Monday, August 30, 2010

Final Week at Igreja da Cidade

Last week, we spent our final moments in Sítio talking about the gospel and celebrating all that God has done during our time here. We have really fell in love with the people there and our heart is to see a strong, gospel-proclaiming, Biblical church take root and transform the community.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Photo Shoot of our Inn

Our rent ran up two days ago, but we negotiated a deal with our landlord to let us stay here one more week for free in exchange for some photos of his place. The island and the inn where we live was recently featured in the local newspaper, so he's trying to beef up the biz with a new website. Check out the pics below.
PS: I understand more fully now the task of a photographer to make any location look more, shall I say, favorable. He's lucky I didn't include the picture I took last night of a pile of dead termites that we spent an hour killing. ;-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leading out from the Gospel

One of the greatest blessings for me has been a weekly opportunity to pour into some men through a leadership development class I am giving at a church in a neighborhood of Rio called Freguesia. Pastor Michel came to me with a few men that he would like to develop into deacons of the church. I have been working with Pastor Michel these past seven weeks on this class and this week will wrap up my involvement in it as we head out. Thankfully, Pastor Michel will continue the work with the guys as I phase out. We will be praying for their development into leaders, which are greatly needed at this church. I'm excited because I've been invited to preach the gospel at their church gathering tonight. Please pray with us that God will bless it. To the left is a picture from one of the meetings.

I wanted to post the foundation to this training so you guys can get a good idea of what it looks like. Below is basically the mission statement - it is at the core of all the teaching given on leadership. I would like to break it down so you can see what this really means and how it can effect teaching on things such as doctrine, character, manhood and discipleship.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Redeeming Time

As we finish our time in Rio and prepare for the next season in life, we have had much opportunity to think of what we have done and where God is leading us next. Thanks to a suggestion by a pastor here, I recently read a sermon by Jonathan Edwards on Ephesians 5:16, and he spoke about time in a way that profoundly impacted me.

Our goal as we turn a new page in our life is to make the most of the time in order to advance the gospel and love as high as possible. Join us in completely submitting your life to Christ this year and play a part in His global redemptive story! Redeem the use of your time to leave a legacy for Jesus who will remain long after you and I fade.

An exerpt from the J. Edwards sermon (read the rest here)-
How much may be done in a year? How much good is there opportunity to do in such a space of time! How much service may persons do for God, and how much for their own souls, if to their utmost they improve it! How much may be done in a day! But what have you done in so many days and years that you have lived? What have you done with the whole time of your youth, you that are past your youth? What is become of all that precious season of life? Hath it not all been in vain to you? Would it not have been as well or better for you, if all that time you had been asleep, or in a state of nonexistence?


Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Sharing with you not only the gospel but our lives as well."

This will mark our final week with Igreja da Cidade in City of God. We have been working along with another missionary couple, a pastor, and a female missionary to plant this church. By the Lord's grace, these past five or so months have been a stretching and amazing experience. To give you guys a little taste of what we do each week in this community, here is an excerpt of a document that I developed from 1 Thess. 2:8 that helps guide our practice of visitation.

Some of the key things we want to make sure to do while visiting; when appropriate:

Pray - Ask people how they are in need, what is new in their lives, and that we would like to pray for them to seek God for help. 

Learn their lives - Get to know people better, ask a lot of questions, and create a peer-to-peer relationship.

Share our lives - Let them see our godliness, and our need for a savior as well, as we converse and share how we deal with things as Christians.

Witness - Share the gospel message and ask for a response.

Love - Meet needs, share life's joys, and spend time with these people who do not have anyone else to love them.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Photos & Video from Mission Trip 3

    We are very thankful for your prayer support this past week as we hosted the final mission trip that will come during our stay here. It was a total success and we are confident that God used this team to grow and promote the work of the church in Sitio (which now boasts a banner with its name "Igreja da Cidade" Church of the City). Please see the blog of CrossPointe- Winter Park for more stories and video here. Below are some pictures that I captured from a social outreach with children in a low-income neighborhood as well as Day 3 VBS in Sitio, and a video that paints a good picture of their important work in Sitio. Thanks Connection Church and CrossPointe Church- Winter Park for getting out of your comfort zone by allowing God to work through you!

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Jesus is Bigger Than My Sins

    The following is a guest post from Christy's best friend, Heather Burdette. She is an early childhood teacher at a Christian school in San Diego and super passionate about teaching kids the Gospel of Christ. Check out the rest of her writings at her blog here:

    Psalm 106 is amazing. It talks about God’s steadfast love even when Israel was rebellious and unfaithful. It has been an encouragement and a beautiful reminder of God’s grace. This part (v36-39) in particular really blows my mind:

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Mission Trip #3 Update

    Thank you for praying with us this weekend! Giulian is already feeling better and hopefully will be 100% tomorrow, praise God! Saturday morning the whole team visited an orphanage that none of us had ever been to before and it was awesome! The director began it 12 years ago with one 6 year old boy whose gang-affiliated parents used him to deliver their drug orders until one day he made a wrong turn and was apprehended. Shortly thereafter his parents started visiting him at the orphanage and were both converted to Christ, so he reconciled with them and his father eventually became a pastor. We had the privilege of meeting that boy, who is now an 18 year old man who has graduated high school and consistently comes back to serve at the orphanage. What a pleasure.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Happy Wedding Adam and Monika!!!

    Two of our very good friends are getting married today, right now! So since we can't be there to wish them well in person, here's our toast! We love you Adam and Monika and are excited to share our lives with you. Way to go!!! Please join us in praying for them today as they unite in a beautiful display of Christ's love for the Church.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Mission Trip #3 This Week

    Hi friends! Please be praying for us this week as we're receiving a third mission team, 16 people from Connection Church and CrossPointe Church - Winter Park Campus. They just arrived today from Orlando and together over the next 5 days we will be working in an orphanage and a children's program in Dona Marta Favela that we also have not participated in yet, reaching out to the homeless in downtown Rio, giving a 3-day Vacation Bible School in Sitio - City of God where we're planting a church, plus many other events where they'll have an opportunity to share their lives and th gospel. We're excited for this time, and we really appreciate your prayer support, specifically in the following-

    -Giulian, who is having flu-like symptoms, to recover fully in time for the VBS on Monday. Even though he's not a translator, he still plays an integral part as one of those that will be making sure the area stays secure and the children are all behaving (which is suuuuuch a help!) He's taking medicine and currently snoring in the other room. ;-)
    -The team wouldn't experience sickness related with traveling (always seems to be at least one poor soul).
    -Pastor Sergio, an important leader in many of this week's activities, and Ana, the main translator, would kick off lingering coughing/stuffiness.
    -Good, dry weather. It's been raining a lot lately and in Sitio we're basically working with tarps and mud.
    -Of course, most importantly, that in spite of sickness/weather/children craziness, we would trust God to change, through His Spirit, the hearts of the children and adults we come in to contact with.

    Thanks so much for joining us in prayer. We'll be having a couple of very interesting guest posts this week so be on the look-out for that! We just went to downtown Rio last week to visit the museums (click link below to see pics), isn't it beautiful?


    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Church in Vila Kennedy

    This past Sunday evening we had the joy of catching a few buses to go to a favela in Campo Grande (a city on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro - see map here) called Metral. We arrived and were greated by Pastor Alexandre's wife, Adriane, a joyful, servant-hearted lady who never stopped smiling the whole time we were there. We then met a man appearing to be a tight end for the Raiders, who turned out to be Pastor Alexandre, and a very talkative and clever boy with a full head of dark, curly hair who's their son, Heyman. They were very glad to host us and give us a tour of the small favela where the church is located.

    He shared many stories of how dangerous and desperate the area was before the police raid two years ago that pushed the cartel out. It was sickening to hear the stories of men who ruled without concern for life, set free to rampage the community. We observed and heard stories of lookout points, judgement houses, makeshift cemeteries, and bandits who rather than bribing the police to stay out, would taunt them to come in so they could have an arms war. Church services were held amidst police shootouts with the gang members finding refuge on top of the sanctuary roof. During that era this church, Nova Filadelfia, was the only one in the community. No one else would step foot on to these two deadly streets that due to the hold of over a hundred Comando Vermelho (Red Command) bandits, came to be known as the most dangerous slum in Rio.

    Eventually, the police came in and took over for good, but Alexandre's church knows better. They know that it was God at work through their many prayers that removed them and has continued to improve the conditions in their neighborhood. As we stood outside the judgement house where the gangs formerly decided on executions, Alexandre said in reflection, "This community is our church." I was impressed by their eager faithfulness to see change they have been a part of in the community. 

    It was pleasantly surprising to see a great deal of young men involved in the church which packed out over 200 seats at the Sunday night service. Meeting the church body was a joy as I preached the Gospel with our good friend Paulo translating. We invited Alexandre to the next Restore Brazil meeting and hope to see him and his pastor friends there to encourage them further as a pastor and church planter. We enjoyed our time there and will be praying for their influence in the community.