Monday, April 23, 2007

São Leopoldo Church Plant

Many of you have been following the ups and downs of the church planting work we started in the city of São Leopoldo for a year now. As you may know, we started in January of last year by meeting for prayer with 4 members of a Baptist church on the other side of the city. After several months, we moved to evangelistic surveying in the neighborhood, and then started 8 week evangelistic Bible studies in the homes of unbelievers. As people received Christ, we folded them into discipleship groups and had joint monthly meetings for all of the home groups. In November, the work was handed over to the supervision of the mother church. Since that time, the strategy was changed from home groups to a more traditional approach, and on Saturday night April 21, 2007, the mother church officially inaugurated the new rented building in which they are continuing the work.

As you can see in the video, about 75 people were present, mostly from the mother church, although a number of visitors and new believers were present. Enjoy the video, and pray that God will richly bless this church plant and use them in great ways to transform their neighborhood for Christ!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Reminder of How Gaucho It Really Is in Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre is a big, modern, first world city. Driving around town, you see imported BMW's and Jaguars, McDonald's and Pizza Hut Restaurants, high-rise apartment buildings, and gleaming office complexes. We have modern telecommunication and transportation systems, more trees per person than any other city in Brazil, a first-class (if small) airport, sewage treatment, drinkable water, classical music schools and world-class sports teams.

But every once in a while, you run across something that reminds you how very, well...Gaucho Porto Alegre really is. This modern city is rooted in the past. They take tremendous pride in their romanticized version of their independent cowboy roots. This proud, independent, free-range cowboboy spirit runs deep in their souls. For example, two weeks ago I was coming out of a slum with my survey team and got stuck in a traffic jam for 10 minutes - a traffic jam of horses, that is. A steady stream of many hundreds of horses and riders was coming down the street in all of their gaucho finery. One of the Gaucho Tradition Centers was out for a ride, and everything stopped. If they had been wearing armour instead of cowboy clothes, it could have been the scene from the "Lord of the Rings-Return of the King" movie where the riders of Rohan cover the entire screen for minutes with innumerable horses.As it is, I've never seen an old Western film that had as many horses as clogged up the street in front of my minivan - it was incredible.

I read the other day that several thousand riders went on their yearly ride down the coastal beaches. If we're going to stick around, I might need to figure out how to get a horse into my fifth story apartment!