Category Archives: Culture
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Recently I was talking with a fellow worker about missions and God’s work around the world. It seems we have romanticized missions to make it attractive and appealing to the young and the energetic. Though we can try to attract young people to missions, there is a very unromantic part of missions which we do not talk about much. So, if you allow me to deromanticize missions for a moment, I would like to show you a bit of the reality of missions.
The reality of missions is that missionaries have many mundane tasks and responsibilities. Though we live in a foreign country, eat foreign foods, and buy foreign products, we still live, eat, buy, sell, repair, etc.
Recently my shoe repair abilities have become the joke at church. I cannot tell you how many pairs of shoes I have glued over the past four years here in Rondônia. Any shoes that have been stored for a while without use can easily come unglued because of the heat. We have saved hundreds of dollars by gluing those shoes back together, but it takes time and effort.
Last week I asked myself, “what have I done all week?” Though I know I had done some planning, praying, and preparing for certain tasks, there was nothing to show for it. My week seemed very dull and uninteresting. It must have been dull because it is hard to remember!
As missionaries, we write letters to our churches about the “interesting” things that happen. However, most of our lives are filled with routine tasks. It is not every day that I am out with wild Indians, canoeing down the river, fighting off the alligators! We only do those things on special occasions. Normally, we take care of things like mowing the grass, writing emails, paying bills, fixing the car, making visits, going to church, picking people up for church, cleaning, cooking, and many other routine events. In other words, most of our lives are “nothing to write home about”. Yet, we press on knowing that God is using us in our routine tasks.
Our unromantic missionary lives have us doing what many do in the US every week. Recently I spent several days trying to transfer the tags on my car to the city we moved to last year. I had to run to the bank several times, take the car to the DOT several times and have the car inspected. Though a bit more bureaucratic than in the US, it was nothing to write home about.
Politics play their role on the foreign field just as they do in the US. News of the presidential elections in the US has kept us just as interested as the former president being arrested here in Brazil. Both are playing a role in the value of the dollar. The dollar dropped almost forty cents due to the prospect of a new government here in Brazil. You may ask what all of this has to do with missions. It has everything to do with missions. We live in Brazil, so every day we use the Brazilian currency which we receive when we exchange dollars. We use this currency to pay church bills, support missionaries, and put gas in our car to pick people up for church.
Once in a while we have a great opportunity that comes with a unique story. However, if we think missions is all about the unique stories and experiences we can become bored with our lives. We may even think that God is not using us because our lives do not match up to Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, John and Betty Stam, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, or many of the other missionaries whose biographies we have read and who are now our heroes.
The truth is that God is interested in faithful men. So many churches are hurting for help. There are dozens of cities around us that are calling for laborers. The closest church to them that preaches the Gospel may be a hundred miles away or much more than that. The task is great. It requires faithful men to stay the test of time and be an example of the believer to those around them.
So many times people are looking for a path to fame. Missions is not a path to fame! Missions is not a road to success! Missions is simply a matter of obedience. It is taking the Gospel to those around you.
Globalization has made the task of becoming a missionary a bit easier. Yet, the task seems much harder because we are challenged with new thoughts and philosophies that threaten Christianity. We are challenged by materialism, gadgets, and entertainment. We are taught that we can be anything we want to be in this world. If you want to be a doctor, you can be a doctor. If you want to be a musician, you can be a musician. However, that thought is faulty when it comes to missions. The idea has come across that we can be William Carey, Amy Carmichael, Bruce Olson, Jonathan Goforth, David Brainerd, or even like Paul. Yet, the truth is that we need only to be what God wants us to be. We need to be faithful! We need to be obedient!
Now, returning to the original thought, missions is not always the romantic idea we may read about in the biographies. Missions is a simple obedience to the Great Commission! Prepare your Sword, put on your shield of faith, wear your work gloves, put on those steel toe boots, find your trowel, and mix up the mortar! Nehemiah 4:18 says, “For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.” We should never stop working while we wait for God to give us “something to write home about.”
I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Would it be possible for you to take a minute and pray for our work here in Brazil? We have many open doors here in our state to reach the unreached with the Gospel. There is a serious meeting coming up on the 20th of this month.
A friend of mine will be standing before a branch of the state government this week to testify to state prosecuters about the work being done in the Indian tribes here in our state. This is a matter of great conscern to us. Though it does not directly involve us, it very well could in the near future. This meeting could help open doors or shut doors for the Gospel to the unreached here in our state.
Luke 12:11-12 “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”
Acts 16:20-22 “And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.”
Just changing a few people groups in these verses and reading the rest of the story, we can see what we are dealing with. Though we do not expect this to be quite as serious, your intercession is needed.
We are constantly getting more involved in this work and the Lord has already opened many doors for us. This Saturday, we plan to visit another tribe which we have never been to before. Pray for God to open doors for a long relationship with these people!
God is at work! Please continue to pray for laborers and for open doors!
About a week ago I had the privilege of participating in a celebration conference in a nearby tribe. The tribe was celebrating 50 years since the arrival of the Gospel in their tribe. On January 25, 1965 a German missionary from New Tribes brought the Gospel to their village.
During the conference the first man of the tribe to be saved gave testimony of the day he met this missionary. He asked the missionary if he was after gold or diamonds. The response was negative. He asked him if he was tapping rubber trees. Once again, the response was negative. Then the Indian man said, “What are you doing here?” Though the language barrier prohibited a clear understanding at the time, the missionary said, “I am here to tell you about Jesus Christ and how he died on the cross to save you.” What a wonderful thing to hear a testimony from this man who was the first of the tribe to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
Many others gave testimony of what God has done in their lives and how their lives have changed for the good. They compared the wars of years past to the peace that now abides in their hearts. Separation has been changed to joyous reunion and forgiveness.
There were people from at least five different tribes around our state and the neighboring state. These were all enemies fifty years ago. Today they join to give testimony and to praise the Lord for what He has done in their lives. Though the conference technically did not start until Friday evening, they had a service on Thursday and stayed up singing and praising the Lord until about 6am!
The most memorable moment for me was when all the missionaries were called up front. First, those missionaries sent to Brazil from a foreign country were called. Then the Brazilian missionaries came to join us. Finally, the Indian men and women who are pastors and missionaries were called up front. What a site! There were missionaries from 25-85 years of age. Each one fulfilling their call and passing that burden on to others.
The young man pictured above fits into this third group. He and his wife just graduated from Bible school and are seeking opportunities to work for the Lord. They will spend the next year in the tribe working in the church, then will pursue further training to better equip them to reach other Indians with the Gospel.
Sometimes we wonder if the time and money we have invested in mission work around the world has been worth it. This conference was proof that the great commission given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ is worth every second we have to invest in it or in prayer for those involved. It is worth every cent we choose to give. May God’s work move forward as we fulfill His command.
Recently I have spent quite a bit of time visiting with those who attend our church. It is hard to make a visit like this and not spend hours at someone’s house.
While visiting with Claudino, he began to expound upon a hobby he has. He showed me a few of the products he had made on a lathe. He personally built the lathe with a motor from a washing machine. Most of the rest is just a few little pieces he had picked up here and there.
Though a little rough looking, his work is absolutely beautiful. When I say this, it really means a lot more than what it sounds like. Maybe if I explain just a bit about Claudino, you can imagine what I am saying.
Claudino is a man who has been around for a good amount of time. He was a logger many years ago when our state of Rondônia was being cut out of the jungle. He would cut acres of forest in just a few days. He also cut wood for houses. The house he lives in was cut from some of these tress. Every piece of wood was cut with a chainsaw. It is pretty impressive when you think about it and see the house.
About seventeen years ago, his second wife (if I have that correct) poisoned a piece of cake she baked for him. Without knowing what had happened, but feeling sick, he took himself to the hospital. The doctor laughed and said, “You are crazy! You drink poison to kill yourself, then come to hospital for help.” The result was heart surgery, and many health complications since then. His wife left that day, but when he returned home, his son showed him the rat poison that she had placed in his cake.
We met Claudino several years ago while on door-to-door visitation and he has attended services since that time, though not regularly. He is well up in years, and just recently got married again. He decided if he married this lady, she would not commit suicide. It is humorous how some people think. She also has some very complicated health issues and he has been a big help to her though all of this.
Back to one of my recent visits…
We were discussing his work and he asked me if I would like a garlic crusher. I said sure, so he insisted that I stay and watch him make it. About twenty minutes later, he had cut out a garlic crusher from a piece of a log. Just about every one of his tools were home made. His health keeps him from working much, but each one of these garlic crushers is worth about $25-$50. He also makes flower pots and a few other things. Below are some pictures of his work and a video of him making the piece used to crush the garlic.
His chainsaw and work area. The chainsaw he has had for 40 years.
Cutting out the inside
Handmade cutting tools and the lathe
The one on the left is mine and the other is a finished sample
Two finished products
An Unfinished flower pot
What does this mean to me as a Brazilian?
- It means I need to show my patriotism!
- It means party time!
- It means this afternoon is a holiday!
- It means you are going to sit on the edge of your seat waiting for a goal!
- It means frustration when the ball does not go in the goal!
- It means I am a part of the only country to win at least 5 World Cups!
- It means I am cheering for a 6th World Cup!
- It means food, fun, and fellowship!
- It means talking about Brazil’s political, educational, financial, and health care status!
- It means fireworks, loud noises, honking, yelling, and just about anything that makes noise!
What does it mean to me as a father?
- I had to buy all of my boys a Brazil shirt!
- Our whole family is cheering for Brazil!
- It is a time to make memories for my children!
- I must know the answer to questions about who won the last ten World Cups, what teams have a chance to win this year, and is one team better than the other (most of which I do not know how to answer)!
- I must talk to my children about the real needs in Brazil!
What does this mean to me as a missionary?
- Many months have been spent in preparation for the next 30 days!
- Hours of praying that God would use the materials and work in the lives of individuals!
- I have designed a website specifically for this occassion! (www.truevictory.net)
- We have encouraged many people to get involved in reaching the lost and distributing the message of salvation to people from dozens of countries that will be at our doorstep!
- Churches have been encouraged to participate!
- Millions of Gospel tracts and Bible portions have been prepared for distribution during the next 30 days!
- Millions of people in Brazil will receive the Gospel through literature and the internet over the next 30 days!
- Some people will find true victory in their lives through Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross!
Please help us pray!!!