"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hope from Isaiah 55:1-11

Isaiah 55: 10-11 "The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."

I'll be honest, it's hard for me to read the above and not spend a little time on the words "always" and "prosper everywhere I send it" (italics mine) in regards to His word. If you've spent even a little time actively trying to reach people with the Good News you can get tripped up with those words because, well, so many people seem to be uninterested in this eternity changing free gift.

I know the Evil One tries to plant seeds of discouragment with every "no" we hear. It's also especially hard to hear "of course I'm coming" or "of course I'll be there" a few hundred times and never actually see those people come to anything. This brings disappointment as well.

This week God reminded us that His word (not our words or our actions) is active and it works even when we think not much is going on.

A couple of days ago I got a call from a really good friend of mine. He's a great friend actually but, I'll confess, there's been some distance between us lately. Partly his fault, partly mine. I'm not proud of it but that's where we are. For a long time, I diligently reached out to him to become a Christian, giving him many opportunities to accept. He would always say just what I wanted to hear, but never followed through on putting anything into practice. After a while, I got tired of trying. We are still good friends but we just don't see each other as much as we used to.

Lately, I've been reading the writings of George Müller and one thing he encourages is praying daily with your wife. You'd think as a Christian missionary I wouldn't need a kick in the pants to start getting serious about doing this but the book has made us (both Benay and myself) try to be consistent in daily getting together for prayer. Benay has a little book and she has been writing down everything we pray about.

One of the things we began praying about is specific people. We pray for them by name. My friend and his family are on our list. "Out of the blue" he called two days ago. He asked how we are doing. He asked how house church is going and he wants to bring his family by our house tomorrow for a visit. God is good.

Yesterday afternoon I took the kids to see a movie and to let Benay have a free afternoon as she is battling the beginnings of a cold. While at home she heard the doorbell. She went to answer it and saw that it was another friend who had visited our house church with his family a couple of times in January/February. We literally haven't seen them since then. We've traded emails with them but haven't seen them. He was bringing a baby shower invitation to us for his little girl that will be born about a week before our little boy. He said they haven't forgotten about house church, want to come back but it has been hard with his girlfriend being pregnant (they only have a motorcycle which makes double riding a little difficult). It was a great surprise to hear from them again and to have them invite us to this big day for them.

After Benay told me about this visit we thought about the verse above. It reminded us that God is in control. You'd think I'd know this by now but I constantly need to be reminded. It's good to be reminded that no matter how long (over 5 years) or how short (2 house church visits) the amount of time you spend with someone, His word always produces fruit. It will accomplish "all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We're Mobile Again

Our house church went to their house a couple of weeks ago to help them celebrate the one year anniversary of the signing the papers on this house. What an incredible blessing for them, and for their church family, to see the way God moved to make it possible for them to buy a house. It was an impossibility with man but we all saw the way God worked in His way and His timing. It was only through Him that it was possible.

Our teammates, Sascha and Jennifer Terry, were there as well. Because Claudio and Rute's house is in a suburb of Porto Alegre, 30-40 minutes away, the Terrys have been consistently going to Claudio and Rute's house weekly to worship with and encourage them. The Terrys then come home and are part of another house church that meets in their home in the afternoon.

The Sunday we shared together was truly a celebration. Claudio works all night on Saturday night but still takes part in house church on Sunday morning. I honestly don't know how he does all he does. He is on a bus 4 hours a day, 6 days a week, and works 8-10 hours per day. His only off day is Sunday but he faithfully opens his house and celebrates worshipping God with his family.

We had a great time at their house.

We enjoyed a time of praise together and we then shared a meal.
Benay and Claudio.

The kids had a great time hanging out. Garrett brought two of his classmates to experience house church.

Rute, Rosana and Benay.Me and Jennifer. This verse from Joshua 24:15 says it all about the way they live and the way they use their house.
Claudio, Rute and their girls were literally some of the first people we met 6 years ago when we moved here. We lived in the same apartment building for almost 2 years. They reached out to us and cared for us. Their girls are all about the same age as our girls. God blessed us in allowing us to see them get married and baptized on the same day as well as seeing one of their girls give her life to Christ. We have been blessed to have them in our lives. Please pray for them to continue to be a light in their new neighborhood and that God will bring many people to the church that meets in their house.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Matt (our teammate) reminded me this morning that today marks our 6 year anniversary in Brasil. Six years ago today we got off the plane and began this fun, stressful, spiritually growing, frustrating, exciting, maddening, totally humbling, completely reliant on God work to help bring the Good News of Christ to the people of Porto Alegre.
Our whole team (and all our stuff) in the Porto Alegre airport, June 23, 2002.

There have been days when I've wondered why God chose us to do this, but many more days of praise and thankfulness that He allows us to walk hand in hand with Him as well as our teammates, our incredible Brasilian brothers and sisters, and our not-yet Christian friends.

We don't know how much longer God will ask us to stay here in Brasil before He sends us on another adventure, but we are very happy to feel His peace in knowing that we are right where He wants us to be right now.
Bronwyn, Ansley, Garrett, and Carys at the time of our arrival in 2002. They are standing on the balcony of the hotel where we stayed for a few weeks when we first arrived in Porto Alegre.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living Expectantly

This was part of a message from Chuck Swindoll that we received this week:

Do you live expectantly? Do the little things excite you? Do you imagine the improbable and expect the impossible? Life is full and running over with opportunities to see God's hand in little things. Only the most sensitive of His servants see them, smile, and live on tiptoe.

Children can teach us a lot about this kind of expectancy. Did you ever listen to a child pray? Their faith knows no bounds. And who are the least surprised people when God answers prayer? The children.

As we get older we grow too sophisticated for that. We use phrases like, "Let's be realistic about this." We lose that expectancy, that urgency of hope, that delightful, childlike, wide-eyed joy of faith that keeps us full of anticipation and excitement. May God deliver us from a grim, stoic, stale shrug of the shoulders! "Look, I haven't changed," He says. "I still delight in doing impossible things. I love to surprise you!"

When I read this, I couldn't help but remember something that happened with our daughter Ansley about 10 years ago (she was 5 or 6 years old). We had a computer and Ansley had just gotten a new computer game. But evidently we needed an upgrade because every time she wanted to play the game, it would go to a certain point in the game, and then stop with a message saying that our computer didn't have enough memory to continue past this point. I told Ansley that this game probably wouldn't work on our computer. A little while later, she told me "Mom, I KNOW my game is going to work tomorrow. Because I prayed to God and asked Him to fix it and I KNOW that it will work." She was so sure of herself that I didn't have the heart to tell her that it probably still wouldn't work (I mean, does God install more computer memory??). Evidently He does. Because the next day and everyday after that, the game worked. Same computer, same game. A little girl with child like faith and a mom who learned that God DOES love to surprise us.

Friday, June 20, 2008


My(Kevin) dad ministers to our family in many ways. One special way is that he periodically sends us good books. He and I are very close. I share many personal things with him and so he has a good pulse for what I need to read. His timing is usually right on the money.

Sometimes he sends books from his favorite authors (like Brennan Manning) and other times he sends some that someone has recommended to him or others that he's found on his own. He found a short little book entitled "Anyway.....The Paradoxical Commandments" and sent it to us last year. The author is Kent M. Keith.

Here are his 10 "paradoxical" commandments:

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.

Help people anyway.

Give the world your best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Last weekend

This past weekend was a real encouragement for our church family. We had some really good things that happened. Instead of trying to write about them all I decided I would piggy back (okay steal) from Matt's (our teammate) blog. You can read all about the great weekend here.

Check it out. You'll be encouraged.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ansley's Trip

We just took Ansley to the airport. She'll be spending the next 6 weeks in the United States (or the Hoo-nited States as Anderson calls it) with both sets of grandparents and spending time with lots of her friends.

While on our furlough to the states last year she and Bronwyn went to a church camp. Ansley LOVED the week there and made some friends that she stayed in touch with over the past year. A few months ago she decided to not have a 15th birthday party and chose instead to use the money, that would have been used for her party, to help buy a round trip ticket to the United States.

You need to understand that a 15th birthday party for a girl in South America is a HUGE deal. We've been to some that have been fancier than most weddings we have been to here. So for Ansley to decide not to have a party and go to the states you know it had to be a big deal.

We picked up the kids early from school this morning. Ansley's friends walked out with her to tell her bye. Ansley told us the school newspaper took pictures of her and interviewed her before she left today because of her trip. Benay had talked to the director of the school the other day to tell her of Ansley's trip and find out about homework, etc. The director, Angela, asked about the trip and Benay told her of Ansley's decision to forgo her party here in favor of going to the states to go to the camp as well as possibly spending a week on a mini missionary trip that youth group is planning on taking. Benay summed up these activities as "volunteer projects with a group of American students". Angela thought that was just incredible and told the school newspaper to find Ansley today and interview her. We had a good chuckle on the way to the airport.

We got to the airport and got Ansley checked in. She had lots of good helpers.
We are thankful that our kids are givers. Carys wanted to give Ansley something before she got on the plane. She used her own money to buy Ansley some flip flops and also made her a card.
Ansley loved it.
Here is the card.She even had some visitors come to the airport to tell her bye. The boy is from school. I think he might be a little sweet on Ansley since he ditched school to hang out with "us" for a couple of hours. Or maybe he just likes to ditch school.
After some last minute instructions from a fellow solo international traveler.......... .....as well as a group prayer, she said her goodbyes and was ready to get on the plane............but not before Garrett and Carys gave her two more presents.
Carys gave her happy meal toy to Ansley to put in her backpack. And Garrett............he gave the McDonald's receipt. Like I said, our kids are givers.

Ansley has been covered in prayer this week from our Brasilian family. On Sunday's celebration the entire church family surrounded her and laid hands on her while she was prayed over. Sunday morning another brother prayed specifically for God's angels of protection to protect every flight she has and that they would take care of our daughter every day while she is away. Today I awoke to an email from my dad letting us know that his Tuesday morning prayer group had prayed the exact same thing. This morning another brother came to our house to pray for this trip as well, and then we had the blessing of praying with our teammates, Sascha and Jennifer, at the airport five minutes before she went to her plane.

We believe in prayer.
We ask that you pray for Ansley's protection every step of the way. That she will not be anxious about anything but will feel the Spirit's presence every second. Also that she will be a light to those she comes in contact with during this trip.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Winter Has Arrived..........What Do We Do?

Ecclesiastes 4:11-"And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone?"

Winter officially starts on Friday but we have been hit with cold temperatures the last few nights. The newspaper said it got down to 32 degrees fahrenheit this morning. When that happens you have to do whatever you can do to stay warm. Our family follows the wise counsel of Ecclesiates:
I'm sure some who read this think of Brasil as being warm year round, and in some parts that is very much the case. In the southern parts, however, we have 4 distinct seasons and when winter hits, it is as bad or worse than any winter we've ever experienced in the states. Not because it is so much colder but because no one has central heat. If you have heat, it is in the form of electric or gas room heaters or, as in some restaurants and finer establishments, a wall unit called a "split" which does hot and cold air. It's more expensive than the other but does a great job of heating a smaller room.

Another reason it is insanely cold is that our homes are made out of concrete with no insulation. So our house, especially the upstairs, is almost unbearably hot in the summer with temperatures constantly in the 90's and almost unbearly cold in the winters as the cold comes in our house and doesn't leave. In the winter it is almost always colder inside your house than outside.

These cold nights have been very rough on our three youngest kids. They all have colds and coughs right now. I know the cold doesn't cause sickness (from what little my brain remembers from my physical therapy school days) but I don't think getting out of bed in the morning and seeing your breath is a good thing either.

So tonight, as we start our 7th winter in Southern Brasil, Benay and I finally decided to go out and buy some new heaters for the smaller kids' rooms.

As I walked back to the car with our two heaters in my hand, I began to think about something else I read in this morning's paper. Two street people died last night because of the cold.

You see we live in a third world country. Although it might be hard to realize this if you visited our city because our city has everything you would want. Great restaurants, great schools, great neighborhoods to live in, big malls, movie theaters, nice cars and great houses and apartments. But, in the middle of all the wealth, is extreme poverty. You cannot escape the poverty. When you are at a traffic light, people of all ages will approach your car asking for money. Some might want to wash your window, some might try to sell you pencils or oranges, some might juggle, and on and on, but the bottom line is they want money. We've seen kids as young as Anderson (4) on the streets at 10 at night asking for money.

You don't want to get calloused to what is around you, but we've also seen first hand people using our gifts to buy drugs instead of food or clothing. You find yourself becoming cynical at who "really" needs your help and who is just trying to feed an addiction.

Just last week Benay and I were approached in a mall by a woman with a young child. She lives in the interior of our state and she had to come to the city to have medical tests done on her daughter and she just needed $20 to buy bus fare to get back home. We probably have heard that same story 20 times from 20 different people since we moved here. You do not want it to, but cynicism sets in and you begin to roll your eyes when you hear the same story again instead of thinking compassionately first.

The class disparity that exists here is something I've never seen before. In the states you can live your entire life in a city and never see poverty because it tends to be kept in a specific area. Benay and I took our two smallest children to a birthday party Sunday and drove down a street that had, on the left side, a huge "shanty town" called a "favela" and, on the right side, a yacht club.

I know we can't help everyone but, as I plugged in our new heaters, I couldn't help but think what could have been done to keep two men from dying alone, cold in the street last night. Alcoholism is a big problem among the poor here, and we have come to learn that many times it gets started because alcohol is the only way that the people can keep warm on a cold winter's night. Not to excuse the misuse of alcohol, but it makes it easier to understand how someone could use whatever means necessary to keep warm.

Since leaving the states, my eyes have been open to the poverty that exists in the world and how so little is being done to help. We see it first hand every day.

Please ask God to touch our church family in a way that we will feel a burden to do something. It is much easier to talk about it than actually do something about it. It's much easier for me to blog about it than to want to get my hands dirty.

Pray for us, in whatever way God is leading, to get dirty.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Garrett, Nathan and Corbin

For almost 5 years we lived in a very small town in Mississippi. We were involved with a tightly knit church family while there and became friends with lots of different people. Our church family took care of us in many different ways and was always ready to lend a helping hand. Some of our closest friends to this day are people from Grenada, Mississippi. The Hill family has a special place in our hearts. Ted became one of my closest friends and his wife, Monica, became a special friend to Benay as well during our time in Mississippi. It's a relationship that even though 5-6,000 miles separate us and we only get to see each other every other year, it feels like we were just with them yesterday. They are special to our family.

Garrett's BEST friends are the ones he made Mississippi. He has tons of great friends here but he still talks about 2 boys from Grenada that are his best buddies. It's funny, but we moved away from Mississippi when Garrett was only 4 years old and have been back for very short visits since then but he has never forgotten his buddies Nathan and Corbin.

Here is a photo of them when we (Corbin's dad Jason) and I took them to a Memphis Grizzlies NBA game in 2002. From left to right is Corbin, Nathan and Garrett.
And a photo of them after the game. I'm assuming we took them on St. Patrick's day as noted by the transformation into leprachauns.
Here is a photo of Garrett and Nathan last year on our furlough. Corbin has since moved to another state and so it has become harder and harder to get to see him.

Here is Benay with Monica.

Me and Ted.
When my parents were here in January, Garrett sent a package back with them to be sent to Nathan. It was filled with Brasilian goodies.

A couple of weeks ago Nathan returned the favor and sent Garrett a package. You need to understand that when Benay and I get something from the states it is a really good day. When the kids get something just for them......it's Christmas. The opening dragged on a little bit as Garrett wanted to savor every moment as he got the package as soon as he got home from school. He began the process in the kitchen:

But then moved to the den and asked for some knife help to open the package.

The first thing he got was a hand written note from Nathan.Unfortunately we had to take a break and go eat lunch (kids only go to school a half day here). It was one of the fastest lunches Garrett ever ate and he was soon back to opening the box. He got a Tennessee Vols cap.
Some flavored marshmallows............and some Dr. Pepper (now it's Christmas for me!). I think Ted put this in for me as a special "remember the good ole days" present. Ted and I used to work together. We used to go jogging and sometimes rode bikes together. I think the exercise was an excuse to feed our other habit.......drink Dr. Pepper together. Some mornings we would start our day off with Dr. Pepper and biscuits, honey buns, or insert your favorite artery clogging food here. Some days we had to stay late to see patients or work on paper work and we, of course, used Dr. Pepper to help us cope with the late hours. Anyway, as you can tell from his face in the picture, Garrett has inherited his dad's love for DP. We were all happy with Garrett's presents. I said earlier that Garrett's BEST friends are the ones he made in Mississippi. I don't think our family as a whole has any better friends than these. We love you guys!(most of our family with the Hill family - Ted, Monica, Cody, Nathan and Erin)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Your God is a Good God

by Max Lucado

Use your uniqueness to take great risks for God!

The only mistake is not to risk making one.

Such was the error of the one-talent servant. Did the master notice him? Indeed, he did. And from the third servant we learn a sobering lesson. “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground’ ” (Matt. 25: 24–25).

Contrast the reaction of the third servant with that of the first two.

The faithful servants “went and traded” (v. 16). The fearful one “went and dug” (v. 18).

The first two invested. The last one buried.

The first two went out on a limb. The third hugged the trunk.

The master wouldn’t stand for it. Brace yourself for the force of his response. “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest” (vv. 26–27).

Whoa. What just happened? Why the blowtorch? Find the answer in the missing phrase. The master repeated the assessment of the servant, word for word, with one exclusion. Did you note it? “I knew you to be a hard man” (v. 24). The master didn’t repeat the description he wouldn’t accept.

The servant levied a cruel judgment by calling the master a hard man. The servant used the exact word for “hard” that Christ used to describe stiff-necked and stubborn Pharisees (see Matt. 19:8; Acts 7:51). The writer of Hebrews employed the term to beg readers not to harden their hearts (3:8). The one-talent servant called his master stiff-necked, stubborn, and hard.

His sin was not mismanagement, but misunderstanding. Was his master hard? He gave multimillion-dollar gifts to undeserving servants; he honored the two-talent worker as much as the five; he stood face to face with both at homecoming and announced before the audiences of heaven and hell, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Was this a hard master? Infinitely good, graciously abundant, yes. But hard? No.

The one-talent servant never knew his master. He should have. He lived under his roof and shared his address. He knew his face, his name, but he never knew his master’s heart. And, as a result, he broke it.

Who is this unprofitable servant? If you never use your gifts for God, you are. If you think God is a hard God, you are.

For fear of doing the wrong thing for God, you’ll do nothing for God. For fear of making the wrong kingdom decision, you’ll make no kingdom decision. For fear of messing up, you’ll miss out. You will give what this servant gave and will hear what this servant heard: “You wicked and lazy servant” (v. 26).

But you don’t have to. It’s not too late to seek your Father’s heart. Your God is a good God.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Our due date is 3 months from today. Benay has always delivered our kids a few days early so three months from today we should be holding our (still unnamed.....keep the name ideas coming) little boy.

This date and the fact that we went and saw our doctor yesterday made me think about sharing our friend with you.

When we were surprised to find out that Benay was pregnant with Anderson, we had only been in Brasil for a little over a year and Benay had not yet found a OB-GYN.

One of our sisters recommended a doctor named Claudia to us. We went and loved her.

This is Benay and Claudia just a couple of months ago:One of the things that we love about Brasil is the great medical care. From the first visits that we had with doctors here (me in the ER for stitches) we've been greatly impressed with the way they care for us, spend time talking to us and order tons of tests to get to the bottom of any problem, big or small. I know that "should" be the norm for a doctor but unfortunately it isn't.

Claudia has been a huge blessing to Benay and myself. She's more than a doctor, she's a friend. She's rejoiced with us through the birth of Anderson and through this pregnancy and she's suffered with us through the loss of our baby in 2006. One great memory I have of her is how she allowed our house church to pray over her and her anesthesiologist at the hospital before they went and did a surgery on Benay. She humbly and graciously accepted and they both thanked everyone involved for asking God to watch over them and Benay. I will never forget that night.

She was so excited for us when we went back to see her for the first time when we were pregnant with this baby. She understands and appreciates our faith and has shared some prayer requests with us regarding her family.
As we left her office yesterday Benay and I spoke of how we would love to see Claudia and her family become part of God's family.
We thank God for the way he put Claudia in our lives and are praying that He will continue opening doors for us to share more of our faith and the Good News with her and her family.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Valentine's Day

Today is Brasilian Valentine's Day. Here's my Valentine:Very cute isn't she? Sorry boys, this incredibly good looking pregnant girl is with me.

You know just because you aren't Brasilian or don't live in Brasil doesn't mean you can't steal our holiday and use it for your benefit.

Why not, in the name of "Brasilian Valentine's Day," tell the one you love how glad you are that God put them in your life and how much of a blessing they are to you.

I think this is one instance where God won't mind if you steal.

Just a thought.

We aren't promised tomorrow so make today count.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


As you know, last year our church divided into 4 house churches. We meet each week in our house churches and have a celebration all together on the last Sunday of each month. If you've read any previous posts from this blog, you know that we are very happy with this arrangement and have seen and felt God working so much in this past year. But, we would be lying if we said that everything was just a bed of roses.

Our particular house church is made up of several new Christians, several not-yet-Christians, a few who have been Christians for many years but haven't matured that much, several teens and kids. We love our group and recognize the opportunity that God has given us to lead and nurture them. But there have been some struggles. People who are new to the faith have many years of living without faith under their belt. The transformation that occurs, unfortunately, isn't instantaneous. It requires day by day growing, seeking and experiencing God. Many don't have the patience it takes to deal with not-yet-Christians who think their worldly ideas are right. Family and marital struggles due to years of living without Christ, "lukewarm" attitudes from some who have been in a church for many years but are just now being asked to really BE a church - these are some of the struggles that we have been facing this year.

Sometimes you feel like giving up.

And then God comes along (actually He was there all the time) and gives you just what you need to go on. This happened to me yesterday as I(Benay) was going through the study "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby. This particular day the theme of the study was unity in the body and how the body should seek to discern God's will for their future. It is not the leader's job to determine God's will for the body and let the rest know. The body, as a whole, should seek God's will. Here is a list of questions that were asked:

1. Do you believe God wants the body to come to one heart and one mind on His will for the body?
2. Do you believe God is able to bring His people to understand His will?
3. Do you believe God is able to bring YOUR church to this kind of unity?
4. Would you be willing to wait on God until He has had time to adjust the members of the body to His will?

Of course the answer to each question should be "YES". But I have to admit that I struggled with questions 3 and 4. With my human eyes, it seems almost impossible that our church will ever reach the kind of unity described as "one heart and one mind". But do I believe that God can do this? Yes. And number 4 - am I willing to wait for God to do his work? Well, what if it takes a long time? What if I need to leave Brazil? What if..... But am I willing to wait? OK, Yes.

What did God tell me through this? I'm not in charge of our church. He is. This is not a sprint. It's a marathon. How long does spiritual formation take? Well, thinking of my own life, years - and He's still not done.

Another jewel from my Bible study was this verse that came right after the above questions:

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Romans 15:5-6

Never noticed before the inclusion of the words "endurance" and "encouragement". Never understood how that related to unity. But I do now.

I would ask you to pray for our churches and pray for us as we do what needs to be done day by day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Super Saturday

One of the most common discussions that we hear about having house churches is "what to do with the kids". Since the group is smaller on Sundays, you don't have extra people to teach kids' classes and sometimes you don't even have space or enough kids to really make a class. As we have said earlier, we have a lot of kids in our house church and we try each Sunday to have a special story or activity for them. Sometimes it is done with the adults, too, (many of whom don't know the traditional Bible stories) and sometimes separately. In our family, we have seen a lot of spiritual growth in our kids since we have started having house churches. Maybe it's because they feel more included in the group or maybe because of the strong "family type" relationships that they have developed with the others in our group. Whatever the reason, it's been good for us.

One thing that kids do miss out on is being in a "Sunday School" environment every Sunday with other kids. To give the kids more opportunities like this, our network of house churches has started an activity that we call Super Saturday. Super Saturday is the first Saturday of each month. This year we are learning about the fruits of the Spirit, so each Saturday we cover a different fruit.

We start out singing with the kids and talking about the fruits of the Spirit and the specific fruit we will be studying that day.One day we had a visit from a confused tangerine who thought HE might be included in the fruits of the Spirit.Then we divide the kids up into three groups according to age and send them to three different stations - Bible story, arts and crafts, and games. Here are some pictures:

Learning about the Good Samaritan when we studied about LOVE.Here is our sister, Elke, who is part of another small church group here in Porto Alegre, the Evangelical Free Church. Since their group is small, they joined forces with us to provide this activity for the children. We hope more groups will be involved in the future. Elke did a great job of teaching about GENTLENESS in telling the story of Jesus washing the disciples' feet.
I told the story of Isaac and the wells (Genesis 26 if you aren't familiar with it) to illustrate a great example of PEACE. This dirt box with little figures was pretty exciting.
Here is our sister Rosana and the mother of one of our visitors to Super Saturday helping with art.
Elke and the kids doing another art project.These two decided to paint with their mouths. (Who knows why?)I think the games station is the most popular.
So far we have had around 15 kids participating on each Saturday. We have only had 3 Saturdays so far and we hope that this activity will continue to grow as more and more kids find out about it. One little boy, Lucas, who is a visitor has come every Saturday. This past week, I told the kids that I hoped that they had enjoyed the day and would come back the next time. Lucas then said with a big smile, "Oh I'm never going to stop coming here!". Thank you, Lord!

Monday, June 09, 2008


Bronwyn took the SAT on Saturday. It was her first time to take a college entrance exam. She thinks she did okay.

On Saturday morning before Bronwyn left for her test Benay began to tell her of how, when she taught elementary school, there was a study that showed that kids who ate chocolate and drank juice before a test performed better. So, at her school, before the standardized achievement tests they gave the kids a cup of juice and 2 Hershey Kisses. In the middle of this story Carys got up and left. When she returned she gave Bronwyn this:
That's right.....it's 2 Hershey Kisses and a cup of juice. What a sweet little sister. We're blessed to have kids that really care for each other and want to see each other succeed. Anderson heard "free chocolate" and he was ready to take the SAT as well. By the way, Bronwyn has chosen to attend Abilene Christian University in Texas and should be part of the incoming class of 2010. She graduates high school here in December but wants to spend more time here with her family and new little brother as well as do some mission type traveling (possibly to Africa) before moving to Texas. We couldn't be more proud.