Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Brasil 2014, Day 6, July 30, 'Medina City'

We arrived in our second town, Medina City, just after 1:00 pm today (Wed. July 30). This city lies to the south of Salinas approx. 140 kilometers, is in the mountains - higher elevation, and is quite cooler. So that most have donned a jacket for the evening.  

Our hotel is in the center of the city, across from the Prasa (Plaza), where we held an inaguaral outdoor rally tonight to introduce our team and, prayerfully, excite the people here of our minstry to come. The town is quite smaller than Salinas, with a lower economic base, and I suspect we may be the largest 'attraction' here for the week- if not in quite some time. 

Please pray for us as begin early tomorrow -  Thursday - and spend three very full days proclaiming Christ love for all

Deus Abençoe, 

Pastor Sam 
Our ParkwayHills Men. Ready for work in Medina City.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brasil 2014, Day 5, July 29 - The Amazing Power of the Gospel

Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians at Rome - 'I'm not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who beleives.'  He meant this, and showed it by never wavering in his task of sharing Christ, the Crossresurrection and a call to 'believing' faith.  Likewise, we face the same challenge as Paul - perhaps asking ourselves, 'shoud we alter our message to our own culture and time, one which often sees the gospel as irrelevant?'

As I thought about this today, I could clearly see why God brings me to Brasil year after year. For here I am freshly reminded of the gospels power, and of our purpose in God's plan. Of course, I know this in my head - but back home, in Plano, it's easy to get distracted and 'forget.'  I know the gospel is our power - a power not from us but in the gospel itself - and I know that for the church to be 'ashamed' of this by absenting itself of its proclamation makes us, in essence, the perpatrators of any irrelevance it might appear to have. This is a shame. A church (ecclessia, the 'called out ones') void of the gospel is an oxymoron. The church is so because of the gospel - the gospel of Christ. To not share this, then, is to deny the very power that bore us. 

But, praise God, our team - the church - has shared the gospel this week. And thus far, in just 3 days, 350 people have made professions of faith in Christ - and this is only the ones we've recorded. Countless others, in schools across the city, have prayed to recieve Christ, too, and in this we do rejoice. This is the church exhibiting power - God's power - expressed by Christ doing that which He promised, saving people from sin and bringing them to Himself righteous and restored.  People are still being saved by His grace, through faith - believing faith - meaning they've said 'yes' to His call.  And THAT will always be the most amazing thing of all.  

Deus Abencoe, 

Pastor Sam 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Brasil 2014, Day 4, July 28

Our 2nd full day of ministry in Salinas has been filled with great joy.  It is Monday, and schools are still in session. Due to the World Cup games being here in Brasil this year, public schools have altered  schedules in order to accommodate the citizenry watching the games. Needless to say, Fubol is VERY popular in Brasil.  

It's funny that we often feel and say that man sets his schedule, when in truth it is God who does. The Bible says that He orders our steps and way (Prov 16:9). So that this 'circumstance' - one not of man, but God - provided us opportuniy to share the gospel with nearly 2,000 students today. From the very youngest in a VBS format, to the oldest in High School through sex education and encouraging the choice of abstinence till marriage, the gospel was proclaimed.  Indeed, God is amazing

So that I was able to go to two High Schools today with a small, but powerful, team.  A team that sang popular songs and shared testimony of God's plan for marriage and salvation. And, Gloria de Deus, we saw teens pray to receive Christ. 

To this end, then, keep praying for us as all this continues; for, indeed, the Harvest really is plentiful.  

Deus abençoe, 

Pastor Sam 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Brasil 2014, Day Three - July 27

After traveling for over 24 hours our team arrived SAFELY in the city of Salinas MG, Brasil at 7:30 pm. Sat. July 26.  Though we were very tired, we went straight to the Prasa, where we enjoyed some music and a welcome to kick off the Project. Our team from Parkwayhills has been amazing - for after traveling for over 24 hours, and being both tired and hungry, they brought to the task of 'greeting' no complaints, but we're eager to meet there new Brasilian friends.

With this beginning, Sunday morning (today) began later than usual.  At 8:30 am we walked from our hotel to the church (about 3 blocks) so as to receive our instruction and eat breakfast. Each of the teams - evangelism, visitation, VBS, and social medical - met with it's appointed leader, then went out for a 'first day' test.  Each of these teams are important to the success of the mission, and our Americans are learning how this will be so.  On different days and times they each will be used to share the gospel, though, at the first - they are learning. By weeks end each will be an expert at sharing Christ AND in working as a team and being flexible. :-)

The weather in Salinas is warmer than further to the south, so we are most happy to be here in the Brasilian 'wintertime.' In addition, God blessed us with breezes today - and even some rain (shuva), to cool things off. And that was very good!

This afternoon Chris Davenport, Glenn Sampson and myself traveled South of the city of Salinas to RUBILETA. This is a city that the three of us first visited in 2006, when we were performing our survey of the area for potential new churches. Parkwayhills then returned in 2009, to perform a mission trip here and to help in planting the church.  Now, through by our church to P70 through the budget, a building has been constructed and a Pastor has been called.  While there where we met with a handful of members and the pastor to see the bldg, pray, and give God all praise. Gloria Deus!

Tonight will be our first evangelistic service in the Salinas church. I am preaching, and my text concerns the woman with the issue of blood.  No one saw her that day - the day she was healed, but Jesus. And when HE saw her He knew - because He felt His power flow moving for His very self to her. When this happened, she was healed - and that's the same way we are healed and changed today. Simply by reaching out to the ONE who can make us whole.

Deus Abencõe,

Pastor Sam

Friday, July 25, 2014

Brasil 2014 - Day One, 'The Journey There'

We begin our journey today by flying out of DFW this evening to Miami, where we will take an overnight flight to the Brasilian city of Belo Horizonte. We will arrive there at approx. 8:30 am on Saturday morning, go through customs, then load onto a smaller airline which will fly us north to the city of Montes Claros. Arriving at Montes Claros Saturday early afternoon, we will see and join many of the P70 leadership, including Pastor Jairos Campos, the P70 Executive Director and our ParkwayHills Missionary. We will also have time to say 'hello' to Pastor Brad Martin and his team from Shady Oaks Baptist Church in Hurst Texas, who has been on the first leg of this years July Mission to Minas Gerais. Pastor Brad has reported regularly to me - telling of great success and extraordinary moving of God's Spirit.

This year we are taking a wonderful group from Parkwayhills, made up of both adults and students. Many of these students are making the trip with their fathers - so we have new contingency of ParkwayHills men being introduced to this exciting work that our church has partnered with for the last 8 years.

Please pray for us as we travel, and as arrive, finally, at the locale of the first the leg of our  mission - Salinas, MG (Minas Gerais), Brasil.

Deus Abençoe

Pastor Sam

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alberto and Anna

Alberto is from Cuba, and Anna, his wife, El-Salvador. They live next door to our son, Trey, who is renting a home in south Dallas County, not far from where Spur 408 becomes Clark Rd., at the westernmost edge of Ducanville. He and 3 other DBU classmates have moved 'off campus' for their Senior year - entering that stage of living 'on their own,' and experiencing what it means, yard work et al, to take care of a house.

So today Belinda and I went to visit Trey with but a few of my yard tools in hand. Arriving I could see I was in trouble - that I'd not brought quite enough. Trey's 'yard' (such as it was) was out of control. Still... we went after it, my son and me, with what might appear to any observing as little more than sickle and brawn.

Now next door to Trey Alberto was busy working at building a new fence around his property.  He and I began exchanging pleasantries. 'I've lived here Diez Años,' he said proudly. And, as we talked further, he began enthusiastically offering us his lawn-mower, tools and the ready conversation and camaraderie of a neighbor delighted to make our acquaintance. I learned Alberto owned his own 'rig' and worked as an independent long-haul, trucker. I learned he liked boxing, BB'Q-ing, family and the outdoors. I learned that though he was a proud Cuban, he would not go back. That he'd never met a preacher before - I was his first, and that he was 'surprised' at learning I liked old cars and 'beisbol,' too.

As the afternoon carried on, I watched Alberto as Alberto watched Trey and me. I watched him mix cement in a wheelbarrow then carefully clean each of his tools before putting them away. I listened and enjoyed the warm, pleasant sounds of men - his friends - joking with each other as they worked the afternoon away. I watched him as he smiled and gave his wife, Anna, a hug each time she came out to see how things were. I saw, with the eyes of man of such privilege too, how he loved her and she loved him - then watched, over and over, as he continued offering Trey and me his hand, advice, and bits of encouragement along our way.

When time came for me to leave, one thing more happened - perhaps the most profound of that day.  As I was packing my truck Alberto bounded out his front door to offer us each a beautiful demitasse of Cuban 'café.' The coffee was strong, rich, delicious and bitter-sweet. I thanked him, of course - for both the coffee and his help - then expressed how pleased I was to enjoy his kindness and fortune of my son living next door to a man such as he. With a huge smile on his face, Alberto turned to say, 'But we are neighbors, Amigo, - like family! In America we are supposed to be kind. For we've been given so very much. Si?'

As I looked into his eyes I could not help but wonder and pine, 'might I expect one such as he from the place where I live?' 'Thirty miles close, but seemingly, now, so far, far away?' I climbed into my truck and, waving goodbye to my new friend, I prayed so. I prayed this might be so from me and from you, too. For America could use, always, more Alberto's.

Lord, may it begin in me.

Pastor Sam

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When I'm 64

A few weeks back I purchased 2 tickets for the Paul McCartney concert coming to Dallas. It was scheduled for Monday, June 16 - which happened to be 18 days after my 64th birthday (thank you very much, Paul). Of course I paid more than I wanted to, but thought, ..."Oh well, I may never get to see him again, and this will be an opportunity to share a memory with my son, Trey." But then this happened - just days before McCartney was scheduled to perform I received an email from our ticket vendor saying, ... "We regret to inform you that Paul McCartney, the event you purchased tickets for in Order #_______, has been postponed." Oh my! I thought. Paul McCartney is sick. He's has a virus!!! Mmmmm? I guess this can happen when you're, let's see... 72. Arrrggghhh!

Of course, today, I saw this post with some good news - Ringo Starr (2 hours ago, via Rolling Stone magazine) reports, "Paul is getting fit and is ready to rock." And Ringo should know, I would think, as he is about to turn 74 this July 7. Which is precisely why I am holding onto my tickets for the new, rescheduled, date - Monday, October 13, and will be there 'with bells on,' as 'they' say.

Yet, alas, I am a preacher - one who knows better, or at least should. For though I am naturally hopeful regarding any tomorrow, I also know this is not where my ultimate hope rests. According to God's Word my hope is anchored in Christ - in what He has done for me on the cross by reconciling me, a sinner, to God. As the old song sings, my anchor holds and grips the solid Rock, Jesus. Even more, this same Jesus who died for my sins teaches this concerning the life we are now to live ... 'take no thought (do not be anxious) of (or, for) tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of it's own.' (Matt. 6:34) So that the last time I checked my calendar, October 13, 2014 remains a 'tomorrow' date, and certainly not something I'm to place my hope in or upon.

I recently read an article by a person who works in 'palliative' care - caring for people who are sent home to die. The article lists five most common regrets by those facing life's end. The thing that struck me was that much of the things listed seemed to deal with some manner of each person feeling they'd 'missed out' on the 'nowness' of their opportunities and relationships - not spending more time with friends, family or, even, their own thoughts.

In today's culture of tight schedules, plans and anxious anticipation it's easy to miss the now. The more moments we spend anticipating, the more moments we miss. For example, Trey and I did not make the anticipated McCartney concert but we did something else on that June day - we sat together for a moment and shared McCartney tunes with one another on our own guitars. It was a good day. One we enjoyed very much. One of the tunes we shared is credited to Lennon-McCartney, with telling lyrics, which sing this:

"He's a real Nowhere Man
Sitting in his Nowhere Land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody"

So I don't know about you, but I think I'll go out and live today as best I possibly can, by the grace and under the blessing of Almighty God. For I am certainly not a Nowhere Man. I am a Somewhere Man. Living here today by God's good grace and providence, and headed home to Him in some tomorrow yet to come - whenever that may be.  For, after all, today I am both His and...

Yours for Sixty Four!  

Pastor Sam