Sunday, November 19, 2017

Saturday, Nov 18, 2017 Sao Paulo, Brazil

Serving to Serve 

It’s a funny concept, really, as we went into our last day. Although every moment aroused questions about the strange world in which we found ourselves, we had basically experienced all the regular ministry activities in the 
neighborhoods where we visited. How would our efforts be maximized?

We had come to serve. We had lessons and workshops. We nursed wounds and sickness.  We prayed, evangelized, and preached. We gave, sorted, organized, and delivered donations. We counseled. However, despite all the doing which was wonderful, there was something greater that the Spirit wanted from us. He wanted us to serve heart first. The greatest service that we could give was presence, joyful laughter, a really bad joke, a hug, and a willing hand. 

But today I got “stuck” in the kitchen.  There was so much to be done! In fact, as I was finally free from the kitchen ready to do “real ministry”, someone handed me a bag and said, “Let’s go. It’s time to go home.” I mentioned to the kitchen boss lady (who was 10 years younger than me) that our work today was in support ministry, she simply raised her head, said a simple “Yes”, and continued working. It was the cherry on top of a sundae served of what Jesus said was the second greatest commandment: love your neighbor. We did what we came to do: serve the least of these, but found that though God is glorified in the “ministry” done and those who made it possible, quite often, it is the little things, the seemingly meaningless acts shared through relationships that best share Christ’s love and shine His light into the darkness that so needs its touch

Thursday, Nov 16th, 2017, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Preach. Praise. Pray. and Die.
Words of wisdom given to me when I entered into full-time ministry. The concept was that, as a minister, you must always be ready to do these things at any given moment. This week I have had the pleasure of staring each one of these challenges in the face.

I have shared the gospel in small home. I have preached in a church without a roof. I have talked about God's plan to a group of teen boys. And I have invested in the lives of some of the most faithful servants I have ever met.

I have walked the trash and feces infested streets while praying for broken families, drug and alcohol addicted teens, and newborn babies with mothers as young as 14 years old.
As I prepared for this mission, I never imagined the power of a southern twang and an acoustic guitar. I have led in worship before churches, individuals, and on the street before a group of 14 grown men who were influential drug dealers.

Did I mention the drug dealers?! Words cannot express the anxiety I experienced in that moment as I knew some of those men were carrying guns and that murder is a way of life in that community. But our God is greater than any of our fears.

Preach. Pray. Praise. and Die.
                                        This week has been a practice in humility and servanthood. 
                      Words cannot express the thoughts in my mind and the brokenness of my heart.
Paul said, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, it is yours in Christ Jesus,”  -‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬
May we all experience the life changing power of Christ's love and a renewed mind that reflects the truth of God's plan as we are led to live according the Spirit within us.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Friday, Nov 17, 2017 Sao Paulo, Brazil

Our time in Brazil is coming to a close. This is a familiar feeling of being torn, torn between wanting to stay in a place that I have grown to love and going home to a place that is familiar. I so deeply love and miss my family, and that means I will gladly return home!  
I just pray that God will allow me the honor and privilege of serving here again!

Yesterday some on our team did evangelism, self esteem and team building classes with the AMO team while others worked in the garden and prepared for the afternoon activities.

In the afternoon we went to another Shantytown community. We wound up in a bar! These two older (but very hip) gentlemen invited us in. I referred to one of them as a slightly older Brazilian version of Jimmy Buffet. David started singing and playing the guitar and this guy started dancing. I've led about fifty mission trips to date, and I still have these surreal moments, when I am in a place with such unlikely circumstances.
 This was definitely one of those moments!
Here we were, in a Brazilian bar, with these delightful men, with one of the pastors from my church singing and playing guitar with a picture of The Last Supper hanging over his head. To top it off Jesus in the painting was lily white, with blonde flowing hair and blue eyes (which no one in Brazil has)!  This is a pet peeve of mine, because if anyone understands where Jesus was born and where he was raised, blonde hair and blue eyes were not his characteristics!

So we are in the bar, and the man is dancing, and a little girl from the neighborhood wanders in and curls up in my lap and starts playing with my hair. That's when I became super comfortable!

After the music, Pete, the director of AMO started asking the men about their relationship with Jesus. The men were very friendly and receptive. We were about to leave and I asked Pete if these men might need glasses. We were well equipped with reading glasses in various strengths, due to a precious friend in Paducah, donating the money to buy the glasses.

Pete gave the men glasses after trying several different strengths,  then he handed them Bibles to check out what strengths worked best. 
One of the men asked if he could keep the Bible, and Pete said that they could both have one. 

The woman who was operating the bar saw that we were giving out glasses, and she ran out the door. All of a sudden, people were rushing in, all to see if we could help them to see better!

God was bringing people to us, right there in the bar! Lots of people got glasses and heard from Gods word, it was one of the most genuine and laid back, easy times of sharing the gospel, that  I've ever been a part of. 

We told our new friends "ciao", and proceeded on our way, visiting with small groups of families and friends along the dirty streets of this rough community that is home to so many precious children. They are all Gods handiwork, no matter their age, their sins or their socio-economic status. 
My prayer is that we can see them with His eyes, and love them with His heart!

After the home visits, we met up with about fifty children on a soccer field for hot dogs, watermelon and Bible study. 

Members of the AMO team do this with the children there every week. The kids know that they will always be fed on Fridays, both physically and spiritually!

We are the ones who are blessed by our service here in Brazil. But, it's the same way in Paducah, and the other places we serve. Service is a blessing! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, Nov 16, 2017 São Paulo, Brazil

Today, I presented self-esteem workshops for teen-age girls and women living in the shanty community.   The self-esteem activity included each person drawing  their hand  on a sheet of paper and writing one positive comment about themselves on each finger. It was joyful to witness the smiles on each of their faces as they shared with the group their five positive comments about themselves. 
We share Psalms 139:14. The women began to express with confidence that they were special and beautifully made. Two women tightly hug and encouraged one another  with positive comments. I watched a mother embrace her daughter with tears in her eyes as she said "I am proud that the Lord blessed you my daughter."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017

Today I was able to share the gospel in its purest form-in the very streets that Jesus would have preached in. It was a the perfect example of seeing our calling come full circle. Years ago while I was at university my dorm was visited by some pastors and they prayed over each of us. I was still young in my walk with Christ then and I certainly never thought that those prayers would come to fruition. However, God works in mysterious ways. As the pastor prayed over me that night and said, “son you are going to be called to a nation and speak to people of an unknown tongue”Here I am years later, never knowing when, if ever, that vision would come true. I pray that a seed was planted that day and that the ministry here (A.M.O) can one day see the results of that seed.


Often times we forget how the gospel empowers us, and we become desensitized to it’s ability transform any life. Though we preach the gospel today we are not the author of those timeless words we are simply the vessel that carries it. Whenever I leave the place where I have planted a seed don’t have to see the results. However, I do pray that I am able to make the trip down the mountain-without hesitation. I pray those dreams keep me awake at night and my heart keeps longing for the next opportunity to speak of the Jesus that places the heart of flesh into our empty vessels of flesh and blood.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Monday, Nov 13th, 2017 São Paulo, Brazil

Monday our team had a meeting with the AMO team. Some of them shared their testimonies and their hearts. It was so encouraging to hear how their lives had literally gone from hopelessness to full of joy!  
Most of the people who work in this ministry grew union the slums and have serious doubt that they would be alive today if God had not used AMO to rescue them.

We divided up and did gardening, moving gravel, assisting in bed making for the remainder of the morning. 

David and Chevene led classes for the AMO ministry staff in the afternoon. 

In the evening, we divided into small groups and went into homes to do Bible study and crafts. This was a very rewarding experience, getting to know people in their homes. 

My small group stopped to talk to some kids on the street. They were so amazed to hear English!  The one girl acted as though we were movie stars!  She said she thought she might faint! Ha!  She recorded my voice so she could prove to her mother that she was not making it up! We were thankful for her amazement, only because we invited her to our service on Thursday night, and have high hopes that she will come and bring friends!

It was another amazing, blessed day in 🇧🇷 Brazil!