Saturday, December 12, 2009


Well, after five long years of study, reading and writing, I finally graduated yesterday with my Doctor of Ministry Degree in Missions from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. I've learned a lot, as well as eaten a lot of good barbeque at Memphis restaurants, but it will be really nice to start reading some books that I choose on my own instead of ones that I'm assigned to read!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pray for Rio

On Saturday a war between favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil exploded as drug trafficking leaders are positioning themselves to try and conquer several poor communities. At least 20 busses were burned, a number of people were killed and wounded, and the traffickers shot a helicopter out of the sky with a high caliber machine gun. As police continue to try to push back the darkness, these violent outbursts are increasing. When the street battles erupt, flying bullets pose a severe hazard to innocent passers by as they fall, often times, several kilometers away from the fight kill or injure passers by and damage homes and cars. These firefights have taken place in the favelas around the homes of our missionaries, the Brazilian Home Mission Board headquarters, and near our Baptist Churches. Pray for the safety of our missionary personnel, church members, the Baptist Home Mission Board employees, and the police that are doing what they can to control an already bad situation.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for obedient servants who will accept the challenge in Rio Grande do Sul and strive to reach the many different peoples that form this beautiful tapestry of cultures and heritage.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

With almost 400 municipal districts with no Baptist work, the challenge is great. The opportunities are greater still. There are doors open but it requires the Lord’s wisdom to know the places and the timing. Pray for that all will be done according to the Lord’s plan and that He will receive the honor and glory for the victories.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the North Region. This area lies between the Missions and the Mountains and has the problems of both regions. The large numbers of Italians and Germans have strongly held traditions. The Gaúcho influence of independence is also strongly felt. This makes the task to plant churches more difficult. But the work has been growing in places like Erechim and Passo Fundo. The work in Carazinho, after a very difficult time, is advancing. Pray that the Lord will provide even greater victories in the days ahead.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 27 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Riddles in Ijuí. We have seen good times and tough times but the Lord has blessed through all this. We love the people and the work and are excited about what the Lord has in store for the years ahead. Pray that we will be able to see the Gaúcho people as the Lord sees them and that we will follow His leadership in the most effective way to win the lost, disciple the believers, and multiply the churches.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September 26 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the efforts in ICASAP (Ijuí, Cruz Alta, Santo Ângelo, and Panambi.) This region has a strong group of churches which could serve to start new works. When we arrived in the region, these four communities and surrounding area had seven churches and one mission point. Today there are eleven churches and eight missions plus a number of group studies that could become churches. Pray that more churches will grasp the vision for growth.

Friday, September 25, 2009

September 25 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

PrPray for the Pioneer Baptist Convention. This fellowship of Baptist churches has work in six states of Brazil including more than twenty-five churches in Rio Grande do Sul. They also sponsor work for orphans, senior citizens homes, missionaries, church planting, and the Faculdade Batista Pioneira in Ijuí. This convention was founded by German Baptist almost 100 years ago but has work with various ethnic and cultural groups and continues to plant works among the traditional Brazilian communities.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 24 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Missions Region. This is the northwest corner of the state of Rio Grande do Sul and is a strong agricultural region with soy beans, corn, wheat, oats, and other crops. Part of the challenge to reaching this region is the large number of municipal districts; more than 125 and only a few have a Baptist church. There has been a renewed effort to start works in the area including Augusto Pestana, Santa Barbara do Sul, Ijuí, and other locations. But the cities that are open to start work is a long list: Coronel Barros, Entre Ijuís, Horizontina, Pejuçara, Bozano, and many, many more.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Frontier Region which is suffering from a terrible drought. Although most of the state has faced the challenge and the rains have returned, the frontier region has not caught up and desperately needs more rain. The region produces rice which requires a significant rainfall.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the traditionalists of Rio Grande do Sul. The celebration of the rich culture of the Gaúcho is an important part of their identity. Unfortunately, the traditions often mean more than the truth of Jesus Christ. They know that to accept Christ requires changes in their lives and lifestyles and they are not willing to give up the past to receive the potential blessing of the future. Pray that they will see that Jesus is the best decision they could make and that He will always give more in return than we can imagine.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Please pray for the urban Gaúchos of Porto Alegre Brazil. September is a key month for the Gaúchos as they spend the month celebrating their cowboy history and heritage and their failed civil war against Brazil. Pray that the Gaúcho believers will channel their cultural pride into a desire to see their people reached for Christ. Pray that God will show the churches how to use the culture to reach out and start new, contextualized churches that reach their people where they are at. Pray that God will start a move of His Holy Spirit during this important month that will sweep through the Gaúcho people and transform them into a people who take great pride in calling on their true King, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Today is the celebration of the Farroupilha Revolution. In the 1830s the imperial government attempted to dominate and tax the people of the territory which is the present day Rio Grande do Sul. This led to a revolt in 1835 and a war that lasted for ten years. The state flag of Rio Grande do Sul still bears the title of the Riograndense Republic and takes great pride in the self-determination and individualism of the soldiers of that era. This strong individualism still dominates the character of the Gaúcho. It also makes it difficult to win the Gaúcho to the Lord. Pray that the people will retain their pride but will see that the only solution for the dominance of sin is the salvation that can only come from Jesus.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 19 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Frontier Region. This area runs along the border with Uruguay and Argentina and is the cultural heartland of the Gaúcho people. This is the cattle country and the location which has held the strongest ties to the past and the Gaúcho heritage. It is common to see the people riding the range in the traditional garb. Celebrations of the past are regular occurrences. It has been difficult to plant churches in the region and the few that have been planted have remained weak and small.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the state Baptist Camp in Itaara, just north of Santa Maria. A small rustic setting yet it has been used by the Lord to win souls, disciple believers, and train leaders for the future. Although we as missionaries are not directly involved in the work at the camp, we have seen the results in changed lives and renewed commitments. Pray that the camp will continue to be used for the Lord’s glory and that hundreds more will be impacted by this ministry.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the city of Santa Maria. This city of over 270,000 has one of the highest concentrations of students and military in all of Brazil. This has made the city an important center for education and communications. The churches in the city have a vision for growth and for new works. There are still dozens of cities nearby without evangelical witness but the opportunities for new work are greater than ever.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Central Region of Rio Grande do Sul. The geographic heart is also the center for agriculture and education. The cities of the region have been involved in the leadership of the state and the country for many years and the look to continue this trend for many years to come. The openness to the Gospel has been seen more in this part of the state than any other. The work is still slow but there are far more open doors for the work. Pray that the efforts will bear much fruit for the Lord.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 15 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Southern Region outside of the two largest cities. Although the region has a smaller population and the cities are spread over a large area, there are open doors which could allow a rapid multiplying of churches in the region. Pray for the vision that will have the churches grow and reachout.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Southern Region of Rio Grande do Sul. The greater part of the population live in the cities of Rio Grande and Pelotas. These are major ports for Brazil and efforts to reach these cities could impact work with thousands who work the ships that come to the state. There are some particular challenges to the work. The health challenges include AIDS tuberculosis, leprosy, and others. The rise of the spiritist religions and sects has impacted the communities. Pray for the churches to be strong in the Lord and wise in the use of time and resources. Pray with us for someone to accept the challenge to be missionary leaders in the region.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the summer impact efforts along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul. Summer in Brazil is generally considered December through February. Many of the people in the cities will flee to the coastal region for a time of relaxation. People from other countries also make the journey to the Gaúcho coast. This is a great opportunity for evangelism. As the weather has gotten warmer, many are already headed to the beach for the weekends. Pray that an effective outreach plan will be used to win these travelers to the Lord and that greater efforts will be made to connect them to churches when they return home.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 12 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the work of the Baptist Convention of Rio Grande do Sul. In recent years financial challenges have limited the work. The leadership has worked for the past several years to get the house in order and in the last two years has made a concerted effort to increase the number of workers and number of churches in the state. The spirit of the convention is the best it has been in a long time and the vision to reach the state is greater than ever. Pray for the resources and the conviction to reach all the municípios (counties) with the Gospel.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for Bill and Cheryl Arbo. They are reaching out to one of the least responsive groups in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. A group that is estimated to be less than ½ of 1 % evangelized. Pray that they will not become discouraged but will be given greater fruit for their efforts n the Lord’s name. Pray for them as they prepare for stateside assignment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 10 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for Larry and Marla Greene and their children Kristina, Mary, Luke, and Landon. They serve as church planters working in the Greater Porto Alegre Region. With the challenges of the false religions and the pervasive materialism of the region, their task is extremely difficult. Pray for the insights and the encouragements as they serve the Lord. Presently they are on stateside assignment so pray for time with family and friends and as they share the challenges of their work.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

September 9 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for Jeff and Cam Dunson and their boys Blake and Parker. This couple leads the Gaucho Team in Greater Porto Alegre. The task they have to coordinate and develop plans to reach the millions in the region is overwhelming. Pray that they will have the strength and wisdom to do all God has called them to do. Presently they are on stateside assignment so pray for a time of personal renewal and of sharing the mission task.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

September 8 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

The Greater Porto Alegre Area of Rio Grande do Sul includes all the cities around the capital of the state. Well over 4,000,000 people live in the region and there are only two dozen churches working to reach the communities. If the capital could be reached, the task of reaching the rest of the state could be a lot simpler but the cultures and diversity of the region will make reaching the people a tremendous challenge.

Monday, September 07, 2009

September 7 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Today is the celebration of Brazilian independence from Portugal. On this date in 1822, the Imperator Dom Pedro I declared Brazil separate and independent. The desire for freedom is tremendous. Pray that the people of Brazil will see the need to be freed from the bondage of sin and receive the glorious freedom that is in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

September 6 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the outreach to the large population of German heritage in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Working with this group is a special challenge because the dialects are so different and often the people are in very small communities. Pray for Daniel and Teresa Allen and their sons Joseph and John as they seek for innovative means to reach the people and plant simple churches in the communities.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

September 5 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for Robert and Kerri Hamilton and their children Katharine, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Samuel as they prepare to begin the work to reach the Italians in Rio Grande do Sul. They are presently studying the language and culture of Brazil in Riberão Preto. They will finish their course there in December and be moving to the mountain region of the state. Pray for them to continue to have a strong walk with the Lord and be given the insight into bringing down the barriers that have limited the response to the Gospel by this people group.

Friday, September 04, 2009

September 4 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the Italian population of the state of Rio Grande do Sul and all of Brazil. More than 30% of the people of Rio Grande do Sul claim Italian heritage. Millions more of Brazilians throughout the country do as well. Because of traditions and strong family loyalty, it has been difficult to reach this group with the saving message of Jesus Christ. Pray for open doors and the bridges of faith that will reach them.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

September 3 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the greater Caxias do Sul area. More than 600,000 people live in this collection of mostly Italian cities. The efforts to reach the region have been slow but dedicated leaders have made inroads into the lostness of the area. Mike and Donna Wilson and their children Matthew and Hannah, live and work in Caxias in an effort to evangelize, disciple, and plant strong, growing churches. Pray especially for them today that they might have a greater vision and greater wisdom in this work.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September 2 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray today for the mountain region of the state, an area with a rich mixture of Italian, German, and other European heritages. The strong traditions of the past make this a wonderful place to visit and share but it makes it difficult for the people to accept the change that Jesus can make in their lives.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September 1 Prayer Request for the Gáucho People

Pray for the seven regions of the State of Rio Grande do Sul. From the mountains of the northeast to the lowlands of the frontier and from the Atlantic coast to the high plains of the northwest. The state is larger than Georgia and Alabama combined. People live in cities, towns, and villages and represent dozens of cultures and ethnic groups. All have one need above all others, to know Jesus Christ and to walk with Him every day.

Monday, August 31, 2009

September Month of Prayer for the Gaúcho People

September is the Month of Prayer for the Gaúcho People!

Our colleagues Steve and Michelle Riddle have put together an excellent daily prayer list for the occasion. We will be posting a new request daily throughout the month of September, and we would encourage you to take time each day to lift up the spiritual needs of the Gaúchos before the Lord. You can also find the prayer requests at or here at

There are some forty million Gaúchos in South America; People with rich traditions and strong ties to family and to the land. But they are peoples who, for the most part, have never had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Eleven million of these peoples live in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and we have the challenge and the privilege to share Jesus with these wonderful people. Every year we ask our friends and supporters to join us in daily prayer for the people of Rio Grande do Sul for thirty days. We provide this list of prayer requests so that you can pray and be informed about the Lord’s work here.

Thank you for praying and thank you for the victories your prayers will lead to in the reaching of the Gaúchos.

Monday, August 24, 2009

North Island Baptist Church Global Impact Conference

North Island Baptist Church is located on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. They held their first ever mission conference this weekend, and we had the chance to participate with them. Three services, a covered dish, a church wide barbeque, and dinner with three of the families from the church were all opportunities to get to know this wonderful family of believers and help them to know the needs of Brazil and Rio Grande do Sul.

We also had the chance to visit the lighthouse, go miniature golfing, feed horses, and go to the beach, all of which was great fun and a tremendous blessing to our family!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Baptist Oviedo, FL Global Impact Conference

We had the privilege of participating in FBC Oviedo, FL's Global Impact Conference over the last several days. It was a wonderful chance to connect with this church that has been such an integral part of our ministry in Porto Alegre over the last four years. We have personally had the chance to work with five different volunteer teams from Oviedo, as well as being blessed by their ministry to us and our children at our Brazilian Annual General Meetings over the last few years. We love FBC Oviedo!

Cam, Blake, Parker and I had the chance to live with a family from the church, speak at a home fellowship, speak to six Sunday school classes between us, and particpate in several banquets and services. It was a true blessing!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Brazil Night at Calvary Baptist

We had a Brazilian night at Calvary Baptist Church in Delaware tonight. Cam and my mom fixed a wonderful Brazilian dinner, we all dressed up in our Gaúcho outfits, and had a chance to talk to the attendees about Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, and the spiritual challenges and needs of the Gaúcho people.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stateside Assignment

We arrived in the USA today after 24 hours in transit. We will be speaking at missions conferences and churches, visiting with family and friends, studying, homeschooling, and trying to rest and rejuvinate for our return to the field next year. Please pray for our family during this time!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Central Baptist Arkansas Volunteer Team Statistics

In home visits: 55 visits 60 decisions
Schools visits: 2 schools 31 classes 25 decisions
Tracts given out: 500
Seeds planted: Countless

Pastries eaten by American Volunteers: 119
Pounds of Beef consumed: 1 ton
Liters of Guarana downed: 25
Cheese burgers eaten: 27 and they were gooood!!!
Kilometers driven: Who knows? It was a bunch.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Arkansas Volunteer Team Report: In their words

Brazil Mission Trip Porto Alegre , Rio Grande do Sul , Brazil

May 29-June 7, 2009.

We (the 10 of us) could not have asked for a better mission trip experience. God took care of every detail for us from the minute we left Central to the minute we got back. Upon arriving in Porto Alegre on Saturday May 30th we were greeted by 2 missionary families, the Cunninghams and Dunsons. Jeff Dunson is the strategy coordinator for that region and Paul Cunningham was the volunteer coordinator for that area.

Sunday we were able to meet with the translators, Jeff, and Paul. Jeff did an excellent job in training us how to evangelize the people of Porto Alegre . Then Monday we started off with a full day of in home evangelism. Each team member was able to share the gospel that day several times. We all saw at least one person that day come to know Christ. I had an encounter with a spiritist man. From the moment I walked in I could feel the "darkness". Right away I noticed his statue of Buddha along with a plate of rice and apple to ward off evil spirits. He is so deceived about life after death. Spiritism has completely taken over his life. I left his house with a heavy heart, but also with a hope that his Christian neighbor and friend will continue to show him Christ's love.

Wednesday we had the opportunity to share in a school. In Brazil kids are divided up into 3 groups: morning, afternoon, or evening classes. So we arrived around 9:00 am and stayed at that school until about 9:00. God opened up so many doors for us to witness with teachers and students. Jud and Heather Nix both shared how God was able to speak through them clearly and give them exactly what they needed to explain the gospel clearly.

Our team dynamics were great. Ages ranged from 17 to 68. We really had a lot of fun together. We thoroughly enjoyed working with Jeff and Paul. I think we all experienced the power of prayer. We had all been through some difficult experiences before the trip which led us to be on our knees more before our Savior. I know this trip was bathed in prayer by so many.

There are many more stories that could be shared, but I just want to end by expressing my gratitude to our Savior for His grace and mercy and for the hope that we have that we will some day be with HIM!!!!

Because of Him

Karis Ward for the Brazil team

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Prayer Needs

We thank God for you and for your prayers on our behalf. We firmly believe that your prayers are a vital part of what God uses to encourage and strengthen us and enable us to be here in Brazil doing His work. As I write this, we are now just six weeks away from our second Stateside Assignment. At this point, we are planning on being in the USA for six or seven months. This will be a time for us to spend time with family and friends, reconnect with our partners and supporting churches in the USA, promote missions, eat lots of American food, study (and hopefully graduate after five years of work!), and maybe even relax a little somewhere during all of those other activities.

We are currently thanking God for good health. Some routine medical exams we were doing to get clearance to return to the field after Stateside Assignment showed that Cam had some possibly problematic cysts that looked at first as though they might have needed to be surgically removed. However, further exams have showed no evidence of anything serious and we are rejoicing that God has brought us through a little bit of a scare without any additional scars.

This Saturday, a team of 10 from Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas will be arriving to spend a week working with us and several of our Baptist partners. They will be doing personal evangelism through pre-scheduled home visits, evangelistic worship services throughout the week, and evangelism impacts in the public schools. All told, they will be ministering in one established church, four church plants, and two schools.

As the dollar has continued to weaken in comparison with Brazilian currency, this affects our buying power. For instance, the buying power of the funds for this volunteer team has dropped close to 20% in the few months from when we worked up the budget until now. While we are being as frugal as possible with the funds they are bringing for the costs of their trip, it has also been fun to see how God has been stretching their money even before they arrive. We went today to buy Bibles and found them for just $1.75 each, which is far less than they usually cost. While still rejoicing in this, we went to buy bottled water and found it for just $0.22 a bottle, which is almost half of what it normally costs at the wholesaler. It’s neat to see God’s blessing in even unexpected ways!

While God has richly blessed the work of our volunteers in the past, we inevitably face a great deal of spiritual warfare as the forces of evil seek to contain their losses. Please pray that the forces of evil will be bound and unable to interfere with the advance of God’s Kingdom. Pray for unity among the team, the missionaries, the translators, and the local believers, as well as for physical safety for everyone involved. Most of all however, please pray that God’s Kingdom would advance, that HE would be glorified, that HIS church would be firmly established and that HIS light would shine brightly in some very dark places.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Hydroelectric Dam

The largest source of electrical energy in Brazil is hydroelectric power. The massive Itaipu dam was for decades, the world’s largest dam, and continues to be second in the world in power generating capacity. The dam single-handedly provides 90% of the power for Paraguay and 19% of the power for Brazil, which is one of the world’s largest countries. We visited the dam a number of years ago and were amazed at how very big and powerful it was.

Water is needed to run a hydroelectric plant. The water is held behind a dam, forming an artificial lake, or reservoir. The force of the water being released from the reservoir through the dam spins the blades of giant turbines, which are connected to the generator that makes electricity as it spins. After passing through the turbine, the water flows back into the river on the other side of the dam. An artificial reservoir was created to make the Itaipu plant. It took a long time to build up enough water behind the dam in order to have enough force to generate electricity. The reservoir created flooded 1350 square kilometers and is 330 feet deep at the dam (the dam itself is 65 stories high).

As I reflected the other day on how I could see and experience more of the power of God working in and through me and our ministry, I heard God’s still small voice reminding me that a hydroelectric plant is much like how God wants to work through us. Water is representative of the Holy Spirit, and it is essential to have a massive, deep reservoir of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives before we can minister to others. However, the Spirit must be released to flow “downstream” to bless others as well. As the Spirit flows through our lives, we have power (Acts 1:8) to accomplish the purposes of God on the earth. Just as many millions of people have access to electrical power as a result of a single dam, millions can be touched with power through the life of a single person. However, that person needs to have a deep reservoir of the work of the Spirit in their own lives first, which takes time to develop. Without the deep work of the Spirit, there can be no power, and the Holy Spirit cannot flow through us to bless the lives of others.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The cavity

While we go to the dentist periodically here in Brazil, dental x-rays are not a standard procedure here, so it had been years since we had them done. Cam decided that we should have x-rays and I dutifully went to the x-ray clinic, had my teeth x-rayed and then took the results to the dentist the next day (if that sounds like a pain to you, you have never lived overseas-I was astounded that they could give me the results the same day!).
Upon examining the x-rays, the dentist saw two shadows near the base of my teeth. She explained that they were cavities buried under a couple of fillings that had been in my mouth for 20-25 years. One of the cavities was getting dangerously close to the root of the tooth, and could cause much bigger problems if it wasn’t taken care of. She told me she would have to remove the fillings, drill out the cavities, and then insert a new, more high-tech resin filling to fill up the hole. She wanted to do the two teeth on separate days because she thought that it would be easier for me that way.
While I knew it was necessary, I was somewhat apprehensive. I wanted to make sure she got all of the cavity the first time, because I didn’t want to have to go through this again (there’s just nothing like the smell of your own tooth burning as they drill away…). After it seemed like she drilled and filled forever, the first tooth was finally done. The second wasn’t so easy. As of this writing, it’s been two months, and the filling still doesn’t feel right in my mouth. I’m going to have to go back again to get her to file it down some more.
As I reflected on my experience, I felt the still small voice of God saying that my experience was picture of a spiritual reality. Many of us have a perfectly good looking exterior that has been in place for many years, or in my case, even decades. Everything looks fine, strong and healthy on the outside, but underneath, unbeknownst even to the person, there is rot and decay eating away. That decay is reaching deep down toward the roots of our lives and will bring pain and destruction if it is not addressed.
We need to submit ourselves to a Holy Spirit “x-ray” so that we can find the dark shadows of decay in our lives. Once they have been diagnosed, despite the potential discomfort and pain, we need to allow God to remove whatever is necessary so that he can get down in our lives and remove all of the corruption of sin and decay. Then we need to allow Him to purify our lives and fill up the empty space with His Holy Spirit – which might take some time and adjustment on our part!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The River

There is a river in RS that flows through a campground and nature reserve. The river is fairly shallow and calm with small rapids at first, and then descends in a series of progressively larger waterfalls, some of which are small enough that one can jump off of them.
Recently, we were at a birthday party at the campground and I was standing in the water with several of the younger children. They were playing in the water, which was about ankle deep and I was chatting with one of the other parents and feeling proud of myself that I was doing my part in getting a bit wet and playing with the kids. The kids got off into some slightly deeper water, and as I was reaching to help one of them, I pulled up the leg of my swimsuit so it wouldn’t get wet. She asked me, “what are you doing?” and I said that I didn’t want to get wet, to which she replied something to the effect of “but you’re in a river!”

Later, I went down to spend time with our nine year old son who was jumping off the waterfalls. At the time, he was jumping off a five meter high waterfall with his friends. I watched him jump several times, and then I thought, “well, if a nine year old can do it, so can I!” I stripped off my shirt, told the boys I was going to jump, and started to work my way over to the edge of the rock. All of a sudden, the waterfall looked very high. I started to think, “you know, I really like this rock – it’s a perfectly good rock. Why would I want to jump off such a good rock? This waterfall is really high!” The water below seemed to swim around a bit. But then, two kids jumped right next to me, so what could I do?

I planned my strategy – I would jump off, keep my legs straight, and go in like an arrow. So, I screwed up my courage and jumped, scrunching myself up, closing my eyes, and unceremoniously landing rear-end first. Somewhat chagrined, but proud that I had jumped, I tried again – it looked just as high the second time, and as I gingerly moved toward the edge, I slipped, and had the choice of painfully falling down on the edge or pushing myself out and landing even more painfully than the first time. So, it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

A week or so later, I was reflecting on the John 3:34, where John the Baptist ways that “God gives the Spirit without limit.” As I mulled on this, all of a sudden God brought my experience at the river to mind. As we know, water is representative of the Holy Spirit. He told me “you have been content to stand in the ankle deep water and feel proud of yourself that you’re getting wet. However, you really don’t want to get wet or uncomfortable, even though you are in the river! What I want is for you is to plunge all the way in, even though you know it’s going to be cold and scary!” God gives the Spirit without limit, but we have to choose whether or not we’re going to play in the shallows and look good, or whether we’re going to take the risk to jump off our nice comfortable rock into the scary unknown of all that God’s Spirit wants to do in and through us. I’m jumping. How about you?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

April Prayer Needs

As hard as it is for us to believe, when July arrives, we will have been back in Brazil for four years! As such, we’re getting ready for six months or so of “Stateside Assignment,” in Delaware and South Carolina. During this time, we’ll visit with family, eat lots of American food (I can almost smell the barbeque now…), and stay busy with promoting missions at conferences and working to finish up Jeff’s Doctor of Ministry Degree at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis.
The last few months have been full of challenges for our family. Just in the last three weeks, we have had appliances break, parts stolen off our car (again), my wallet stolen, knee problems, tooth problems, back problems, hip problems, flu, and severe headaches. In addition, we have had the added challenge of having a slew of American volunteer teams cancel planned ministry trips to work with our team and seeing a number of our dear Brazilian friends and partners in ministry go through extremely severe emotional, spiritual, financial, and family problems. We know that to some extent, life on the mission field (and life in general) is this way, and that the forces of darkness would love nothing more than to distract and discourage us through all that has happened. However, there is little doubt in our minds that what is happening is a concentrated spiritual attack, and all of this has served to remind us how very important your prayers on our behalf really are!
On the other hand, we have also had the privilege of seeing God work in some incredible ways recently. Several new churches have been established in the Metropolitan Area recently, and we have seen significant growth in some other works. Two of the young men Jeff has been working with for years now were ordained last week and continue in church planting work. The leader’s guides for a leadership training program Jeff has been developing are finally finished and are already being used by Brazilian leaders in North Brazil. We can definitely see and feel the Spirit of God moving in our midst.
Our family has recently gone through a big change, as after a number of years at an international school here in town, we decided to pull Blake out and start teaching him at home. He is adjusting well, learning more than ever, and keeping busy with class, basketball, swimming, and piano. Parker continues in his preschool and enjoys learning to read at home and going to swimming lessons at the same time as Blake. They are both growing rapidly, and looking forward to being almost as tall as their Grandmothers when they get back to the States!
If you and your fellow prayer warriors could lift up the following prayer requests, we would greatly appreciate it:
1. Pray for God to give us good health and protection over our family and the resources He has entrusted to our care.
2. Pray for wisdom and endurance for Jeff as he evaluates the lay leadership development guides he has been developing for use here in Brazil and writes up the project for his doctoral degree. Pray that all will go well, and that he will be able to graduate in December.
3. Pray for our family as we wrap up our commitments here in Brazil and prepare to transition to some much needed time in the United States!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Prayer needed

Many of you have prayed for Andre and Ivone, our friends and church planters in the city of General Camera, about two hours away from Porto Alegre. Andre has a tremendous vision to see churches planted throughout the entire region. He also has a secular job and lives inthe capital, making it necessary to travel out to the church several times a week.

Ivone has been diagnosed with an brain anurism. While they cannot operate to remove and repair the problem, they will be doing a very delicate surgery next Thursday, February 12, in order to insert a stint to try to make sure that the anurism will not rupture. Please pray for her and the entire family at this time, and ask God to pour out His mercy and healing on them.

Thanks so much for partnering with us!