Saturday, August 27, 2011

Let's Do Some Good Works!

I firmly believe that the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, not by good works (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:4,5; Rom. 4:5, Rom. 10:4). I also believe that good works are emphasized in Scripture as a natural consequence of this transforming, saving faith and should be practiced (Matt. 5:16, I Peter 2:12, the book of James). Sometimes I wonder if we don't practice good works enough because our salvation is not dependent upon them. We have even been accused recently of not caring enough about people's physical needs. This is not true because we regularly help people out in tangible, material ways out of love for Christ and for them, but I can understand some of our accuser's frustration with religious groups who go door-to-door witnessing but whose churches are not known for their social helps.

Anyway, the point of this post is to tell you about an outreach event we are hosting at our church next month. We will be giving out bags of food and clothing to people in the church's area. We are encouraging our own church people, many of whom have limited funds themselves, to be contributing towards this event. After all, generous giving should be a result of salvation.

Last year, we had two of these events, and were able to have several follow-up Bible studies with some of the ones who came. Of course, most people came only to receive their food, but all who came heard the gospel. We have people in our church group now who are a direct result of those events last year.

I don't usually do this on our blog, but I'd like to see if some of you reading this would like to contribute towards this event specifically. The more bags of food we give out, the more homes can be affected by the gospel. For about US$20, we can buy a premade bag of food at a local grocery store that has many basic items -- rice, beans, pasta, flour, sugar, coffee, you get the idea.

I promise you that even a simple bag of food like this goes a long way in helping out someone who needs it. And there are many people we've come in contact with here who have serious physical needs. If you would like to help out financially, let us know. If you're State-side, you can mail a tax-deductible check to our home church, and they will get the money to us. The address is:
Grace World Missions
3305 Peters Creek Pkwy
Winston Salem, NC 27127

If you are Brazilian, we can give you our bank account information. If you cannot contribute financially, please be praying for this event. I know that sounds cliche, but if there's one thing I'm learning more and more, it's the truth that God works through the prayers of his children. We long to see people come to know Christ as their Savior, and maybe the simple fact that we are loving them enough to meet a physical need of theirs will open up their hearts to the true gospel.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Total Freedom/Liberdade Total

Because we changed our church name recently to Redemption Baptist Church (Igreja Batista Redencão), we decided to incorporate the idea of redemption and freedom in Christ in the theme for our kids' club. We played games involving being tied or connected to others (giving the idea of bondage), sang songs about God setting us free from sin and the joy we have in Him, and taught the story of the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt. I'd love to say that we had no distractions in preparing for the club, lots of help from our church people, beautiful sunny days, a big turnout for the club, and parents show up for the Sunday evening conclusion. The truth is we had to deal with a crashed laptop (which we use regularly for ministry purposes), a blown transformer, little help from our church people in preparing for the club, COLD wind and rain (it is winter, after all), small turnouts each day and no parents on Sunday night. As a missionary, it's often tempting to present only the bright, positive aspects of our ministry efforts. But we all know that things aren't always as wonderful and exciting as we'd like them to be, and we have to guard against being discouraged and frustrated when things don't go as we hope. However, we continue confident in the sovereign God we serve who uses even the cold wind and rain for His purposes and doesn't need a computer in order to accomplish His work. Here are a few of the ways in which God blessed us this weekend during the kids' club:

1) The few kids who came seemed to have a great time and several brought friends back the next day.

2) The gospel was clearly presented and the seed of God's Word was sown in hearts that probably had never heard it before.

3) My parents were able to come help us out. Mom was indispensable in taking care of our kids at home to free us both up, and Dad taught the lesson on the last day and preached Sunday night.

4) We did see many of the church people show up on club days and help out in different ways -- bringing snacks for the kids, helping out during game time and being an adult presence during song and lesson time. One older lady enjoyed it so much, she said she had more fun than the kids.

5) We have 15-20 new contacts and plan to visit these families soon. Pray that they will be interested in visiting our church and open to a potential evangelistic Bible study in their home.

6) Several kids returned Sunday night, and were able to see what a regular service is like.

7) Our crashed lap top was fixed, but only the day after club was over. We know God had a reason for that ...