Thursday, October 23, 2014

Let the races begin!

Saturday James ran a 10K at an air base on the Island. 
 The added perk was that they kids runs too!  
All three of our kids were pumped to have a chance to race!

Here are some fun pics of our race day!
Father-daughter pre-race warm up
 Stretching out
 Jeremiah´s race (boys 7-8)
 Hannah´s race (girls 9-10)
 Daniel´s race (boys 13-14)
 James´ race 
 Our lovely view while waiting for James to finish his 10K
My favorite  runners with their medals!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

We battle not against flesh and blood...

This month our teens went to minister at a nursing home on the Island.  Although the visit was scheduled and approved by the director their arrival was met with cold indifference.

"I am busy right now and cannot help you.  Go find someone else to help you."
the director said to us without looking up from what she was writing.

We later learned she was heading at the door to her Spiritist meeting held in a large building behind the nursing home. 

Our teens were nervous but had prepared with a time of prayer before arriving and so they went in to meet with these precious souls who desperately need New Life in Christ.  

To see Rafael, (the one who was hit by a car in January) approach these people and offer to pray with them and read a passage of Scripture to them was such a blessing.   All the young people were surprised to see that many of older people could no longer speak and were confined to their beds.  But the hope that God could save one of these souls as they lay and listened to the Words of Life was what gave them courage. 
 Karine was very nervous about approaching the people and sharing the Gospel. 
She sat down next to two ladies and as she introduced herself  one of the ladies said,
"Go away! I don't want to talk to you."
Karine didn't know what to do so she turned and looked to the other lady who shared her name and acted friendly. 
Karine then looked back to the other lady to ask her name and she rudely snapped
"I said, get out of here, I don't want to talk to you."
The nicer lady apologized for her friend and continued to talk with Karine. 
Karine went on to share the Gospel with this lady while the other sat in silence,
listening, and interestingly, not moving way. 
Karine prays that the Lord will use the truth of the Gospel to penetrate the hard heart of this woman.

 Another interesting encounter happened when one of the residents shared that she was a believer in Jesus Christ.  When asked about her testimony she replied that she has been forbidden to talk about Jesus with the other residents.  But she shared that she secretly shares with those who share her room. 

This nursing home is served by a community of committed spiritists who are doing their best for these elderly in order to guarantee a better "next life" for themselves.    These precious elderly people are weekly exposed to the powers of darkness.  They wear special jewelry (beads, etc.) that have been blessed and are supposed to keep away sickness and curses.   Many of these elderly have been "healed" by the spiritist healers. 

James had the opportunity to preach on John 3.16 while at the nursing home and we praise the Lord that we were able to wage a small battle against the darkness that is blinding the eyes of these people. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Teaming up for the Gospel

This year we have done less "formal" evangelism projects at our church.  Instead James has focused  on equipping and encouraging our people to reach out to the people God has placed in their lives; neighbors, friends, family, co-workers and so on.  We are so excited to see how God is working in our people to be a light to those around them. 

 We recently teamed up to go bowling with one of our church families and their new neighbors.  It was a fun time of getting to know one another but also to talk about the Gospel.   God has used His body at IBR to reach into the lives of this couple to share the Gospel; to share that our salvation is secured in Christ alone and not by our continued efforts of obedience. 
These encounters are a great reminder of how believers can work together to be Christ to the nations!
How can you team up with someone from your church to reach out to an unbelieving friend?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sharing my personal testimony of Salvation

Saturday night we had our ladies meeting.  This meeting is my chance to share with the ladies from my heart and I love it!

This month we worked on how to share our personal testimonies of salvation in such a way that someone who heard it could know how to be saved.

I love hearing how God worked in someone to bring them to salvation.  But so often when I ask how they came to know the Lord, their answers are so generic that I learn little about God's mighty work in their life.
Some all to come responses are:
"I grew up in a christian home and have always gone to church."
"I went forward during the invitation and got saved."
"I prayed a prayer when I was little. "
"I was saved and baptized as a child. But when I was a teenage I walked away from God.  Later after I had children I knew I needed to come back to God."

While most of these responses are not WRONG.... they are lacking.  There is no mention of a SAVIOR.  No metion of sin or Christ's death or his Ressurrection.  Our testimonies lack the Good News of the Gospel!

I love what Paul says in I Corinthians 15. 1-4
  • Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved...: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

THIS Is the GOSPEL...anything else falls so far short.   

I shared my testimony with the ladies, one a short, generic version, and one version that shares my true testimony of how God brought me, a rebellious sinner, into His family.

Christen, how did you become a Christian?

Generic Version:
I prayed with my parents and was baptized one year later.  I always wanted to be a missionary and today I am serving the Lord in Brazil.  

God honoring Version:
One night when I was a little girl, I was praying with my mom before bed.  I remember praying that God would give me courage to go forward at church the next morning to be saved.  Although I was young, I felt the guilt of my sin...every lie, the many fights I had with my brother and sister.  The way I manipulated things and regularly disobeyed my parents.  I knew that the Bible said that all liars would find their place in Hell and I knew that was my final destination.
When I finished praying I remember my mom calling me to the living room to talk with her and my dad.  
  Our conversation went something like this...

-Christen, You don't have to be in church to be saved from your sins.  God is here with us right here, right now.  
      -I know mom...

-Why do you think you need to be saved? 
      -I shared with her the weight of my sin.

They shared with me that I was right.  I was a sinner and one day I would stand before God and give an account for my life.  (found in Hebrews 9.27) 
      -The Bible teaches us that all have sinned and are separated from God.  There is no one who is righteous, no one seeks after God.  (found in Romans 3)
      -It is really important for you to  believe this for this is the reason you need a Savior.  

They told me that even though I was a sinner, God loved me so much that he sent His only son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. He who had never sinned took my place on the cross and payed the penalty for my sins.  (Found in John 3.16)
Then they reminded me that Jesus didn't stay dead.  Three days later he arose and today he is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  (Found in Mark 16.19)

That day God convinced me of my great sin but also of His great grace of love to me through what Jesus had done on that cross. In that moment I believed that Jesus died and rose again to forgive me of all my sins.  I was adopted into His family.  

Today I know that God loves me, that I am forgiven, and when I die I will go to heaven where I will spend eternity there with my Savior.  In the mean time, while I am here on earth, my Savior is busy transforming me more and more into the image of His son!  

And you,
Do you have this same confidence that I do? 

Whoever believes on the name of the LORD will be saved!

Now that is good news!

Monday, September 22, 2014

We've got a teenager!

 Friday our first born turned 13! 
To celebrate this big day we went to an amusement park about an hour from here.

 We were thankful that James' parents could drive down to join us for the day.  

 It was Daniel's first time at an amusement park and we covered all the basics.... 
 simple, starter rides...

 Fun water rides...

 Thrilling roller coasters...
(This is actually a picture of Daniel and James -7th car from the front)

 Classics... like the bamboo logs!

 Then, the BIG TOWER!
Daniel, Hannah, Rachel and I rode this one.  
100 Meters high, about a 30 story free fall, reaching speeds up to 120 Km/hr
I don't think anyone wants to do this one again!

The cool thing about this park is that it has much more than just rides, it has a zoo, a historic train ride through the Atlantic rain forest, including a reenactment of an old-time train hold up, an awesome stunt car show!  All in all, we had a wonderful day.

James and I are both so thankful for Daniel.  He is a blessing to our family.  We praise God for his servants heart, his desire to grow in the Lord, his sensitivity to God.  Last week Daniel and I were sitting at the table together and he asked how I was doing spiritually.  To know that my son cares about my walk with the Lord is huge blessing.  We pray that God will continue the good work He has begun in Daniel and that as he grows physically he will also grow spiritually into a man who fears God and walks humbly with his God. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blessings from our Couples Meeting

 Here are some blessings from our last couples meeting.  
1.   We were so happy to have almost all of our couples participate.  (17 people- one spouse was     traveling!)
2.  We were able to meet in a new place.  A family who has been with us for quite a while is really starting to get involved.   They were very excited about hosting the couples meeting.
3.  We had two unsaved men participate.  We pray that God is working in their hearts to bring them to Salvation.
 4.  After the study each of the couples wrote out 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses in their marriage.  We then traded names and are praying for each other until our next meeting.

All in all, we  praise the Lord for a  special time of being a little more "real" with each other, sharing our needs and being edified by the body of Christ.