Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Bridges to Brazil"

“. . . As your days are so shall your strength be”  Deuteronomy 33:25

Three weeks ago today I left for one of the most incredible journeys of my life. I went with four of the most amazing people in the world, Bill Williams, Melissa Partch, Carlo Corral, and Justin Harrington for a 12 day trip into the Rain Forest of Brazil and to the state of Rodonia.  There we went first to the city of Vihleana and then to one of the indigenous people groups in Brazil called the Aikana Indians.  We went there with five primary objectives in mind.

  • conduct Bible classes for the children
  • encourage and equip the Aikana church leaders 
  • Host a community outreach in the village 
  • clean and repaint the Aikana Village church
  • Be a witnesses to anyone and everyone that God brings across our path in the village and along the way. 

Amazingly God gave us the strength to accomplish all of these things and more.  Carlo, along with Justin and Melissa taught the children. Carlo used his talents as a professional clown, not to mention his nose, to capture and hold the attention of children and adults who gathered for four days in the heat of the day and once in the morning to hear the parables of Jesus including the Good Samaritan, the lost Sheep, the parable of the soils and more.

Bill and I sought to use our teaching gifts to encourage individually and collectively the the Aikana village church leaders.  We preached four times in the village and once in the city of Vihleana, teaching on spiritual leadership, personal holiness, stewardship and evangelism.  We were also privileged to meet personally with the interpreters who are working to translate the Scripture into their own language.

Meanwhile Melissa worked with Ana and Pollyanna to assemble gift bags for every family with the gifts we had brought from Journey, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, flashlights, combs, school supplies.  They were distributed personally to each family including the tribe’s chief, on the day of the outreach. She also personally made friendship bracelets for all of the children which she distributed on our last day there.

Justin coordinated cleaning and painting the church.  It wasn’t as easy as we thought since the building was taller and we didn’t have a lot of ladders.  Nor were they the kind we were used to but rather hand made and heavy.  We also had to battle “Brazilian wasps” which had apparently made their home in the back wall of the church.  Nevertheless we were able to finish the project with the assistance of a number of men and women from the village.

Finally all of us sought to be a witness to anyone and everyone we met along the way, whether it was someone we sat next to on the plane or Avahaw, the school teacher we met in the village, we prayed that God would help us to open our mouth to share the Gospel.  In addition all of us visited each day in the homes of various Indians.  There we we got acquainted with the villagers and were introduced to their way of life including the way they hunt, farm, cure their food, make music, and more.

Like the apostle Paul, “we were delighted to share with them not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, 1 Thessalonians 2:8 . Thank you then for your prayers and for the financial support of so many that we might be able to be His witnesses, both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, Acts 1:8.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Post Election Reflections

“In this you greatly rejoice. . .” 1 Peter 1:6

Did your candidate win in Tuesday’s election.  Chances are If he did then you are pretty happy, but if he didn’t then chances are you’re pretty bummed.  Yet Peter said that there is something we can and should rejoice in, something that is not dependent upon the results of any election here on earth.  It is our salvation.  A salvation that is reserved in heaven for everyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:4

Our rejoicing then is not dependent upon anything here on earth but rather upon the thing we have in heaven.  That’s because this world is not our home.  We are only alien and and strangers and the sooner we begin to live like that the happier and holier we’ll be. 1 Peter 2:11

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Is Every Church Supposed to be a Big Church?

Well that’s certainly what it feels like and whether the feeling comes from inside or outside yet as a pastor of “small” church, it’s a pressure I feel every day.  Yet I would never say that every Christian is supposed to be healthy, wealthy and wise, instead I realize that God is sovereign and will do for one what He wants and for another what He wants and it may not be the same, ie see parable of the laborers, Matt. 20:1-16.

So why then do I think that every church is supposed to be a big church? If God is sovereign in what he gives us individually why isn’t he sovereign and in charge of what he gives us as a church?  Well the truth of the matter He is.  Our only responsibility is to be faithful, faithful in keeping his word and not denying his name, or at least that’s what he told the church of Philadelphia, Revelation 3:8

'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Though and open door was given to them that no one was able to shut, they were not given much power or in other words they were not great in number and influence, yet they had been faithful to keep the word and not to deny His name.  Thus they earn the Lord’s commendation not for their numbers but for their faithfulness.

I am reminded then of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:2.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

So if you pastor a smaller church or are a member of a smaller church don’t let it disturb or discourage you, just be faithful. And if you pastor or are a member of a larger church “be careful” as James MacDonald said,  “not to cultivate an attitude of disdain towards smaller works that are worthy of Jesus commendation.  Maybe it is, as Jesus said, one of the ways in which the first will be last and the last will be first.”  James MacDonald, Churchleaders.com