Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Family Update!

Our family is doing well, by God´s grace!  Christen and I praise the Lord for unity and peace in our marriage.  The kids are growing so quickly and we are thankful to see a hunger for God and His Word in Hannah.  Recently she came to Christen one morning excited when she learned that when Jesus said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days He was talking about himself. his death and resurrection!  How precious it is to see fruit in the lives of your children.  Rachel, my sister has agreed to stay  one more year to help out with homeschooling and to continue her ministries in the church.  School has been going really well and we praise the Lord for her patience and dedication to our children.  Jeremiah is always full of life and this often leads him into trouble!  Recently he was playing with some friends and shot a stone into our neighbors window.  As he went over to apologize to the lady, she invited us to stay for a visit.  Jeremiah was served generously by this woman.  She poured him soda in a fancy goblet, fixed him a plate filled with various sweet treats and chose a program on TV that he would enjoy while we talked.  Jeremiah and I talked about how Jesus treats us the same way.  We sin and rebel against Him and He continues to forgive us and lavish us with good gifts.   Daniel recently went through a trial and we were so amazed at his Christ-like response.  For Christmas Daniel received a PS4 from his uncle. Due to the thefts here at home, we are in the habit of either hiding our valuables when we leave or loading them into backpacks and taking them with us wherever we go.  Last month on a Wednesday night one of the kids we take to church left our car door open a crack.  When we locked the car remotely we didn´t notice the door.  After church we found that his backpack with his PS had been stolen.  He didn´t get angry or lash out, but I could tell he was crushed.  When we got home we wrote an email to his uncle telling him how it was stolen but he knew that God had a plan and all of this would somehow be for his good and God´s glory!    Will you pray for Daniel as he has been struggling for the past month with stomach problems.  We have taken him to the doctor and are waiting to get the blood-work back for a more definitive diagnosis.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

IBR Ladies Retreat

Redemption Baptist Church was privileged to host our 1st annual ladies retreat last weekend! 
We had 21 ladies, which included 6 ladies from a small church over 8 hours away on the boarder of Paraguay.  I am sharing photo highlights from our weekend!  Hope it will be a blessing to you as it was to us! 

 Our theme was Women of The Word...being transformed daily into the image of Christ.

We asked my mother-in-law to be our speaker for the event and she did a wonderful job.

I had prayed specifically for good weather as the hotel we stayed at is in a beautiful valley filled with hot springs and an amazing river.  God answered and as you will see in the pictures, we took advantage of God's magnificent creation all weekend!

 Often times at retreats we run from one event to the next with little time for personal bible study and reflection.  We planned those quiet moments into our program so the women could really take advantage of the weekend for Spiritual retreat as well as physical retreat.  Here, my friend Meire is doing a Personal Vitality Plan that helps us evaluate our lives and prioritize growth and change.  I have attached a link to this plan that is published by Revive our Hearts.  Excellent resource!

 We were blessed to be able to give bags full of goodies to each lady, which included a book of their choice, our conference booklet, soap (to use in the thermal baths, originally installed in 1845 imported from Italy!) pen, candy and more!  

 Saturday afternoon we had a craft time filled with laughs and creativity!  

Me and two of my right-hand ladies enjoying a quick coffee on the patio overlooking the river.  

 We are so thankful for these two young-men who drove 6 women to our retreat from more than 8 hours away!  
One of these ladies went home greatly encouraged in the Lord to find that one of her sons had spent to weekend doing drugs with a friend, and the other who is unsaved but attends church occasionally, decided that he wasn't going to go to church anymore because it only made his life worse, not better.  
She shared how she has been able to deal with her sons in a Christ-honoring way in part because of the teaching from the retreat.  She also has never had the habit of personal devotions and since the retreat has been reading the Word daily and sharing with her sons what she is learning.  

 One of these ladies shared a prayer request on Wednesday with the women...
"Pray that my husband and I would not let this desire to know the Lord grow cold.  
Pray that we would continue to seek Him daily."  
 Times of singing, times of prayer, times of testimony, times of studying the word in small groups...I praise the Lord for all that He did and continues to us in us, the women of IBR!
One final blessing to share...
we rented space in a hotel, but often were rubbing shoulders with other guests.  
Because of this we had many opportunities to share the gospel with others, including the staff.
Saturday night we had four women sit with us during our study time and two stayed  afterward to request prayer for their adopted son.  
God is good!  

Many women shared what a challenge it was to leave their families and homes to spend the weekend away...Many almost didn't come...but in the end, they all praised the Lord for His provision and strength in making the way possible!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ups and Downs... Trusting God with the outcome

Ministry is always full of ups and downs as you really have no control over the outcome of your "work."

André, whom many of you have prayed for over the years, has been in and out of our lives for five years now.  A husband, and father of three teens, he was a humble but hard working man.   He only completed his education up to the second grade and thus cannot read.  But what he lacked in formal education, he made up for in hard work.  His family never went hungry and he was well known in the community.  James has done many Bible studies with him, for a time even worked with him to teach him to read as André wanted to read the Bible.  His wife and oldest son have accepted Christ as Savior and the family is very involved in the church.  
But, the last three years he has become more and more involved in the local drug culture.  He no longer works a regular job, and any money he does make goes straight to his habit.  He treats his family as a burden and there is no peace in the home as they struggle weekly to survive.   He has had many scares as his brother was killed for a R$10 ($3 dollar) drug debt and more recently a well-known  woman in the community was murdered over a drug debt.  But after short times of remorse which include going back to work, attending church, and treating his family better, he always reverts back to drugs.  In his mind, he needs no help, he is not addicted.  He can stop anytime.  
Then, last Saturday, a miracle happens... he shows up at our door asking for help  to be taken to a drug rehab facility.  
James spends the afternoon on the phone getting everything set up for him to go.  He is at church on Sunday.  He and his family spend the afternoon with us and Sunday night he is at church again.  The family is hopeful...is it real this time?
Tuesday James and another pastor drive him 100Km to the Baptist rehab center.  He takes two Bibles along with him. By 5 pm on Tuesday he is checked in and ready to go.  We all pray that he will stay, it is a 6 month program, but it is voluntary.  

Thursday at lunch time we get the call...
He wants to come home.  He is all better. It is just too hard.  
James spends another hour trying to convince him to stay,
to choose God's way.
to choose his family.
to choose life.

By 5 pm Thursday he is back home.  

What do you say to the children who have prayed in faith for years that their father be saved? 
To the wife who slaves alone to support her children?
What do you say to the man who chooses death?

Pray for André that God will save him before it is  too late.
Pray for Teresinha as she fights to trust God in this situation
Pray for Rafael, Guilherme and Larissa that they will not lose faith in an all-powerful and all-loving God.  

Sunday, August 09, 2015

It´s Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day from 
Redemption Baptist Church!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Time with the Body

Wednesday we began a new study with our men and women;  
"A Gospel Centered Life"
So far we are off to a good start and are excited to see God bringing the "Joy of our Salvation" back into the hearts and lives of many!
 Ladies class

 Men´s Class

 Kids Class

 Saturday night we had our bi-monthly men´s and women´s meeting.  
We were excited to welcome 3 visiting families to our studies.
 I had three of our girls help out with the ladies study on I Corinthians 13

 Fellowship times with the body, building relationships and community.

We praise the Lord for the family at Redemption Baptist Church.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Glimpses of God's holiness, my sinfulness and the Cross

We just started a new study with the women on Wednesday nights called "The Gospel Centered  Life".  Last night we looked at this chart and talked about how the gospel becomes more precious to us as we become more aware of our sinfulness and God´s holiness.  

One of the questions in the book asked how our perception of God´s holiness and/or our sinfulness has changed over the past year.  

Today I was talking to James about how I thought the study went last night.  
I have to admit I didn't think I did that great of a job leading the study.  I felt like I was tripping over my words a lot and failing with the language.  

As I prayed, to begin my time with the Lord today, He brought to my attention that I want to make a name for myself... I want to be "famous".  All my concern about my Portuguese is really just putting a pretty cover on the sinful desire to be well thought of and admired as the Bible study leader and Pastor's wife.  

God in His holiness and wisdom is using my second language to keep me humble and dependent on Him.  This weakness forces me to run to Him, like a child, and depend on Him.  My approval is in Him, my service is to exalt His name and not my own.  Is it not 100x better to see God work in people, transforming them, despite my imperfect speaking; than to pridefully take credit as a "great" teacher?

So, how has my perception of my sinfulness and God's holiness changed in the past 24 hours???

I see a little more of the corruption of my heart (Jeremiah 17.9),
I see how perfectly good and holy God is in all that does (Isaiah 55.9),
and I praise Him for His cross where I am forgiven for my pride and empowered to live a life of humbleness.

Friday, July 03, 2015

The Love of Christ Constrains Us...

Any given night on the streets of Florianópolis you see a scene like this.

 Recently one of our young men was burdened to show the love of Christ to these people.  He came up with a plan to organize our people into action.  
-Soup was donated by one man
-A cooler was donated by another
-Cups and lids were bought
-Teens worked together after church to finalize preparations
-5 men went downtown to deliver cups of hot soups to people in need.
Our men were amazed at the reception they received.  Their hearts were touched by the needs physically and even more, spiritually.  Several asked for prayer for injuries or help to leave behind their addictions.  Over all it was an amazing chance to serve the Lord.

Pray for Redemption Baptist as they prepare to return on Wednesday nights sharing their hearts, and their Savior with the 'least of these.'