Monday, November 23, 2009
The following video is a wake-up call. I haven't figured out how to get the full screen on my blog, so I recommend that you watch it on YouTube. It's called TRUTH. I don't care how committed to God you think you are, there's always room for more commitment. In fact, a "tame" commitment might just mean that you have never truly converted! Watch this and, by all means, apply it as the Holy Spirit leads!
A ministry partner (i.e., financial/prayer supporter) of ours reacted to my previous blog entry (see below). I thought it would interesting to share here what I wrote to her:
You're right. Not everyone is called to be a street preacher, but we are ALL called to witness! Yes, members of our local body need caring for as well, but I believe that we should care for one another always with the goal of getting each other back out into the "fray." In other words, I look at the local church as, first and foremost, a military unit. Our common bond is as soldiers of Christ. We sometimes get hurt and need medical attention (I reject the analogy of the church as a hospital; it can have that function regarding some members, but as a military hospital, it exists to heal soldiers so that they can be productive soldiers again.), but always with the goal of getting back out into the battle.
The main battle I see before us - biblically - is the evangelization of the world (although Jude 3 says that we should contend/battle for the purity of the faith). Everything else is subservient to that purpose: worship services, special ministries, Sunday School, bible studies - which exist to prepare soldiers for the battle (for hearts and minds - for souls).
In the military, during wartime, every non-combatant role exists to prepare, supply, and support those who are on the front lines. Everyone knows his or her function. The analogy breaks down a bit here because, in the case of God's army, everyone is called to do battle for souls to some degree. In other words, there should be no "desk jockeys" in God's army. But the aspect of the army's priorities apply to any army, God's or otherwise.
So, what best would characterize your church? A military unit, a hospital, a night club, a counseling center . . . or what? As scary as it may appear to be, let's make it our goal to be soldiers of the cross with all that role implies. In my case I, along with my wife, have been deployed to the front lines overseas. In your case, your role may be that of "homeland security." Either way, we have a job to do, and our commander-in-chief (not Obama) deserves a 100% effort, doesn't He?
Friday, November 20, 2009
As we try to get our new ministry, The 8-32 Movement, off the ground, two days a week I have been going on the campus of Cândido Mendes University (UCAM) in Rio de Janeiro's business district (known as "The Center") to share my faith and to try to scrounge up some Christians interested in revolutionizing their campus for Christ. Actually, I was unable to go on campus for two weeks (the last week of October and the first week of November) due to our trip to Collierville, TN (just outside of Memphis) for the Worldview Weekend Training Institute. My wife, Aïda, is now in charge of training and materials (including the development of a transferable - for training purposes - evangelistic tool) for our new ministry (under the umbrella of PEF), where we are targeting university students and professors, professionals and churches. Our motto is Knowing, Living and Proclaiming Biblical Truth in a Postmodern World. We are doing this by reaching, developing and mobilizing students, professionals (including professors) and churches for the worldwide harvest. We reach via biblical evangelism, develop via apologetics and biblical/theological/worldview training and mobilize via short-term missions projects and long-term service opportunities.
Besides my wife and me, The 8-32 Movement (given this name based on John 8:32) has enlisted the participation of former Priority Associates (Campus Crusade for Christ) staff member, Erica Ribeiro, to help us get the professional component off the ground. Erica is currently discipling and training three professional women on the staff of Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ).
Getting back to my ministry activities in downtown Rio, I have found, in light of my strengths and gifting, the best of both ministry worlds! Not only do I get to interact with students about their faith (or lack thereof), but I get to open air preach in the notorious "Largo da Carioca," where tens of thousands of people pass daily. "Carioca," as this nerve center is commonly called, is a smorgasbord of sights, sounds and experiences. You never know what's going to happen next!
For example, I was introduced to a slightly-built preacher two months ago when a crowd gathered around him and an older gentleman decided to start slapping him! I intervened, holding the aggressor at bay long enough for the municipal guards to show up. I wrongly assumed they would uphold the preacher's right to preach, but they hauled him off and warned him to stop. Seeing a crowd of nearly 100 gathering out of curiosity, I whipped out my bullhorn and began preaching! After scolding the guards for violating the Brazilian equivalent to the preacher's First Amendment rights, I started to use God's Law to show the crowd its need for a Savior. After asserting that the Ten Commandments condemn lying, I asked anyone who felt they had never lied to raise their hand. Two men raised their hands. I told them they were lying about lying, and asserted that I knew they were sinners based on Romans 3:23. One guy grumbled something as he walked away, but the other guy - probably in his late teens to early twenties - started getting visibly angry, saying I had no right, as a foreigner, to be preaching. I responded with the fact that I may have been in Brazil longer than he, assuming he was 18 years old or less. He looked like he wanted to attack me, but his friend ushered him out of the area.
So, it's never a dull moment in the "Carioca!" This past Wednesday I was preaching against the gay agenda in our schools here, and a guy stopped to listen. He interrupted me to inform me that a well-known comic book series was introducing the gay lifestyle into its stories; 5 minutes later he handed me a copy of the comic book in question, pointing out the subtle, yet clear, message: "Let's all be tolerant of our gay friends and their choices." I'm going to boycott this comic book publisher from now on, as well as encourage others to do the same! Absurd!
When I was wrapping things up, a guy shows up and asks me to look up a verse in my bible for him. He then took issue with the fact that the verse translated God's OT name - Yahweh - as LORD. I knew I had a Jehovah's Witness (JW) on my hands, so I asked him about his view of Jesus. I confess that I didn't handle the situation the way I would have liked to (Hindsight is always 20/20.), so I plan to take a different approach next time. I encourage you to get your hands on the following tract and/or memorize it's approach to dealing with JW's. I know I will! Fortunately there's a Portuguese version.
To finalize, I came across the following video that graphically explains the benefits of open air and campus preaching. Yeah, it's considered controversial today and the results are not often immediate; nevertheless, God uses it to change lives. Invest just 7 minutes to see what I mean: