March 29, 2009

The dance.

Thursday I did go to the small town as planned. Once there, I noticed that there was a special presentation in the pubic square. Several adults, adolescents and young children formed a circle and began clapping their hands as two men played drums and another two began to play a one stringed instrument. As soon as I heard the sound I knew what it was. Capoeira. A Brazilian martial art taught and practiced by dance and music.

I gathered in and watched as two men began to move very slowly crawling and doing small slow cartwheels and then gradually sped up to a full fast dance with back flips, spin kicks, twists and many other turns and twists. Two by two, others entered the dance circle replacing the two that were there, doing their own dance with the same kinds of moves. They danced in pairs of all ages, once even a 5 year old girl with a 40 year old formado (similar to black-belt).

Once the exhibition was over, many people stayed in the park to talk. I was able to speak with two men and present the Gospel and was invited to their homes. I will try to find their homes next week.

I still need a partner for this night of ministry, so be praying for that.

March 25, 2009

Community, Living Word, Community

Yesterday, we had our second home meeting with the family from São Paulo. This time we were able to spend a little bit more time with the scripture than in the first meeting. This group is highly literate, so instead of storying, we are reading the scripture passage together until we've got it in a firm way. One person read and everyone follows along in their bible. Then another reads the passage again, then we try to put the passage into our own words. In a few more weeks, this will be natural. Right now, it is new for many.

Of the obedience statements from last week, we had about 50% who did what they said they would do, and some others who partially did it. Everyone enjoyed the share time about their obedience and are anxious to do even better this week.

Last night, we had a special dinner to receive our friend who went to africa "H." He is here for this week only to visit, and will return. People from the company and their families met together. I began talking to one young man (20 years old) who's father works with Loaise. He'd been on our prayer list many times, because of problems with family and possibly drugs and theft. I shared the gospel with him telling Isaiah 53 and the story of the crucifiction and resurrection. He asked if the people I tell these stories to believe. I told him that some do and some don't. He asked if people who are addicted to drugs come to Jesus. I told him the story of Jesus and the Demoniac from Gerasa who had the legion of demons, but wasn't able to talk more because the restaurant was closing. We left.

Today his father came by Loaise's office and told her that his son spent the whole ride back home telling the stories I told and that it was the first time that they had all talked as a family in 2 years. Something is changing in his son. Pray for him.

Today I had a meeting with "H" and the young african lady who helps with evangelism from time to time. We practiced having a home bible study and prayer time. "H," who accepted Jesus just months ago, will begin a bible study where he lives and works in Angola, Africa. Pray for him.

Tomorrow I will go to the small town.

March 17, 2009

The family from São Paulo

This morning we had our first home meeting with the couple from São Paulo. There were ten people present, including me and all are Christians. After 8 weeks, probably only four of this ten will remain and the others will begin a similar work in their neighborhoods. (During these 8 weeks the families will learn together how a home worship service works and each couple will have an opportunity to lead once or twice. After each family feels comfortable with the way meeting in homes works and feels they will begin to reach out primarily to lost people on their street.)

One thing that happened is that as we began, I introduced this family to the others who had come from our church. As we began the prayer time, three families soon realized that they were all involved in taking care of an invalid family member over a period of years. It was the first time they'd been able to talk about the burden and difficulty freely. The Holy Spirit enabled these three families to minister to one another and encourage each other in a way that none of them had experienced before. Our prayer and sharing time lasted 50 minutes!

Each person, at the end of our time together made a specific commitment to obey Jesus this week. These were the statements, as I remember them.
  • I watch too much TV and don't pray enough. I will make a commitment to pray for a time before I turn on the TV each day. I will not turn on the TV without spending time in prayer first.
  • There is a man that works across from my house. I am going to learn his name and tell him about Jesus before Thursday.
  • I am going to pray daily at 4:30 in the afternoon.
  • I will begin my day by reading something from God's word. You can ask next week how many mornings I was able to do it. I hope to say seven.
  • I will pray for your mother and for you as you take care of her.
  • I will tell my neighbor about Jesus tomorrow morning.
  • I will pray every night at 10:00pm.
  • I am going to tell my friends at school what I learned from the Bible each week.
There were a few others, but I can't remember well. The point is, each person wanted to put his faith in practice. I believe this group will produce fruit.

March 14, 2009

The singer and his family

Thursday when I went into the small town, I stopped by the singer's house first. He's been in rough spot because his keyboard fell and broke. He has to borrow one to do his performances in the small towns. I was just finishing telling the story of Manoah's wife (judges 13) when the phone rang. He went and answered and his wife was listening to what he was saying from the back room. His uncle in the next town up had just died.

In the next few moments he called his older brother and sister to his home and told them. They all shook their heads and began to talk about how uncomfortable they feel at funerals. I asked them if they wanted to hear what the Bible says about what happens to people after they die. They all agreed. I told the story of the resurrection of Lazarus (john 11) and emphasized the words of Christ about the resurrection. I then told the story of Christ's death and resurrection.

I made an appeal for them to all pray and receive Christ. The two women affirmed, having been raised Roman Catholic, that they believe in Jesus. The singer and his brother pondered a moment and shook their heads, meaning they heard me, but needed to think. Soon everyone left. I will speak with them again next week.

March 2, 2009

Updates: Evangelism

I don't see myself naturally as an evangelist, but the scriptural promise is that if we sow broadly we will reap broadly. I've been spending Saturday afternoons for the past several months taking church members with me to make two or three evangelistic home visits. In the process I am sharing the gospel, (usually through a selected Scriptural story or story cluster based on the need on that home, followed by an appeal to repent, believe and be baptized) and I am training others to share the gospel.

It is more and more obvious that there are some who hear and accept the Good News, who will not be able to participate in our traditional church as members because of distance or scheduling problems. We really want to help these families become churches together with their relatives and neighbors, as they come to Christ as well.

Baptism is still a stumbling block on both sides. The traditional church is uncomfortable baptizing new believers right away, and new believers are uncomfortable doing something that is "different."

Updates: Traditional Church

During the Carnaval (Mardi Gras) holiday we took 50 members and friends of our traditional church and had a 5 day retreat at the retreat center I wrote about a few times. I was able to share stories daily about how the early church suffered for Jesus. I told through the warnings of Jesus about future suffering and the suffering stories of the book of Acts. Each group acted out each story and spent time telling the stories they learned to members of other groups.

Soon, we will begin new Sunday School classes using storying and inductive Bible study.

We will try to begin a youth service that will spend half the year telling through a set of Scripture stories in chronological order and the second half of the year selecting stories that deal with specific issues of faith and obedience. Hopefully this can become a patern that will cycle through from year to year.

Our wednesday night service continues to grow rapidly since our switch to oral-style biblical preaching. We've been seeing an average of 2 first time visitors to our church each Wednesday nights for the past 2 months.

We have not yet begun the church -wide oral Bible project. Pray for that.

Updates: Small Town

Currently I am looking for a new partner to go with me on Thursdays to the small town. In a few weeks, I may begin going on Saturdays until May. I will need partners for this as well. Please pray for this need.