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Tuesday, 1. July 2014

New: church of Christ in São José dos Campos, Brazil

The site at the link below replaces the previous one on our fastmail account.


With the move, it has also been updated rather extensively to reflect the new work in Urbanova January, 2014.

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Thursday, 3. October 2013

New domains

GoSpeak ministry (new name for BZeal):


Church of Christ in São José dos Campos (SP) Brazil:


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Wednesday, 8. July 2009

Reporting went here

When we gained our own URL, we left the antville service. Be sure to check out information and reports at this link:


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Tuesday, 2. November 2004

November report: 'The Jesus We All Need'

Zeal for God's house

[You are receiving this email as a subscriber of the
Brazil list at associate.com. See information at end
for unsubscribing. Also, see the website link above for
pictures of the report.]

Note: You can download the PDF version of this report
at randal.fastmail.fm

Brazilian Zeal

2 November 2004 • São José dos Campos (SP) Brazil •
Monthly report • J. Randal Matheny

‘The Jesus We All Need’

After preaching a series of sermons in the new Taubaté
church on “The Jesus Brazil Needs,” the Guarulhos
church, in the greater São Paulo area, chose this theme
for my time with them on October 23.

Some 40 people participated in the five-hour event.

Valdir Silva, from the Pimentas congregation (planted
by the Guarulhos church in the same city), liked it so
much, he’s using the material for a series in his
congregation and has invited me to speak there at least
once in November or December.

For an idea of this series see my article “The Jesus We
All Need” in Forthright Magazine:

When Jesus praises people

October 31, I finished up the sermon series
“Compliments Jesus Paid” in the Taubaté congregation.

In the SJC church, I’m also preaching this semester,
getting near the end of a series on the list of words
in Philippians 4:8. Earlier, I preached a series on
gospel summaries in the NT.

In our Sunday Bible school at SJC, I’ve been leading a
study of missions since July. This is important for us
in a region of millions with so few Christians.

Studies held in city without church

In our entire region only two churches meet, in SJC and
Taubaté. Our brother Jorge and Paula Santana are
teaching relatives of Paula’s and neighbors of theirs
in their home town of Guaratinguetá. (For a map of our
region, see the PDF report.)

On October 16, Vicki, Leila, and I visited this study
group as I encouraged the 10 people present to be the
firstfruits in that city of some 100,000.

No pics this report

Joel served at the Mt. Of Olives Christian camp in
July, camped his last time during the third week (for
14-17 yr. olds), and joined several others for an
experimental fourth week.

It was during the latter period, with few people and no
security guards, that someone stole into camp and
carried off our digital camera. So we don’t have any
pictures to share this report.

No takers, so I’m doing it

Our websites were in desperate need of work, so since
nobody volunteered (and it’s hard to comandeer help
from thousands of miles away), I’m working hard on
updating them with new software.

One great possibility is offering online courses for
minsterial training to Brazilians Christians. I
successfully installed a program, used by universities
and colleges world-wide, that manages courses,
teachers, and students in one excellent package.

You can get a preview of the online course site here:

Now to get teachers to put their courses online! Pray
this may be a useful tool for the Kingdom.

Edification Magazine

We’re working hard to keep the magazine published. Due
to problems and sickness, the printer kept one issue an
entire month. Doesn’t help our schedule much.

Another regional oportunity

On October 24 a Christian couple visited us at the SJC
congregation who had moved from São Paulo to the coast
city of São Sebastião. They have had some Sunday
meetings, but hope to begin something regularly. So we
have yet another point in our region to work and
establish the gospel. (For a map of our region, see the
PDF report.)

SJC men meet monthly

The men began a monthly meeting in September, at the
same time as the women, on the fourth Saturday of each
month. Both groups meet at 3 p.m. for study and prayer.
The first meeting in September, I led the study. Since
I was gone to Guarulhos em October, Otavio Carvalho
coordenated that month’s meeting.

Writing for a construction magazine, of all things

A man who picked up some of our material which we’d
left in a store contacted me to write a column for his
new construction magazine for our region.

The first issue was published in September, and my
column focused on “voting” for He who changes lives.
Sepember was election month in Brazil, as voters chose
mayors and aldermen.

I hope to have a pdf version of the cover of the
magazine and of the page of my article, and will post
it on the BZeal page as soon as I receive it from the

This represents yet another opportunity to place the
good news in hands that otherwise would never have
heard it.

Women’s Conference

Vicki and Leila participated October 29-30 at the
women’s conference in São Paulo, with 10 other ladies
from the SJC and Taubaté congregations. Reports are
upwards of 400 women attended.

Family focus

Joel and Leila both finished up another year of school
at the end of October. I’ve taken Leila out for ice
cream – our standard celebration procedure–, but Joel
is still waiting for his.

Vicki had surgery on her face to remove a skin cancer,
but aside from a small bandage she’s wearing for three
months, all went well.

She’ll have another small growth removed November 4. In
mid-September, Vicki and I started walking at 6 a.m.
every morning except Sundays.

Leila has been giving flute recitals with her music
school in various locations, and in November she’ll be
in the group to play in the old City Hall.

Micah started his second year at Freed-Hardeman
University. Having passed the culture shock stage, he’s
finding it more pleasant that the first year.

Orphanage ups and downs

The Lar Cristão orphanage sponsored the first Regional
Encounter for Gospel Workers August 14. About 40 men
from nine congregations were present.

October 10 the Lar Cristão inaguarated a new cottage
that will hold up to 10-12 children.

The following Sunday, 17, however, a storm did over
$1000 damage to various buildings. Thankfully, no
children or employees were harmed.

Several area churches have sent help to repair the
damages. If you would be interested in helping also,
please contact us.

The Brazilian Zeal newsletter reports on the work of
the J. Randal Matheny family in the city of São José
dos Campos (São Paulo state), located between São Paulo
and Rio de Janeiro.

Mailing Address: Caixa Postal 11 – São José dos Campos,
SP – 12201-970 Brazil

Telephone: home: 011-55-12 3942-7753; office: 011-55-12

Email: brazil@randalmatheny.com

Web site: randalmatheny.com

Sponsor: Center Hill church of Christ, Paragould, Ark.

Supporting churches

Center Hill, Paragould, Ark. (sponsor) 870-239-8032
Acton, Michie, Tenn.
Baker Heights, Abilene, Tex.
Iuka, Miss.
Lemalsamac, Newbern, Tenn.
Mtn. Home, Paragould, Ark.
Somers Avenue, North Little Rock, Ark.

Note: You can download the PDF version of this report
at randal.fastmail.fm

BZeal focuses on the progress of the gospel in Brazil and
around the world. Please share this email with friends.

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Tuesday, 21. September 2004

An Encouraging Note

We're behind on our reports, but look for them very soon.

Yesterday a Christian lady in the interior of São Paulo state sent us this email note, after receiving the August edition of Edificação (Edification) Magazine:

I am very happy when I receive the copy of Edification Magazine for the church in São José do Rio Preto, because it was with it that in difficult times I managed to remain faithful to the Lord, for it always brings encouragement. Thank you for your insistence with it and also to Randal.
–Jussara Aparecida Alves de Oliveira, in Bady Bassitt
She sent the email to our Brazilian colleague and editor, Francisco Bezerra.

We are encouraged by such responses, which give us continued reason to work hard at what we do.

Thanks for your prayers and support in this effort.

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Friday, 10. September 2004

Which missionary or field to select?

Two articles appeared before me recently on selecting a missionary or field to support. Both bring good ideas. The first is by a brother in the church; the second by a Christian Church woman.

Choosing a Man
by Dr. Earl Edwards, Freed-Hardeman University

Should We Support This Missionary? (pdf format)
by Judy Johnson

The first is also appropriate for the prospective missionary to evaluate his personal qualities and need for preparation.

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Wednesday, 8. September 2004

Milestone Conference

This from the World Convention's Christianet:

From October 27-29, leaders of Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ and Churches of Christ in the USA 'will seek to learn how the power of what they have done separately can be multiplied when done together.' Speakers will be: Rick Atchley, Mike Cope, Allan Dunbar, Randy Harris, Barry McMurtrie, Ben Merold, Bob Russell and Rubel Shelly. Lynn Anderson is the facilitator. Details at TogetherConference.com
Sounds like a merger proposal to me.

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Monday, 23. August 2004

Choate publishes Global Harvest magazine

by J. Randal Matheny

WINONA, MISS.-- Churches gained a new friend July 1, and missions a new ally, with the release of Global Harvest, a 48-page quarterly of news, needs, and perspectives from the field.

A J.C. Choate Publications periodical, the premiere Summer, 2004, edition contributes both information and education.

Editor J.C. Choate defined its aims. "We want Global Harvest to be a 'textbook' on current affairs and missions in the church, studied by elders and concerned Christians, so that all of us can profit by lessons learned in our collective years of experience, that we can be encouraged by what is being accomplished, and motivated by needs shared."

The 8 1/2 by 11-in. magazine highlights stories from around the world by both American and national workers. The contents are divided into five sections: Tools and Outreach; Gleanings from the Fields; Personal Stories; Culture, Problems and Discussions; and News, Needs and Features.

In the Introduction, Choate wrote, "Now we are beginning Global Harvest, as a voice for evangelism being done by churches of Christ throughout the world. We pray that it will grow into a comprehensive magazine, with brotherhood-wide circulation. God made the evangelism of the world the responsibility of the church. We must know our subject if we are going to do the work" (p. 4).

The quarterly accepts submissions of feature and report articles, with color photos, from sound brethren, for inclusion in future issues.

Request your free copy by emailing
choate@worldevangelism.org or calling (662) 283-1192. The mailing address is Global Harvest, P.O. Box 72, Winona, MS 38967.

BZeal focuses on the progress of the gospel in Brazil and around the world. Please share this news with friends.

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Wednesday, 18. August 2004

Call made to establish church in every U.S. county

I received this today. It should be of great interest to every Christian who understands the Great Commission is for us all, and the gospel for every person.

by T. Pierce Brown

Christian friend: EXCITING NEWS!

The Sycamore Church of Christ in Cookeville, TN is planning to use the ONE NATION UNDER GOD program to encourage congregations and individual Christians throughout the nation to help establish a congregation of the Lord's church in every county in the USA that does not now have one. There are almost 700 of them.

If this is exciting to you and you would like to assist in this effort, you may do so by simply spreading the news to all your contacts, by enlisting your congregation in participating in some way, by helping finding key men who will spread the word and/or help raise money to help fund the effort, or many other ways.

If you are willing to try to help in ANY way, and want us to send you by mail a brochure that will give more details of the initial plans, send your address, phone number, and what you think you are willing to do to help.

If you need more information about me or the program, you might want to check our website at www.etoughtalk/sycamore/, www.etoughtalk.com, or www.oldpaths.com to see more of my autobiography and thousands of articles I have written.

--T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN

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Friday, 6. August 2004

Indian Government Requires Reroofing After Disaster

UPDATE: 10 Sept. 2004

The old dorm roof was removed

The construction has begun! But to cover only half of it will run about $1,500.00. Beth says $445 has been received or committed. So slightly more than two-thirds remains to be covered. She wrote:

When I first mentioned an estimate for materials, I said it would likely take $1,000 US to finish a new PVC roof on the building. My husband made me go back and correct that to $800. Well, he and I both have been wrong in our estimates. So far we have purchased materials for only half the buiding area, and the cost has already run well over $1,500. We have decided to do only one end until we can arrange for more funds to finish the whole thing. That is all we can do right now, but even then we need more than has come in.
Getting up the supports for the new PVC roof

This new roof was required by the government after a school fire killed 90 children. See below how you can help.

After a school fire killed 90 children in Kumbakonam, south of Chennai (formerly, Masdras), in Southern India, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu required schools, private and public, to replace all grass roofs. So the Chennai Teacher Training School, which prepares Christian preachers, will have to remove the palm leaves of the dormitory roof and replace it with PVC (the most inexpensive option). The school is coordinated by Dennis and Beth Johnson.

A picture of the school dormitory from Lock Street.

Beth wrote of the above picture: "The buildings have been painted white since this photo was made, but it shows what we are dealing with. The building behind it is of the bath house/latrine. The tiny room on the front of the dorm is the cook shack."

Aerial picture of part of city of Chennai

Please consider contributing to help recover this roof. One person has already sent $400 to cover the cost, which will reach perhaps $800, including labor and pipe to attach the PVC to the brick.

You may send your contribution, in any amount, directly to their sponsoring church at this address:

2535 North West Loop, Stephenville, TX 76401
Phone: (254) 968-8167

Or send it to the Johnsons' daughter, who will deposit it into their account:

Ferah Glott
1101 Sioux Trail
West Columbia, SC 29210

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Tuesday, 20. July 2004

Missions appeals

As long as I live, I will never appeal for money for the mission of God in this world. This is a degradation of God and of ourselves, which has pauperized us in every way over the centuries. God has no need, and if the mission is God's, then we do not ask for help to give God a boost; therefore we do not appeal for funds. We allow people to take a share in God's work, and this is a very different thing. --Stephen F. Bayne, Jr. (1908-1974)
Perhaps this man's circumstances, probably in a denominational setting, made an appeal for funds a carnal thing. Or he may be reacting against a practice common in his circles where appeals were made on improper bases. (I myself have heard appeals that sounded as if God's hands would be tied unless people at that moment helped that particular work.)

But Paul wrote Romans exactly as an "appeal for funds," or rather, as a means of requesting their help to send him to Spain. So let's be sure we're not more spiritual than the apostle.

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Tuesday, 13. July 2004

New Kids in the Congregation

by J. Randal Matheny

After 20 years of marriage with no children, Otavio and Valeria Carvalho are in the process of adoption. Last week, they received two children, ages 2 and 3, whom they plan to adopt after the state's evaluation period.

This is a big adjustment for them. Please pray they will be patient with themselves and each other.

Also, a year ago or so, the children were adopted before and returned (how could the state allow that?) when the husband lost his job, so we ask, too, that the children will feel safe and secure in their new home.

Otavio and Valeria helped begin the congregation in Sao Jose dos Campos in 1988, together with Alvaro and Linda Pestana. He is an electronics engineer and Valeria works with a multinational company in hospital equipment sales.

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Friday, 9. July 2004

Study the Bible by Mail

by J. Randal Matheny

Today is a holiday in the state of Sao Paulo. Our brother Wilson had set up for those who could to go house to house to invite people to study a Bible correspondence course and to leave a leaflet with them about the course.

The course being offered is the one we publish, Jesus Christ, The Simple Way (Jesus Cristo, o caminho simples).

The targeted area is around the building the church rents close to downtown, where one distribution has been made on some streets. Today we were to continue that effort.

Last night, a cold front from the south set in and brought rain. The rain continues today, so the leaflet distribution was cancelled.

I have left these leaflets at the counter in the bread store on the other side of the plaza from my office. At least two people have called requesting the course.

At different times, I've also left English-language copies of The Voice of Truth International. Those are picked up quickly by the customers. The magazine has plenty of good articles to teach the truth.

So even with the rain, the effort doesn't stop.

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Monday, 5. April 2004

Gearing Up for the Trip

by J. Randal Matheny

Our regularly scheduled trip to the U.S. draws near. We will arrive in Memphis, Tenn., on Tuesday, April 13th, at 8:40 a.m. Our return trip is May 20th.

We have suggested times to speak or report for our supporting congregations. The following are the dates we have requested:

Iuka, Miss., April 18 (confirmed)
Acton, Michie, Tenn., April 18, 6:00 p.m. (confirmed)
Baker Heights, Abilene, Tex., April 25, 6:00 p.m. (confirmed)
Lemalsamac, Newbern, Tenn., May 2, 6:00 p.m. (confirmed)
Center Hill, Paragould, Ark., May 9, 8-11 a.m.(confirmed)
Mountain Home, Paragould, Ark., May 9, 5:30 p.m. (confirmed)
Somers Avenue, North Little Rock, Ark., May 16, 5:00 p.m. (confirmed)

As dates are confirmed, they will be noted above.

If you live near these cities, we would enjoy your visit on these dates.

If you would be interested in your congregation hearing about the work in Brazil, please contact us for possible dates.

In November of this year, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary of work in Brazil. We are grateful to the Lord for his care, and words cannot express how much we appreciate the generous support of churches and individuals.


BZeal charts the progress of the gospel in Brazil and around the world. Please share this email with friends.

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Thursday, 25. March 2004

Speaking on Salvation in the "Savior" City

by J. Randal Matheny

In the northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador, I shared the seminar "This We Believe" with the church on March 18-21, 2004. On returning home, I jotted down these good results from the trip.

  1. Some 250 individuals had opportunity to hear the sound doctrine of the New Testament during the four days of the seminar. On Sunday morning, the attendance was about 200, according to Nilton Barretto, the local evangelist.

  2. At least five congregations of the seven churches in the state participated in the seminar. The Bonocô church, near downtown Salvador, sponsored it.

Sunday morning worshipers at the Bonocô church, Salvador, March 21, 2004.

  1. One woman who had received only a denominational baptism told me she was motivated to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

  2. About 25 men involved in evangelism and church planting were encouraged and taught in a special session Sunday afternoon.

  3. My absence prompted my son Joel to volunteer to preach his first sermon in the new Taubaté church. Joel and several other brethren led the singing, also.

  4. My hosts, Nilton and Rosimere Barretto, provided gracious hospitality. I hope that the several hours we spent in conversations and prayers encouraged them in the faith.

  5. The seminar will help the Salvador churches confront imminent future challenges to sound doctrine by providing them with solid materials on subjects such as the nature of truth, salvation, the church, worship, and restoration.

Sunday morning worshipers at the Bonocô church, Salvador, March 21, 2004.

  1. The seminar raised the participants' awareness for the need for vigilance in the presence of real threats to the truth of the gospel.

  2. This seminar provided me opportunity to augment and hone the material, which was presented for the second time. (The first was in Fortaleza, in June, 2003.)

  3. Dozens of visitors were also present who heard, some for the first time, the true gospel of Christ. Others were students in the School of the Bible, an evangelistic outreach of the Bonocô congregation.

I'm grateful for many who prayed for the success of this trip and especially to the Lord who gives us his truth by which we may obey and be saved.

BZeal focuses on the progress of the gospel in Brazil and around the world. Please share this email with friends.

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Thursday, 29. January 2004

New Congregation to Begin

On March 7th, a new congregation will begin in Taubate, a city of 250,000 about 30 minutes away from us. One Christian couple lives there, who has been meeting with the church here in SJCampos.

We have little in the way of resources, counting on the Lord's blessing to get started. Please pray the Lord may bless this beginning with good results.

Soon, I'll include more information about outreach to non-Christians.


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Monday, 5. January 2004

Happy Old Year, Happy New Year

by J. Randal Matheny
Sao Jose dos Campos (SJC), Brazil

The year 2003 was chocked full of God's blessings in our family, in the congregation here in SJC, and in our work as a whole across the country.

Here are only a few of the most recent blessings and news items.

Internet Ministry Reaches Out

In December, we received this email from a former denominational elder involved in adultery:

"Today, after a long time without 'losing my time' reading the devotionals of God With Us, I decided to read. And to my surprise, I felt very clearly God speaking to me, through this email so pure, yet magnificent. My question which hangs in the air is, Do you suppose there is still hope for me?"

So we began to correspond with him, and hope to put him in touch with the brethren in his city. It's a struggle to keep the emails going and the site up, but such responses encourage us in what we do.

You can peek at our main web page here.

Support to Ministries

In recent weeks we have met with the directors of the Mt. of Olives Christian Youth Camp and the Christian Home orphanage. I continue to serve as a member of what, in English, we would call the board of directors of these two ministries which do a fine job of serving children and, each in its own way, teaching them the way of Christ.

Sermon Series Concluded

On Janary 4th, I concluded in the SJC church the three-month sermon series "Why I'm Still Just a Christian." It was very well received by the brethren, and several suggested I put it in book form, which I'm working on.

Daily Bible Reading

With Vicki's help we completed, by email, a full year's daily Bible reading in Portuguese. This email list sent out a daily reading. Quite a challenge!

For 2004, we're using a weekly selection which people can distribute according to their schedules. It provides for greater flexibility, as well as cutting down on our work to send out emails. We pray it will be as effective or more so in helping people get into the word.

This schedule is available online to be printed out, and we've offered it to the SJC church and about a dozen or more people here are following it on paper.

Ladies Weekly

In mid-December, Vicki began a weekly Bible study for the women on Thursday afternoons. The ladies have a monthly meeting on Saturdays afternoons, but this provides a more constant feeding on the Word for those women who can be present during the day. She has about 8-10 women each week. She is using the book, Conquering Your Giants, published by Gospel Advocate.

Foot Forward

On December 15th, I started a Monday night Christian growth group, that will go to the end of January. After that, we see what the possibilities are. We are working through the book of 2 Peter. About 6-8 are participating.

School of Life

In the Wednesday night groups in our house, I concluded November 19th the year-long theme on "The School of Life," a loosely organized series of Bible studies that show the application of the Word to daily life.

To round out the year, the remaining weeks I devoted to the theme "Six Times," a study of six Biblical words on time.

During 2004, we'll devote the year's study in our home group to "You Decide," highlighting decisions people made in the Bible. The first quarter will take passages from the five books of Moses.

Bible School

For the first quarter of 2004, we're joining two studies to complete the thirteen weeks in the Sunday Bible school. First, ex-missionary Joe McKinney's eight-lesson Life of Christ, based on the Beatitudes. For the first time in SJC, different brethren are rotating each week, so we're having several men to teach a Bible school class for the first time -- one more sign of the congregation's maturation.

For the last five weeks of the quarter, Jorge Santana will teach using our Bible correspondence course, "Jesus Christ, the Simple Way." He has been teaching this material in a study group of family members and friends in the city of Guaratingeta, to the east of us.

Settled in for Five Years

The SJC church got accustomed to a new location beginning in September. There are still some legal registration issues to be resolved before we can publish our address, but that should be taken care of soon.

I don't have all the figures for our pre-building attendance, but our numbers have held steady.

Sept. - 47
Oct. - 48
Nov. - 51
Dec. - 50

Rackin'em Up

Last November 28th, our family celebrated 19 years of work in Brazil. Nine of those have been devoted to the work in SJC, as of December 30th.

As we approach our 20th anniversary of work, we wonder how well our support will hold up, from congregations in the U.S. But we are confident that the Lord will provide, as he has always done before.

We welcome the Mountain Home congregation in Paragould, Ark., as the latest congregation to participate in our work. They are making up some support we're losing this year. We're grateful for their closing the gap.

Writings Here and There

I have been added as a staff writer for The Voice of Truth International (J. C. Choate Publications), a magazine with over 60,000 circulation. Also, my poems continue to be published in magazines as I have time to submit them.

At Christmas, I published for some friends and family members in pdf format a chapbook of some poems written during 2003.


Micah is home from college on Christmas break. He returns January 9th to Freed-Hardeman University for his second semester. He and Joel are enjoying plenty of basketball these days.

Leila continues to perfect her flute technique and enlarge her repertoire. This year, she will move to the alto flute. Joel says he'd like to go for piano or violin.

Joel will serve as monitor for the second week of Christian camp January 17-24, for ages 11-13. This will be Leila's first time during this week, since she had gone to the first week for ages 7-10. Vicki and I will have a whole week to ourselves!

Coming Up

Several teaching trips are already lined up. Please pray the Lord will use these for good.

  • Jan. 31 - Pirituba church, Sao Paulo - Couples encounter
  • Feb. 10-13 - SerCris Training Center, Campo Grande (MS) - Short course on evangelism
  • Mar. 18-21 - Centro church, Salvador (BA) - Back to the Future (Christian doctrine)
  • Apr. - Still open, but closing fast.
Seminars at Your Service

Our family plans to be in the U.S. from mid-May through June. If your congregation would be interested in a seminar, I'll be available to teach on these: Total Transformation; Why I'm Still Just a Christian; Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Praise All Around

We are glad the Lord has placed us here in Brazil to serve. He uses our lives and even (maybe, especially) our weaknesses and thorns to show his strength and grace. May every work and every word be done for his glory, as together we seek to bring more and more people to his kingdom. Thanksgiving will increase, to the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:15).

BZeal focuses on the progress of the gospel in Brazil and around the world. Please share this email with friends.

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Saturday, 3. January 2004

Looking for a solid email list service, free?

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This message is from the owner of the service which hosts our email list:

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The sole goal of this letter is to communicate an offer to freely host YOUR Christian ministry group at Associate.com / Welovegod.org. If you don't have a ministry that can benefit from Group Email and web hosting, perhaps you can pass this message to someone who is in that position. Thanks!

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Email groups allow hundreds, or thousands of people to benefit from your ministry efforts, perhaps in a weekly newsletter you write. Our new web-based Group software (MimerDesk) allows public or private Group forums, files areas, calendar, and more to go along with email sharing.

For us, money and ministry do not mix - there is no charge for our services. For details on starting or moving your group here, please visit

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Tuesday, 2. December 2003

Virtual Feedback

by J. Randal Matheny

Today a subscriber to a couple of our lists in Portuguese wrote. She subscribes to our (almost) daily devotional, called "God with Us" (Deus Conosco), which has a verse and about a 100-word thought, as well as to our daily Bible reading list, biblia1ano, which sends out passages of Scripture every day. My wife has saved my neck on the latter, helping to send it out for the last several months.

Here is what our subscriber friend wrote:

Thank you for today's meditation, and for all the ones sent. They have encouraged me to know our Savior better, to have more and more faith and confidence in Christ. They awakened me to the importance of Bible study (through the study list Biblia1ano), in short, a means by which I grow ever closer to the Lord. Thanks be to God!

May Christ always illuminate your mind and guide your actions. And may he bless us all. --Paula

Such messages as these are encouraging, and more than that, show us the power of the virtual word to draw people closer to the Lord. Pray that this good lady may realize her desires.

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Friday, 28. November 2003

Does fruit-bearing include converting others?

In response to a discussion on another list, I wrote, albeit briefly, though a tad long for an email, on the question of whether fruit-bearing in the NT includes the idea of converting others to Christ. I'd appreciate comments and criticisms. I have put it at this link, where you may comment on specific paragraphs.

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Monday, 17. November 2003

The Spark of a Decision

by J. Randal Matheny

No one will ever know the full results of one's work for the kingdom of God. Trite as it is, it's no less true that only eternity will reveal the fruit of our labors.

Occasionally, however, we are privileged to hear about how God has used our efforts. Below is an email I received yesterday. It bears sharing as a reminder of the Lord's work through our joint efforts.

I couldn't keep from sharing the gladness of the day, for I have an uncle with whom we've been studying some three years, and today he was immersed in the waters of baptism here in Sorocaba.

He attributed his decision to having read our church bulletin that circulates every week here in the Sorocaba congregation. It is in this bulletin that I use the messages of "God with Us."

On November 2nd I didn't have any material, so I searched out one from 2000, "Biblical Baptism," by Tom Tarbet, which was the spark for my uncle's decision.

So I want to thank you for your work, which helps us greatly and pleases God.

May God bless you and your entire team.

--Antonio Marcos Feitosa

"God with Us" (DEUS Conosco) is a devotional thought based on a Scripture verse which I do in Portuguese. The original idea was for it to be daily, but work responsibilities don't always permit me to give it full attention.

A recent meditation from "God with Us" has been translated into English and can be read here.

The article by Tom Tarbet comes from a series we published in Edificacao (Edification) magazine, translated with his permission from a volume of newspapers articles he did in while preaching in New York. Before his death, Tom was an elder in the Baker Heights congregation (Abilene, Tex.) and was an encouraging supporter of our publications ministry.

One of my first thoughts on reading the email from Marcos was that Tom would be pleased.

Above all, the Lord is pleased and the angels rejoice when one more soul is saved and ushered into his fellowship.

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Tuesday, 11. November 2003

Sunday Morning

by J. Randal Matheny
BZeal Weekly

Our meeting Sunday morning was edifying and pleasing to our God, for we worshiped him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

In the Bible school, Otavio Carvalho directed us in the study of Revelation, chapters 3 and 4. Later, he did another fine job leading singing (second time).

In the sermon, I continued with the theme for this quarter, "Why I Am Still Just a Christian." This week my topic was "Because God Makes Sense of Suffering." The three main point of the lesson were these:

(1) God makes suffering SAVE in Christ.
(2) God makes the Christian a PARTICIPANT in Christ's
(3) God makes suffering reason for REJOICING for Christ's

In all, 47 Christians, children, and visitors were present, if my count was correct.

In our monthly training session afterwards, the men considered how to serve better during the assembly, and especially how to project the voice when speaking to the congregation. (We do not have a sound system.)

During this period, the women dedicated themselves to prayer.

== Small Groups

Last Wednesday night, the study group in our house considered another truth in the series, "The School of Life." We looked at these points in the topic, "The Benefits of Suffering:"

(1) Suffering emphasizes eternal glory (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
(2) Suffering discovers the power of God (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
(3) Suffering completes the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24-29).

Lord permitting, we will begin in 2004 a new series of studies in the weekly groups, "Life Decisions." The first quarter topics are already planned, with passages taken from the Pentateuch (Gen.-Deut.).

== Other News

Alexandre Pestana, elder in the city of Jundiai, in Sao Paulo state, wrote me Sunday that the mother of Jose Maria de Oliveira, his fellow shepherd, suffered a heart attack during post-operative recovery. She also has diabetes. Jose Maria and his family have traveled to Guararapes, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, to be with her, since the doctors have give little hope of recovery. Let us pray for her and her family of 17 children.

== Thought of the Week

May we share the sentiment of Paul:

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col. 1:24, ESV).

Make this week a moment of glory to the Heavenly Father by your obedience to Christ.

Randal Matheny

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Wednesday, 5. November 2003

Why I Am Still Just a Christian

by J. Randal Matheny

This quarter is my time to preach at the congregation here in Sao Jose dos Campos. I chose for my theme "Why I Am Still Just a Christian."

During October, my sermons focused on these topics:

  • Because God is Love
  • Because God is the Source of Truth
  • Because God Saves Only in Jesus
  • Because God Revealed Himself in Scripture

Eventually, the idea is to write a book from these lessons, though the time crunch makes me despair.

Last quarter, Otavio Carvalho preached on the family. I stood in for him on three Sundays when he travelled on business to Canada.

Please pray that these sermons will strengthen the church in its task to be nothing more and nothing less than the people of God declaring the power of salvation in a lost and hopeless world.

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Thursday, 2. October 2003

Becoming Baptist for convenience sake?

Here is news from the www.worldconvention.org organization. Second item is puzzling, for its lack of information.

Attendance at the National Missionary Convention of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ in the United States in Cincinnati, Ohio, November 20-23, is expected to be 5000-7000 according to Walter Birney the Convention Director. 450 exhibit spaces have been taken. Speakers will include well known a cappella Churches of Christ author, Max Lucado. www.nationalmissionaryconvention.org

Legal recognition Five a cappella Churches of Christ in Croatia have worked with the Baptist Union to gain legal recognition in Croatia. Legal status is granted only to groups with more than 30,000 members in Croatia.

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Wednesday, 1. October 2003

One church, many campuses

One of the items I didn't mention in the report about Oak Hills's changes were its decision to establish a multiple campuses around San Antonio. The Christian Standard of the Christian Church devotes the 1 June 03 issue to "Multisite Ministries," with glowing approval and multiple justifications.

Some may find good reasons for it, but one "leadership" over many places smells hierarchical to me.

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Thursday, 18. September 2003

Another division in Brazil

I was saddened, but not surprised, to hear of another division in the church in Brazil because of innovations. This time in Natal. I have no details, only the news of the division. I had heard, however, that people were pushing changes in the church.

Let us pray that the Lord will strengthen those who insist upon obedience to the Word, and that he will give repentance to those who have let worldly ways persuade them to lead the church away from God.

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Tuesday, 9. September 2003

Oak Hills church (Max Lucado) changes name, adds instrument

Two items: (1) newspaper article, (2) article by Phil Sanders on the change.

---begin from SAEN website

September 6, 2003 Page 7B -- San Antonio Express-News -- Religion & Spirituality

Oak Hills drops 'Church of Christ'

Oak Hills Church minister says name change doesn't mean core values will.

Lisa Harrison Rivas

Max Lucado hopes renaming his church, opening new campuses and adding musical instruments to the worship service will help bring more people to Christ.

Oak Hills Church of Christ is now Oak Hills Church, and although the name has changed, Lucado said the church's core values will not.

"When it comes to strategy, when it comes to approach, we want to do whatever seems most effective at the time," he said Friday. "That's what these initiatives are: changes of strategy, not changes of doctrine or core values."

Changes include making Oak Hills a multisite church, with campuses throughout San Antonio.

"A decade from now, what we'll remember most is the multisite initiative," Lucado said. "This effort will impact thee city on the greatest scale."

Vic King, Minister of missions and outreach, said the staff doesn't expect a lot of members to leave over the changes.

"It's the sign that we are changing," King said. "We are changing to a sign that more accurately reflects who we are." Lucado, who has been the pulpit minister for 15 years, said during his Sunday sermon that some find the Church of Christ name to be an insurmountable barrier.

"A common comment from new members is this: 'We would have come sooner, but we had to get over the name of the church.'"

Kaye Daughtry, a member for 25 years, said that's because many people are fed up with denominations.

"We are going to receive people who will visit here who might not have (before)," she said.

Charles Siburt, a ministry professor at Abilene Christian University, a Church of Christ school, said there are other cases of churches that have dropped the name, but it is not a trend.

King said it's a public misunderstanding that the Churches of Christ are a denomination. Churches of Christ are independent, have no central headquarters and are nondenominational.

Oak Hills' core values are similar the those of other evangelical churches, emphasizing the need for faith in Jesus's sacrificial death and resurrection for salvation. Oak Hills also believes salvation doesn't come through baptism, but that baptism is the initial step of obedience after salvation.

Most Churches of Christ feature only a capella singing, a tradition King said is based on the absence of the use of instruments in the New Testament churches. Bur for the first time, Oak Hills will add instruments to a new Sunday evening service, which will be geared toward young adults and will begin early next year.

The three main Sunday morning services will remain traditional, and a video replay of the 8:30 a.m. sermon will be added and shown in an overflow room during the 10 al.m. and 11:30 a.m. services. The church averages about 4,000 worshippers each Sunday.

Lucado's vision also means expanding pastoral care services, which will include hiring a new associate pulpit/singles minister who will preach 12 Sundays a year and will help free Lucado, a best-selling author, to write more.

Lucado asked members to spend the next 40 days praying about these and other initiatives. King said staff members have not decided when the sign will be replaced.

----end from SAEN website

When You Change Your Name,
You Have Changed Your Values

Phil Sanders

Although the name has changed, Lucado said the church's core values will not. We must wonder, how has taking the name of Jesus Christ off of the church sign in front not changed the values. Are they ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26). Christians wear the name of Christ; they love the name of Christ; and they willing to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ. Lucado, however, thinks it is more effective evangelistically as a Christian not to put the name of Christ on the sign.

Some today are now rejecting the use of that name, claiming that it is sectarian. Others are rejecting the name because they, frankly, do not want to be associated with the undesirable behavior that some members of the “church of Christ” have manifested. The old statement that “those people believe you have to be a member of the church of Christ to be saved” has led some to be ashamed of anything that uses the phrase, “church of Christ.”

Consequently, a new generation of churches of Christ has adopted some alternative names. Some now go by “Community Church,” putting the phrase “a church of Christ” on the sign in small letters. A minister favoring the change recently gave this explanation: The truth is that the name “Church of Christ” carries the baggage of an exclusivistic mentality to many people in our culture. “Oh, yeah,” somebody says, “those are the people who think they’re the only ones going to heaven.” One lady said that she never would have come into our building if she had known we are a “Church of Christ.” Once she came in and experienced the presence of God in this body, however, she isn’t about to leave! She and her children--from a very different denominational background--are reveling in the experience of Christ in this community of faith. (Rubel Shelly, "What Is Your Church's Name?", Lovelines, Vol. 24, No. 5, Feb. 4, 1998.

Such statements show that some are embarrassed and ashamed of the phrase “Church of Christ.” I must wonder if such people will one day be ashamed of the phrase “family of God” when they suppose that there is too much offensive baggage associated with that name. I wonder if they would change their personal name if some member of the family should disgrace it. Many of those postmodernists who are so quick to embrace the unconditional love and grace of God are slow to forgive what embarrasses them.

It is not an accident that this generation has adopted some new names, nor is it surprising that these new names suggest a change in attitude and may say more about the nature of the new congregations than is at first intended. A nearby denominational group subnames itself, “The People’s Church.” What does that say? I suppose that the members of the congregation wanted the community to know that they were a church “of the people,” i.e., that the common people of the city are part of the congregation. Perhaps they wanted to play up their large size and their appeal to people. Perhaps they wanted the community to know how “in tune” they were to the common opinions and beliefs. My thought was this: if the church belongs to the people, how can it belong to Jesus Christ? If the desires of people are its driving force, how can Jesus be its Lord? Something of this same idea might also be said of the “community” church. Perhaps the idea is that the church is to be identified with the community. This has a fine marketing appeal, but where is the Lord glorified? Does Oak Hills Church now belong to Oak Hills or to Jesus Christ? When they substitute orchestras for Biblical worship, they are not living after the teaching of Jesus.

The words “church of Christ” are not a formal name so much as they are a description of who we are. The Scriptures do not give any title to the church, but no one should doubt that the church uniquely belongs to Jesus. Jesus is the builder of the church (Matt. 16:18); He is the One who purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28); He is the one and only foundation of the church (1 Cor. 3:11); He is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22,23); and He is the one and only Savior of the body (Eph. 5:23). When Jesus spoke of the church, He called it “my church” (Matt. 16:18); and when Paul describes the congregations, he calls them “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). There is much to be said in associating the church to the name of Jesus Christ.

It must be further pointed out that we as Christians do whatever we do in His name. When we were baptized, it was in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). When we pray, we pray in His name (John 14:13,14). We give a cup of cold water in His name (Mark 9:41); we gather in His name (Matt. 18:20); and we suffer persecution for His name’s sake (1 Pet. 4:14-16). Repentance and remission of sins are preached in His name (Luke 24:47); we believe in His name (John 1:12); and we have life in His name (John 20:31). Peter reminds us that there is “salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Indeed the apostles taught in His name (Acts 5:41), Philip preached His name (Acts 8:12), and Paul bore His name before the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). It is His name that is to be magnified (Acts 19:17); His name that we are to call upon when we are baptized (22:16); and His name that washes, sanctifies and justifies us (1 Cor. 6:11). Saints are those who call upon His name (1 Cor. 1:2). It was in the name of Jesus Christ that Paul both exhorted the Corinthians and turned the wicked man over to Satan (1 Cor. 1:10; 5:4,5). Paul describes the name of Jesus as that which is above every name (Eph. 1:21); and it is the name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess to the glory of the Father (Phil. 2:9,10). Whatever we do in word or deed, we are to do in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17); and His name is to be glorified in us (2 Thess. 1:12). Even slaves are to live worthy of the name of Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 6:1). Consequently, those who name the name of Jesus ought to abstain from wickedness (1 Tim. 2:19). The name we name is more excellent than the name of the angels (Heb. 1:4). To His name we offer a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips (Heb. 13:15). When we minister to saints, we show love to His name (Heb. 6:10). The name of Jesus Christ, by which we are called, is a fair name (James 2:7); it is the name in which we are to glorify God (1 Pet. 4:14-16). We must hold fast to that name (Rev. 2:13), fear His name (Rev. 11:18), and never deny His name (Rev. 3:8). With all these emphases on the name of Jesus Christ, it is unthinkable that any Christian would abandon it.

Should the church wear the name of Jesus Christ? Yes. Should the church denominate that name? No. The phrase “church of Christ” ought always to be a description of who we are and whose we are. Those who are critical of our use of that name, saying we have somehow denominated it ought to be careful that they are not guilty of the same error with other descriptions. According to the newspaper, "Oak Hills' core values are similar the those of other evangelical churches, emphasizing the need for faith in Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection for salvation. Oak Hills also believes salvation doesn't come through baptism, but that baptism is the initial step of obedience after salvation." If Max and Company are so ashamed of the "church of Christ" that they are removing it from their signs, then perhaps they are finally being honest. Their core value is Evangelical; they have ceased to be New Testament Christians.

Much of this is taken from my book, Adrift, pp. 113-117

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Monday, 8. September 2003

SJC church has first meeting in new building

Yesterday the church in Sao Jose dos Campos had its first meeting in the new building, after a year of searching for appropriate facilities. This year we had been in three different hotel conference rooms, moves that certainly didn't help our outreach.

Below are shots taken after our Sunday meeting. (I don't much like taking pictures during the worship.)

Wife Vicki greets Ana Paula (foreground).

Group poses for picture. In foreground, Clayton's wife Valeria, breast cancer survivor; Jorge, substitute Bible class teacher.

Ana Paula, Anibal, and Amanda pose with Vicki; they have become good friends as we study God's plan for their lives.

Friendly chit-chat. Picture taken from stairs.

Picture taken from back of auditorium. Upstairs, we installed dividers to create eight classrooms.

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Tuesday, 26. August 2003

SJC Church Has Baptism, Record Attendance

by J. Randal Matheny

Saturday, the 16th, I baptized Ilma, a young wife and mother, into Christ. Ilma's husband Anderson is an unfaithful Christian. She studied the gospel with Bete, who used our "Know God" series of studies developed in 1985.

Bete, Randal, Ilma

Yesterday the SJCampos church had, as far as I know, a record Sunday attendance. Seventy people crowded into the Hotel Astor conference room, without any special Friends' Day or campaign. A good sign of growth.

Eight of those attending were adult non-members, three of whom are in personal Bible studies.

Several people are conducting personal studies with non-Christians.

  • Randal & Vicki with Anibal and Ana Paula
  • Vicki with Daniella
  • Paulo with Rafael
  • Wilson and Bete with Carlinhos and Solange
  • Wilson with Luiz

If all goes well, we will move to our new rented quarters the first Sunday of September. Wilson is working hard to get everything prepared for the move. Chairs have been delivered, and classroom dividers will be installed by then. A few details may remain, but we'll take care of those as we go.

BZeal focuses on the progress of the gospel in Brazil and around the world. Please share this email with friends.

Comments, suggestions, and prayers are requested.

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Saturday, 16. August 2003

Moving to a New Location

by J. Randal Matheny

As the church of God, we are pilgrims on the earth. Here in Sao Jose dos Campos, the congregation has been a literal pilgrim in its meeting places.

When two families began the work here in 1988, Alvaro and Linda Pestana and Otavio and Valeria Carvalho met in a conference room of the Urupema Hotel. After that period proved unfruitful, they rented a third-floor office space downtown. When our family moved here at the beginning of 1995, the church was still located here.

As the full-time evangelist, Alvaro worked in a store-front evangelism effort popular in Brazil, called the School of the Bible. I joined him later. Several conversions were made as a result of this outreach.

At the same time, we began a small-group ministry in homes. With several combined efforts, the church outgrew the downtown space and returned to the Urupema Hotel in the late 90s.

In mid-2002, the disiples in SJCampos decided to leave the Sunday-only location in the hotel and rent a building. The search lasted nearly a year. During that time, the owners of Urupema terminated our contract, so we met in two other hotels during the period of our search.

After a false start on another building, a five-year rent contract was signed in July for a building about 100 yards from the main city bus station downtown.

We hope to begin meeting in the new location in September. There are chairs to buy, dividers to put up for classroom space, doors to be installed, and a myriad of details. But the church decided to make the move soon and work on the needed changes as we go.

Five pictures are online showing interior and exterior views of the building.

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Pictures of our new building

The following pictures were taken several months ago when we looked at this building for rent. It had been empty for several months.

The building is at the end of the street where it merges into a main avenue. This avenue comes from downtown right by the central city bus station. The station is about 100 yards above to the right. Excellent location for people getting to us.

First floor, from front to back. My wonderful Vicki is taking a look.

First floor, from back to front.

Second floor, for Bible school classrooms. From back to front.

Second floor, from front to back.

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Wednesday, 2. July 2003

Christian Workers Consider Biblical Doctrines

by J. Randal Matheny

The weekend of June 27-29 I traveled to northeast Brazil for a state-wide Christian workers encounter. Following are some information and an evaluation of that trip.

The Invitation

Francisco Antonio (Toto) Souza, evangelist for the Esperanca church in Fortaleza, had talked with me during the National Christian Workers Encounter over Easter weekend about the possibility of teaching in a meeting of churches in his state. Over the next several weeks, we nailed down the details.

The Trip

On Friday, June 27, I caught the 6:00 a.m. bus from Sao Jose dos Campos to the airport, an hour's trip by the Rio-Sao Paulo interstate. When I arrived at Sao Paulo's international airport in Guarulhos, I discovered it was closed due to fog. (Third time in two years.) My 8:10 a.m. flight became a 9:30 p.m. trip. The plane set down in Fortaleza at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, twelve hours after my scheduled arrival.

The Setting

Fortaleza is the capital of Ceara state, on the northeast coast of Brazil. A mission team began work there in 1981. None of the original team members remain. Eight churches, with a total of 608 saints, meet in the state, according to March 2003 statistics. Five Christian workers dedicate themselves full-time, three of these in one congregation, and one of these is a missionary.

About a year and a half ago, the introduction of women in Sunday worship teams and group prayers and the use of the instrument in spiritual settings outside the Sunday worship, among other issues, caused a division in the largest and oldest congregation of Fortaleza. Those who objected to these practices formed the Esperanca congregation, on the outskirts of the capital.

The Encounter

Fifty-one men from the Ceara churches participated in this state-wide meeting, the second after the division occurred. The Esperanca congregation planned and hosted the event at the public school where they meet. Toto is the full-time evangelist there. (His name is pronounced, tau-TAU.)

Partial picture of the encounter in Fortaleza.

The first meeting was held in November, 2002, and hosted by the congregation in the Jose Valter area of Fortaleza.

We met Saturday, June 28, from 1:00-9:00 p.m. I gave seven classes of about 40-45 minutes each. A representative from each congregation offered an exhortation of 10 minutes before each session.

My topics for the encounter included these subjects:

  • Truth: The truth is objective and recognizable.
  • Authority: general principles, specific commands,
    approved examples, inferred truths
  • Obedience, works, and grace: Christianity can be
    properly called law and commandment.
  • Cult, denomination, or church?
  • The Legitimate Church: Must have legitimate faith,
    sources, forms, and function.
  • Back to the origins: The idea of restoration is
    proper; corrections are made by examining how
    things began.
  • Mission and worship: Our work is to rescue souls;
    our worship is for God and for mutual edification.

Another view of the Christian workers encounter.

The last period was opened for questions and answers. Those who defended the doctrinal changes expressed discontent with some aspects of the presentation. Overall, however, the material seemed to be well received.

After visits and conversations following the encounter, I pillowed my head around midnight.

The Esperanca Church

I preached and taught Bible school on Sunday morning, June 29, at the Esperanca church, which meets in a public school. My sermon title was "The Poor Church," because God's people have no earthly head, no denominating name, no human doctrines.

This congregation today has 93 Christians, with 22 couples participating.

Esperanca is the name of the housing project where the church's meeting place is located. This congregation has requested the donation of a 1000-meter lot from the city to build a building. They are also looking for funds for a second full-time evangelist to work with Toto, as well as complement his salary.

The Itarema Church

Front view of the Itarema church building. At right, construction for a new building. In foreground, Toto, Monica, and Edilma

Sunday afternoon of the 29th we traveled the three hours up the coast to the city of Itarema, where Toto had worked for some seven years during two separate periods. About 70 Christians meet in this 13-year-old congregation. At the request of three Itarema men who participated in the seminar in Fortaleza and were present for the morning worship at Esperanca, I repeated the "Poor Church" sermon. About 50 people were present.

This church of 70 is the only one outside the greater Fortaleza area.

After the evening meal, five of the leading men, Toto, and I met together to talk about the work. We shared information and ideas in an open air square near the church building from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. A good part of the discussion centered on the division in Fortaleza, which has had impact on all the state congregations.

I spent the night in Itarema, and Toto, his wife Monica, and I returned the next day with a sister in Christ from the Esperanca congregation, Edilma, providing transportation.

Back Home

The 3:30 p.m. flight back was uneventful, but I discovered en route that the final destination was the airport in the south region of Sao Paulo, so by the time I caught a bus to the Guarulhos airport and Vicki and Micah picked me up there as arranged, it was midnight on Monday, July 1, before we arrived home.


The hospitality of Christians in northeastern Brazil is famous in other parts of the country for their generosity and warmth. My experience in Fortaleza was no exception.

Several of the congregations not directly involved in the division had expressed hopes of reconciliation between the two parts involved. This is a recent phenomenon in the Brazilian church, but unfortunately we may see more of it because of innovations. My material appears to have helped the Christian workers to see that we were not dealing with a mere difference of forms or personalities, but of doctrine.

Those who promote innovations showed themselves insistent at continuing in spite of causing division by it. Those who had rejected the innovations were strengthened in their resolve and fortified by an examination of the Biblical teaching on these and related subjects.

A first-time visitor at the Itarema church was so impressed by the simplicity of the gospel message and my lack of stuffiness that he promised to be a regular participant. I made a funny comment when a brother at the beginning of my sermon adjusted the microphone and nearly hit me in the face. Pray for this visitor, whose name is Roberto.

Another outcome of the trip was the confirmation of my conviction that the Brazilian church will not be spared many of the departures ocurring in the U.S. Some of the newer missionaries are soft on doctrine; recruiting ministries and sometimes supporting churches have no doctrinal criteria for candidates. These tendencies also feed on influence within Brazil from the denominations. Two of the Christian workers in Fortaleza, for example, are studying at the Baptist and Assembly of God seminaries.


It is sad that such division must come, but in every place and age, some people are not content with God's simple plan of salvation, work, and worship. The church must remain firm to resist these departures, while making every effort to preach the gospel to every person.

I was glad to help some in the church in Fortaleza toward that end.

BZeal focuses on the progress of the gospel in Brazil and around the world. Please share this email with friends.

Comments, suggestions, and prayers are requested. You can make quick comments by registering here or join a deeper discussion at

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by randal (11/2/04 3:14 PM)
An Encouraging Note We're behind
on our reports, but look for them very soon. Yesterday...
by randal (9/21/04 10:33 AM)
Which missionary or field to
select? Two articles appeared before me recently on selecting a...
by randal (9/10/04 4:13 PM)
Indian Government Requires Reroofing After
Disaster UPDATE: 10 Sept. 2004 The old dorm roof was...
by randal (9/10/04 12:58 PM)
Milestone Conference This from the
World Convention's Christianet:From October 27-29, leaders of Christian Churches/ Churches...
by randal (9/8/04 8:55 AM)

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