Saturday, October 30, 2010


This week Aïda - my wife - set up two appointments with two women involved in our Biblical Evangelism course that we're currently offering to university students in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. One of the women, Brenda Ticiane, studies on a local private campus, Plinio Leite University (UniPli). Aïda met her on her campus and they approached two different students over the course of the hour they had scheduled to do evangelism.

Both girls were open to conversing, especially after Aïda demonstrated for Brenda how to use the Ten Commandments to appeal to the person's conscience.  With questions like "Have you ever told a lie?" in light of the ninth commandment ("Thou shalt not bear false witness.") and "Have you ever taken something that didn't belong to you, including downloading or photocopying things without paying? in reference to the eighth commandment ("Thou shalt not steal."), Aïda was able to show the women she and Brenda had approached that they were sinners ("...sin is the transgression of the Law" - 1 John 3:4 KJV) and subject to an eternal and painful penalty for their crimes (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). One student had claimed to already be a Christian, but knew nothing about the Bible and demonstrated an very unbiblical worldview. She was left with the challenge to "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15), thus ensuring her conversion and salvation. The other student didn't decide to abandon her sin and place her faith in Jesus as the only one who "... died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1 Cor. 15:3-4), but at least both left understanding their need for Jesus Christ and what they needed to do to benefit from his sacrifice: repentance and faith.

After her appointment at UniPli Aïda went to meet with Michele Estarneks, a Business Administration student on The 8-32 Movement's main campus, Fluminense Federal University (UFF). Michele had asked a Christian friend of hers to tag along and learn how to do biblical evangelism from Aïda, so the three of them first approached two women. They asked questions related to God's Law, but one declared, "I don't believe that God would send a homosexual to hell who only does good to his fellow man while allowing a horrible person who supposedly converts on his death bed into heaven!" Recognizing her comment as an attempt to flee the implications of breaking God's Law, Aïda wisely directed the student back to her situation before a holy God. Both had to head off to class, but not before hearing of the solution God offers in Christ.

Aïda, Michele and Michele's friend then approached a group of five women in the Biological Sciences area. All claimed to be Christians, but Aïda decided to verify their conversions using our biblical evangelism questionnaire.  All but one of the women confirmed they had repented of their sins and were trusting in Christ as their Savior and Lord, so it was good that Aïda decided to take them all through the questionnaire. The one student who wasn't truly converted now understands her true situation before God and what she needs to do to remedy it. Both Michele's friend, who was exposed to our approach for the first time, and two of the women in the group of eight that was evangelized in the Bio-Sci area of campus decided that they want to join our class every Monday afternoon! Aside from the obvious benefits to the unsaved - of Christians doing evangelism - our outreach efforts can be used by God to motivate Christians to "hit the streets" after getting properly equipped!

Meanwhile, after being out all of last week at an excellent conference for pastors and leaders (an annual conference put on by one of the better evangelical publishing companies here in Brazil - Editora Fiel [English site] - that publishes books by John MacArthur, John Piper, Al Mohler, Joel Beeke, Steve Lawson, Puritan authors, etc.), I was back at UFF this week preaching the gospel via my apologetics banner on "The Trilemma of Christ" (see Oct. 7th post) and training new disciples like André Orsi (Telecommunications Engineering-UFF) and freshman Filipe Gonçalves (Physics) in biblical evangelism.

One guy André and I approached was a former church member who had fallen away. After taking him through the Law, I asked him if he would be found innocent or guilty on Judgment Day for having broken God's Law. He said, "Guilty." I then asked him if he'd go to heaven or hell? He said, "Hell." I asked him if that made him worry, to which he answered, "Yes.  A lot!" I asked him if he knew what God had done so that he wouldn't have to go to hell when he died. He said he didn't know, so I explained the Good News of Jesus dying for our sins, being buried and resurrecting on the third day. I told him that, in order to benefit from Jesus payment for our sins on the cross, he needed to repent of his sins and place his faith/trust in Jesus as his Savior and Lord. I then showed him Psalm 51, had him read it and asked him if that expressed what he was wanting to say to God. He said it did, but because I sensed a bit of reluctance on his part to talk to God in front of us, I encouraged him to follow repentant David's lead and get right with God ASAP.

Meanwhile, André invited him to his church because he lives relatively close to it. Let's pray for Márcio... that he would truly repent and believe and get plugged into a good church like the one André is a member of.

All in all Aïda and I preached the gospel to 54 students this week - primarily at UFF. At least two of those were "ripe for the pickin'," and the others clearly heard who they were in God's sight (i.e., law-breakers and sinners under condemnation), what God did so that they wouldn't have to spend an eternity in hell (i.e., 1 Cor. 15:3-4and how they could benefit from what God did (i.e., Mark 1:15). In addition, each was given evangelistic materials to mull over after. And hey, we recruited at least three new students for our biblical evangelism course in the process... while giving hands-on training to some of those already enrolled!

Not a bad week, I'd say. Not a bad week at all!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


This week has been gear-switching! I put together a vertical banner on The Trilemma of Christ, based on C.S. Lewis' words in his little book, Mere Christianity (The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41):

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Well-known author and speaker Josh McDowell diagrammed Lewis' argument like this:

Of course my banner is in Portuguese, and I added C.S. Lewis' quote at the bottom under the heading "Conclusions of a Scholar." I can assure you these kinds of visual aids really generate a lot of curiosity among students!

For example, the first day I used it - this past Tuesday, Oct. 5, over 70 people stopped to read my banner.  I was able to walk 40 of them through the argument, bringing in the gospel at the end by saying, "The most logical way to deal with Jesus' claims is to conclude that He was telling the truth about Himself. The other options present serious problems in common sense terms. If Jesus was telling the truth, He is God. If Jesus is God, by definition He is also  Lord over His creation. However, Jesus didn't make the claims He made so that we would agree intellectually with those claims. He made them so that we would make Him Lord of our lives! How do we do that? Well, we first have to recognize that He is not Lord of our lives because of our rebellion against His lordship. We demonstrate our rebellion by breaking His laws: for example, 'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' 'Thou shalt not bear false witness,' 'Thou shalt not have any other gods besides Me,' etc. When we break a human law, we're subject to the consequences. In the same way, when we break a divine law, we are subject to divine consequences. The Bible says that 'sin is the transgression of the Law' (1 Jn. 3:4) and that the consequences of breaking God's Law - or sinning - is the eternal death penalty (Rom. 6:23). In order to 'make Jesus Christ Lord of your life,' you have to first deal with your sin problem by repenting of your sin (i.e., 'changing your mind' to the point of hating your sin) and depositing your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, as the only one who can solve your dilemma (i.e., Because God is holy and just, He cannot let sinners into heaven and He must execute the sentence He already announced in Romans 6:23). Think seriously about this because, if you die in your rebellion against Jesus as God and Lord, you will not go to heaven when you die. You will end up in hell." At the end I gave each listener an evangelistic tract with The 8-32 Movement's e-mail on the back.

I can't express enough my satisfaction over knowing that I am declaring truth about Jesus Christ in the university context (and in a way they can relate to) as well as clearly presenting the biblical gospel (i.e., bad news + Good News + repentance + faith). God is also bringing Christians to the surface on campus who've been looking for a serious Christian group to plug into.

Speaking of Christians coming out of the woodwork on campus, we had our third week of Biblical Evangelism classes this past Monday. The group was down to six UFF students this week (several had time conflicts and/or tests), one student from a local private university (UNIPLI) and a Math professor from another private university (UNIVERSO). We also had two women participating from the church that is hosting The 8-32 Institute, Red Beach Baptist Church, as well as our two daughters.

During class Aïda and I asked students to put their evangelism training into practice by going out witnessing with us. Aïda set up appointments with two girls, while I set up appointments with three of the guys. Due to extenuating circumstances, I was only able to make one of those appointments, but WHAT AN APPOINTMENT!

I met with Stephan, an Engineering major, to go out sharing. Stephan had already concluded, based on his own studies, that he needs to be biblical in his evangelism. When he saw our poster on campus advertising The 8-32 Institute's Biblical Evangelism classes, he jumped at the chance to be a part! We met a History major by the name of Renato, who was studying alone before heading for lunch. Renato was an interesting person because his mother has been attending evangelical churches the past several years. Despite his mother's influence, Renato has chosen a different "god" - the god of Pantheism. When I read the following passage to him, however, he changed his tune:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Rom. 1:18-32).

After sharing the biblical gospel with him during our interview, Renato congratulated us for "hanging in there and patiently dealing with my views." He also said that my reading of the Romans passage to him made him rethink his concept of God. Our prayer is that Renato's concept of God will become that of the God of the Bible. We're also praying that God's Law will continue to have its intended effect, convicting Renato of sin, righteousness and judgment and driving him to the cross of Christ.

After witnessing to Renato, Stephan and I walked over to the main cafeteria on campus. We set up my Lord, Liar or Lunatic banner display outside a main exit. The curiosity level was not as high as the day before, perhaps due to the fact that many students had the opportunity to read the banner while waiting in the lunch line. Tomorrow I will cover some of the key points so that students will want to stop after lunch to "figure out" the crazy American missionary's banner!

To be continued...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

CALL IN THE MARINES - Reflections on Those Who Are "Takin' It To The Streets!"

I was reflecting yesterday on the, sometimes, shocked reactions I get from so-called "Christians" when I am open air preaching (a "nicer" way of saying "street preaching," but can include campus preaching). I remember one group that passed me back in 2007 on its way to an ice hockey game in Atlanta. One guy yelled out, "You're doing it all wrong!" Apparently emphasizing the justice, wrath and fear of the Lord was, to that guy, "doing it all wrong." Another time a lady reacted to my quotation of Psalm 111:10 & Proverbs 9:10, which say, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." I was biblically justifying the message on my banner, which used "NFL" in the following acrostic: Need to Fear the Lord! The lady in question blurted, "The Bible doesn't say that! It says, 'The LOVE of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!'" Such biblical ignorance!

I find it amazing what some so-called "Christians" will come up with to try to get you to stop preaching because, as emergent heretic Rob Bell so honestly puts it in his "Bullhorn Guy" video, "Bullhorn guy, I don't think it's working... I actually think it's making things worse... And to be honest, it's confusing for me, because you and I end up getting painted with the same brush." 

In other words, most so-called "Christians" - of which Bell is one - complain about street preachers mainly because of how it reflects on them. They are, frankly, incredibly embarrassed at the thought that someone might actually equate them with the "Bullhorn Guys" out there.

I don't know where you stand on all this, but I am an unashamed "Bullhorn Guy." Why? Because I, along with those who've preached before me, serve a very special purpose in the "Army of God." You could compare us to those who "soften the target" by "being the first ones in" when invasion time comes. Open air preachers are like the Army Special Forces who go in and take out key targets before the main invasion. Or we could be compared to the Marines, who pride themselves on being the first ones to "hit the beach" when the invasion begins. Either way, we serve an important role in God's Army. Let's just say that the success of an evangelistic mission may depend on what we "marines" do either before that mission actually starts or gains momentum.

Think about how open air preachers in the 18th, 19th and even 20th centuries were used of God to spark Great Awakenings and revivals. It is said of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, that he once preached open air to nearly 20,000 people (without a sound system either!) on the holiness of God. When he finished and everyone had left, there were 1,800 people unconscious and laying all over the field. They had been so convicted regarding God's holiness and their unholiness that the only way they could deal with the "pain" of the Holy Spirit's conviction via Wesley's preaching was to pass out.

Are you beginning to see how important the role of the open air preacher is in God's Army now? So, instead of questioning the validity of God's Special Forces, why don't we think about the benefits they bring to the evangelistic mission of the Church?

First, if it weren't for open air preachers, many people would still be clueless as to which standard God will be using to judge them someday. Let's face it, to say the things street preachers say in most pulpits today would empty churches of all but real believers, and that would be disastrous for the seeker-friendly, emergent and liberal varieties. In other words, there would have to be a lot of downsizing - and even unemployment - which is a price most churches are unwilling to pay.

Second, if it weren't for street preachers, many people would not understand why they really need Jesus. I mean, we have pastors and church members "hawking" Jesus as a cure-all for bad marriages, mediocre sex lives, rebellious teens, financial problems... basically, for anything and everything, including "Your Worst Life Now." Somebody has to tell them the truth regarding their rebellion and the eternal consequences they'll face if they die rebels without the blood of Lamb of God applied to the "doorposts" of their lives.

Third, street preachers prepare the hearts of the lost for the Good News. Let's just say we do the dirty work, which is something many Christians, conditioned by our PC world, aren't willing to do. For the most part Christians today are afraid to tell people straight out that they are wrong, dead wrong. We have gotten so used to hearing everyone else's opinions, but we've also gotten used to having ours "shot down" in the media, in the classroom, in the lunch room, etc. So we clam up when it's our turn to opine! That is sad, so we street preachers are actually doing you less-courageous brothers and sisters a HUGE favor! By not beating around the bush, we're providing you with all sorts of potential witnessing opportunities! My advice? Instead of running for cover like a cowardly soldier in his first beach invasion, take full advantage of the opportunities we provide! Storm the banks! The enemy is out of ammunition!

Lastly, although there could be many more benefits mentioned as to the role of street preachers in God's Army, is the benefit of emboldening Christians. The growing "street preacher movement," which is confirming false teacher Rob Bell's worst fears, is alive and well and serves as a reaction by true believers to the myriad of truth-compromising, unbiblical evangelistic approaches being promoted by so many. Open air preaching is biblical and, despite what the culture-first crowd may tell you, still incredibly relevant! Any time a Christian communicates biblical truth to a non-Christian, that is highly relevant! And as for being biblical, let's not forget that Jesus never said, "Go into all the world and make friends with non-Christians," or "Go into all the world and invite people to your seeker-friendly service." He said, "Go into all the world and PREACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL CREATION." Enough said!

So, the next time you come across a "Bullhorn Guy," read an account of one of his outreaches or watch one of his videos (there are literally hundreds, if not thousands on YouTube), try to think of him as a member of God's Special Forces whose role is to make it easier for YOU to share your faith! 

One last thought: Some object to "Bullhorn Guy" because they say he's turning people off. That reasoning totally ignores how the Bible describes people without Christ: DEAD (Eph. 2:1)! Think about that the next time you're tempted to underestimate God's role in a person's salvation. After all, if God doesn't show up, you can befriend an unbeliever all you want and he will NEVER become a Christian.  Acts 11:18 says that God has to grant people the ability to repent. Eph. 2:8 says that God has to give saving faith... as a gift! So don't give yourself too much credit for a person's conversion. At the same time, don't blame "Bullhorn Guy" too much for a person's continuation in sinful rebellion. It's called the doctrine of monergism, which says that a person's conversion is all about God and not us. Our role is to PREACH, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).