December 29, 2008

Too much rain.

It has been raining here daily for 12 hours or more a day. The roads are falling apart from so many potholes. I haven't been able to go to the small town in a month due to rain. Even missed visits in the high city this past weekend.

I did get to tell the story of the birth of Jesus several times, both at church and among friends and family. This is always fun.

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

December 15, 2008

The Old Testament in 4 hours

A few weeks ago, I found a youtube video of Walk Thru the Bible's Old Testament Seminar. I've never participated in WTtB, but I was able to see the basic wordlist and handsigns that give a summary of the Old Testament. Sunday morning, we decided to do our own version of the Walk Thru the Bible old testament seminar.

I led the memorization of the words and hand signs and Pastor Ubiratan painted the Bible lands map on the ground as the stories unfolded. I told story after story and helped everyone remember key names events and places.

It was a lot of fun and was an amazing way to sew the stories together to give a big picture of the old testament. Next Sunday I will tell the story of the birth of Jesus.

Edit: Here are the URLs as were requested

December 10, 2008

In deeper than I expected.

Several weeks ago, I was asked to help with some Saturday visits to needy families. I didn't expect to be helping for more than a few weeks, so I did not plan a chronological approach. I just began telling stories as they fit into the conversation and needs of each home I visited. You have read about the family with the drug problems. The woman, at the last minute, did not go into rehab. She panicked and left. We are waiting to hear from her again.

While all of this had been taking place, I didn't notice how God has been placing our church in the middle of a great spiritual battle. When I went to the crack house, to help retrieve some of the belongings of the woman who would go into rehab, some were unsure of me. Someone called out "No, he's okay; he's a pastor, he's a good man." I went in and came out.

Saturday, I was telling stories near the river and a man came to listen. He hid his face every time I asked him about his relationship with God. He asked me to tell more stories. I sat for an hour telling stories of Jesus. He cried and asked me to tell more. No decision, though. The next day I saw him coming out of the crack house, high.

Yesterday, I was meeting with two pastors planning an old testament presentation I will make on Sunday (kind of like a walk thru the bible seminar), where I will tell stories and help people to remember the key events, people and places of the Old Testament. While we were meeting, a man came up to us and asked us to go meet his adult son, who is addicted to crack.... same house.

We have now had 4 or 5 separate contacts with people who are chemically dependent and are going to that one place for their fix. God has put this upon us, so pray us through this and pray for Christ's victory in their lives.

December 5, 2008

"I am a child of God, I believe"

Earlier this week, we invited one of the young men that works in Loaise's company to have dinner with us. He received a job offer to work in the African country of Angola. He left this morning. He had been listening each week as I told stories from the scripture, starting with creation.

When he arrived, I was finishing up the Gumbo I'd prepared. As we ate, I asked if I could tell him more of what the Bible says about Jesus. He agreed. I told stories about Jesus for over an hour, starting with his birth and ending with his resurrection and ascension. I then reminded him of the question Jesus asked Martha before he raised Lazarus from death.

"I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. . . Do you belive this?"

His answer was similar to Martha's. "I believe. I believe that Jesus IS the promised one that God had to send to the world. I believe he is the Savior."

Before he left on his trip, he left a note for Loaise. "I am a child of God, and I will be forever. Thank you."

December 1, 2008

Who will deliver me from this body of death?

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. -Colossians 1:13-14

Our church was singing 'God of the impossible,' when she walked into the back of the church. She didn't even lift her head, but I saw her. So did the others who had visited her before. We walked to the back together and her tears began to pour. "I need help. I can't keep doing this. I can't."

As the music continued, the pastor made some phone calls and found a rehab clinic that would accept her. Three of us led her to the upper room to pray. While we were doing this, the entire church prayed for her. Bruna held both of her hands and looked her in the eyes and said. "You have a choice to make. We arranged a clinic for you, but you can only go tomorrow, and only on the condition that you go home to your family tonight and not back to the crack house."

"Oh, I need that. I want that, but I can't." She cried again "When I go home, he's going to beat me. He always does. How can I face my family."

I told her the story of the prodigal son and true repentance. I asked her to make things right with God first, then make things right with her family, then to go into rehab and restore her body and mind. As I led her through a prayer she began to pray and cry and confess her sins like I've never heard anyone confess to God. "OH GOD have mercy, oh have mercy on me. I am such a sinner. I sinned against my family and my children. I've been a prostitute. I am a thief. I am addicted to drugs. I am a liar. Oh God, Oh GOD. I need your mercy. I killed Jesus with my sins. I am so sorry. FORGIVE ME, OH GOD, forgive me."

As I counseled her through the decision to ask for the forgiveness of her family, she wanted to know what to do if they wouldn't forgive her. I read a passage from Joshua to her and told her to be courageous and to do what is right, and that God would be with her. She agreed. With fear and trembling she walked down the stairs. As we arrived at the door of the church, we saw her family. They had just arrived. All of them standing there smiling and with open arms and with tears.

November 23, 2008

How can I forgive?

Saturday, I prayed for a long while and asked God to show me the story from scripture that he wanted me to share. When I looked through the gospels I saw the one He wanted me to tell. I smiled and Loaise looked at me and said "What?" I told her that God had given me a specific story to tell today.

We went first to visit the new Christians with a drug history. Only the man and his children were there. We went into the home and the children said "Mommy left again yesterday." I asked what had happened, and he said. "Well, she had been fine since Tuesday, but she got paid yesterday. She couldn't resist the temptation. I thought she'd changed, but she did it again. How can I forgive her now? How many times can I forgive her?"

I knew my story was divinely chosen.

Peter asked Jesus "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus replied, "No, you should not forgive seven times, but rather seventy times seven. Because, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. . . (Matthew18:21-35)

After I told and then talked through the story with the man, he bowed his head. "I will forgive her. I have to forgive her. Can we pray for her now?"

Redemption is a wonderful thing. May God do his work of restoration and reconciliation in this family and in their bodies.

November 21, 2008

New starts and non-starts

Sunday, we began to meet in a new neighborhood in the big city. This is another poor neighborhood and we are meeting on the rooftop of a small general store and bakery. The family is wanting to establish a church in their neighborhood.

We had our first meeting which was just OK. 8 Christians 2 non-Christians and 3 kids. I would have preferred maybe 4 Christians and 8 non-Christians, but we'll make do. I told stories of Jesus from the book of Mark. Next week we should have more guests. We will meet Sunday afternoons until the end of the year, then launch on a weeknight in January.

Thursday, I also returned to the small town and met with the families on the hill. We told and talked about two stories. I am going to begin training Lu, in the wheel-chair to tell stories and assist me when I tell them. We talked about this and he is very interested in the possibility.

In all, I've been a little disappointed with how the meetings with the families on the hill have turned out. Unless we can get away to a retreat setting or something, I am not seeing how this group is going to transform into a church. They have come to faith in Jesus, and have put away their idols, but they are trusting in their infant baptism and don't see a reason to make a firm break with the cultural catholic religion of the small town.

November 20, 2008

Now I believe.

The woman in the picture below came to church with her three children on Wednesday night. I told the story of Daniel 1. Daniel chose not to make himself impure by eating the king's food and had a few challenges to overcome to be able to do that, but the result was that he was healthier, wiser, smarter and as a result was given opportunities he would not have otherwise had.

When the service was over I asked her if she was able to hear the story I told. (She had been doing her best, and unsuccessfully, to keep her son from misbehaving.) She looked up and smiled and said, "Yes I heard the story. We need to stop putting things in our body that make us unable to serve God. I've been using crack for years, but since yesterday, I have no more desire for it.

I asked her if she listed to the recorded stories I gave her. She said yes. So I asked her another question "Do you believe now? Is Jesus your savior?" She replied "Now I believe. Yes. I believe, I know I do."

November 18, 2008

Who is he, that I may believe in Him?

Saturday we returned to the same neighborhood I've mentioned in some previous posts. What's amazing to me about these families is that it is often easy to get a group of people together to hear God's Word. The family from the video, upon our arrival sent their children out to the neighbors and within 5 minutes the kitchen was full of people. There I told the story of Jesus at Levi's house from Mark and then from John, Jesus calling himself the light of the world, and the healing of the blind man in chapter 9.

One woman who has a son and a niece in prison for selling drugs and a daughter who is involved in drug use, told us that since we began meeting in her home that she is finally starting to believe that there is hope. She said that she wants to hear a little more about Jesus, but she is already decided that she wants to be baptized. (She reminds me of the blind man in the story I told. Jesus asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. He replied "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?")

Both the homes we visited have received us well, and want to bring more people to their homes to hear the good news. They have also come to our church to learn more and to worship. Our goal is to form a new church in their neighborhood which will meet in homes as we are and spread the Word of God orally, through telling the stories and teaching them one to another.

November 14, 2008

Stories have a way of poking at your heart.

I made a trip to the small town yesterday. Falling out of rhythm is never a good thing, but the rain storms make it difficult. I was able to meet with the family by the bus station and tell the story of first man and woman and the garden in Eden.

I also visited the singer and his family. He is anxious to try to make some songs out of Bible stories, but we have not set a time to begin yet. I told the same story I've been telling on Sundays. The story of Josiah and his reform. As I told about how the idols were broken and smashed into pieces and burned and spread over graveyards, they couldn't help but look to the left and right at the many little statues in their home. The woman got up and left before the end of the story. The singer thanked me for telling it.

The families on the hill weren't at home. Neither were the usual men who collect on the street to talk on the street. I am not sure what was going on, but the neighborhood was nearly empty.

November 10, 2008

Media page

I am experimenting with video. Below should be a link to the last visit we made on Saturday. I made a small video.

An example of evangelism through storying

Rain ... and showers of blessing

Usually is does not rain much here in November. It has been raining every day. I was even kept from going to the small town this week due to a storm.

Saturday, however, even in between the rain storms, we were able to go to the high city and visit the man who received Christ last week. This time his girlfriend was there. As we entered the house she began to cry and say, "We need God in this house." I asked her if she knew Jesus and she said, "No, I don't think I do." She cried again and said that she needed God's help, because she can't beat the drugs on her own.

I remembered the story from Luke 7:36-50 of Jesus in Simon the Pharisee's house. I told that story of how the sinful woman went in and bowed down behind Jesus and cried at his feet. Her tears wet his feet and she kept drying them with her hair and pouring out expensive perfume on them. I told her that her tears reminded me of the tears of that woman who cried, because she discovered that Jesus was the one who could free her and forgive her.

She wanted to know about this Jesus. I told her other stories of Jesus and his teachings. I told stories of Jesus for about 45 minutes. I asked her if she wanted to believe in him and receive his forgiveness. She said she wanted to, but needed God's help to believe. We prayed for the family. and went to another visit. The youngest boy didn't want us to go. He threw a rock and hit one of our team members in the neck.

Here is a picture of the man and woman.The next day, unexpectedly, they came to our church and sat in my Sunday school class. I told the stories of creation and the fall. The woman looked at me when a sign up sheet was passed around and said, "I can't read or write, would you put my name on the list?" She'd never heard these stories before. She asked us to pray for her to have the strength to believe in Jesus.

I can't be sure, but I think that between the sunday school hour and the worship service, when she went out, she got high. During the worship, she didn't seem "there." Pray that this whole family can come to Christ.

November 2, 2008

Preaching the Good news to the poor

Bro Larry reminded me while he was here, how it can be essential in some cases to share the gospel and give and invitation in one meeting with a person. It may be the only chance you've got.

The storying through the scriptures is a great way to prepare people who have no frame of reference (as they would in the Bible belt, for example) to believe on and receive Christ Jesus. It also aids discipleship so that oral learners can be discipled to the core and not just follow the forms of religion divorced from the truth of God and his word. By storying, we help new Christians avoid syncretism.

Yesterday, I led a team of 4 to go to one of the poorest of neighborhoods in the big city. The first home we visited was a man and his 3 children. He is an ex drug user who stopped only because he discovered he has the HIV virus. He looks like he might already be somewhat symptomatic with AIDS, but it could just be malnutrition. I don't know. His girlfriend, with whom he has 3 kids, was gone. He said she still gets high and may come home next week, or maybe not.

As we entered into the home we saw how the children (5, 7 and 8) were starved for attention and emotionally underdeveloped. They immediately sat on our laps. As we began talking with this man, I sensed that he needed to really hear the message of Christ. I prayed that the Lord would put the message on my lips.

I started telling the story of creation and told through to the story of Adam and Eve's disobedience. As I told about the curse and expulsion from Eden, I highlighted the promise of God that one of Eve's descendants would smash the head of the serpent. I then began telling about the birth of Jesus, I told through his baptism and some teachings and miracles and told the story of his death and resurrection. I told about how he showed himself to his disciples and how he ascended into heaven. This narrative, which I just sort of wove together from smaller stories, took about 25 minutes to tell.

The man received Christ and wants to be baptized next Sunday. He told us that if his girlfriend ever comes home, he will catch her when she is sober and tell her the same story. He wants us to return next week and gather people on his street to hear this story.

I will write about some of the other visits in another post.

October 17, 2008

What a week!

We prepared ourselves to receive Bro Larry in our home this week and had everything just about ready. On Sunday, as we were returning from having lunch with Loaise's family, we had to stop at a police check-point. They asked for our documents, registration and driver's license. I handed them to the officer. It turns out there was a problem with our registration and so they impounded the car. I sat for about 4 hours waiting for the tow truck to arrive, so I could sign the receipt. I ended up befriending the policemen and, believe it or not, may be able to get them together for a home Bible study to share Christ with them.

On Monday morning we resolved the situation with our documents (something simple) and we went to pick up the car. It turns out that we had to wait for the computer system to catch up with us, so they told us that we wouldn't be able to get the car until Wednesday. Hmm. I ended up borrowing a car for the week, so we could take Bro Larry around. I then went to Rio de Janeiro and picked him up. We arrived home about midnight.

Tuesday, I took Bro Larry up to the high city and let him meet Pastor Ubiratan and see some of the places we are meeting in home groups and see our church building and a few other things. After lunch we went to the small town. There we met with a few people who participate in our Bible storying sessions. I took him to the family on the hill and there, he was able to experience one of our group meetings. We then went to the local bakery and met some others in the city. The baker made a special effort to go to the big city the next day to hear him preach. We arrived home about midnight.

On Wednesday morning, we walked around the neighborhood so I could show the life of the garbage chasers. People whose income is dependent on searching through trash for recyclables and such. There are tens of thousands of them in this city, some homeless, others living in simple homes. It wasn't a major garbage day in the neighborhood, but we did get to stop and speak to one older woman and her adult son. Later we went to the high city again and met with women who teach and learn crafts at the church and led a small worship service with them. Then, at night Bro Larry preached at the regular Wednesday night service with me translating.

Thursday was the day to go, we lost a lot of time trying to get our car back (successfully, finally), but it came at the cost of not being able to visit anymore people. I took Bro Larry around the city by bus and helped him purchase a little something for his wife. We came back to the house and had a snack and then I took him back to Rio to the airport.

I want to thank Southside Baptist Church in Mansfield, Louisiana. They have been very kind to loan their pastor to us for a week. This church has also blessed us in a number of ways that I won't list here. God is doing a great work here, and we thank you for being a part of it, and for your love for us.

October 10, 2008

Twice in the small town without telling a story.

Sunday after church, I took my wife, Loaise, and son Nilson to the small town. Since we lived there for a time, Loaise registered to vote there. Sunday was an election. Fortunately that is behind us now, and the political season here won't be interfering with our rhythm of meeting with families and telling the story of God week by week.

Thursday I returned and spent the evening meeting with families and establishing a regular .I also arranged for some people to meet Bro Larry Pridmore of Southside Baptist in Mansfield, LA. He will be arriving in Rio on Monday after a week of work in Maceió. I'll receive him in my home for a few days and show him were we are working and let him meet many people.

September 26, 2008

Neighborhood churches in the making

Since my hearing returned, I've led a number of workshops and training sessions at Igreja Batista da Vitória, to prepare Christian families to start small house-churches in their neighborhoods. Even yesterday I was able to visit a husband and wife who have a small grocery store in an area of the city I had not been to. They have an upper room with 80 chairs that they envision being used for worship services in the future.

I just wanted to put some names here and ask you to pray for these families that I am training and discipling to plant new churches in their neighborhoods.

José Antonio and Evándia - He is a construction worker and she is a housekeeper. They are inviting people to meet with them in their home each week to hear the gospel. They have two teenaged daughters. José António has been to the small town several times and is a good help there.

Valdecir and Cida - This couple works together in something similar to a hotdog stand 6 nights a week, but instead of hotdogs they sell brazilian style grilled steak. (You would like it if you ate it and you would have to be here to understand why it is so popular on the street.) They have been to several workshops and are planning to reach families in their home.

Julinho and Ana - This couple is the one that I mentioned that has the grocery store. They have one young daughter. They hope to begin a church in their upper room.

Rosa - This grandmother has a beauty salon. She wants to close business one day a week and use her salon to evangelize her long-time clients and their friends. She wants to use her salon to host church meetings in the future.

Bruno - This young man is a top-10 ranked Muai Thai fighter in the world. He has traveled to many countries to fight in tournaments and has had his heart broken in eastern countries seeing the people who don't know Jesus. He wants to learn to evangelize and start a church in his dojo and then in the future, go to an un-named far-eastern country and repeat the process.

Moisés and Patricia - This couple works at the University and have two young sons. They have participated in our training and want to begin a church in their home.

Marcia - This woman is a single mother of a teenaged daughter. She came to Christ later in life and lives in a poorer neighborhood. She and her mother have to walk a half hour up and down hills to come to our church. She wants to begin a work to reach people in her neighborhood and form a small church closer to her home and acquaintences.

There are others, but these are the ones with the most potential to really begin something. Please pray for them, perhaps one family a day for a week, then repeat.

September 25, 2008

Why stories and not sermons?

A mark of oral learners is that they do not trust conclusions based on abstract or propositional statements. It is firsthand experience -- either personal or vicarious -- that makes something concrete, hence trustworthy. --Telling God's Stories with Power

September 24, 2008


We had some scheduling challenges this week, so I went in to the small town yesterday instead of waiting for Thursday. My partner is still unable to return with me. Perhaps next week.

Going on a different day has its problems. I was unable to meet with any of the regular scheduled groups as planned. I did, however get to meet with several people individually. This gave me a chance to talk through some of the things we've been doing these past several weeks.

The most interesting and perhaps deflating conversation was with the young mother De. We talked about the discipling we've been doing as a group, and I shared with her my desire for the families to be baptized and commissioned as a church. She told me that the idea was wonderful, but that there were two problems. One, calling it a church. "People will think we're changing religion," she said. The other problem was baptism. She restated the same thought that her uncle had shared two months ago. "We were baptized as babies, which we couldn't choose, but our faith now confirms that baptism."

Since this family I have been working with is fringe folk-catholic, they have assumed all along that these scripture stories they have been learning are the same teachings of the Roman Catholic church that they never learned before. Evidently I have not been good at making a distinction. I am going to need to re-evaluate some aspects of my evangelism approach.

Another aspect of our conversation was also interesting. I asked her who she thought was a natural leader in her family group. She seemed to want to indicate her father, but never did. In my questions about the family relationship, it is clear that her father has a lot of influence. He has never participated in our studies, but did hear one of my stories on the street last week. Her reasoning for him not being able to be a leader is because "He can't read."

I want to spend the next 4 weeks specifically evangelizing her father and her other uncles that stay out on the street talking at night. Perhaps this is the group that has the influence to lead this family....

September 17, 2008


Last night Loaise and I went to the high city again, to a home we have not been to before. We ended up telling a cluster of Bible stories to 8 Christians. This group was planed to be an evangelistic group with more non-Christians than Christians. The weather was bad, and I think that was a factor.

I told 3 stories from Luke.

Jesus tells the story of the pharisee and the tax collector Luke 18:9-14
Jesus and the rich religious leader Luke 18:18-27
Jesus and the rich tax collector Luke 19:1-10

These stories work well together because the two men that Jesus meets in the second two stories represent almost perfectly the two men in the parable he told. Luke probably planned it that way as he wrote the gospel.

Since the evening ended up being just a meeting of church members, I modeled once again how to tell a story from scripture and ask questions to help people think through the story. Hopefully these two families in the high city can evangelize a dozen or so people in their homes.

September 13, 2008


The last two homes I visited on Thursday were homes of men who were running for town council. I've been unable to meet with either of them because of the political stuff they've been doing on Thursday.

One, an unbaptized convert, (the man in the wheel chair in the picture on the sidebar) was saddened to learn that he was barred as a candidate because he had not been registered in his political party for more than a year. This hit him pretty hard because he is nearly quadriplegic and he had seen this as a way he could work again. He did, however, say that he is happy that he will begin again to meet with the rest of the families on the hill. (I have two more baptism stories to tell and then I will ask them to plan on being baptized)

The other man, the singer, as I've called him. Did not turn in his application before the deadline and can not be a candidate. He did successfully make the move from the big city back to the small town to be with his family. I told him that I wanted to tell him the stories of the Bible. He said he was reading a little of the Bible this past week and wanted to make a song. We agreed that we would meet each week for me to tell a story and for him to try to make a song of it. He and his family are very strong in folk-catholicism, so we must go forth in much prayer.

I made it home a little after midnight with no more car trouble.

Oh, yes, on Friday I also continued the Old Testament narrative at Loaise's workplace in the city. I told the story of Abram's call. There was one client who also stayed for the story.

So that's why the Bible is 70% stories....

After climbing small mountain, I went to meet with the families on the hill. I passed by a group of men who are all related in some way to those families. Every week they are standing around talking and always invite me to stay a while. Since the chance of having scheduled meetings was lost due to the time, I accepted the invitation.

These men are all illiterate. They are truly what we call "primary oral learners." I chatted with them about the car trouble I had and about my friend who died last week. Each one told a story of losing a loved one. I decided to tell that same story of the rich man and Lazarus for this group. As I told the story they all payed close attention.

When I finished the story, at once they all smiled and nodded in agreement. Some laughed and all began to talk at the same time. I couldn't follow what they were saying. All were smiling and talking, all at the same time; all listening to the others and talking. Wow. They talked and talked and talked and talked. I've never seen such a response to a story before.

After a while I excused myself and climbed the long staircase to meet with the families. I just went in to each home briefly and told them why I was late. I chatted with each family for a few minutes, prayed and agreed to come back next Thursday. After a half-hour had passed I finished these visits and returned to the street. The men were still talking about the story and telling it again to the other men who had just arrived.

There were some things about the story that they didn't "see" the way I'd hoped, but it obviously touched them. I've made a mistake in not sitting with them for 15 minutes each time I go to the families on the hill. I will tell a story every time I pass by from now on.

10:00 PM and still two visits left. . .
more later

September 12, 2008

A Ceramic Jesus or The Living Word?

Yesterday I arrived in the small town to find that some of the main streets were closed. Hundreds of people were carrying and following a 4-foot ceramic statue called "Good Jesus of Green Cane." It was the 7th day of a 10 day festival where this statue is carried through the city to the cathedral and a mass is held each day. Afterwards, in a tent on the side of the cathedral, there is a drunken festival.

I walked the street and had a look at the worshipers and then began to climb the hill. I saw a young man seated alone on a corner. He is a homosexual and friend of another homosexual I had witnessed to last year. I sat for a moment and we began to talk. The Lord impressed me to tell the story of the rich ruler that asked Jesus about eternal life. He then began to talk about his upbringing being raised to worship at the cathedral, but thought that there was too much falseness in religion. He said that he'd been thinking of becoming a believer and wanted to, but hasn't done it yet.

He began to talk about the Pentecostals in the town (a small closed group) and said that they weren't all as good as the look. As we talked I told him the story of the Pharisee and the tax-collector, the story of the wise and foolish builder, the parable of the sower, and the story of Zacchaeus. We began to talk about the way God's message can change a person who repents. I asked him what he is lacking (alluding to the words of Jesus to the rich man). He began to think about it. I told him that the rich man honored Jesus as a good teacher and lived according to many of God's commandments, but held part of his life back from God. Jesus told him to give away everything he had and let his treasure be in heaven.

A friend of his came up to us while we were talking and she heard part of our conversation. She said: "I want to know about the evangelical church in the city, but my mother scolded me for it." I began to share more of the gospel with the two of them and told the man: "If you deliver up to God all your sin, even the ones you treasure most, he will save you and your family and your friends. God will use you to begin the church that you want so badly to be a part of. You have to be like the wise builder."

We agreed to talk again next week. At this point it was 9:15 PM and I had not gotten beyond the base of the hill.

more later....


Yesterday I went to the small town alone. My partner is working construction in another city this week. I went in our car for the first time since before going deaf. About 15 minutes before arriving in the small town the car began to accelerate on its own. It was as if I was pushing the pedal to the metal. I stomped several times on the gas pedal, but it made no difference and so I tried braking, but that wasn't helping either, so I turned off the ignition. I kept the key slightly turned so the steering wheel would not lock. As the car began to slow down I started it again, and, once again, full tilt. So I turned it off again. Black smoke came out the back of the car.

I coasted to a stop and put the hazard lights on, set a reflector about 10 yards behind the car and opened the hood. The accelerator cable seemed to be fine, but that's all i knew to check. I waited for a while for someone to pass and stop. Finally someone stopped and told me he would advise the mechanic in the small town. About 20 minutes later he came. As it turns out there is a little lever on the side of the carburetor, behind the one the cable pulls. It was stuck. He flipped it back into position and that was that. He followed me to his shop and then got some lubricant and worked on the part for a while until it was loose and good to go.

I arrived an hour late.

What is obvious to us is not obvious to them

I am going to post three entries today, simply because we've had a lot to do this week and there's a lot to write.

First, on Tuesday I was invited to observe and then tell a bible story at the home of a family that is trying to reach their neighborhood. Another family that is wanting to do the same also participated. I told the simple story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19) and began to ask questions based off of the story. As I asked them to think about the story and find answers to the questions, the Christians began to see the power of teaching through narratives and stories. The non Christians were very engaged.

Here are some of the questions I asked:
What were the two men like?
What were their lives like?
What happened to the poor man when he died?
What happened to the rich man?
Were they in the same place?
Were these places similar or different?
Is is possible to go from one of these places to the other?
What did the rich man ask for Lazarus to do once he realized that Lazarus could not comfort him?
What did the rich man hope would happen?
Did the rich man understand why some people go where Lazarus went and others where he was?
What does this scripture narrative say is necessary for someone to avoid going to the place of torment?

I coached the Christians to try not to draw from other Bible knowledge, but to stay within the story and other stories that have previously been told to the group. This was obvious when I asked that last question. The Christians said "You have to receive Jesus in your heart." The story says that the rich man wanted his brothers to repent and turn from their sins. This is what those hearing the story for the first time understood. When the Christians began giving their answers, the others didn't understand where they were getting those answers and did not trust them.

This is a story that highlights the need for repentance and the reality of reward and punishment after death. To take the message of salvation one step further another story must be told about Jesus and his death and resurrection. The group learned a lot and I will go next week to the house of the other family to tell another story.

September 6, 2008

After the storm

My family and friends had to deal with some significant storms because of hurricane Gustav. I've only heard from one friend since the storm (most are without power and phone, I guess), and he had a tree fall on his house and 3 fall in his yard.

We've had our own storm here. A friend of mine, the associate pastor of Igreja Batista da Vitória died of a heart attack on Wednesday. He was a beloved man and he loved the Lord. I stayed with members of his family and our church the whole night, until the burial late Thursday morning. We will miss him.

August 24, 2008

Why we do this...

Storying through the scriptures is our method of evangelism and discipleship because it works best for oral learners (people who don't learn by reading). Today there was an article in our city newspaper that confirmed to me the need for ministries that do not use literate methods.

In our city, out of the 370,000 registered voters: 200,000 have not gone beyond 8th grade education. Of those 150,000 did not finish elementary school. A full 50,000 of this group can't read or write more than their own name.

How are gospel tracts going to reach these people? How will logical, outlined gospel presentations reach this group? How will projecting the words to music on the wall help this population? Certainly, our ministries need to include literacy education, but evangelism and discipleship can not wait for 200,000 people to learn to read. Literacy is neither a biblical prerequisite to salvation nor a scriptural requirement to be a pastor or deacon.

August 23, 2008


This week we did not go into the small town. Sunday, I led another workshop training couples to evangelize groups of families through storying. We've got several couples that will be doing this in the high city. I will be helping them prepare and lead their groups. Three couples have already started.

Friday, as usual, I told a Bible story for those at Loaise's company. I had told through creation, the garden of eden and Cain and Abel. The next story in the biblical chronology is the flood, but one man asked where Satan and the spirits are from. So I told a composite story using passages from 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, Isaiah and Zechariah. I don't like telling this story unless necessary, because it's not a story you can point to in any one place in the Bible. It's also a little speculative, in the Isaiah passage. The group from work is very excited to hear these stories. We should have started sooner.

Now, the reason we did not go in to the small town is that Loaise had to have a biopsy of her chin bone. There is possibly a tumor growing in that bone, and the biopsy didn't have bone marrow or blood, so it is likely a tumor, though the results will be in in a few weeks. This could lead to a serious and painful surgery to remove the tumor from the chin, and possibly the chin itself. Pray for her. This first part of the year I was deaf, and now my wife is going through a trial. Pray that God gives us victory in all of this.

August 15, 2008

Learn as you go

Yesterday José António and I worked through what we would do in the storying session as we were travelling to the small town. I'd selected Acts 14, a portion of Paul's first missionary journey. I told through the story, as I had it prepared. He told me that he thought it was pretty long. As we went we reduced the story down to just what happened in the city of Lystra, when Paul and Barnabus were mistaken for gods. (This is a good story for dealing with veneration of saints. It shows, like the story of Peter and Cornelius, that the apostles did not accept worship or reverence)

I mentioned my partner that we would tell the story of the Paul and Silas and the jailor next week, and then the story of John's disciples being baptized again the week after that. He told me that he thought that the jail story would have been better for this week, because these families are dealing with the issue of baptism and have already freed their homes of idols. I agreed with him, but it was too late for me to prepare the other story.

Once we arrived, we discovered that the families on the hill were unable to meet because of a work meeting that night. We took advantage of the time by meeting with two families across the river. They both are anxious to being meeting regularly, just not together.

We then went to the family by the bus station. This time we were able to meet with them and I told the story of Creation. One thing that I wanted to do with this family that I hadn't done with other chronological bible storying opportunities is to call them to obedience to God's word in every story. In this story, they noticed the importance of people in God's creation. Made in the image of God and put in authority over all creation. We drew out an application and comitted to being obedient to God's word by doing good for people and treating all with respect, as they are all our brothers and sisters and are created in the image of God. We also comitted to take good care of the earth and its creatures as stewards of God's creation. Each person will tell how they obeyed God in a new way in the next meeting.

August 9, 2008

Arraial (n) - a small village

On Thursday, as José António and I went to the small town, we talked about how the Gospel of Jesus could spread through the rural areas along the road leading to where we are working. In the big city, Christians are a very small minority, but there are a number of evangelical churches in the city. In the country, however, there are many small villages, that have no church bearing witness to Jesus and salvation in his name. We want to begin to focus on systematically reaching these villages by finding, in each one, a person of peace through whom we can reach the village and plant a church. We took a detour on the way to our work and surveyed one of these little villages. We are going to begin mapping these places out so that we can make a plan to reach them. Some of these villages are not recognized as municipalities and don't appear on maps, so we will have to do some research, we will try to map out one new "arraial" per week.

Now, in the small town, we had another very good meeting with the families on the hill. The group was very large and included people who had been missing for a few weeks. The newcomers to the group are also returning. I told, once again, the story of Pedro and Cornelius. This is a long story. I told it well, and I believe I kept the interest of all who heard the story. No one wanted to try and tell it back, however. We decided to act it out in role-play. Each person chose someone in the story to represent. As I narrated through the story again, each person acted out the content of the story. This is the second time we've done this as a group, and it is amazing how well they respond to it. Everyone agreed after acting out the story, that they understood all the difficult parts of the story and could now tell the story to someone else. In the past, I'd thought about trying this, but I'd thought that the idea would not be accepted or would be though of as childish. On the contrary, this has attracted even more people to come hear the stories. Everyone enjoys it and smiles through the whole thing. After dialoging about the story, everyone who came took some time to pray for one person and be prayed for by one person. We are seeing a transforming Christian community being formed before our eyes.

The husband and wife in the family by the bus station were once again in a nearby village, taking care of his mother. We entered the home and prayed for their son and the wife's mother who lives with them. We promised to return next week, ready to tell the story of creation.

We also went to the singer's family. The singer is running for town council and is going out nearly every night trying to get votes. He won't be easy to catch at home until the end of November. We are praying about holding off on our plans to begin storying with those who are running for office. They are not going to make themselves very available until after the elections.

We went to visit one of the families across the river as well. We were well received. This family received Jesus a couple of years ago, and was part of one of our first attempts to start a church. They have been stagnant since that time. As we began to tell them of our continued work, they were encouraged and indicated that they would like to begin again to help form a house church. Pray for this family.
There is much more to say, and I will need to write another blog entry on another day.

August 1, 2008

Stories are concrete, Theology is abstract.

This week we had 3 different opportunities to use storying as a means of evangelizing and training disciples. On Sunday I was invited to preach at a church that was ending its VBS week with the neighborhood kids, inviting their parents for a special service. They were concerned that traditional preaching might not reach these parents, so they asked me to do storying. I told several narratives about Jesus and gave just a little commentary between the clusters of stories. It was well received and I was asked to return again another day.

On Tuesday, Loaise, Nilson and I went to the home of some church members that want badly to evangelize their neighborhood, but don't know how. They read, but not well, and though they are eager and sincere at the church services, they don't deal well with abstract ideas. After we had dinner with them, I told the story of Jesus resurrecting a widow's only son. I then had them tell the story back to me and coached them through the important parts of telling a story faithfully to the scriptures. They were all excited that they were able to get several verses of the Bible by heart in only a short time. Soon, I will begin teaching one or two stories a week at the church in the big city and helping members to learn and tell these stories. We will call this "The Oral Bible Project."

Yesterday I went into the small town again. This time, I went alone, as my helper was unable to go because of a last-minute problem. I told the story of Peter and Cornelius to the families on the Hill and then went to meet with the family by the bus station. They weren't home. We will start with them next week. (It will be better with my helper anyway).

July 26, 2008

Please Leave Comments

If you are a reader of this blog, I want to invite you to leave your comments when you feel led. You can post a thought or a question, anything you like. Just click the where it says "comments" or perhaps "comentários." There you can write what you like. It is kind of like writing a short email. Just remember that what you write is public. So if you know the names of people or places, try not to use the real ones.

July 25, 2008

Three spectacular reports! (a long read)

Report 1
Yesterday José António and I went to the small town by car. We were talking about how God always goes before us and prepares people and places before we go and how we should always pray for more laborers. This reminded me that a man contacted my wife last week, having heard about our ministry. He has some land he has developed as a retreat center and wants to make it available for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

José said he knew where the land was and could take me there. It is about 20 minutes outside of the small town. It is near a small village of maybe 100 families. We stopped there and the gate was closed, José rang the bell and a few minutes later an older man named Nascimento came to greet us. I told him who I was and he said he already knew of me, and about my deafness and my ministry. He began to share with me about his desire to see his place used as an evangelist training center and a place to train pastors and gospel workers. I shared with him about our work and we prayed together. This place is an incredible place prepared by God for us to use in the coming year. There are dormitories, eating areas, a chapel, and a large recreation area. It is a work in progress and no one is using it right now. This man built this place like Noah built the ark. Pray that we can fill it's halls with lay pastors and house church leaders and missionaries.

Report 2
When we arrived in the small town we went immediately to a family that has not been at home during our trips for the last several weeks. I have wanted to begin storying in this home for over a year. The sun was setting and the family was finishing up their home construction work for the day. They invited us in and I introduced my helper. After catching up on the latest news in the family I talked with them about their construction. I then told them the short story of Jesus about the two builders.

Afterwards I asked the man if we could begin to tell him the stories of the Bible each Thursday at 8:00. He said that he'd love it, but he couldn't promise that he would always be home on Thursdays, as he has to go to a small neighboring village sometimes to take care of his mother. I told him that we would come by each week and when he is home we will enter and tell a story, when he isn't we will say a prayer for his mother and his family and return the next week. He said that he could never understand anything he read in the bible and could never understand anything that was read to him from the bible, but that if I told him the bible in stories, he would learn it all and obey it. We will begin next week! (I will call this family, the family by the bus station)

Report 3
We then went to the families on the hill. After praying for them and reviewing the story of Phillip from two weeks ago, I prepared them for the story of Saul's conversion. This is an odd story that is not often told, unfortunatly. It was my first time telling it. I told it once; they asked me to tell it again. As I began to tell the story a second time, a sister who lives next door entered the house bringing somethings to the kitchen. She tried to hurry out, but somehow the story caught her attention. (She has never participated with us before. She is a very simple woman and very shy)
She stepped one foot out the door and paused, she waited a moment and then stepped back into the house. She listened to the story to the end.

I asked the family if we could do something different today and try to dramatize the story. The head of the family played the part of Saul. My helper was Ananias. The woman who just had a baby was the high priest. Another woman was Saul's companions and Judas (not Iscariot), the simple woman who had come in was Jesus. I began telling the story slowly. As I told about how Saul was threatnening to kill Christians, the man made a fist and an ugly face, then pretended to choke his wife. He went to get documents from the high priest and began to walk to Damascus. I said "Then he saw a bright light and fell to the ground." The new woman smiled and turned on the bedroom light. I coached them through the dialogue and through the rest of the story, including a scene where Ananias baptized Saul. When it was over they all laughed and said that the story really came alive for them and they could understand.

I then reminded them that we must be careful to put into practice all that we learn from the Bible. They said they like the part where Ananias went and put his hands on Saul. I asked them if we could begin to pray for one another like Jesus wants us to. We agreed that each person would pray for another person. My helper prayed for the head of the family (an excessively long and traditional prayer). This man then said. "Oh, I can't pray. I wouldn't know how. I don't know what to say." We told him that prayer is speaking from the heart to God.

He said "Father. Bless my wife. In Jesus name, amen."

His wife then prayed "Father, bless my sister who came here today. Show her your love. Amen."

The new woman began immediately to cry. She cried hard. Tears of joy. No one in her family had ever prayed for her before, not in 40 years. She then tried it for herself, "God bless my niece and her new baby." The whole family broke down in tears. A new experience had gripped them all, and God's Spirit was felt heavily in the whole house.

They agreed to continue pray for one another regularly from now on.

July 18, 2008

Praying for More Laborers

We often spend so much time looking for precepts in the teachings of Jesus, that we sometimes forget just to take him at his word. Jesus told his followers to pray for more laborers. This was one of the first things he instructed them to do. We recently began to take Jesus at his word and my one new helper for the small town has become 4 new helpers.

We did not go into the small town yesterday because of limited bus tickets. The city was celebrating the festival of Saint Peter. Where they carry a statue of Peter through the town and bow down to him often and pray to him frequently. Had I prepared beforehand I would have brought several people with me, each having learned a story about Peter from the scriptures. It would have been interesting to see what people thought of Peter's oft repeated words in Acts. "I am only human like you. This miracle happed by the power of Jesus, not mine." There is even a story of when Peter commands a household not to bow down before him.

I did lead, recently, two different workshops in the big city to prepare our church to use Biblical narratives to evangelize households and start small churches in their homes. I will be doing more workshops for the next 4 weekends. This will hopefully, lead to many new Chronological Bible Storying opportunities in the big city.

July 11, 2008

Two by two

Jesus always sent people out in pairs. I've got someone going to the small town with me now. He was a great help and should be a good partner. He has wanted to work in rural areas and learn how to do evangelism, so this was a good start.

We went later than I usually go, so our time was limited. We went to the families on the hill and there I told the story of Phillip and the Etiopian. After I told the story, they asked me to tell it one more time. Following this I asked if they could tell the story back to us. All of them denied that they could do it, but after prodding a little, the head of the family told the story perfectly, maybe even better than I did.

The two major themes they picked up on in this story were the actions of Phillip and the actions of the Etiopian. Phillip helped explain to the other man what he wasn't understanding. (This was the first time this family had heard this story and they recognized Jesus in the Isaiah passage, even before hearing Phillip's response) These families agreed that from now on they will help others that need help understanding about Jesus.

The etiopian, of course, was baptized. Everyone in this group is needing to be baptized. They agreed that baptism is the first step of Christian obedience and that everyone who believes in Jesus should be baptized. The head of the family, however, said that he sees his new faith as confirming the baptism they experienced as infants. He said there is no need to have a second baptism. Their position is very logical and sincere, from what they know. I do believe, though that the story from Acts 19 of Christians being baptized a second time will help inform their thinking more.

We made some other visits, but no other storying last night.

July 5, 2008

Evangelizing with Stories

The more I tell stories and use them to talk about God and to present our Lord Jesus, the more I understand why God wrote 70% of his scriptures as narrative.

Thursday I went into the small town again. I went alone this time, but beginning next week I will accompanied by a man named José António. He participated in a workshop I taught on church planting and evangelizing family networks. His heart has been to do ministry in a rural area. God has placed us together. This is very good news.

In the small town, I first mailed a letter, then went to the barber shop where I got a hair cut and took advantage of the captive audience to tell the story from John 9 of Jesus curing a man who had been blind since birth. This was the first time I told a Bible story in the barber shop. It was well received. I may be getting more frequent haircuts soon.

From there, I went to the families on the hill. De had her baby and named him with a name from the bible. I went to her house and the extended family met there for our storying session. De's mother was present and is staying with her to help with the baby, so she participated for the first time. I told the same story.

The discussion we had about the story strayed from the power of Jesus to heal, to the purpose of God in suffering. We talked through the reasons people suffer and what hope they have. The greatest hope, the group resolved, was not to be healed, but to be resurrected because of Jesus.

After I prayed for God's blessing to be on the baby, I went to meet another family. It turned out they weren't home and I was able to meet with the local baker. He'd told me the other day that his life was better and that he has been trying to learn more about Jesus. I went to his bakery and he served me tea and cookies. As we sat there I told the same story once again, I then used the transition just given to me by the family on the hill, and told the story from John 11 as well. (When Jesus resurrected Lazarus) I was able to begin to call him to repentance and faith through these stories. Once again, I had to cut our conversation short and run to get the last bus out of town.

God is at work.

June 27, 2008

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!

I am walking evidence of God working miracles, and I still struggle to see it and believe it when it happens. There are people in the small town that told me yesterday that they never expected to be talking to me again. For them, a miracle is a miracle.

Yesterday I went to the families on the hill. A few weeks ago, a one more relative attended a storying session. She came because she wanted prayer. She had been suffering a strange heart condition for a long time. I was telling about Jesus being crucified and she began laughing and crying at the same time, grabbing her heart in pain. After this happened a few times she went to lay down in the bedroom. They told me that she needed heart surgery and would be going to specialists to do many tests to know exactly what to do. After I told the story, my helper and I prayed for her complete healing in Jesus name.

Yesterday, she rejoined the group. Smiling, she had a stack of papers in her hand. EKG, stress tests, MRI, everything. The results were that her heart is healthy and functioning perfectly normal. She says that our prayers made her well. It was the first time she has participated with us from start to finish.

I told the story of the sower from Mark 4. We thought through and talked through what effect God's message has on people. It was one of our most dynamic and helpful times together. As we finished we agreed to allow God's message to produce in our lives every time we hear a portion of it. This group is committing to action, to live out what they have learned. This is what we've been praying for and waiting for.

Maybe we just needed a miracle.

We have several invitations to share the gospel through storying to many families. We are unable to do it yet, but we trust God to make it possible.

June 20, 2008

The wise man builds his house upon the rock.

Yesterday I returned to the small town and met again with the families on the hill. I told the story of Pentecost from Acts 2. This is the second time I've told this story in a story sessions. Last year, when I told it to the family in the big city, it took about 15 minutes to tell and was not retained very well by the listeners.

This time I did not use the quotes of Joel and David in Peter's sermon, but rather referenced them in passing. This gave the sermon and the overall story a better flow. This time it took about 5 minutes to tell. Retention was much better and after going through it together three times, the families on the hill could retell the story well. I do see a need, however to make recordings of these stories on CD so the families can listen to them and have them for themselves.

Our discussion was fair. I try to ask questions that will lead them to see the truthes in the scripture, but I don't want to do it in a way that is manipulative. Even so, we came across the question of baptism in this story. Peter said "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." I had hoped a simple recognition of this would be all it took to begin talking about when and where our group could be baptized. Instead, they all agreed that this didn't apply to them, since they were already baptized as babies and went through confirmation as children.

I asked them to keep thinking about the story and to be open to what God might show them. I may need to tell tell the story of Apollos in Acts 19. Apollos was already baptized by John the Baptist, but was still urged to be baptized in the name of Jesus. This might be a good story to show that believer's baptism is the ultimate baptism that takes the place of all other baptisms. Whatever direction we take with the stories, it's obvious that this is something that will be resolved only with prayer.

After coming down the hill I met with a businessman of the city. He and I have had a friendship for a while, but he is not often open to spiritual truth. He asked me if I'd was winning any souls for Jesus on the hill. I went to his home and told him honestly. "Some people like to hear the stories of God in the scriptures, but they don't put let it change their lives." His wife asked for an example and so I told Acts one and two as a narrative. I then asked them what they thought of the things the early Christians were doing at the end of the story. They replied "We wish there were a church like that one." The conversation got cut short as I nearly missed the bus and had to run.

June 13, 2008

I love telling God's Story.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law loaned us her car so I could take Loaise and Nilson to the small town. It is the first time I've gone by car since going deaf in Jauary. We didn't take our car because it is needing a little maintenence work before we take it out of the city.

We went to see the families on the hill. I told the story of Christ's ascention to heaven from Acts chapter 1. I've gone back to telling shorter stories in order to ensure that they will be completely remembered. It also enables us to go a little deeper in our conversations about the text. The families enjoyed imagining what it might have been like seeing Jesus taken up into heaven and imagining what it might be like when he returns.

We also took two large bags of Nilson's old baby clothes (he's grown a lot) and gave them to De, one of the women in this family group who is expecting in a few weeks. We visited the singer and his family and expect to start storying with he and some of his neighbors sometime next month.

It is becoming obvious that we need more help from our city church and that we need to be in the small town at least twice a week. I will be training new workers at the church and we will be praying for God to make it possible for us to go to the town more often.

June 10, 2008

Opportunities, commitments, and wishes

Last week I went back to the small town for the first time since recovering my hearing. The last real storying meeting we had was in January. Now we are getting back to business. Thursday Loaise and I will go and begin telling Acts 1 to the families on the hill. We will visit 3 other families.

There are currently 4 opportunities waiting for us: The singer's family, the families on new street, the families across the river, and the family near the bus station. There are 4 other possibilites. The problems are time money and help. I need to go to Tabuleiro twice a week (time and money). I also need to bring some helpers from the city church.

I have already advised the church that I will be doing a training workshop in a few weeks. We plan to introduce 15 or so people to chronological Bible storying and church planting. Most of them will work in the high city (the part of the big city that is on the moutain).

People are also asking for recordings of the stories. This is something else we need to get going.

Pray for all of this to come together soon.

Oh, my hearing is still improving. Keep praying for that too.

May 25, 2008

Back to Church-Planting

When I was busy storying through the Bible with various groups I was updating this journal twice a week or better. My deafness has severely limited me this year. I am now hearing well enough to resume the work.

I only have one ear functioning, and it only has 10% of normal hearing. You can see the challenge. Please continue to pray for me to hear things louder and clearer. Even with my powerful hearing aid, I can't hear people from across the room.

I will be contacting several people from our city church and looking for an assistant for our continuing work in the small town. Depending on how things work out at the city church, I will be starting a bible-storying/pastor training program. More on that later.

God bless,

April 9, 2008


I began to hear my first words this week, since going deaf in January. I've still got a long way to go, but it is amazingly good to hear recognizable words again. Thank you heavenly father.
Yesterday I went into the small town again with a helper from the church. We visited the singer's family and discovered that he still hasn't been able to move back into the small town. It is dependant upon his closing of a second-hand store he has in the city and finding someone who can freely haul his things to the small town. Money is tight for them. We still have not begun storying in this family, but need to. Pray for the singer. We visitied a few homes and simply prayed for the sick. In two homes, the families on the hill and a family near the bus station, I told the story of Christ's death and resurrection. I have not been dialoging the story with the families while deaf, just telling the stories. Still, it's obvious the power in God's word.
I should return again to the small town within a week.

April 5, 2008

Waiting and waiting

I had planned to go to the small town 3 times this week. When plans to go on Tuesday fell through, Loaise offered to go with me on Wednesday. We'd been staying with her mother this week, so we had to take the city bus into town to catch the bus to the small town. We missed it by 2 minutes. Loaise called a member of our church and asked him to go with me on Thursday. That morning we found out that a friend of mine (the first man I baptized here, 5 years ago) lost his dad. We went to the funeral instead of the small town. Hopefully I can go twice next week.

My hearing is still improving. I've been praying more earnestly lately. Probably because of impatience. I can hear things, lots of things, but I am not hearing sound purely. In other words. I can hear when someone is talking, but I can't hear that there are words. Sound is choppy, garbled, odd. Still, it's improvement.

Keep praying.

March 19, 2008

A Quiet Victory

My hearing test results showed that I have recovered some hearing on all frequencies (sounds I heard were over 100 dB). I still don't have useable hearing, but this test shows that I am on the road to recovery. God's still working on me.

After two months, I finally returned to the small town and visited the families on the hill, the families across the river and a few other families. A friend of mine from our local church went with me by bus to the small town, so that I would not be alone on my first day back. I couldn't hear anything, but got by on lip reading and a lot of repeating.

It was obvious that God did not let any doors close, and opened a few more. I was worried that we would lose the momentum, as I had been planning to baptize and a week before this, lost my hearing and was confined to bedrest. Yesterday I was able to tell one story to the families on the hill. The story of the last supper. I did not do much discussion of the story, because of the challenge with my hearing. We should be able to get back into rhythm soon.

My helper and I also saw another possible storying group. I will call them "The gathering of old men." There is a place by the river where 10-20 older, retired men sit around and spend the afternoon talking. Pray that the Lord make it possible for us to begin telling the story of God to them.

I will return to the small town in a week.

March 14, 2008

Hearing Test

Today I am going to have my 3rd hearing test since I went deaf. The first test showed zero response to any frequency. The second test two weeks later showed zero response to all frequencies, except one, which I could hear vaguely at 90 dB. I expect today I will be hearing a number of frequencies.

I've been recovering some hearing. It isn't much, but I can hear a few notes when I whistle and I can hear a little of my son Nilson when he cries or screams. I can hear things banging and I can hear when I chew something crunchy. I still don't hear myself when I talk and I still can't get anything intelligible from turning the radio on full and putting my ear on the speaker. I hear some things, but nothing that sounds like a melody or speech.

I preached the morning service at Igreja Batista da Vitoria last Sunday. There was a wonderful response, and I was later asked to preach again this Sunday and again in 3 weeks. I had planned to go to the small town yesterday, but my energy level just wasn't high enough. The medicine I am taking leaves me feeling tired and weak. I will be going next week.

I'll post any interesting results of my hearing test later.

February 28, 2008

Do you know how to whistle?

I know it's been a while since I've written. Honestly, there hasn't been news to write about. I spent 2 weeks in bed after suffering from sudden onset hearing loss. I spent the next two weeks doing little more than that. I've been to the doctor a couple of times and discovered the probable cause of my hearing loss (Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Sindrome). I have not been to the small town, nor to visit any of the families in our storying groups. My family and I have been going to church on Sundays. Yesterday our pastor came to visit. Many of you have written to me and told me you are praying for me. Thank you.

Now. For the news. Today I was playing with Nilson and whistling to him. I heard myself. Not much, only one tone, but I heard it. It made me smile and laugh. Actually, it was only 10 minutes ago that this happened, so you can see that I am excited. Keep praying that the Lord restore my hearing.

God bless.


January 30, 2008

Quiet Time

Today I had a CT scan done. I'll get the results in two days. Our best guess is that the cause of my hearing loss is Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Sindrome. I have experienced hearing loss in the past, twice, 10 years ago and 20 years ago. Both times, my hearing returned after a long delay. Hopefully this will happen again.

I am going to challenge myself to learn 1st and 2nd Samuel by heart during my down time.

January 29, 2008


This morning I lost my hearing. I am completely deaf now. This happened to me 10 years ago. I was pastoring a small church in Texas and studying at East Texas Baptist University. If it follows the pattern, I will be deaf for a few months and my hearing will return. If it doesn't well, only God knows.

Right now I am taking lots of medicine and must stay in bed for a couple of weeks. I am going to miss the church retreat and the opportunity to baptize the new believers. They will likely not go to the retreat either, but we'll see.

Loaise and I have to think about this deafness and how it will affect our income and our ability to do our ministry. It's something I didn't expect. God did, so he knows what I should do. I'll spend the next two weeks in the bed praying and searching the scriptures.

God bless.

January 24, 2008

Pressed up against the wall

Yesterday was another very rainy day. I offered to give a ride to the singer's family. I had hoped to finish playing God's Story for them on the CD player. As they got into the car, it was obvious that they were stressed. They argued the entire trip. I just stayed quiet.

After arriving, I went and planned out my visits. I would first go to two of the families across the river, then go to the families on the hill and finish with the families on new street. Across the river... no one home, but I did get an idea. Everytime I cross the river in the afternoon, not far from the bridge there is a group of 8 to 10 retired men that stand around and talk the afternoon away. I believe there could be a storying opportunity there.

Well, I did go up the hill and met with 4 of our group. I told the story of when Jesus cured a woman at the synagogue on the sabbath. The story was short and they were able to tell it easily. I stepped through the story and then we began to think about the story. I had hoped to lead them in a direction of showing that obedience to God can sometimes clash with religious authority. The discussion did not go as well as I had planned. Honestly the problem was me. I kind of preached through it, instead of letting them discover the truths in the story. I only have one more meeting scheduled with them before our retreat. I don't know if they will be willing to be baptized on Feb 3rd. Pray for them. If they are willing, there will be 5 baptisms.

The families on new street were unable to meet yesterday.

To be honest, after such a big day last week, yesterday was a let down. Pray for me too. Things are going well, but I often get anxious.

January 17, 2008

New Storying Groups

Yesterday I went to a family across the river in the neighborhood we used to live in and made arrangements to begin Bible storying with them. We'd tried to incorporate this family in another group, but that group fell apart because of a dispute that Satan brought about. This was a year ago. We will begin with this family and let them invite other families to participate. We won't know how the group will work out until we get started. I will probably tell the story of creation on Friday.

Later I went to visit a family on New street. This family is in spiritual darkness. Different from the cultural catholics, this family has a mixture of beliefs that range from spiritism to worship of ancestors to folk catholicism. The husband told me he has never been interested in reading the Bible, and the wife told me she doesn't believe it. Neither of them know even the basic stories like creation. I discovered that the husband's aversion to the Bible was really an aversion to reading. I told them and their 3 young daughters a Bible story to give an example. They were captivated.

I will begin Chronological Bible Storying with this family right away. I plan to include 2 other families with this group. One family is a Christian and baptized, but go to church infrequently because they have to go to a city an hour away. Another is a traditionally catholic family that is questioning some of the religious traditions. They are interested in learning the Bible. I will organize a day and time on Friday.

Finally the singer's family. This has been a very resistant family, but I've been giving rides to them to and from the big city. During these one-hour car rides, I've talked with them and even told a Bible story. Yesterday, I put my copy of God's Story in the CD player and let it play during the trip. The wife, the most resistant, was excited to be hearing the Bible. "I've never heard this before" she kept saying. This family is closing their store in the city and will be staying together in Tabuleiro beginning in February. I will begin storying with them then. May God save this family.

Salvation on the Hill

Since the last post I've been to the small town twice. On Friday I went to meet with Lu, who had missed our meeting on Wednesday and I told him the stories he missed. I also went and talked to people who have participated in our past Bible studies (both oral and literate) and talked with them about our baptisms on February 3rd.

Yesterday, I returned to the families on the hill. Most were present. No news from the man who left his wife. I told the story of Jesus and Nicodemos from John 3. After I told the story, they asked me to tell it again. This is becoming habit, and in my mind, not a bad thing. We then stepped through the story, in other words, I asked them to tell it back to me in parts and asked questions at the parts they might have had trouble remembering.

Once the story was told I asked them some simple questions. (below they are listed, as I remember them) Once the discussion time was nearly over, I asked the group if they wanted to be born again. They all enthusiasticly said yes. We prayed and they confessed their sins and asked God to forgive them through Jesus. So, now 5 people in the families on the hill have received Jesus. I will continue storying with them leading up to baptism on February 3rd. Pray that Satan be left powerless against this family group.
  • Why do you think Nicodemos went to see Jesus?
  • Why do you think he went at night?
  • What did Jesus guarantee to him was true?
  • Did Nicodemus understand? Do you?
  • How did Jesus explain what it means to be born again?
  • What did he compare it to?
  • Did Nicodemus understand that? Do you?
  • Jesus compared himself to a snake, did you understand that part of the story?
  • (I quickly told that OT story) Now do you understand?
  • How is Jesus like the snake?
  • (I retold John 3:16) Do you understand this verse?
  • What about light and dark, when do people commit more crimes?
  • Who is the light that God sent to the world?
  • What kind of person avoids God's light, who is attracted to it?

January 10, 2008

January 10th, 2008

Last night I went back to the families on the hill for the first time in 3 weeks. I was very anxious to get back to storying with this group and to call one of the young men to begin acompanying me and learning to story. Upon arriving, I noticed this man was not in the home with his wife, and so I asked about him. This young man, during the last 3 weeks, cheated on his wife and left her to be with another woman. The devil has attacked this family network hard.

I told the story of Jesus' miracle at the wedding at Cana and we had a very powerful discusion about the story, though I am not sure that I will write much about it in this post. After the storying session was over and we finished our prayer time, I left the small town and went to the next town about 20 minutes away and found this young man in the house of the other woman. I ask him to come out and take a walk with me. I spent half and hour talking to him and used 3 bible stories to show him how he had sinned and how he can repent, and what will happen if he doesn't. I told him to take a decision and I prayed with him. Then I left. I do not know what happened afterwards.

This has been really disappointing for me and horrible for De and their family. Pray that this young man would repent and turn to God.