial and wrap up with a couple challenging thoughts on how we deny the Lord daily with our actions. On Tuesday, I closed with John 21 where the Lord Jesus challenges Peter in three areas: love, sacrifice, and discipleship.

Pray for these youth as they go back into the real world to live out their faith.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Outreach Efforts

The past two weekends we've tried a couple of different outreach efforts here in our neighborhood to try to create more contacts and to get to know people by meeting a specific need. The first event was soccer. Now, you may not think that providing an hour of soccer for 15 teens and men counts as meeting a need, but some might beg to differ. :) David used this opportunity to clearly share the gospel with these men and he and James will be following up with them in the near future.

Taking a few minutes before playing to share the gospel.

Our second event was more of a compassion outreach where we provided basic food packages for 10 needy families. Here in Brazil, most big grocery stores carry pre-made food packages that include the basics -- bags of rice, beans, flour, sugar, coffee, and several other items. We went out the day before to hand out coupons for these food packages. There was a catch though. While the person could receive the food for free, they had to agree to come at a scheduled time the next day to pick it up and be willing to listen to a gospel presentation. There were 11 people who came and they all listened well while David talked to them about their greatest need -- forgiveness of their sins and the eternal salvation of their souls.

Sharing the gospel message before handing out the bags of food.

A couple of people who received coupons were unable to come pick them up, so David dropped the food off at their houses and presented the gospel to them in their own homes. At one house, 15 people gathered around while he presented the gospel to them. They were attentive, even asking questions, and all of them said they had never heard the message that David was sharing with them. They can't seem to grasp the fact that salvation is free.

Helping themselves to the bags of food

Pray for us as we try different means in reaching the people in our neighborhood with the gospel. Pray that God will save people here and that we will be faithful in proclaiming the gospel whenever we have opportunity.

Walking home with their food -- pray that we will have good follow-up opportunities with the ones who came and be able to do more in-depth Bible studies with them.