Monday, June 13, 2011


Man, this is long overdue... I kept intending on posting the e-mails I sent out during my 3+ week trip to Uganda the last two weeks of January and the first 10 days of February. I'm only getting to it now, believe it or not! So, here goes:

Hello from Uganda!

I thought I'd summarize my first week here in Uganda below.  Oh, what a privilege to be here serving the Lord, even if it is only for 23 days! Read on...

Tuesday, Jan. 18 - Friday, Jan. 21
After participating the Dr. Henry Krabbendam's (PEF board member and co-founder of ACTI - The African Christian Training InstituteSchool of Evangelism (SOE) last week, along with 240 Ugandans from the Teso District, in Palissa (pronounced "pa-lee-SA") in eastern Uganda, and around 6O from Kampala, we went out to put the training into practice in the surrounding neighborhoods as well as in a local health clinic, a hospital and a prison. My two groups - one on Wednesday and one on Thursday - preached the gospel to 34 people, including 23 Muslims! Since Muslims don't believe Jesus died on the cross, nor do they believe in the resurrection, they basically "gut" Christianity of its gospel [i.e., "Good News"], according to 1 Cor. 15:1-6. So when a Christian evangelizes a Muslim, he needs to boldly affirm that gospel and, if he senses skepticism, he should address it.  

Therefore, I ask Muslims that if Jesus truly didn't die on the cross and resurrect from the dead, then how do they explain the fact that all the apostles but John died as martyrs preaching that he did? Who would be foolish enough to die for a lie? I tell them that I would rather trust the eyewitness accounts of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection than some religious writings denying those facts written several centuries after the events in question. Up until now no Muslim has had an answer for me.  

(Note: Although Uganda officially speaks English, very few people outside the capital - Kampala - speak it.  There are around 47 tribal dialects spoken in Uganda, depending on what region you live in.  In other words, I'm communicating the gospel through translators up until this point.)

But not all Muslims are totally close-minded. One Muslim lady we shared with couldn't answer many questions we posed to her, so she promised to attend a worship service at the church hosting the PEF School of Evangelism that week. Another Muslim woman invited us as we were walking by to pray for her children, who apparently had malaria. I found it intriguing that a Muslim woman would invite two Christian pastors and a youth leader in to pray for her, so now I know that not all Muslims are so sure about what they supposedly believe. On Thursday, our last day of "practical" training, at least two townspeople were so convicted of their sins that they approached two different groups of evangelists asking, "What must I do (to be saved)?" - right out of the book of Acts (e.g., 2:37)!

This SOE was developed by PEF board member Dr. Henry Krabbendam, a retired Biblical Studies professor from Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, TN. Over the past 27 years "Dr. K," as he has been warmly nicknamed, has been coming to Uganda 2-4 times a year, bringing teams of Covenant College students and/or pastors and laymen to experience what he calls an "abundance culture." Americans can do things here that would be unheard of in the U.S. For example, where in the U.S. can you go up to a house and get a family to stop everything in order to to hear the gospel?And be so well received that they'll give you their only chair, stool or bench to sit on while they sit in the dirt to listen? And to top it off, the family is Muslim??!! Uganda was part of what is commonly known here as The East African Revival, which started back in the late 1920's. One denomination - the Anglicans (Church of Uganda- has had an average of 100,000 converts a year over the course of its 150 year existence in Uganda. Even today there is a church that has seen over 500 Muslims convert to Christianity and become members of the church! Abundance culture!

Taking advantage of this openness, we went room to room to talk with patients - mostly with malaria - and their families at a local health clinic last Thursday. Again, we were so well received. In addition to preaching the gospel, we prayed over the sick and are trusting in God's healing, especially for those who need a sign of His love and power to help motivate them to repent and believe the gospel. One patient was a pastor... who doesn't own a Bible! Incredible! Did you know that about U.S. $6.50 will buy a Bible in the local dialect? Yet this is very expensive to the majority of Ugandans. I couldn't get my hands on a Bible in the local dialect of that pastor before having to leave the next morning, but I left him in the hands of host church's youth leader, who lives two blocks from the clinic. I am increasingly burdened over the needs that leaders of God's people have here. On the one hand English materials are in such abundance in the West, but few find their way to English-speaking pastors in Africa (not to mention non-English-speaking ones)! Something must be done!

Oh, and that health clinic? The most appropriate word for it: SCARY! It was dirty, had windows missing glass, no screens, one sink to wash hands... that didn't work! Patients lying on vinyl mattresses. If you want a sheet, you have to take your own! No ambulances. If you're in an car accident, the police will put you in the back of their pick-up and take you as fast as possible to the nearest hospital. Assuming you survive the truck ride, you'll be facing the same conditions I just described. In other words, good luck! The wife of one of the pastors on our team - from Birmingham, AL - is a nurse and was horrified!

Okay, I guess that's about it. We headed back to Kampala - a 6 hour drive - to join up with six more pastors from the U.S. We are a team of thirteen Americans and several Ugandans from Kampala on this project, not to mention the hundreds from the towns and surrounding areas that are participating in the School of Evangelism. May our/their tribe increase!

God bless!


Friday, January 7, 2011


Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted anything here for nearly two months! I guess it had something to do with the school year ending, Christmas, New Year's, etc. I'm sure you can relate.

Anyway, it's been a good year... especially the second semester. I met last July - while we were in the U.S. for our new mission agency's annual conference - with my The 8-32 Movement advisory board, comprised of two pastors, two mission committee chairmen, a church elder and a very-interested layman. One important piece of advice that I was given was to move 8-32 closer to home by returning to the public university - Fluminense Federal University (UFF) - where our ministry in the Greater Rio de Janeiro area began in 1994! We had wanted to stay away one more semester to allow most of the students we knew while serving with Campus Crusade at UFF had graduated, but I saw the wisdom in my board's advice. I'm sure glad we returned.

Upon our return our initial strategy was to "filter" out those students at UFF as well as from several private universities in our city - Niterói - by offering a biblical* evangelism course.  We had 26 students participate in our class (in person and/or virtually) but, due to four long weekends this past semester, our class lost some momentum. However, we ended with a strong nucleus of eight students and one professor; these will be our key people with whom we plan to kick off the new school year this coming March.

On the evangelism front, I developed a banner diagramming Josh McDowell's Lord, Liar or Lunatic? argument to generate interest in seriously considering Christ's claims to be God and the implications of those claims: "You can either accept Him or reject Him as your God, Lord and Savior." Of course, introducing Jesus' role as Savior opened the door for me to share the biblical gospel with my listeners.  Aïda  and I ended the year having reached - primarily via this method - 1,038 students. Of course we used our campus ministry background in personal evangelism and discipleship to take our Biblical Evangelism module students sharing on campus, which is reflected in our total.

GETTING PERSONAL: Brenda (from our last newsletter) 
As Brenda and I (Aïda) approached Livia on Brenda's campus (UniPli) we immediately felt welcomed.  ”I love to talk about God," Livia exclaimed.  "I've got a whole hour before my bus comes!”  
When we started dialoging with Livia she told us she believed she would go to heaven if she were to die that night.  But soon, after a few penetrating questions, she agreed that if she were to die that night she would be guilty before God and, according to the Bible, deserve eternal punishment.  We asked her if she would like to hear what God had done so that she didn't have to end up in hell.  She quickly shot back, "Yes, of course!"  After telling Livia the Good News of Jesus' substitutionary atonement and resurrection so that she could be made acceptable before a holy God, she said she wanted to benefit from the gospel by repenting and trusting in Christ.  Livia  then thanked us and told us that she had only become interested in spiritual issues a month earlier; at that time she decided to check out a class for seekers at a local Catholic church.  She  confided in us that she didn't get much out of that class because it ended up only being a “self-study” course!

GETTING PERSONAL: André (from our last newsletter
André, a Telecommunications Engineering student on our main campus - UFF - leads evangelism in his church; however, he had never shared his faith on campus.  When he heard of our class he was eager to learn to do evangelism in the university context.  
Bill began taking Andre with him to share the gospel one-on-one with students, in addition to involving him in his "mini-talk" evangelism outside the main student cafeteria.  As you may remember, Bill effectively uses his "The Trilema of Christ: Lord, Liar or Lunatic?" banner there almost daily to expose students to the gospel.  He said that Andre's presence enables him to speak to many more people because Andre deals with students more one-on-one, which frees Bill up to explain his banner – including why  each needs Jesus as his or her God, Lord and Savior and how to benefit from His sacrifice for sin – to many more students who stop to watch and listen.  
Although he has only done five classes so far, Andre has already grasped the essence of how to share his faith biblically, leading a good number of those he's "practiced on" to  repentance and faith in Christ.  He even preached to a group of seven neighborhood bar-goers one Saturday during a heavy rainstorm.  All were stranded at their sidewalk table.  "I was shocked to see all their heads bowed as I led them in a prayer of repentance and faith!" an amazed Andre later exclaimed.  And to top it all off we're in the middle of giving our abbreviated Biblical Evangelism Module to Andre's church - plus 3 others - including taking the 60 participants – along with 3 pastors - out into the neighborhood to put their training into practice! 

8-32's Professional component saw me primarily using open air preaching to reach those who work in downtown Rio. The missionary who had some experience working with professionals sensed God's leading to do something different this year, so we didn't develop this component. In fact, until God raises up some interested professionals (ideally graduates from our campus ministry) or a missionary experienced with "marketplace ministry," we're going to put this aspect of our ministry on hold. As far as our Church component, thanks to one of of the UFF students involved in our class, 8-32 developed its Biblical Evangelism module (a 6-8 hour seminar - including an outing in the neighborhood to put the training into practice).  Sixty-two people started our course, but only 26 finished.  We think it had something to do with the fact that we spread it out over two Sunday afternoons. Live and learn! Next time we'll do it all in one day!  Mainly due to my open air preaching 2-3 afternoons a week in downtown Rio, not to mention some select crowd-gathering events like Carnival, Rio's annual Gay Pride parade, several Catholic and Spiritist festivals and New Year's Eve festivities, 8-32 preached the gospel to over 48,000 people in 2010!  

So, I'd say 8-32 had a good first year of existence. I know one thing: Aïda and I feel free now to do what God has gifted - not to mention called - us to do, and that included preaching the biblical gospel to thousands, teaching and training 160 students and laymen in biblical evangelism, preaching six sermons, teaching 25 weeks of Sunday School, etc.

On top of that, He has called us to do what we do as part of an excellent little mission agency - in existence since the year Aïda was born (i.e., 1958) - Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship - PEF! After participating in PEF's annual Family Conference last July in Elizabethton, TN, we came away totally impressed with the caliber of men and women who, like us, serve the Lord through this organization around the world! 

So, that's about it for now. I hope this recap of The 8-32 Movement in 2010 has been an encouragement. Look out 2011! I'll be starting the year out by heading to Uganda on January 13 to participate in a School of Evangelismand missions project put on by two PEF leaders twice a year there. Since we hope to host them here in Rio next July, I look forward to "testing the waters" with them in Uganda. I also look forward to doing some biblical evangelism in a primarily English-speaking African nation for a change. My previous four trips to Africa have been to Portuguese-speaking countries - with the exception of a couple of days spent preaching at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa in February, 2009. God bless!
Biblical Evangelism is a term used by author and speaker Ray Comfort of Living Waters Ministries along with actor Kirk Cameron, both of Way of the Master TV & Radio. The principles of Biblical Evangelism can be found in Ray Comfort's book, Hell's Best Kept Secret, which talks about the biblical principles that Jesus laid out for us regarding evangelizing the lost (e.g., using the moral law - the Ten Commandments - to reveal to them their sin and show them their need for a Savior); see Matthew 19:16-30Mark 10:17-31Luke 18:18-30 for biblical examples.  The basic concept is this: LAW for the proud-hearted; GRACE for the humble-hearted. In other words, we must first show people that they have a “contagious disease" called SIN (John 3:36Rom 3:23) which will eventually eternally "kill" them (Rom 6:23). By helping people understand this Bad News first - that all will perish and go to hell if they die in their sins -  then the cure of the Good News of the gospel (Jesus Christ's' death & resurrection for our sins) will suddenly make total sense! They will be able to clearly understand what they are being saved from (i.e., God's justice, holiness and wrath); the Good News of Jesus Christ will truly be good news! One more important aspect to Biblical Evangelism: One truly converts to Christianity by repenting of his or her sins and by placing his or her faith/trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Both repentance and faith are understood to be gifts of God, so pressuring an unbeliever to "make a decision for Christ" via "the sinner's prayer" is frowned upon.