Saturday, September 5, 2009


As you may be aware, Aïda and I left the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in early July after 26 and 29 years respectively. If you would like to read a detailed explanation as to why, take a look at my July 10 blog post.

Sensing that God wanted us to continue ministering in Brazil, we began looking into various mission agencies to see which would be the best fit for us. I even went to the U.S. the last week of July to try to nail something down. After dozens of e-mails and phone calls, we finally settled on a mission agency that we had never heard of before until the beginning of August: PEF (Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship).

Why PEF? We aren't Presbyterian, but we can certainly identify with reformed theology. What really "sealed the deal," however, was the strong evangelistic emphasis that PEF has (hence, it's name!), including open air preaching! You see, CCC made it clear that open air preaching was not to be a part of my ministry on Crusade time. No problem - I did it in my free time. But now I am free to preach to anyone, anytime, anywhere (which just happens to be PEF's motto!).

In addition to my open air preaching PEF accepted us along with the following ministry focus and goals (as mentioned in my July 10 post):

1) REACHING , EQUIPPING and MOBILIZING students, professors and young professionals - interdenominationally - for the worldwide spiritual harvest. REACHING: through what we call "Intentional Evangelism," which is flexible in style and methodology while remaining faithful to biblical content; EQUIPPING: via one-on-one and small-group discipleship and training; MOBILIZING: through accountability to one's ministry goals, short and long-term missions, etc.

2) TRAINING Believers (those in our day-to-day ministry scope - see item 1 above - and local churches) in Bible study methods, theology, Christian worldview, apologetics and "Intentional Evangelism." Most Christians in Brazil have no idea what a Christian worldview is and do not have the basis to defend their faith; bible study and holding a consistently biblical theology are weak areas here as well (as they seem to be in the U.S. too!).

3) Teaching faithful men to do the same (i.e., spiritual leadership multiplication - 2 Tim. 2:2).

The past couple of weeks since I've been back in Brazil have been adventuresome, to say the least. Two weeks ago we went on a private, very Catholic campus (i.e., nuns in habits all over the place!) where some evangelical students who want our help study. We're not sure how much we'll be able to do there yet, but we're up for new challenges! We did get to share with a foreign student - Embelina from Cape Verde (off the coast of West Africa and where I directed CCC's first-ever international summer project back in 1998) - who, despite her Catholic upbringing, realized for the first time in her life why she needs Jesus (Rom. 3:23 & 6:23) and demonstrated repentance and faith!

Then on Friday of that same week I met with the student leader of an autonomous Christian campus group who wants our help at his private university! This student - Alexandre - started his group three years ago under the supervision of his home church (Church of the Nazarene). Since he is actively involved in evangelism via Jews for Jesus, I knew I was dealing with someone passionate about reaching the lost. Alexandre has a small group of 15-20 students who meet weekly on a campus that, although Catholic, is very open to the gospel! So we plan on starting to work with his group via theoretical and practical evangelism training as well as discipleship. We'd also like to establish a partnership between Alexandre's church and our ministry on his campus - Cândido Mendes University (UCAM). Needless-to-say, we are very excited over these developments!

This past week I went back to UCAM and tried out a new evangelistic tool - together with Alexandre - that I developed based on the evangelistic presentation on the link. One student, Alan (a sophomore Law School student (Yes, Law is an undergraduate major in Latin America!), willingly went through the presentation, agreeing that he had broken God's Law and that he is guilty and deserving of hell. However, what I didn't expect was his level of apathy regarding the possibility of going to hell one day. As a nominal Catholic, Alan said he was willing to risk dying in his sins and "enjoying life" now vs. getting right with God. It was a good learning experience for me on how to approach such apathy in the future, and I don't intend to waste it.

I also preached open air twice this past week, trying out my new foldable stool that I can easily carry in my backpack. I preached in a new location in Rio's business district yesterday: an outdoor amphitheater! I couldn't believe how the sound of my voice - with help from my trusty bullhorn, of course - traveled! As people passed by on their way to catch the ferry or the bus home for the long weekend, I could see their heads turn as they heard my preaching from 80-100 yards away! God's word won't return void (Is. 55:11)! Several people came to listen to my preaching in the amphitheater, and they each received gospel tracts at the end.

Some ask if the open air approach is effective. My response is,"If you're talking about seeing people fall to their knees in repentance and faith before my eyes, no. But if you're talking about God's word going out and being used by the Holy Spirit to convict the hearers of sin, righteousness and coming judgement (Jn. 16:8), my answer would be a resounding 'yes!'"

The following are two videos about campus preacher Tom Short that answer the question: "Does open air preaching work?"

You see, this aspect of evangelism has been neglected by the Evangelical Church for nearly an entire century. In the interest of being "politically correct," the Church's evangelistic philosophy backed away from the biblical approach to adopt a less aggressive approach. Some, like I used to, may think "political correctness" is a product of the 1990's, but in reality it was first popularized in Protestant circles by the liberal pastor/theologian Harry Emerson Fosdick back in the 1920's (I read this somewhere, but can't find the exact reference to support my statement . . . yet.). Eventually Fosdick's persistence, along with the inroads of theological liberalism in America's seminaries, would mean that being PC trumped being biblically honest with people. May we return to the biblical gospel and evangelism again, not worrying about preaching something that might offend. In fact, a biblical presentation of the gospel will always offend some. It goes with the territory!

"Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished" (Gal. 5:11 - NIV).


"and '

A stone of stumbling,

and a rock of offense.'

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do" (1 Pet. 2:8 - ESV).

1 comment:

  1. Very good!

    I suspect that you two will blossom in new and wonderful ways, given that you will now have a new freedom of expresion in your role with PEF. It is a good fit.