Monday, February 25, 2008
We have much to praise God for. The last days in Brazil were excellent. A "surprise" party for us the night before we left turned into an extended time for testimonies of what the Lord had done over the last years. A large number of people spoke, for between 2 to 5 minutes each. We were amazed and overwhelmed by the consistency and depth of people's words, and so thankful for what God has done in the Peregrinos. Our journey began with a send-off at the airport - never the easiest of moments, with high emotions and no time or space for the words that might actually do justice to it all. But we left - seeing the group still in the observation area even as we took off for São Paulo.
At São Paulo a problem with our airline's seating arrangements, already evident at check-in in Florianópolis, became clearer as we boarded the big Airbus, to find passengers milling about in a confusion of divided families and general mayhem. We kept quiet and sweet... in hope. And hope did not disappoint, as the steward arrived, telling us, in the tones normally reserved for bad medical news, that we were being upgraded to business class. We replied, in an appropriately quiet manner, stiff-upper-lipped, blitz-spirited and with clear echoes of Captain Oates, that we were prepared to go along with his suggestion. We managed to enjoy the journey very much.
On arrival we were met by parentals (2), progeny (1, male) and Caroline Nicholls, and after a cup of tea in Starbucks (not known for its tea, but not so bad) we had an uneventful journey home to Haywards Heath.
We are very grateful for the provision of a car for our stay: an Astra, property of Bob and Veronica Campen from Cuckfield, which they are keeping on for us having just bought another car. This is an ENORMOUS help in what will be by no means an easy year financially.
Our first Sunday back at HHEFC felt very "normal". We had a visiting preacher, Mark Lawrence of Dunstable, who opened up 1 Thess 2, morning and evening. The songs particularly, as ever, drew our attention, with the mix of doctrinal depth and passion which we miss so much.
It was Tom's 21st though. Hard to believe that our youngest is so old. But then, it will be a year of "hard to believe." Hard to believe - Cora graduated from WEST after 6 years hard work, our Silver Wedding, both our children married. Pray for us regarding the emotional ride ahead.
Back home in Florianópolis, we are thankful to hear good things of the first weekend since we left. Please remember Taybar especially, as he settles into the rhythm of preaching, teaching and pastoral care.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
We are in that final phase again - the big pack. Except that this time it is for six months. And with evaluations and medicals and everything to get through in order to come back. Six months of church visiting, ministry in Holland, Tom's twenty-first, Cora's dissertation, our Silver Wedding, the EMA, three graduations, Bec and Aidan's wedding, the Carey Family Conference, Tom and Emily's wedding...
In addition to thinking about all of the above for the UK pack Taybar and Patty will be living in the flat for the next 6 months, and we need to leave it in good order for them. And we are looking to move to another place soon after our return, so havce actually started some general house packing, in order to leave them more space too.
Our final Sunday here was excellent, with church lunch, baptisms and evening meeting with the Lord's Supper. The whole Peregrinos family seemed to be there (actually not all - some were far away... São Paulo, Los Angeles, Argentina, Chile, the UK) but we had record numbers for each part of the day. Thank you for praying. Andrew preached on Mark 7 and 8 - on the sovereignty of Christ to open blind eyes and deaf ears, and lead us to recognise him in his sufficiency to save. Great freedom. New people are turning up all the time, and we are very grateful for the signs of God's blessing.
All of this makes for this leaving being the most emotionally difficult yet. It is very hard - and yet we are desperate to see our children and wider family and church in the UK. What a strange life, to have your heart so firmly linked to two places.
Tonight there is a "surprise" farewell party, and tomorrow we fly. So much to do... We will try to get back to the blogging rhythm in the UK.
Singing with Taybar, Giovanna, Timóteo and Lídia after the three were baptised.
Further photos of the final days here are visible here.
Peregrinos' Carnival Retreat
Carnival fell early this year, and we havd a long weekend near the beach at Rio Vermelho, in the North of the island. We sought to brng new members up to speed with our basis and vision as a church by looking at the four aspects of church life visible in Acts 2:42. The days were hectic, made challenging by blocked toilets, and by a number of serious pastoral issues that were "uindergoing treatment" throughout the days. God was very good, and the event was an immense refreshment and moment of orientation.
Photos of the retreat can be seen here,
It was a joy to be involved in the ABU (UCCF) national leaders' training event in January. We spent two weeks with them, out of a three week conference, and believe that a key avenue for future ministry has been opned up for us. We are booked to return next year, and to be involved in the staff-workers' conference in October.
Photos of the IPL can be seen here.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Crossing the road - we see very few seriously big spiders - this was the first in all these years in South Brazil. But it is impressive when you can spot a spider while driving at speed. We stopped and went back to take a photo. Alex, an English friend of ours, drove over one the other day. He said that, as well as the shock of being able to clearly see its legs while driving at 80 mph, there was a distinct double thump as his tyres squashed it.
Glenn and Winifred Every-Clayton, at Praia Brava, Florianópolis
When we moved to Haywards Heath in 1987 we needed to come up to speed with the missionaries that the church already supported. One couple with whom we always got on well were Glenn and Winifred, who work in Recife, up in the North-East. We have stayed in touch with them over the years, but have seen less of each other since we came to live in Brazil than when we were in England. However, they recently come down to Santa Catarina for a conference, and we met up for a day in Florianópolis.
Visitors Urbano, Ruth and Samuel Vitalino on Joaquina beach
Samuel Vitalino, of Recife, now pastoring in Teresina, Piauí, has become a great friend over the last years. His visit to attend a family wedding was a real encouragement, especially his stunning preaching in Lamentations. Always a joy to see him and his family; on this occasion represented by mother and brother.
We have recently had a baptism, of Amanda, and hope to have another soon, of Giovanna, and possibly another person. Please pray for these new additions to the church.
The day Taybar and Patty arrived and were received as members in a church assembly.
IBE - Graduation
IBE had its third graduation for Bachelors students in December. Andrew was invited to be "paraninfo" - the teacher who comes alongside as a friend and guide, and who speaks at the graduation service. It has not been an easy period at IBE, but these invitations are always an immense privilege and responsability. The students specifically asked for a "sermon" - they got Mark 12 - the coin and the resurrection. On te one hand, agianst pharisasim, we need a spirituality that knows how to give to God what is God's AND to Caesar what is Caesar's. On the other hand, facing the liberal threat (in the college too) we need to know and trust the scriptures and the power of God.
The year ended for the ABU group with a party at Victor's flat, with Secret Santas and all. A good time was had by all.
ABUB /IPL National Training for Student Leaders and Staff Workers, Vitória, Espírito Santo.
We have both been invited to participate in the UCCF /IFES equivalent organization’s countrywide leadership training programme this month. Because of its strategic importance, we decided to go for two weeks of the 3 week programme. Please pray that we may be used through this event to equip student leaders, who will be from all parts of Brazil, to communicate the gospel with doctrinal soundness and cultural relevance. Pray especially that where the ABU groups are weak and currently ineffective, there will be increased confidence to evangelise their contemporaries. The vast majority of so-called evangelical churches in this country do not have a clue how to relate the gospel message to the lives of students who are bombarded with socialist, especially Marxist philosophies in almost all disciplines. We repeat our request for you to pray that church leaders will wake up to this responsibility.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
For those who happen to speak Portuguese, recordings of ministry at the Peregrinos can now be downloaded via links here.
This includes the tail end of Andrew's ministry on Abraham in Genesis, a series by other preachers on Philippians, and Andrew's current sequence in Mark. There are also a few one-offs.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Yesterday morning we had a good decision-making meeting. Discussion was wide ranging and intense, the church being unanimous with respect to the desirability of having Taybar working with us, but with a great deal of nervousness about the "how." As a church we have a limited income, being mainly non-salaried students, and what we receive is not enough to support a pastor, especially with high rent values, and the likely need to also hire a place for the church to meet. We have, however built up a reasonable reserve over the last months, so are looking to invite Taybar and Patty for a fixed period, set by the cost of rental and size of income/reserve, with the situation being constantly reviewed as (we hope) our income rises.
The decision yesterday, therefore, was a faith-stretching one. Those of us who tend in a more "hard-realism" direction find the situation very stressful. But we are sure that this step is crucial. Not least, the involvement of a Brazilian (and a very culturally-aware Brazilian at that) in the leadership of the church will help to protect us from the accusation that our "oddness" (as a Bible-teaching, conservative-evangelical church) is down to the presence of British missionaries.
Thank you for praying for us and with us at this important time. Rejoice in a good decision, well taken. Please pray on for the many key questions that must now be resolved. In particular, the difference of a few hundred reais on the rent of a flat will be critical: we need a miracle on this one!
Friday, October 26, 2007
This Sunday morning we have a meeting planned to consider inviting Taybar as a member of the pastoral team. There is not much more that needs to be said here - please pray for a good discussion and a solid consensus. The biggest issues are practical ones - we are a little church still, with many non-earners - can we support a worker?
The other major matter that still faces us is where to meet. The chapel is still undergoing repairs, and the university authorities are talking about charging - and charging a lot - when it reopens. Meanwhile, we generally do not know where we will be on a week to week basis. The possible cost of hiring the chapel obviously has implications for the support of a pastor too.
We have had a good week with Tom and Emily - although we wish it were two or more!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I want to start by speaking about disappointment. I was very pleased with what Marquito said earlier in leading the meeting because it’s exactly the way I want to deal with this passage. We all experience disappointment in one way or another. The circumstances of life aren’t what we wanted. Sometimes disappointment comes in a target that wasn’t reached; we wanted to do something, but the years go by, time goes by and the chance is gone. Or we start in a new direction and suddenly the dreams aren’t realised. I know that in terms of our conversations with each other, many of them are to do with disappointment; people who feel frustrated or disappointed. Frustrated because things aren’t turning out the way we’d like.
This is part of being human. We dream a lot and we lose out a lot. We always have dreams, expectations, but since the fall in Eden we have the curse of disappointment. Obviously, the biggest disappointment, is the end of life. Death comes to us all - life cannot deliver. However sweet your life may be, it has to come to an end.
But even before the end we are doomed to disappointment. The thorns and thistles and sweat and pain of a cursed world haunt us all our days. Nothing is easy, nothing lasts, nothing is perfect.
What a positive start for a sermon! Very suitable for an Englishman this weekend – rugby, Formula 1. etc.
What does the Bible tell us though? Jesus is the son of God, who entered this world of disappointment. In a way, he also experienced disappointment: friends who let him down (as the three disciples did who couldn’t even back him once by praying in Gethsemane), rejection, mistrust and betrayal. He was even confronted by a type of fame that didn’t help in his ministry – as we’ve already seen in Mark. His fame grew but this fame got in the way of his ministry. He was beset in this sense by “disappointments.”
Finally, and most shockingly: Jesus was a disappointment. Jesus didn’t disappoint by sinning, but by the fact that he didn’t fulfil expectations and desires of the people around him. He disappointed them e.g. Chapter 1 when there was a crowd wanting to be healed, and the disciples were all very excited, he said ‘I came to preach the Word in other places.’ This clearly left the crowd disappointed. The perspectives of Jesus didn’t fit with the expectations of the people.
At the same time he disappointed the religious leaders – they were expecting a great Messiah, who would get rid of the Roman invaders from the country. He didn’t deliver. Even worse, he ended up having dinner with prostitutes, tax collectors and the worst kind of people. This disappointed ‘more qualified’ people as to his understanding of the word.
So Jesus disappointed. But we can say more: Jesus can disappoint us as readers of Mark. This is a shock, isn’t it? It seems almost heresy. But here we are in Chapter 4 and there’s already a problem. Why?
Because in Chapter 1 Jesus has authority which is absolute. He can speak the word, call someone, and in this way, penetrate the heart of a human being. He speaks, and they follow immediately! And we’ve already said: not everyone can do this. If you try it, you’ll have problems. Because we don’t have this authority, but Jesus does have this authority, as we see in Chapter 1. He speaks and lives are transformed. So for me the big question at the end of Chapter 3, when even his own family are saying he’s crazy, and the religious leaders are saying he’s possessed, we have to ask “What’s going on?” How can this authoritative figure have so much opposition? Already in Chapter 3 there are people saying we want to kill him.
It’s into this disappointment that Jesus teaches the parables. I am trying in this introduction to put this all into context… because our method so often is to take the parables out of context. The correct context for them is rejection. And this is very important to remember. The response of Jesus to the rejection of the ‘experts’ is to teach the parables – to help us.
I want to give a general panorama of the parables in Mark. What Jesus gives us in this chapter is a vision of history – a vision of God’s plan in the sweep of history. The first parable is the key to understand all the others (v13). I thuink that we need to read Jesus' words in that way. What he’s saying isn’t ‘Well, this one’s easy, so if you can’t even get this one you won’t have a chance with the others!’ but ‘The others all have themes that relate back to this one’.
What Jesus says in the parable of the sower is something very natural and normal. It’s just what happens every time a sower does his work. Maybe it happened because a sower was working near Jesus at the time he was speaking – who knows. What’s the first thing that happens when a sower works? The birds come. And there’s always that part of the field which has been walked on, where the seed can’t get down into the soil, and a bird swoops and the seed’s gone. So it’s all pretty normal.
And there are other parts of the field which have rocks underneath, and the soil is warmer because of them, and the seed doesn’t get into the soil that far and so it grows very quickly - at least, a shoot appears above ground very fast. But this soil’s fatal, of course – more sun arrives and the plant has no way to get a root down to get water, so the plant which grew so quickly dies just as quickly.
The third thing – fields have ditches, for drainage or irrigation. Either way, they are always really green, lots of water, lots of good nutrients in the soil – so lots of things grow very well. So the seed grows well, but so do the weeds and the thorns. And they just out compete the seed, and finally choke the growth of the seed.
And the fourth thing – the end of the process of sowing – the harvest.
So Jesus is saying this is all pretty normal. This is something you see every year, this exact situation and sequence. There isn’t anything wrong with the sower or the seed in this because this happens every time. No problem with the seed or the sower – completely normal! No one says ‘Ahh.. must be a problem with the seed, or with the sower.’
The situation also shows there’s an implicit order in events. The first thing to happen is that the birds come. The second thing is that there is quick growth which dies away. The third thing is a stronger growth which is suffocated. And the fourth thing is the genuine crop. And Jesus applies all this to the preaching of the Word.
So what’s he saying? He’s saying we expect mixed results in the short term. Don’t worry, don’t go mad over the fact that ministry is being rejected, or that there is a mixed reaction. Don’t be shocked that there are people who love or hate what is being said. Jesus is saying that his target is a long-term one. The farmer who says ‘Oh, look! There are already some shoots in my field!’ and thinks that that is the end of the story has lost sight of the long-term goal. The mature farmer says ‘I’m waiting for the harvest.’
So Jesus says there will be mixed results. But he also says the long-term target is going to happen without doubt. It’s definite. In v8 30 times is the biggest harvest imaginable in Jesus’ day, so 60 or 100 times is a ridiculous number, way outside the imagination. And this is what he brings out in the other parables in the passage.
The arrival of the kingdom of God is INEVITABLE. V26-29. See what Jesus is emphasising? He’s speaking about the kingdom of God as something inevitable, almost automatic! As soon as the seed is in the ground, the process of the harvest is under way. The moment when someone sows the word, inevitably, the harvest will come. Doesn’t even matter what the sower does afterwards – he can be nervous or relaxed, but it’ll still happen.
Sometimes the church in its evangelism resorts to saying, in effect, ‘The Kingdom of God NEEDS YOU!’ Jesus is saying the opposite: the kingdom of God doesn’t need you. The kingdom will come, and Jesus will be the King of all things, as we’ve seen in Revelation 5. That will happen whether you get on board or not.
Ironically, that is the real argument for getting on board. Not because the kingdom NEEDS you, but because it WILL come. Who wants to come to that great day as an outsider, acknowledging Jesus by compulsion, and not with joy?
The kingdom also is coming in glory. The last parable says this. V30 – mustard seed. Jesus says ‘don’t get scared because the kingdom looks small. It might look worthless, but inside the seed there is the biggest plant in the garden.’ The fact that the kingdom looks small at any moment says nothing about the long-term.
The long-term is guaranteed and glorious.
And see how this fits into Jesus’ life at that point. Just because he’s getting rejected by so many influential people doesn’t mean everything’s gone wrong. He says, “It is normal! It is natural! It was to be expected!”
What Jesus says here is a biblical vision. The girls have been studying Daniel, and have probably already noticed that this vision in the parables is totally at one with his vision. He speaks of a great kingdom that will rise during the Roman era, that will come (gradually but inexorably) to dominate the world, and to which ultimately every other kingdom must show allegiance and submission. So the kingdom of God of these parables is prophesied in the OT.
The kingdom has begun with the coming of Jesus - and yet is still to come. We speak about the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’. The kingdom is here, the kingdom is yet to come. And because of this, the world still disappoints us. Because we’re still not in the complete kingdom, and that’s why we wait eagerly for the finished work.
The kingdom may look small and weak to us. In fact - it often does. that is God's way. Sometimes it is like a grain of mustard. Look at the cross of Jesus. There is the ultimate expression of the mustard grain! All the plans, all the kingdom of God, diminished to one dead man on a cross – the hope of the world and the glory of God focussed down to and dependent on one dead body. That is crushing disappointment. But there is the seed. At exactly that moment, the seed of salvation and Kingdom glory is planted.
I want to try and apply this to us. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear! Those who have ears to hear will invest in the kingdom of God. Those who think in terms of what they can get: career, person, car, house, etc, will end up disappointed. But those who put their trust Christ and in the coming kingdom of God will not be disappointed. Nothing can take it away from us.
The point for today is: Bury the disappointments of this life in the certainty that the kingdom to come is guaranteed and glorious. The hurts and pain, the missed chances and people who let us down. Our own self-hate and disillusion, Spend your time, effort and thought working for God in the future, and let God take care of your present. (Sometimes we say the opposite – worry about today, not about tomorrow, and that is Biblical, but actually there is no contradiction – we are to look for eternity.)
Look to the eternal goal. It is guaranteed, and glorious. It is the goal worth striving for.
So go for it! Because that is what Jesus did. He fixed his eyes on the great eternal glory, and he bore with patience the time for "mustard seeds." If that’s what he did for us, how much more should we strive to do the same for him.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Having not had a proper day off for a while, we were almost too tired to get much out of this one. However, we went for a walk on Barra beach. Having been for walks when we went looking for whales, and seen none, this time we went to a beach where they don't often show, and there is no high viewpoint to see them from - and we saw a family group. See photos here.
Nick McQuaker, one of the pastors at our home church, Haywards Heath Evangelical Free Church, came to visit for 11 days or so. It has been a long time since he was here - so much has happened - and it was really good to receive him into a very different situation from the one he saw last time. God really blessed his visit, in terms of personal communion, and ministry to the gathered church, in one form or another.
The Peregrinos Church Retreat - and questions of future leadership
The church at the retreat - 7 people who were present for at least part of the time didn't make it for this photo.
Nick ministered on Exodus 3/4; 14 and 19:1-6. His expositions were exceptional - just what we needed to hear, individually and corporately. Andrew did the interpreting - a new experience, and one which, although very exhausting, was surprisingly satisfying.
Taybar and Patty were also with us. The church is considering Taybar as a possible pastor in harness with Andrew. He is currently working as an auxiliary pastor in Blumenau, being particularly involved with a centre for drug rehabilitation. He would like to be teaching and preaching more, and the church here likes his approach and thoughtful expositions. He ministered on Friday night on Ephesians - Paul's prayer at the end of the chapter. On Saturday morning, after Nick's first exposition, Taybar opened up Daniel 1 - very clear and penetrating applications to the culture and life of the congregation. On the Saturday night we had an interview with the couple, which went a long way to building understanding and clearing the ground for a decision on a possible call to Taybar. Please pray on for this matter!
Taybar and Patty
Much volleyball on Saturday afternoon.
Testing the waters - a good walk on Campeche beach
Visit to Belo Horizonte
Nick's time in Brasil was divided between the days spent here in Florianópolis and a visit to BH, to be with and work with Rodrigo and Lívia. Andrew went too, doing the interpreting for a two-day workshop on Zechariah (immensely tiring - the most exhausting work I have ever done). Nick then preached on the Sunday at First Presbyterian, while Andrew preached four messages on Ephesians for the second anniversary of the Pampulha Presbyterian Church.
Nick with the group of pastors gathered for two days intensive training on preaching Zechariah.
Nick chatting with a number of Brazilian men of letters in a Belo Horizonte square. They didn't seem to be able to get a word in edgeways!
Sunday morning - 8.30 breakfast with Pampulha Presbyterian Church
Young people from First Presbyterian present as a group on Saturday night.
More photos of the visit to BH here
More workers for Floripa?
Another possibility in the long term (2-3 years) has come up. Mary Brown, a history student from UCL, has spent six weeks with the Peregrinos. She has been in the country before, and can already get by in Portuguese. She came to Maranata Bible Institute (Paraná) with us, attended Andrew’s classes at IBE, Cora’s Bible studies on OT prophets, Bible Studies on Mark at the University and the “Micro-Regional” meeting of the ABUB in Blumenau. She is seriously thinking and praying about supporting student work in South Brazil as a Staff Worker after graduating, and we hope and pray that this may come about. The University scene in southern Brazil so needs godly, theologically balanced workers! So please pray about this. She is on the right in the picture.
A more immediate possibility of help comes in the shape of Malcolm and Dana Philips, (on left of picture) both from the USA. They are coming to work in Floripa, where their desire is to work principally with students. Some Peregrinos have been helping Malcolm and Dana with language study, and they have been spending time with us, (talking theology and cooking), attending our church meetings on Fridays and Sundays, and “hanging out” with our students. They have also hosted the meetings of the church (the university chapel being closed for repair) during their time here. They are both theologically trained, with particular interest in apologetics, evangelism and (in Malcolm's case) the biblical languages. After completing their short stay (6 weeks or so) they have returned to the US for their final training and orientation programme with the International Missions Board of the Southern Baptists, by whom they have been accepted to serve as missionaries. Please pray for them as they pursue the goal of returning to work here from early January 2008.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
We are trying to get the blog up to date after a very long gap! Please excuse the delay. There is something about the process of changing countries, the resultant emotional turmoil and quase depression, that seems to make blogging very difficult. But we know that people are praying for us, and that we need to keep you all posted with information. So here goes.
Following the changes to blogger that have made picture posting more difficult, we are just popping a few photos into the text, to break it up and keep it lively, but will give links to facebook albums that have more pictures. That way the picture gluttons can get their fill, and those who just want text will not be deluged with pixels.
Visit to the UK - July August 2007
The visit to the UK was the most preplanned and busy we have ever had. It seems that every moment had already been defined before we even left Brazil, although we managed to do a few spontaneous things. It was broken up into three main bits: the Cornhill International Summer School (Andrew) and the Apologetics for Leadership Course run by the Christian heritage Centre in Cambridge (Cora); the Carey Family Conference, and a week at home in Haywards Heath as a family.
The main event at a personal level was Bec's engagement to Aidan Severs. We spent time with Aidan and his family at Christmas and again on this trip. All of us are very pleased!
Tom is going out with Emily Runciman, and she came to stay for some of our last week in England. We had a good time.
Separation from our children doesn't get any easier, but we are thankful for all that the Lord is doing in their lives. Here is a picture of the current shape of the family, as at Carey 2007.
Andrew, Tom, Emily, Aidan, Bec, Cora
General UK visit pics here.
The Cornhill International Summer School
Bible Study group - each man represents a different country
Cornhill paid a large proportion of Andrew's ticket to the UK, in order for him to participate in this excellent event. Among 70 odd students, over 33 countries were represented - by far the most international gathering I have ever attended. The dominant continent was Africa, with Europe, Asia and Australia following, and the Americas crawling in a poor fifth. It was a great privilege to get to know brothers from so many countries, and to learn something of their work. What a time of opportunity and challenge we are living in!
While at Cornhill, Andrew stayed in Denmark Hill at Barbara Arscott's house. In a happy coincidence, ex-Grovies Ian and Heather Thompson (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland) and David and Ruth Jones (Presbyterian Church planting, Tasmania) were also staying in South London. It was strange and wonderful to be together again, in this photo with Barbara, Annie Ashton, and Adrian and Ruth Butler. What a privilege is friendship, and how good to be part of God's great family!
The Carey Family Conference
Carey this year was a very good one, that just seemed to fly by. Mark Troughton from York Evangelical Church was the main speaker, bring a series of studies on Conflict Resolution in the church. We both contributed: Andrew preached on the death of Sarah, and we led seminars on Music in the Church (Andrew) and a Biblical Theology of Nations. (Cora)
More Carey Family Conference Pics here
Back home to Florianópolis: at Sambaqui
(Photo: Mary Brown)
Yachts at Santo Antônio de Lisboa, looking towards the bridges.
A University friend of Tom's, Mary Brown, is visiting us for 6 weeks. (Actually she arrived nearly a week before we got back from the UK - a little challenge to stretch her Portuguese!) Mary did the Apologetics course in Cambridge with Cora, which was a good way to get to know each other before the time in Brazil. Her visit has been a delight to us, and to others with whom she has come into contact. The younger Peregrinos have made strong friendships with Mary, and we hope and pray that she may be able to come back. The University scene in southern Brazil so needs godly, theologically balanced workers!
Visit to Maranata, end of August
We went with Mary to Maranata - the first time we have done two visits to the same year-group. It was good to work with students that I had already got to know in May, and even more encouraging to see thir progress. Maranata is as lovely in its surroundings as ever, and going through a time of recovery and development after a stormy period.
Micro-Regional Conference of the ABUB in Blumenau
Our local university CU having joined ABU (the Brazilian UCCF) we got roped-in to participate in a regional conference in Blumenau. It would seem that such ministry may begin to open up as a significant part of our lives in the future: please pray for wisdom and strength in this important work.
More photos of the ABU conference here.
IBE - Homiletics I class, with half the group young Peregrinos.
Front row from left: Demerval, Aimoré, Lara, Mary, Bernardo
Back row: Wladimir, Rogério, Rodrigo, Eric, Solomon
At IBE this semester Andrew is teaching Homiletics (Mondays) to a group composed in large part of young Peregrinos. On Tuesdays he is with a mixed-year IBE group looking at the general letters.
We have also returned to find that we are losing some people. André and Josi have not been in membership long, and they arrived already knowing that they could be called at any time to move to the North of the state. However, they had already been waiting two years for the summons, and it is a blow to lose them so soon. In addition, Josi's brother Fábio, who was baptised in July, will move with them. André is now undergoing a period of training in Rio, before the definite move to São Francisco do Sul or Joinville. Please pray that they may find a good church in the new town: we already have some contacts.
On the positive side, Lara has now come into membership, and we have other visitors. We are currently unable to use the University Chapel, as it is undergoing (much needed) repairs. We may well have to pay for the use of the premises on our return. For the moment we are meeting in a house owned by the Southern Baptist Mission (IMB) and presently occupied by our friends Malcolm and Dana Philips, a young couple who we met earlier in the year who are considering service in Brazil, specifically in Florianópolis. Their friendship, hospitality and theological sanity have meant a lot to us in recent days.
We are also in the process of considering a possible pastor for the church: Taybar, whose wedding photos can be seen under September of last year. But there is so much to sort out! Please pray for us.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
A really good Sunday - a constructive members' meeting in the morning, and a good meeting in the afternoon. Evangelistic preaching from Acts 16 - paving the way for a series in Philippians while we are away.
Church membership reached 27 today.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
We have an important meeting for members of the church tomorrow morning, to deal with a number of matters, including an application for membership, but also to give time for the first airing of some possible directions for future leadership and pastoral care of the church. Please pray - we meet from 9.00 in the morning.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Questions for Confessional answers: Fábio before.
Roberta after: a moment before praying for her, still in the pool.
The two are received into membership at the Lord's Table: Elisa prays for Roberta before André prays for Fábio.
Last Sunday was a wonderful day. The baptisms were held at a neighbouring Baptist church in the afternoon, and all went well. Alex even managed to get the water comfortably tepid - all three of those who were to get wet were a bit concerned on this point. The sermon was from Acts 17 - the four great moments in history: Creation, Judgement, Cross/Resurrection and Now. Baptism is a gift from God to make a particular "Now" very memorable as the moment of application of a seal of his gospel to us. We said the Nicene Creed together, prayed, and baptised the two young people.
The evening (5 o'clock) meeting went even better. A good number, an exposition of 1 Cor11, and the Lord's Supper. Plus the two new members. Thank you for praying!
Photos thanks to Alex.
Friday, June 29, 2007
This Sunday (1st June) we will be baptising Roberta and Fábio, God willing. Given the temperature at this time of the year, we are glad that it wil not occur in lake, sea, river or swimming pool, but in the heated baptistry of a local church.
Both young people are from Roman Catholic families. Fábio's sister, Josi, is already a member of the church, having been an Evangelical Christian for some years. Roberta is the first in her immediate family to join an Evangelical Church. She came to a full faith in Christ while doing confirmation in the RC Church, and has had a two year pilgrimage to this point. Please pray for the two of them, and for others who may come to the meeting.
Visit from Ronaldo Pernambuco
The Peregrino who peregrinates more than any other is Ronaldo Pernambuco. He made a very significant contribution to the life of the church in 2005 to 2006, and then left us for Monte Verde, São Paulo. He is now about to go to the UK, to do the EMF course at Welwyn. He came down for a week, while we were in Maranhão, and in the short time made an impact on those who have only arrived since he left. Solid in theology, catholic in spirit, always warm, encouraging and wise, he is a real blessing to us. We hope and pray that his time at Guessens will be really useful, preparing him for ministry back home in Brazil. It would be no bad thing if he ended up moving back here to Florianópolis!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
We have much to report.
Please note that, because of technical difficulties in posting photos in the Blog, this time there are albums of photos in Facebook, and links in order to see them. We hope that this does not inconvenience regular readers! In order to make comments on the photos, it is necessary to me a member of Facebook, but this is not hard, and can be useful!
Things continue to progress well. Roberta will be baptised this Sunday, God willing. It is great to see someone being baptised who has such a clear understanding of the gospel – her pilgrimage from a serious Roman Catholic background, leaving no theological stone unturned, has made her a sharp-minded and strong young Christian. The general atmosphere in the church is good, with a good level of fellowship between the older, long term members, and the new arrivals. And more new arrivals are older now!
We went with a group of the youngies to the Festa do Pinhão in Lages - an interesting event, which is supposed to celebrate gaúcho culture. We had a good time, anyway!
Goiânia - The Colloquium Conference
The Colloquium conference was very good! It is the one event in the annual calendar where we go to receive - just to hear the Word consistently ministered. Jerram Barrs and Hans Bayer spoke in a tremendously helpful and challenging way. Hans on Mark 8 and 9 took us to depths of insight into God’s grace that we had never glimpsed before. Jerram’s talks on culture were exactly what we who work in Brazil needed to hear. All was full of grace and life and warmth – Christianity with a human face indeed.
Hans’ wife Susan came too, and fellowship with this couple was excellent. Both were converted through the Schaeffers in the early 70s, and together with Jerram brought something of the flavour of L’Abri from that period to life for us. Our dream is to see a ministry in Florianópolis along these lines, and we were spurred on by our conversatyions with the Bayers and with Jerram. One remark of Susan's was of particular value: she said that the Schaeffers prayed that the Lord would send those who were genuinely seeking and keep out those who would damage the work - and then received with open arms all who who arrived at the door. This practical prayerfulness and prayerful practicality seems to me to express the very essence of faith and was a great encouragement to us.
We were accompanied on the trip by Taybar, Patty’s husband, and had excellent fellowship with him.
Photos of the Colloquium conference here.
The MICEB was a wonderful experience for us, on many levels. It was the fortieth anniversary of the mission, with major decisions to take. What a privilege to minister the word on such an occasion.
MICEB is a joint mission that brings together Christian workers from Canada, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. The main fields are with the indigenous people, the river people, street kids, church planting and theological education. Missionaries are spread out through the states of Amazonas, Pará, Maranhão and Piauí. (This is an area considerably bigger than Western Europe.) The conference is an annual event, and for most people, the only chance to see one another.
The conference takes place at Mosqueiro, a beach resort on the Amazon a little outside Belem. The Amazon never ceases to amaze. (If you look at the photos, just remember - that is NOT the sea - it is fresh water!)
During our time in Belem we visited the Benevides rubbish tip where Lynne McLeavy is working with the community that lives on and off the rubbish. An eye-opener – we have been in poorer housing, but we have probably not seen poorer people with more serious health problems. At the same time, a community full of life and with a certain spirit and humour that belies the situation. A very heavy rain shower while we were there meant that we took shelter with one family, and were there when the lights failed. This was a good thing – it is good to receive hospitality, and the chat with the children was great.
Photos of the MICEB conference here.
Photos of the Benevides tip here.
São Luis and the Lençois Maranhenses.
After Belem we took a few days off for a rest, and also to see our friend Emílio in Sao Luis. It was the first time we had met face to face. Emílio is a Peruvian, working at a preacher-training course very much along the lines of our own work. I spent a happy afternoon in conversation with him. His photo is in the last link listed below.
From São Luis we went to Barreirinhos to see the Lençois Maranhenses – a huge area of sand dunes with a high water table, leading to the formation (in the rainy season) of limpid pools and lakes. The experience is quite unlike anything we have even seen – land and water-scapes with an other-worldly, even computer-generated quality. A trip on the Preguiça (Sloth) River was also wonderful. It is very strange to be on a big river (by British standards) and to see NO evidence whatsoever of pollution throughout a day – not a single bottle or plastic bag.
We were much blessed in the provision of friends on the holiday - another couple a little older than us, and a mother and daughter. We got on very well, with similar interests and rhythm of enjoying the days. We hope we may stay in touch - it would be good to pray for this. Teresa and Roseanne are traditional Catholics; Arcélio and Adenil neo-pentecostals.
All in all we had a good time. He return to Florianópolis was a little spoiled by the on-going airport problem – an air-traffic controllers’ work to rule sparked off by the Gol crash last year. However, we got home in time to see most of the folks who had had prayer meeting in our home. It is good to be back with the Peregrines.
Photos of the Lençois here.
Photos of the day on the river and the Little Lençois here.
General images from São Luis and Barreirinhos and region here.