It was a perfect summer day.  Too perfect, really!  The sun was hot, and the temperature was sizzling; the hottest day of the year.  Not even the little shade of the only (small!) tree was inviting… it was just too hot!

So, Marta, a Brazilian Apostolic mother, decided to “wash her house down”… meaning, she pushed the little furniture they had into the next tiny  room and then, with a water hose, proceeded to scrub the  four plain walls and cement floor inside the small living room.

Marta was singing, content as she could be… plus, the water was so cool!   Oh, happy day!

It must have been the singing (or was it the sound of squirting water?) that attracted little Nicole, her beautiful six-year-old  girl, into the dripping living room.  Mother and daughter giggled happily as the cool water “accidentally” wet both.   Oh, happy day!

Then, almost as if in slow motion, Marta saw little Nicole reach over to a… (what is that?… white wire… could it…?… it is!!!… a big white…) WIRE!  Marta screams “DON”T”…

Too late!  Continue Reading »

The Broom Closet

I have taken the liberty to put the following true story to words (heard from Missionary John-John Lambeth’s lips).

Warning: Graphic language and descriptions.

The Broom Closet

Nameless…She was never named, but that does not matter, anymore.

She died this morning… alone.

In reality, the story began with a hospital visit to room 309, requested by an Apostolic saint on behalf of her sick, soul-harden husband.  The shallowness of his breath indicated the shortness of his future and that frightened the man… but not quite enough.  After a few words of comfort and a prayer, the missionary turned to leave.

As he walked away, he felt the tug of a pleading hand on his arm and saw two sad eyes behind the haunting touch.  Softly, she said, “The girl in the broom closet… please pray for her.” Silence then hung in the air as those sad eyes pointed to the end of the hall.  When the missionary turned back around, no one was there.

All the doors were numbered… except the last one on the left.

Continue Reading »

Devil Levels

As a missionary I have learned (in part) to cohabitate with continual feelings of loneliness.  There is no way to flee from that dark shadow. From sunup until sundown, the loneliness of the responsibilities that weigh on the shoulders of a missionary is overwhelming, at times.

The devil knows this and plays continually on that dissonant key!

In reality, loneliness is more than just a side effect of missionary work, but truly is part of the Calling to reach the UNSAVED in a distant foreign land! Again, the devil knows this and manipulates accordingly.

So, in order to deal with loneliness, those truly Called of God must go deeper than just pop a feel-good pill.  The Called Man of God must adventure out into the deep (of his calling, of his vision) to face the very adversary himself… sometimes in the most inter-part of the devil’s dark kingdom.  It could be said that the biggest battle will (always) be fought in a small boat bobbling on the waves of a storm…

The devil knows that he has limits (imposed by God Himself), but the big question is DO I UNDERSTAND THE DEVIL HAS LIMITS?  Do I understand that the devil CANNOT keep me from a DEEPER CALLING?  His powers are limited by my determination and by the Power of the Holy Ghost!

Continue Reading »

Bread Blindness

God answers even to our most basic needs, should we be willing to cast our cares onto His shoulders.  The big question, however: is it necessary to SEE His workings in our lives to believe that he is/was there, or… can we trust Him enough to accept the Divine as He performs under the cloak of invisibility?

At the feeding of thousands (John 6), the basic need that day was food.  From the reading, we gather that the logistics and concern of feeding that multitude was felt on the “platform”… not among the “saints”.

The Phillip/Andrew dilemma did not seem to reach the ranks of the congregation… they (so it seems), just TRUSTED IN JESUS… even for the evening meal!

Please notice, however…

Continue Reading »

God Cannot Pray!

The story has been told numerous times to me, so I guess the legend has some grains of truth:  A well-known preacher, who was legally blind, ate with friends in a restaurant when the waiter accidentally spilt seething coffee down his back.  There was deep silent at the table, no one knowing how the preacher would react within his physical limitations.  Finally, with a grimaced voice he said, for everyone in the room to hear “Would some SINNER in the house say something appropriate for me?!”  You, of course, surely can understand what he was getting at …
Using the above punch line above as introduction, I reaffirm: God cannot pray!  If he could, he would not be God!  We all know that God cannot pray to God and still be God!
The BIG question, however, is: IF GOD COULD PRAY… what would His prayer be?
You see, we are a weapon in God´s hand: a weapon of prayer!  Even so, the activation of this incredible (and powerful) weapon IS BEYOND God´s reach!  We are the sole ACTIVATOR of this weapon!

Continue Reading »

The challenge of growing the Church is greater than our very best abilities.  The numbers show worldwide revival to be an impossible task without Holy Ghost intervention.

In reality, while many believe in a worldwide revival (a debatable issue), because of the enormity of the proposal and the little that can be done toward that goal, most just freeze up and do NOTHING leaving all in the hands of God… which is just another copout.

Cutting to the chase:  if the church is not growing, it is dying!

So, how do we “Grow a Church”?

Missionaries, of course, are expected to be experts in this area.  While far from a spectacular conversion rate, real missionaries are truly qualified as spiritual lab researchers in this vital area of Church Growth.  Please allow me to share some things we have learned:

Much like diets and weight-loss programs, just about anything in soul winning efforts will work for a short period of time.  The final result, however, as each effort fades into poor numbers, is to see the saints (the REAL SOUL-WINNERS of the church) become despondent and harder than ever to sign on to the challenge of the next new program.

So, one thing we learned is that contests (which team can bring in more visitors) works only for a short time.  It may  probably be a good way to start the congregation toward a new vision, but does little to the long-term efforts of changing the MINDSET of the church!

So, the biggest challenge is getting visitors to church at a regular rate… not in spurts, but in a flow!

In the first segment of this series, the focus was on the daughter church concept.  However, the isolated endeavor of planting daughter churches does not, in itself, assure continued Apostolic quality as the web of congregations spread.

That is the reason why, early on, the Apostolic Churches of Brazil changed the concept and definitions of the “Mother Church”. (Again, this is another good reason to support successful missionaries: as they fine-tune new models and ideas, the supporting pastor benefits from the final spiritual results.)

We now understand that the “Mother Church” CANNOT just be a title given to denote the “original” church group… the connection between the mother church and daughter congregations must be MUCH STRONGER than that in order to survive the quality test of time!

In reality, we have learned that the “Mother Church” must truly be the HUB of the WHEEL SPOKES (daughter churches).  After all, the daughter churches are the EXTENSION of the HOME MINISTERIAL VISION.  (Forgive the capital lettered wording throughout this mini-study; however, they denote KEY thoughts that require full understanding in order to successfully implant the mother church/daughter congregation concept.)

Our laboratory work has shown that the Mother Church cannot merely be another one of the connected churches! That is the huge mistake that many pastors make when implanting a mother-church/daughter-congregation project: unwittingly, they allow (foster?) a daughter-congregation mentality inside the mother church.  The vision, the functions and even the structure of services of the mother-church must be completely “REENGINEERED” (spiritually speaking) in order to launch into the new world of citywide (even regional) outreach.