Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bits July

We have a major change here that started this month. Three days before our first important game, Tyler Rust moved in to our house. A year ago I wrote 12 Christian college football coaches and told them about football in Brazil. One way I said they could help is by sending players that would be willing to help plant a church and play football. One school showed interest and out of 4 players who contacted me, Tyler ended up coming. He played four years at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota. You can read about our exciting first win here as we beat a good team in our league 14-13. 

Last Sunday night Tyler gave his testimony to 26 adults that came to our house for our study. The Sunday night group is really growing and we have several committed faithful families! On Thursday we started another Story of Hope Bible study with the extended family of one of our families! We are excited about this! 

We have also continued to go to Tupanatinga (50 minutes away). We did two trips this month. I have taken three different musicians with me on these trips! The first time Gabriel, second time Alison and third time Pastor Ruy. Each time has been a blessing and seen different people listening to the studies. I am discipling Pedro with the Way to Joy book; studying a Proactive parenting seminar as well as teaching a Bible study. We cram it in, but it has been good for Chico and Bia there! 

Next Sunday I leave for Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics where I will be translating for an evangelistic group sent through Answers in Genesis. Pray for Sarah as she will be at home for 11 days by herself with the girls. Fortunately we have a good amount of support around us here in Arcoverde, but neither of us like being away from each other for long! (that is a good thing….) Pray also for the opportunities we will have in reaching the nations as the nations come to us in Brazil! Through this evangelistic idea many people have been reached and even churches have been planted at past Olympics and world events! 

This month we have received a couple VBS offerings with creative ideas! The whole football team will be receiving Bibles thanks to Faith Baptist in State College, PA! Then one VBS adopted one of our kid’s rooms and sent a bunch of money for decorating it! The construction has been slow this week due to the worker’s occupation at other works, but it should be starting up again soon. Our funds are up and down! Every time we raise money, we use what we raise! :) I guess that is how it works... Pray that God will continue to provide at the right moment, just as He has through this whole process. We are amazed to see where it all comes from!

This month an article about football in Brazil will come out in our mission’s “The Message” magazine! Be sure to check it out! Tyler and I are working together to invite lots more players for next year to play for different teams and help different churches throughout Brazil! I continue to be amazed at the doors God is opening through football! Please pray for this ministry. After a very exciting, strong, unifying team practice on Thursday I told them we needed to sing our hymn, or say the team prayer or something. Instead they told me to pray. I thanked God for the team and the spirit, and asked for us to be able to honor God through our team. They continue to be open to the gospel, more and more become faithful to the studies and a couple of them are thinking about salvation. 

Also, I am looking to start a Master’s program this month using the development of Servant Leader’s as a project. We developed more material this month in the program. 

We thank God for you all! Last month someone wrote saying he felt nervous about writing us and taking up our time with questions, but I assure you all that any email or letter is very encouraging; shows us your reading, and we greatly welcome and appreciate it! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, my entrepreneur Evelyn who started a cookie selling business that operates one day every other week and sells out every time and who also sends encouraging messages to all her friends on whatsapp, and my little food processor Anna Claire who eats like a teenage boy and somehow manages to spend all the energy she has just gained

Celebrating our first win!!! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

First Win!

There are several very memorable hugs I have had in life. That kind of hug where you squeeze the life out of someone as they squeeze the life out of you. I remember when Jeremiah Johnson decided to give his life to Christ when I was his RA in college and when I finally found him at room checks that night. This last year Gabriel gave me that same big hug after he made the same decision. 

Last night I received a bunch of those hugs. We have had an American football team for two years now. We have developed so much as a team as far as structure, knowledge and attitudes, yet we had not won any of the four games we had played so far. It is hard to gain confidence and trust in our community without victories. Last night was our biggest game we have had as a team so far as we started the national league in a conference of eight teams. The winner of our conference will have a spot in the big league (Brazilian footballs equivalent of the NFL....except not that high level of play) for next year. We played our first league game against the Natal Scorpions who have been around for eight years. 

It was an away game and the trek turned out to be way longer than the long trip we had planned. We left at a little before 5 in the afternoon on Saturday and didn't arrive until almost 5 in the morning. Needless to say; in a huge room full of guys with the little time we had left to sleep, we didn't get quality rest. On our way to the stadium we went to the wrong place and ended up on a long walk to the stadium where the home team didn't have our changing room ready for us. After waiting in the hot sun for a while, they finally found a place for us. The level of the competition calls for lots of registration and they informed us that two of our main players would not be playing. Thankfully, after a few phone calls and conversations we straightened that out, but all that led to a talk with the team about overcoming adversity. 

On Thursday of last week we had picked up Tyler Rust from the airport. Tyler came to both play football and help with the church plant. He played at the University of Northwestern in Minnesota (not the D1 team). He had one official practice with the team and we put him in a few plays. He ended up scoring our two touchdowns in the game. 

On our first offensive drive our quarterback called a great audible and threaded a pass between two defenders to Tyler who turned and ran untouched 40 yards to the touchdown. We then ended up getting scored on and on our next drive threw a pick six putting us down 13-6. It stayed that way through half time even though our offense did well in its drives. 

In the second half our defense held strong while our offense continued hammering away. One drive started at our one yard line and we drove steadily all the way to the six on the other end where a miscommunication led to an interception. They got the ball on the 1 yard line and we stuffed their first play and an initial safety call was overturned.We drove the ball down the field and Rodrigo found Tyler in the back of the end zone. We then ran it for the two point conversion and went up 14-13. Our defense held strong once again and the offense was able to run out the clock. We kneeled a couple of times and then they dumped a bunch of ice water on me. I hate cold water, but it had never felt better. 

Then the hugs came. There is something spiritual about football and it felt very strong as we celebrated our hard fought victory. Getting to know these guys has had its share of frustrations and joys, but this is a big step as we get involved in each other's lives. When I pray, I pray for fruit with the team. As I talked to a Pastor and his wife who had a son playing on the other team, they said they thought our team would have more prayers going up for the win. I told them that the prayers may actually be working against us as we may need more humiliation before we recognize our need for a Savior! Since yesterday the team has certainly recognized the role losing has played in the team's development. 

My mind still reeled as we arrived home this morning at 5 AM; what a rough couple of nights, but a good outcome. Besides the game I was able to have several great conversations including being able to share the gospel again. Praise the Lord and to Him be the glory for this ministry that has opened so many doors. Next month our mission ABWE's The Message magazine will run a story on this ministry. In it I say that we could put hundreds of missionary football players in Brazil to be on teams, be examples, teach football, but best of all, share the gospel!    

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Family life

I grab my phone once again to try to film what I just witnessed. Anna Claire quotes Thumper from Bambi when he talks about eating his greens while Evelyn and Sarah coach her through and play the part of Thumper's mama. We make her repeat it to get it on video to show to our family.

This happens pretty much daily. Anna Claire says and does something cute or Evelyn shows responsibility and tells about the hilarious happenings at school. Yesterday Evelyn set up a cookie/brownie/lemonade stand and sold out. She learned about economics and responsibility and had a heart for giving through it all!

Family life has its share of stresses, like 1000 mooooms yelled out each day, but overall it has been fun and a huge joy. I wish I could say that I were the perfect father, but alas I can only say that the girls have a perfect mother. Well, pretty much. She does a great job giving attention and teaching them. She is the one who "puts up with them" when she needs to during the day. But she has done a great job of finding a balance in play and work. So much so that Evelyn gladly does her chore chart when asked and even when not asked. Both girls love helping their mother in the kitchen. Well, Anna Claire enjoys the process, using the word help may be exaggerating a little bit.

As Evelyn and I played Monopoly the other day I heard the sound of scissors cutting and then watched as my light brown hair fell in front of me. As my eyes popped out of my head I turned to see Anna Claire's popped out as well. "What in the world are you doing?" I couldn't really get too mad though, cause who would think? Anna Claire had already practiced on her own hair a month ago when she started working on one side of her own head. Crazy little energy bomb!

On the Fourth of July we had a wonderful family day. We started off with a good breakfast and talk with my parents and then headed off to the park. The girls played there for a while and then we came home, grilled and ate a delicious lunch. In the afternoon we played hide and seek in the yard. Evelyn continues to grow in strategy in all the games she plays as well as improving her inherited competitiveness (by way of her father) that can be a little strong at times.

Sarah and I love laying down on Sunday nights after the Bible study in our home has brought several families together. We know that the work is not about ourselves and it brings great satisfaction. We often find moments of laughter together during the day as our crazy life unfolds or our crazy girls act themselves. After each game I coach I relish the time after when I can just be with my family and hug and talk to them.

Although I still lecture them on me not being responsible for dressing their dolls, I do enjoy playing with the girls. Time with them is set aside as well as random wish granting. Children bring joy to life. If we become so indulged in our work that we see them of little importance, we miss out on one of God's greatest blessings in our life. Even more important than them is my wife! Any wife can be the greatest joy giver or greatest joy killer. Be careful who you marry! And once you marry, value your wife as the precious jewel that she is and that I know I have.

I hope you don't read this seeing arrogance on my part in regards to my family; my prayer is that it be a challenge to have a thriving family life!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Seeing Jesus in your selfie

What do we hope for in taking a selfie? Usually the idea is to show that you are having fun, show you are sure of yourself and that you have nothing to hide. Then there are the selfies taken in front of a mirror, usually accompanied by an inspirational phrase. 

What do you see when you take that selfie? Do you see Jesus? Of course not…But do we ever think about having that sort of vision? In Romans the Bible talks about being conformed to the image of His Son (or Jesus). God’s goal for our life is to be conformed to the image of Jesus. In this selfie culture it is probable that the focus is elsewhere. We can’t judge each person’s motives, but it would be safe to say that some people take them in search of compliments, others to show off progress in their latest health challenge, others to feel good about themselves. 

What would be neat is if someone invented an app that showed your progress through selfies in being conformed to the image of Jesus. You could gradually see a white robe appearing and a soft beard and eyes that penetrate love to the souls of those who like your selfie post. As you grow in the Lord, the features gradually appear in your selfie picture….

That might not be too realistic, but maybe our vision of that happening should be. What if we put just as much focus on that progress as we did on how we look in the mirror when we take a selfie? 

The funny thing is that when people think about being around us or being friends with us, they are not going to focus on your appearance, they are going to think about your character and personality. They are more likely to spend time/approve of you by your actions than by your looks. 

God approves of you. He loves you. He wants to take your life and shape it to be more like Christ. When you submit to God’s will and seek Him and how you can be conformed to the image of His Son, you do wonders for yourSELF. You turn out beautiful, not just physically, but in all other areas as well. 

As this world seems to be going south, we need Christians who will see Jesus in their selfie more and more. We need a movement that takes these steps in being salt and light to those around us!