The March for Jesus this year in Santarém was huge and powerful. As Santarém is being won for the Lord and the number of Christians grows, so does events like the March. The March had a great turnout, and it’s amazing to see how God is using His church to win a city that even just 50 years ago had a handful of Christians. Take a look at these pictures. (Don’t forget to click on them to see them fullsize- a must! Use your arrow keys to advance the slideshow. To view all the pictures and read an update on Ruth, make sure to click “Read More” below!)
Almost two years ago I was asked to fill a sudden vacancy as the Project AmaZon webmaster. It was the first role I accepted here at PAZ after language school. After I accepted, I soon discovered it would involve completely designing the website from scratch, and it would also involve me learning lots and lots of new programs in order to accomplish that task: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, WordPress (which powers this blog and the news page for PAZ), Dreamweaver, Flash (pain!) to name a few. Over time I’ve also done a number of design projects for various people, events and projects. My “Design” folder has been growing especially during the last couple of months. So, just for kicks, as the first post on this blog with the “Design” tag, here are a number of recent designs and the stories behind them. Don’t forget to click these to see them full screen!
1000 by 2014/PAZ Leadership Conference 2009
For my first large design project for PAZ after the PAZ website, I was asked to make a logo for Project AmaZon’s 5-year action plan “1000 by 2014” – our goal to have 1,000 churches planted by the end of 2014, doubling our size! An awesome goal like that needs a big look, so we went big – as in global! 🙂 In the end, I developed the logo, t-shirts, a huge banner (shown below), folders, DVD covers and wallpapers to download at Project AmaZon’s website (click to read more). Needless to say, it was a lot of work, but very fulfilling to see Brazil’s most affective church planters so fired up to go do this great work! Now there are t-shirts like this all over the Amazon basin, worn by people doing the Great Commission!
Well, we just continue to receive rain – lot’s of it – night after night it seems. We’ll see where it leads, hopefully it doesn’t last much longer, because the water is dangerously close to going over the orla (riverwalk & barrier) downtown. All the storm sewers have already backed up, meaning all the rain we receive doesn’t drain anywhere, just pools downtown (that’s where all the water is coming from). The biggest threat would be if the river went over the orla, it would completely devastate the downtown area. Let’s pray that doesn’t happen.
In the ribeirinhos (river villages), it’s even worse. There are entire villages under water- homes, schools, churches and all. I just posted a video to www.projectamazon.org to show the amazing challenge many Brazilians face. Life is certainly anything but dull at the moment- except for Ruth, who stays confined at home, taking it easy and treating the twins well!
Don’t forget that you can click any one of these pictures to see them larger – and you’ve just got to do that with this next great shot!
A once-in-a-hundred-year flood is happening all around the Amazon Basin. Here in Santarém, the river is only feet from going over the orla, or the barrier/walkway that divides the city from the rising river. Already the height of the river has backed up the small amount of drainage the city does have, flooding downtown stores and streets. As I was taking these pictures, I asked an old man that has seen many a flood how this year compares to others. He said he has only once seen it quite so high, and that was several years ago.
There are still a number of weeks before the river is expected to crest (mid to late May), so we are hoping and praying that it doesn’t rise much more, because if it goes over the orla, there will be serious flooding the like of which Santarém has never before seen!
The Desert Will Flood
Whether the flood will overtake Santarém or not, time will tell, but another type of flood has already started, and in fact is overtaking Santarém as we speak – a flood of God’s Spirit. Look at this passage from Is 35:1-10, the key text from Sunday’s powerful message here in Santarém:
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:6b, 7, 10
In the barren deserts of thousands and thousands of souls, God is doing an amazing work. The proof is in the pudding: people’s lives completely changed, energized and blessed by the Lord. This Word of the Lord from Isaiah, spoken thousands of years ago, is alive and literally happening in lives, and the commission to go and make disciples is happening like never before behind the amazing flood of God’s Spirit in the barren places.
Just look at what’s happening in our cell groups. This week we celebrated a huge multiplication of the cell group that multiplied from ours last October. Edson and Kelly Lee, fellow missionaries and our disciples, lead this group. Along with 2 other couples that we disciple, they have worked hard and God’s flooding Holy Spirit has made the impossible come true: souls once barren are springing up with true life! Now each one of our disciples will be leading a cell group. In a little over a year the one cell group we had has now turned into 4 groups – growing, winning people for Christ, discipling them and raising up new leaders to do the same!
Disciples Making Disciples Making Disciples Making…
Our disciples are growing as they continue to be given more responsibility in working the incredible harvest. These are normal people completely changed by God. Leo and Regiane are a military couple that moved up here from Rio de Janeiro two and a half years ago. Their lives were changed here, flooded by God’s Spirit through cell groups, discipleship and the church, and they in turn have had a huge impact in the military. They have brought and won several coworkers for Christ, and now they will lead a new group of os Corajosos (the name of our cell groups “The Courageous”) on the military base, where they live! We are so excited for what God holds in store.
Speaking of stores, Renato and Claudete own and run a clothing store in town. For years they have worked to build their business, but 2 years ago God started flooding these then backslidden believers with his Spirit, and now they not only work their store, but the fields of the harvest. They have a gift in winning people for the Lord, and they aren’t afraid to go after people. They have one of the most energetic personalities I know – and their cell group follows suite! They will surely continue to explode in growth.
A Small Picture of the Huge Flood
We represent 4 cell groups. 4 cell groups of over 3,000 cell groups – almost all of them led by “normal” people – people who are a part of a spiritual flood in the Amazon. Look out! A little goes a long way in the Amazon, and the flood will soon spill over to several other parts of Brazil. What a thrill it is to be here, in the middle of it all. What a thrill it will be when it spills over into the rest of Brazil and the world. It’s coming – I have no doubt of that.
Ruth is doing well, finding out how boring it can be to be on bed rest. I have taken up several more duties around the house! In fact, I “cook” from time to time. Not food, mind you. Imitations of food. Her uterus continues to improve and heal. We tried to go in 3 days in a row to see her doctor, who happens to be quite sick at the moment- on an IV! So we can be praying that he feels better too. We are super excited about the twins and it seems like everyone in the church and mission knows our story and is praising God right along with us! Ruth has already began shopping online for things we will need for twins!
Prayer Ensures the Prize
1 Cor 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
We need prayer to be able to finish the race that is already started. We’ve got a good start, but a good start means nothing without a good finish. God is dealing with us and our disciples; growing us, treating us in all areas: family, marriage, relationships, finances, work, ministries.
We have other disciples that have not yet let God work in their lives and are living lives of misery in the desert. They know they’re in the desert, yet they do not listen to the counsel of the Word on how to leave the desert. We pray that God would also flood their lives with His overwhelming Spirit and see the same transformation take place in their lives that has already happened in so many other lives. They are “believers” – but the type of “believers” that hear the Word of the Lord but never put it into practice. The wise man built his house on the rock- the rock of obedience to the Word of God. What separates the “believers” from the wise and blessed man is that they not only hear the Word, but practice it. And what a difference it makes!!! There is no reward for hearing the Word and not doing it- in fact, there are severe consequences for those who hear and ignore the Word. Be about obedience to the Word, no matter how you feel, or how it may disrupt your life and habits. The true believers are the ones who believe the Word enough to live it. That’s true faith- that’s true belief.
We would like prayer for our disciples as well, because it seems like when people move forward in doing God’s will, they really have a fight on their hands. A marathon doesn’t get easier as one gets further along. God starts dealing with important issues that aren’t easy to treat, but necessary. Pray that Ruth and I would have wisdom in discipleship, to always encourage, confront and be an agent of God in the lives of our disciples. And of course, pray for the twins and Ruth to be healthy, healthy, healthy!!!
As always, we praise God for you – your prayers and support and your love for us. God bless! Enjoy these pictures! (Remember, you can click on any of these pictures to see them full size and use your arrow keys to advance)
Do you remember this picture of our Promise Flower that bloomed the day Anna died? If you don’t remember, here’s a refresher of what I originally wrote in my post entitled First Fruits & Ruth Update posted on September 28, 3 days after Anna died:
Ruth’s mom Becky found a single stem plant that split and bloomed into two beautiful flowers. It was the very first flower that that plant had every had- it’s first fruit – and it was perfect and beautiful. Did I mention it bloomed the morning Anna passed away? It has become a symbol of hope in Ruth’s hospital room, a promise flower, and we believe it says something about our future. Twins? I don’t know – I hope so! Does it signify the first fruits of Marlison & Luana that received the Gospel after hearing Anna’s story? I believe so. Does it mean even more things? Probably. But most of all it means hope.
Well, it turns out that it meant exactly that – TWINS!!! We found out at Ruth’s ultrasound this morning that we are indeed having twins – identical twins! They are almost 7 weeks along an measure .85 cm and .75 cm with healthy little heartbeats!
When I saw that it was twins I was so thrilled that tears started to well up in my eyes. Ruth’s mom Becky started jumping up and down and later confessed that she nearly kissed the doctor, even though he had nothing to do with it except to share the good news. It has been a huge thrill to tell people that Ruth’s pregnant with twins. It was very good to tell my dad, mom and Ruth’s dad and see the tears in their eyes again- but this time from joy! God be praised – He deserves all the glory!
Twins also means much more bed rest for Ruth. There was a small section of her placenta that is detached from the uterus, which is of some concern. So be praying that that heals up quickly and the bed rest does the trick. Ruth will be going to the doctor this afternoon and learning more of what we should be doing. It may also mean that I would cut my trip to the States shorter to be able to get back to care for my pregnant wife! Thank you for your prayers – God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!