Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where is Our Refuge?

I was reminded of a story this week. You remember the story in mark chapter 2 about four friends who lower a paralytic man on a mat down from the roof too where Jesus was teaching. The room was so full that they had to go up to the roof, probably up a ladder then break through the roof just to see Jesus then they lowered him down.

What true and faithful friends. 

This week at the Saturday Lunch I was busy running around cleaning and getting food and looking after four kids.  A group of street people came asking for food. I recognized most of them. I said “hi it will be ready in a little bit , they are making it”  not really paying close attention to them. After a while I noticed a man bent over in obvious pain with what looked like a broken leg. He was sitting with a gentleman I had meet months before. I started to talk with them. The man in pain was in his early forties and his friend was telling me he had not eaten in 6 days and the food was hurting his stomach so bad that he had tears in his eyes. His friend went on telling me that he was in to much pain with his leg that he couldn’t get up from where he lives on the street to find food. So he had to help him find food and bring him to the only place he knew of that offers free food. I really wanted to know the situation so I got my friend who is Brazilian. He talked with him and found out that his leg had been broken for one year, probably seriously infected. My friend phoned for a ambulance for the man. He was shaking and a lot of pain plus his leg looked pretty horrible. I got to pray for him and ask him about Jesus. He said he knew Jesus and had a relationship with him. He didn’t have a bible so we gave him one. The ambulance came and took him away.  He was on our minds all day. My friend gave them his number and told them to call him and let them know what had happened and if he had gotten medical treatment. I found out that night that they changed his bandages and sent him home, back on the streets with nothing but his pain and of course his friend.

That next morning my heart was heavy with sadness and compassion for this man and many others who showed up. One who is a girl 7 months pregnant living on the street and an obvious user. All I could do is cry out to God to comfort me and those hurting. I believe the Lord spoke to me and reminded me of his suffering here on earth and his compassion. What He seen and those he healed and that he had times where He had to cry out to God and pray for strength. How much more he loves and cares than I do. It is so much more than physical pain and suffering that He cares about. It’s our souls, our eternity. I prayed for their hearts to soften to His. That they would allow His healing in their lives and for His word to transform their lives. I only pray God uses me to help in the process, for their lives or for someone else. God also put few versus on my heart, for me and for the hurting

Psalms 28:8 The Lord is the strength of His people; He is the saving refuge of His anointed. 9. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The way God works is rarely what we expect. We are concerned with one thing and he is busy moving and doing things outside our field of vision. We went on vacation while going to get some papers we needed from the US embassy. During that time we were hoping to have God reveal for us more of our next steps. We have been in Brazil over a year and God seems to be directing that it is time to move more and more into our own ministry. Meaning more of a daily planned out, thought out, targeted ministry. I thought what we needed was to hear God say “stay in Foz and go to Porto Meira” or “Move to Rio de Janeiro and work with Aleixandre on the new property of theirs” perhaps “move to the Pantanal and begin a work with the simple farm workers there”. As a fishermen I was rooting for the Pantanal.

The funny thing is as we traveled and observed churches, pastors and missionaries. Even though we were on vacation. What I heard was God telling me to look at the fluidity of those whose lives are in order. What I seen is there is a big difference with those whose lives have a sense of order. Not everyone has the same amount of money. Not everyone who is in order looks the same. Some work part time, some go to school part time, some just work with the church but they all have a schedule. They all have routine.

How do I now apply this to my life. Well, I have desired more routine, more control but have been waiting to get busy so I would need a schedule. I then got busy but it had no continuity. Everything was in a different direction and I got tired. We have some kids that had been coming to church but our church isn’t equipped for children’s ministry, not at the same time as adults. So we started a Sunday afternoon program for them but this is a difficult time to get help. I was cooking food for Wed after service and running kind of a soup kitchen on Saturdays. This left me busy but not putting together a team for Sunday afternoons. I felt really good for a couple months. I was finally busy and feeling like a real missionary. Unfortunately I was watching what was going on and unhappy with the results.

“Vacation” helped me see nothing has been flowing together. I am currently reacting versus acting. In order to correct this I am going to stop a few things but more importantly schedule more. In order to get where we believe God is calling us we need to constantly prepare. I need to concentrate first on time with Him and the study of His word. If I want to disciple these kids, reach there parents, be fruitful in ministry I need to put far more hours into myself then I give. I already do good with my devotional life but I want it more scheduled so that I miss fewer days. Things come up, but if you are late on starting your devotions things come up more often. I am going to spend at least 3 hours a day 3 days a week preparing studies on certain topics and perhaps certain books of the bible. I am going to set aside an evening to meet with people who want to help with the youth outreach. I am going to set aside time to pray with the family. This fell away as we got busy but must return. I am going to be realistic. I am not a live by a calendar person. So I must have flexibility and real goals for change.

I believe the end result of scheduling and disciplining my time will be fruitful ministry wherever I go. Ministry that flows together and is productive not just busyness. I believe this will also help us to hear more clearly where God may lead us. He can’t lead us further until we learn to be disciplined here, it is His mercy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


We are finishing up the last day or two of our vacation/getting our documents. I am sitting in a beautiful church in Curitiba. I would move here if it wasn’t so stinking cold. It is amazing to me that over the course of these two weeks it is only in the last day that I have began to feel refreshed. Really it was last night that it all started to come together.

We got to Curitiba in time to visit the Wednesday night service of Calvary Chapel. Tom Stowe is currently pastoring here and we only met him last week. He is using Wednesday night as a worship, prayer, sharing, let the Spirit of God move kind of time. It was really beautiful. We started the evening by just waiting on the Lord, sitting a few minutes in silence and letting the busyness of life drift away. Letting God speak into our hearts before we entered into worship. During that time the song Shout to the Lord began going through my mind. I realized that in the last 3 weeks we have been with 3 different pastors, been in 3 cities, been in slums and rich neighborhoods. The one thing all men can do to be refreshed and healed is to shout to the Lord.

Sometimes we get so busy trying to figure out what we are doing. Whether it is work, college, retirement, missions, pastoring or even just being a kid. We get busy, we get rushed, we get tired and we get more broken.

I walked into a pharmacy inside the City of God a fairly notorious slum. 10 feet away I knew the guy behind the counter loves Jesus. It shown all over his being. He was reflecting the glory of God in his daily job. Excited to meet me and far more excited to know I was there as a missionary. His face shown with joy. He lives in a very hard, very poor place but he is living for the purpose which he was created.

I get frustrated, bitter, impatient and begin to compare myself to others when I loose sight of that purpose. The more I look around at all the other broken people the more I loose sight of who I am and what God is doing in me. The more I feel like a failure, the more I need to serve God to feel good, the more I need to think of myself. The more I think of myself the more broken I become.

Last night as I just remembered to shout to the Lord and enter into worship, for me that is often just listening and reflecting as singing is not one of my gifts, I was refreshed. We have had a relaxing wonderful time. The kids got to surf, I got to a little. We were blessed to lay on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. To visit a city many people only dream of going to. However that only prepared me for the refreshment I really needed.

As we worshiped and sought the Lord I seen all I need to do is praise Him. Looking up, looking directly at who has made me, looking for His pleasure not mine is what cures me of the sin that engulfs our world. If we don’t look up, glorify the lord, live our lives as an offering we will just continue to be tired. To be broken and dis-satisfied. If we praise Him, we will leave the things of this world behind and begin to see things in a very different way.

As we finish this time I see we have freedom. In the next 6 months to 1 year I believe we will finish our time in Foz. I don’t know that for certain but it is the sense I have. It isn’t a great place for our family to live. It lacks a lot of the things we would normally do to relax. We are satisfied in the ministry we are doing there but we have the freedom as we continue to learn and grow as missionaries and in the language to begin looking and praying for an area that suits us better. The point isn’t where we live or serve but do we glorify Him with the gifts and talents he has given us.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Much on our minds

We have had such a good first year. Officially July 2 was our 1 year anniversary in Brazil, but we got to Foz around the 20th. There is still so much to learn about Brazil, about being missionaries, about us as a family but this seems to be a time to start focusing on how to bring the different ideas and visions together into a plan.

What I mean, after a year of being here inhibited by language and newness you realize a lot of ideas have crossed your mind. It feels very much like the first year I had in business, everything you do you think is going to be the thing that takes off. Often it is actually just a one time thing but then later becomes a small piece of the overall picture. The lack of ability to communicate and a family of 6 prevent most of them from taking off. Eventually as many of you have read we began helping the church do a lunch for people who need help. This then led to us starting a service for kids because of the response we have been getting.

We had a group from Canada here for 2 weeks. They really focused much of their energy on youth ministry and outreach with that group of kids. They gave us a great boost and now we have a large group that seem to desire to grow.

Now what? We are able to get going. We have some momentum. Now what? God seems to be giving us clear eyes to see mistakes we have made. To see things we can do better. To see a picture of how those ideas fit  together. A vision of the ministry that is before us.

We need to learn how to incorporate this group of kids into the church. Right now it isn’t working real well. We are trying to get a service going for them on another day and get the parents to quit sending younger ones to services. We don’t have the space to educate adults and kids. We end up trying to contain the kids instead of educating.

We are going to begin praying about starting a youth center in one of the more at risk neighborhoods. Somewhere that would be set up as a youth outreach but could have bible studies. We are going to pray for people to come along side us in this and pray for contacts with churches in the area that want to learn and grow in youth outreach.

We are going to look for an opportunity to visit the west of Brazil. The Pantanal is perhaps the poorest and least evangelized part of Brazil. Melissa and I have a continuous growing desire to minister in a simpler place.

Next week we are going to leave on vacation in faith. We don’t exactly have the money but we need some papers from the US embassy. It will cost us an extra $650 or so to have the family go to Rio instead of just me. I believe this is a necessary time of rest and prayer. Tim is leaving and the church is transitioning to Brazilian leadership. I may or may not be a part of helping them. Regardless this is our time to begin stepping out and building our ministry. We need to pray first. Pray for God’s provision and an opportunity to connect with the YWAM bases that are already doing much of what is on our heart.


Thanks and love you all.