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Saturday, 31. May 2003

More people teaching and preaching (May 03 report)

by J. Randal Matheny
RE: May 2003 BZeal report (31 May 2003)

SJC = Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. City of half a million in the state of Sao Paulo. Sits just inside the Tropic of Capricorn. Site of Brazil's airline and aerospace industry, as well as industries like General Motors, Kodak, Phillips, Johnson & Johnson. Happens to be our home, since 1995.

Here's a short wrap-up for the last several months for the church here in SJC and around the country.

Evangelism and Teaching

Vicki and I studied with Erisvaldo and Ana Paula in January and February, and they were baptized even before we finished all the studies. They continue faithful in their profession. You can see pictures of their baptism here:

Erisvaldo worked with brother Benedito, who invited them to church and encouraged them to study. We keep telling Benedito, a 71-year-old, widowed brick-layer, that he's our best evangelist.

In the SJC congregation, Jorge preached during the month of May in Otavio's absence and did a terrific job. On May 25th, he preached and taught the adult Bible class, on the Spirit's fruit of patience.

Jorge teaches the adult Bible class for the first time May 25.

I've been teaching the adult class this quarter on the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5. Almost all our material has to be written from scratch, since there is precious little available by faithful brethren.

Next quarter for Bible class: the Minor Prophets, developed from material I wrote some years back.


March 4-5 I went to Rio de Janeiro, during the Carnaval holiday, and taught the Total Transformation seminar. Though I was apprehensive about this wild period, the brethren there catered to me in every way. There had been shootings by drug gangs earlier in the week, but the military police came out in force and quieted things down.

About 45 people were present at the Ramos church's building, and various congregations, such as Madureira and Jacarepagua, were represented. Some pictures of the seminar are on our Portuguese-language site here:

It was the eighth time I taught this course. We have touched the Federal District and four states: Sao Paulo (four times), Rio Grande do Sul, Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro. There are possibilities of teaching this course in Belo Horizonte and Urberlandia, in the state of Minas Gerais, this year.

June 28-29 I'll go to the northeast to Fortaleza to teach in a new congregation on the doctrine of the New Testament. It appears there are problems in that region, and they have asked me to teach on what the Bible says about truth and unity. Pray for them in this difficult situation and for me, that I might be able to strengthen them in the faith.

Building search

The saga of the building search continues. But it may soon reach an end. One of our first options didn't pan out, but now it looks as if we will sign the rental contract for that very building the first week of June. Pictures of the building may be seen at this link:

It is near the beginning of the main street that runs from the Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro interstate highway (Via Dutra) to the center of town. Most city buses run down this avenue or by the street corner on which the building is located.

For what it's worth, the building is also about three blocks from the largest of our three shopping centers.

The contract would guarantee five years in that location.

National Workers Encounter

We men of the SJC congregation planned the Easter-weekend National Christian Workers Encounter at the Christian camp outside of Sao Paulo. Some 330 men from all over Brazil came to hear eight speeches on "Faithful and Capable Men."

Brazilian congregations are feeling many of the same unhealthy religious influences as American churches, so, for the first NCWE in several years, we emphasized the true doctrine of Christ's gospel. It was generally well received, but also caused something of a reaction in others.

I was busy emceeing the event, so I only got one picture, of six of the eight speakers.

We're trying to assemble all the speeches to publish in book format. Pray for that, too! We were able to do it in 2000, but haven't had much success in getting all the speakers to cooperate since then.


Vicki's mother, Jean Cunningham, of Iuka, Miss., had a pacemaker implanted May 27. She must remain nearly immobile for two weeks following. Please keep her in your prayers.

Micah started studying the will of God May 24 with his friend Rafael. Pray the Lord may use him to bring this young man, age 20, to Christ.

Leila has started competition swim training. Keeps her winded. Her first competition, before she started the intensive training, got her fifth place. Check that out here:

June is a big family month. Leila will turn 11 on the 16th, and Joel notches number 17 on the 12th, Brazilian Valentine's Day. He's a sweetheart!

May was also a biggie. Vicki unsuccessfully tried to ignore one more added year on the 1st, and on the 5th Micah hit the big 2-0 with all-you-can-eat pizza. See him stuffing it here:

Looks like both Joel and Micah will have short articles published in the May edition of our Portuguese-language magazine, "Edification." The theme is "From Generation to Generation: Bringing Your Children to God." They take a look from the children's angle.

Forthright Magazine

Our online and email magazine has progressed well this year, especially with the addition of Tim Hall as a columnist. He joins people like Jimmy Jividen (on leave), Phil Sanders, Greg Tidwell, Emmett Smith III, Barry Newton, A. A. Neale, and yours truly.

We've also had a number of excellent submissions by other writers that have brought added variety to the publication.

Recent articles have included these titles:

  • Whose Athlete?
  • The Four Gospels Are Gospel
  • Bible History and Iraq
  • Wide and Narrow
  • A Time to Remember
  • Cocooning

One person commented recently, "Forthright is without a doubt one of the best things I've seen on the internet." We're glad to be of spiritual service for the truth and grace of the gospel.

If you're not a subscriber, you can do that by sending any email to:

Unfortunately, we lost the .org address, but have a good one here:


On the BZeal site are a number of independent observations and articles. Among them:

  • Two More Examples of the Internet for Good
  • Are We Evangelicals?
  • An Educational Institution's Mission ...
    or Lack of One
  • A Time for Tears
  • Brazil Has Largest Number of Fish Species

You can read them here: bzeal.antville.org

Please keep these people mentioned and situations in your prayers, so that through them and us the Lord may be glorified.

Let us hear from you.

Randal, Vicki, Micah, Joel & Leila Matheny

Caixa Postal 11
Sao Jose dos Campos, SP
12201-970 - Brazil

Email: bzeal@randal.fastmail.fm

Missions website: bzeal.antville.org
Personal weblog: random.antville.org

Home telephone: (011-55-12) 3949-1246
Office phone: (011-55-12) 3942-7753

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Erisvaldo and Ana Paula put on Christ

Before immersion, time to consider the meaning of conversion to Christ and the significance of repentance and immersion.

Erisvaldo prepares for his salvation.

Washing away his sins.

Now it's Ana Paula's turn.

A new creature being born.

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Thursday, 29. May 2003

Are We Evangelicals?

Reflections on an professor's article
by J. Randal Matheny

The March 16 issue of the Christian Standard arrived in the mail today. (Foreign delivery is still slow.) This periodical represents the Christian Church and Churches of Christ. This issue highlights the question, "Are We Evangelicals?" Two major articles take up the question, one for, another against.

I've long maintained there is no way a Christian can be considered an evangelical in the historical Protestant sense of the word. More on that later.

But even the article arguing against the question didn't satisfy.

The author of the second article* is dean and professor of NT at Emmanuel School of Religion. His language often borrows from denominational perspective. He speaks of "other Christians with Bible names (members of the Church of God, for example) ..." and of sacraments. He finds an apparently positive "limited kind of ecumenism" in promotion of and participation in evangelical parachurch organizations like Focus on the Family and Promise Keepers. He notes, with pride, it appears, that it "has become common practice to invite prominent conservative evangelicals to speak at special sessions of the North American Christian Convention."

Evidently, the author finds it good to wade in evangelical waters, but not to dive in whole-hog. Though he associates the "Stone-Campbell Movement" with Episcopalians and other high church groups for "our high view of the church and the sacraments."

His major points in the article are that the Christian Church has nothing to gain and much to lose by assuming the evangelical label. Much of what he says is good; his manner of putting things, however, undermines his thesis and weakens his positive points.

He says, in the middle of his article, "To the question, 'Are we evangelicals?' a good response is, 'Why should we care? Isn't it enough just to be Christians?'"

To my mind, the response lacks punch. The sentiment almost seems to be, Let's do our thing and let the rest of 'em do theirs. There is little of the appeal to truth: The Bible says this, so let's do this; others do that, so we can't accept that.

But then, what to expect from one who prefers to look at his faith from a historical, rather than biblical, perspective and whose school is named for religion rather than the authoritative Christ and his inspired Scriptures?

*Robert F. Hull Jr., "Why Can't We Be Just Christians?" in Christian Standard (March 16, 2003):197-99.

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Thursday, 24. April 2003

An educational institution's mission ... or lack of one

Here's a questionnaire I got today from the alumni list of one of my alma maters.

  1. I personally believe ACU is a national leader in Christian higher education.
    1 Strongly Agree 2 Somewhat Agree
    3 Somewhat Disagree 4 Strongly Disagree

  2. During the past two years, my perception of ACU as a national leader in Christian higher education has:
    1 Strengthened 2 Remained the Same
    _ 3 Weakened

  3. I believe members of Churches of Christ see ACU as a national leader in Christian higher education.
    1 Strongly Agree 2 Somewhat Agree
    3 Somewhat Disagree 4 Strongly Disagree

  4. Please identify the current marketing theme used by the university.
    1 Making a Difference 2 People with a Purpose
    3 Change the World 4 Where Faith and Learning Intersect

I didn't answer the questionnaire, but I did respond with this:

This whole questionnaire disturbs me. Is it ACU's goal to become a "national leader in Christian higher education"? What do you mean by "national leader"? How do you define "Christian higher education"? Seems to be problematic answering the questions without these definitions. I'm all for excellence in education, but has ACU lost or redefined its mission in such a way as to value sticking its head above other institutions over a commitment to faithfully teach biblical principles to its students? I wonder ...
Am I overly sensitive to these things, or have some of our schools decided their mission is to win contests instead of provide an education at a decent cost based on biblical truth? Do they want to be the next Yale and Harvard? It's the general drift of an institution, and there had better be some strong definitions of what a school is all about, or we'll be losing more of them to secular or denominational influences before we realize it. Or maybe it's already happening.

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Tuesday, 22. April 2003

Wayne Jackson undergoes surgery

In today's Update from the editor of The Christian Courier, Wayne Jackson wrote that he will undergo surgery for prostrate cancer on May 15. Prayers are in order, I believe.

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Wednesday, 2. April 2003

Not exactly

An AP story reported yesterday a chemical spill in Minas Gerais state. A massive caustic soda spill contaminated the Pomba river, which flows into the Paraíba do Sul river. (The latter flows through SJCampos, but we're far upriver from the Pomba.) The report says,

Both rivers flow from Minas Gerais into Rio de Janeiro state.
Well, not exactly. Downstream from us, the Paraíba do Sul river marks about a third of the border between the two states, but at no point does the Paraíba do Sul river flow from the former into the latter state.

A small detail, you say? Perhaps, but if this detail was wrong, how many others do you think the journalists screw up?

Remember that when they say how bad the war in Iraq is going, among other things.

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ACU taps evangelical 'specialist' for missions seminar

In the April 2003 issue of <a href="www.acu.edu" target_blank">eConnections, Abilene Christian University announced it has invited an evangelical to teach in its annual summer missions seminar.

We are bringing in a Missions specialist, Gary Corwin, Associate Editor of the Evangelical Missions Quarterly. He will be teaching on three aspects of leadership development: The Christ of Leadership Development, The Curricula of Leadership Development and the Challenges of Leadership Development.
While the university has had (and perhaps still does) evangelicals teaching in their Bible department before, they now proudly announce the inclusion, evidently for the first time, of a major evangelical figure in the missions seminar.

We await further announcements of evangelical presence in their lectureship. Perhaps even a future university president. If not, why not?

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Sunday, 30. March 2003

A Time for Tears

by Randal Matheny

[NOTE: This is on my weblog also, but since it has to do with our work as well, I thought it bore repeating here.]

Four teary friends this morning at our weekly first-day meeting must be a record.

First, Valeria tells me after my message that I must have been inspired; the lesson made her cry. She promised to tell me later why she found my words so fitting. So my curiosity hangs in suspense.

Then her husband Otavio makes a few announcements at the end and, when he mentions that Marcel and Marlucia will be returning to Fortaleza next Sunday, gets choked up. Otavio and Marcel go a long way back.

During the always-animated chat afterwards, Marlucia can't hold it back and weeps as various ones kiss and hug her as they file out.

Tomorrow Robson enters a clinic for two months to help him overcome an addiction problem. His wife Luciana is content to see him finally making the effort. His mother Margarida, on one of her rare visits to our midst, had asked for prayers for her family and sons. As the group encourages them, her face contorts in fear and concern and her eyes, ever searching for comfort, pour out streams of tears.

Intelligent, observant, and inquisitive, four-year-old Rafael isn't crying, though. (When Vicki and I would go to their house, he was always tell on his parents when they had been fighting.) I call him over, sit down to talk man-to-man, and tell him that if he ever needs anything while his dad is away, to call me.

"Here, let me give you my card," I offer, as I zip open my fanny pack.

"Is this your home phone number?" he asks.

"It's got both numbers there," I point out. "If you need me you call, all right?"

"Okay, I will." He hops down and off he goes. He's already missed out on a lot of play with the other kids.

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Thursday, 20. March 2003

All Quiet Down South

by Randal Matheny

The war has begun. So many of God's people have prayed daily that the conflict might be averted. Unfortunately, that has not been possible. Now, the sufferings Saddam Hussein has inflicted upon his own people and others have come back upon his head.

The State Department of the U.S. warned citizens abroad that they face increased danger of retaliatory terrorist actions and anti-American violence. This blanket warning applies in different degrees, depending on the country and region of the world.

Here in Brazil, the great majority of people are against the war. But we feel little danger, for the threat of violence appears to be minimal.

Life here continues normally, though war dominates the conversations. We work as usual to fulfill our task, regardless of the circumstances, at the same time we take into account the winds of popular opinion.

Our greatest concerns are for the soldiers in the war, possible terrorist targets within the United States itself, and the innocent men, women, and children who have suffered for so long under a cruel dictator and must now suffer again because of his evil deeds.

We pray for a quick conclusion to the war and for a peaceful solution. At the same time, we know that the definitive solution comes only through Jesus Christ our Lord.

That is why we remain at our posts, as do you.

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

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Thursday, 13. March 2003

Brazil has largest number of fish species

A Unversity of São Paulo study has counted almost 3,000 species of fish in the country. Previous estimates hovered around 1,300. By comparison, the United States contains 790 species, and 700-800 are believe to be in China's waters. The differing terrains in Brazil, larger than the 48 continental states of the U.S., offer a rich diversity for the fish.

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Prayers requested for Russian preacher student

by Tim Brumfield

[Note: Tim sent this today; I assume the student was at the main Sunset school in Lubbock, Tex.]

Yesterday evening (Wednesday 3/12/03) Vladic Romizov, one of our Russian students from our Branch School in Barnaul, Russia, suffered a sever stroke during prayer meeting. The Ambulance Paramedics were able to restart his heart and he was taken to UMC Hospital (because he has no insurance, Covenant Hospital would not take him). He is still on a ventilator and is only trying to breath on his own from time to time. Around 11:00PM his blood pressure began to rise. He was then taken to Covenant Hospital where they have equipment to help deal with the apparent aneurism. After Svetlana signed papers to permit risky treatment, the doctors were able to insert a tub, releasing the pressure from the brain, thereby reducing risk of further brain damage. He was highly sensitive to the blood pressure medication; therefore his blood pressure fluctuated to extremes.

Now that they have been able to stabilize the blood pressure, Dr Howard Smith hopes to do an angiogram, injecting dye into the blood to detect the location and reparability of the ruptured blood vessel (possibly without surgery).

The doctor said last night that Vladic has about 50% chance of survival but that if he does survive, things do not look good for recovery. He added that chances of full recovery are very slim. He also said that the next couple of days will be critical.

Our dear sister Svetlana is suffering considerable but at least was able to call and tell their children last night.

Please pray to our all-powerful Father in heaven to take care of our dear brother and his sweet wife.

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Thursday, 6. March 2003

Two more examples of the Internet for good

Both in one week. I went to Rio de Janeiro March 4-6 to teach my Total Transformation course in the Ramos congregation. One of the brethren there said that, after contact with Christians, he began looking for the church. Found it -- right in his own neighborhood -- after discovering our online church listing.

While I was in Rio, my wife told me over the phone that one of the major networks, SBT, saw the site of the Christian camp we maintain. They called and asked to send a film crew on Sunday of the Carnaval camp session. They wanted to do a show on alternatives for the Carnaval holiday. Filmed the worship service, interviewed people, even played some games with the campers. Was shown Monday morning of this week on national television. All for free. All because we had a web site.

Never doubt the power of the web. Or better, the power of God to use every means at our disposal for the gospel.

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Wednesday, 26. February 2003

Appeal from Ferrara, Italy

February 24, 2003

Dear brothers and sisters,

Brotherly greetings from the church of Christ in Ferrara.

The purpose of this letter is that of informing you of a difficult problem that has presented itself to our congregation. After 40 years of meeting in the same location (that we have been renting), the owner has informed us that he has decided to sell the building. This has been a continual discussion with the owner for many years but the church has been able to continue to find a solution. A few years ago, though, the owner (who is getting on in years) began to sell off a lot of his property. He came to the congregation here and told them he definitely wanted to sell this building. They were able to work out a contract in which the church had to greatly increase the rent and be ready to move at any time he was able to sell. The contract they worked out ends November 2003 and he wants to try to sell the building with it empty. This would be a hard blow for the work of the Lord in Ferrara for various reasons:

1) The building is situated in the center of the city that (contrary to many cities in the States) in Italy is still the centre of the social and cultural life of every city.

2) It is very difficult to find a building that corresponds to our needs (auditorium, classrooms, etc.), as this. In fact, this building was practically designed (internally) for our needs (years ago when it was being built).

3) Even if we could find a building that corresponds to our needs (the measures about 140 m2), we would need to pay rent that would be 2 or 3 times superior to that which we now pay. ($700).

4) It would be a negative thing for the neighborhood. The Italians are very traditionalists and habitual and the fact that we have been present in this location for more than 40 years, for many it is an indication of seriousness and stability.

The owner of the building, recognizing the good relationship that he has had with us in all these years, has declared that he is willing to sell the building to the church at a very advantageous price. In fact, he has asked $1750/m2. In this area of the city the average price is $2250-3000/m2. Therefore, the asking price is about $250,000.

The church in Ferrara, after having prayed and evaluated the situation, has decided to buy the building. Presently the church is composed of 11 family nucleuses and counts a total of 30 members with an average Sunday frequency of 38 people. In these days we are going to all the banks to ask if they are willing to give us a loan and with which conditions. For sure we must find 20-50% (depending on the bank) of the total to be able to have a loan. These numbers can help you to understand how difficult it will be for us to confront and resolve this situation without your precious help. What are we asking?

1) First of all we would like to ask you to unite with us in prayer so that the will of the Lord will be done also in this occasion. We are convinced that the Lord is offering us a marvellous opportunity, but we know how many difficulties we must face. Therefore we would appreciate receiving your prayers and your encouragement.

2) We need donations and financial help to be able to get the lowest loan possible.

3) We need to know if there are any churches or brethren who would be willing to loan us the amount (or part of it) that we can give back monthly.

4) We need to know if there are other possibilities for buying a building of which we have no knowledge.

We would be happy to provide further details or information to all those interested in helping our congregation in this project.

Thanks for all that you can do to assist us in this necessity. God bless you.

In Christ,

Paolo Di Luca
Casella Postale 124
44100 Ferrara Italy
e-mail: dilpao@texnet.it

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Friday, 31. January 2003

The Internet Touches Seekers

by Randal Matheny

On our new daily Bible reading email list, I announced I would be in the city of Jundiaí for the weekend and hoped I could keep sending the readings regularly.

A subscriber of the list wrote saying she lived in Jundiaí and asked for local congregation's address. She mentioned she did not have a church home and was looking.

When I preached that Sunday morning, she and her boyfriend were present. The congregation welcomed them, and they expressed interest in some courses offered there.

We pray this contact may result in their conversion to Christ. It again points up that we should use "all means" consistent with the gospel to "save some" (1 Cor. 9.23).

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

Comments, suggestions, and prayers are requested.

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Monday, 20. January 2003

SJC church moves Sunday meeting time

After questionnaires and discussions, the SJC church decided to move its Sunday meeting from 6 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. Some people come from neighboring cities, and for them the move will avoid night-time travel. Others felt the time change would improve possibilities for evangelism.

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Friday, 17. January 2003

Looking for a new meeting place

The SJC church decided last Sunday to leave the hotel where we are meeting and rent a building. We have looked at several, but one stands out, because of space and location.

The building has two floors, and is close to the interstate highway, to most bus stops on the main street of town one block up, and to a major thoroughfare running across town. It is close to the city's largest mall.

Taken up the street and to the left.

Taken down the street and to the right.

Ground floor. The building is bigger than it appears in the mirror, I mean, photo.

Ground floor.

Top floor.

Top floor.

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Sunday, 12. January 2003

Wagner is baptized Jan. 7

After months of study, Wagner was baptized January 7 in São José dos Campos. Otávio Carvalho and Adauri Silva studied with him and his father Manoel in the neighboring city of Jacareí. Wagner's mother Eliana has been a Christian for several years. Wagner turns 14 during January.

The baptism was done in the pool of José Roberto and Lea, a Christian couple in SJC.

We hope and pray that Wagner's father will also make the decision soon to obey Christ.

Wagner (l.) listens as Otávio asks him to confess the name of Christ.

Otávio prepares Wagner for baptism.

Wagner comes up from his baptism a new creature.

Wagner between his father Manoel and mother Eliana, with little sister Emily.

Wagner with Adauri, who assisted Otávio in the studies.

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Monday, 30. December 2002

House to House pub grows to over 1 million

The House to House / Heart to Heart (HtH) publication reached a new level: 440 churches are now distributing the 8-page, 8.5 X 11", full-color, bi-monthly publication under the oversight of the Jacksonville Church of Christ in Jacksonville, AL, Todd Clippard, Promotional Director, said today. HtH enjoys a circulation of over 1.2 million copies per issue.

According to the website, the paper was begun in 1994 to expand local evangelism efforts in the Jacksonville community. It is a sound, balanced, and practical means of promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ in our communities.

"Our goal for 2003 is to get to 500 congregations and 1.5 million circulation," Todd said in an email.

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Saturday, 28. December 2002

Working in the Word


Guy Orbison, Jr., of Durango, Colo., edits the eight-page monthly, Working in the Word, with four or five articles. Other than the editor, Hugo McCord is one of the main writers. Guy is a staff writer for The Rocky Mountain Christian.

Recent articles include a seven-fold "The Search for Genuine Christianity." A few articles can be read on site.

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Tuesday, 17. December 2002

Christian university professor records instrumental praise album


It's a sad day indeed when a music professor of a major Christian university records a solo album featuring traditional hymns and contemporary praise music with a soprano saxophone.

According to the professor, "This puts the saxophone in a vocal position. It’s based on what people tell me when I play — that ... those (instrumental) sounds go to places in their beings that words have not touched before. ... They can’t identify what it is, but they know what they feel."

How wonderful that this professor has supplied what the first-century Christians never experienced, a special feeling in their beings that words do not touch.

If others cannot identify it, let's do it for them: instrumental music directly manipulates the emotions. It bypasses the mental function and produces emotional states consistent with the type of music. And when the effect of the music subsides, so does the induced emotional state. This temporary feeling has no relation with the Christian walk and deludes people into thinking that they are communing with God, when, in fact, they are merely swooning.

The administration of the Christian university apparently looks on benignly as their professor sells his music.

With one commercial praise group, the voice imitated the sounds of instruments. So now the seed has borne its fruit, with the instrument being put "in a vocal position."

What do the Scriptures say about this?

"... speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19, NASB).

"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Col. 3:16).

The argument was that instruments were merely an accompaniment to the words. Now they are taking over completely.

Isn't it time we woke up to what's happening in the church?

Our Christian university music professors should be cultivating the singing of praise in our congregations. Instead, they are, with administration approval, leading the way in pushing the instrument into the church and in pushing the word of God out of our lives.

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Saturday, 7. December 2002

Forthright Magazine Adds Tim Hall as Columnist

BZNS-- The minister of the Central church of Christ in Johnson City, Tenn., joined the staff of Forthright Magazine in November, 2002.

Tim Hall debuted in Forthright November 14 with the article "My Limited Faith."

Having grown up in Cumberland, Kentucky, as the son of a coal miner, Tim graduated from Freed-Hardeman University in 1976 with BAs in Bible and Communications. He received a Masters in 1979 from University of Wisconsin, Madison. Tim has served the Central church since June of 1983.

He is married to Joyce Edlin, whom he met at FHU. They have two sons, Nathan and David, one daughter, Rebecca, and one daughter-in-law, Amy.

Tim has published the popular e-mail devotional HEM-Lines since May of 1997.

Tim writes the "Heavenly Connections" column every Friday.

Forthright Magazine is an online and email magazine whose staff writers include A. A. Neale, Barry Newton, Emmett Smith III, Greg Tidwell, Jeff Jenkins, Jimmy Jividen, and Phil Sanders. Brazil missionary and publisher Randal Matheny serves as editor.

For the magazine's address, click here.

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Thursday, 21. November 2002

Thanking God for a Fan

BZeal Weekly
by Randal Matheny
Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil

Wonderful, wonderful trip to the USA from October 2 to November 15! More about that later in our monthly newsletter.

Suffice it to say, now we're getting back on track as we pick up where we left off.

  • I just told Tim Hall I'm not sure if we got used to the cool weather there or if it's just plain hot. It generates a tortoise malaise. Makes me thankful for my little fan working away. Don't tell anybody I took off my shoes and socks in the office.

  • Until year's end, I'll be speaking a good word in the Lord's name from the pulpit. (We've not finished class and preaching schedule plans for next year yet.) I've been asking for opinions on my nine ideas for a six-sermon series. Today's Decision Day!

  • Vicki was shocked at the general rise in prices during our absence. She tells me some food products rose 100-200%. Not typical, but the election of the new socialist president may have something to do with it.

  • Keep Wilson and family in your prayers: after a brief, unhappy experience, he is still unemployed after some 8 months. He and Bete have four children.

  • I mentioned Tim Hall. He's Forthright Magazine's newest columnist. Does a great job on his weekly HEM-Lines. Check him out on both sites.

Oops! I exceeded my word limit for this week. Pare me down next time. Until then, keep praying for us. We give thanks to God for you.



P.S. Please share BZeal (bzeal.antville.org) with the brothers and sisters in your congregation.

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Monday, 30. September 2002

FAQ for the Brazil list

We've got a basic but helpful FAQ for the Brazil list and our work in general. Nothing my mother hasn't heard before, but maybe something you wanted to know. Just click and send.

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Monday, 23. September 2002

Leaving October 2nd

Our family will travel to the U.S. October 2nd for our regularly scheduled trip, returning November 17. We ask your prayers for a safe and uneventful trip, as well as for getting our itinerary set up soon. We're still working on that one.

This time around we'll be traveling to Abilene, Texas, to visit the Baker Heights church, which has supported us since 1984. Last trip we visited the Mt. Vernon church in Park City, Ken., also a long-time supporter.

Since these two churches are the longest from our main base in Arkansas and Mississippi, we swap out visits every other trip.

Other churches where we will report are these:

Center Hill, Paragould, Ark. (sponsor)
Iuka, Miss.
Acton, Tenn.
Lemalsamac, Newbern, Tenn.
Somers Ave., North Little Rock, Ark.

Please send up a special prayer of thanksgiving and request for blessing for these wonderful people. They make it possible for us to do as much as we do.

If you live in the U.S., we hope to be able to visit or call you as well. Please keep in touch.

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Thursday, 19. September 2002

I taught the Course last weekend in Taguatinga

Here's an email sent today from Adriano:

"I would also like to thank you for the Total Transformation course here in Taguatinga. It was very edifying and we already felt its effect in Sunday's worship. It was a cheerful worship, different from previous weeks. We are fully certain that the Holy Spirit is using you, brother Randal, to communicate this precious message of the gospel that really does transform lives."

Taguatinga is a satellite city of Brasilia, the nation's capital. The body of Christ in that city has 35 or so Christians meeting together.

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Wednesday, 11. September 2002

A moment of relaxation

Here, Vicki enjoys a moment of relaxation. The whole family enjoys reading, though it's not always your most literary list. Leila enjoys the Brazilian comic books about Monica and friends. Tom Clancy is a well-known guest in our house as well.

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Tuesday, 10. September 2002

One year later, what to say

My thoughts on the anniversary of the Islamic terrorist attack on the WTC and Pentagon are published in Forthright Magazine today.

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Sunday, 8. September 2002

BZeal for August 2002

by Randal Matheny, in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
28 August 2002

Note: SJC is an abbreviation for the city where we live and work, Sao Jose dos Campos.

Transformation in Salvador

This story has been posted already here.

Course in Jundiai

Fourth time around for the Transformation course was in the city of Jundiai August 23-25, a couple of hours away here in São Paulo state. Thirty-one attended Friday night, with 25 on Saturday.

One man who found the course especially helpful was Marcelo, a new convert of one month. During lunch and intervals we talked at length about the Christian life, and he shared his spiritual journey with me.

Flavio considered the course "very direct and intelligent." And Katia said it "made me see everything in a totally new light."

We were blessed to stay with our friends Alexandre and Yoshie Pestana.

During the course, on Saturday, I celebrated yet another birthday.

As planned, we made it back to SJC just in time for me to teach the adult Bible class on "The Prayer of Thanksgiving" in the series "An Hour with God."

Valeria faces mastectomy

On Wednesday, the 14th, Valeria da Silva, a young mother in the congregation, underwent surgery for breast cancer. Lea Silva (no relation), Vicki, and I visited her and her husband Clayton the night before to encourage them and pray with them. The day of the surgery, Vicki and I traveled to Taubate, 40 minutes from SJC, and prayed with Valeria before her surgery, and sat with Clayton and Valeria's mother Deolinda.

Were we surprised to see her at church the next Sunday! This unfortunate experience has driven her to greater intimacy with the Lord and a greater devotion to spiritual things.

Vicki, Elida, and Lane, all from the SJC congregation, went to visit her the 27th and came away very encouraged.

Attendance up

After the July holiday slump, our Sunday attendance has improved. I missed the August 4 count, but there were 44 on the 11th, 61 on the 18th, and 57 on the 25th. Average total attendance for the month was 54.

Our three mid-week evangelistic home groups studies need to improve. Attendance per week was 10, 31, 15, and 30, for an average of 22 people per week. One group is not meeting regularly, and another missed one week.

Otavio Carvalho is studying with one family where the wife is a Christian, but the husband and adolescent son are not. He should conclude that study soon.

Vicki will begin a study Sunday with a young lady named Joelia.

Meetings and such

I made a quick trip to the city of Mococa, in the northern part of the state, on Saturday, the 17th, for a meeting of the Christian camp's overseeing council. The council president lives there, so we met at his home this time. I had to go alone, so the three-hour trip seemed long by the time I got home.

Last year, we on the board of directors finished our second term and recommended a new group begin work. Several of us moved by invitation to the council, which oversees the board's work.

The 31st the men of the SJC congregation will have their second meeting to plan next year's National Christian Worker's Encounter.

Wedding Celebration

Vicki and I took an overnight trip north of town to a mountain resort, where we celebrated our wedding anniversary on the 3rd. It was just an hour and a half away, but that short breather gave us time to reflect on 23 years of married life.

Leila and I swimming

Occasionally I take out time to accompany the kids in their activities, watching the boys play in a basketball game, for example. This month, shortly after Father's Day, the swimming school had a special event for fathers and their kids, so Leila and I jumped in the pool and played "soccer" with a watermelon and other wet games.


Please pray for these tidbits of news, that in each
moment and situation, the Lord may be glorified by our work and lives.

Thanks for your prayers, support, and encouragement. May our Lord bless your efforts.

Randal & family
E-mail: randalm @ uol.com.br

Mailing Address:
Caixa Postal 11
Sao Jose dos Campos, SP
1220-970 - Brazil

Tel.: (11-55-12) 3942-7753

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Saturday, 7. September 2002

J. C. Choate has surgery

World Evangelism missionary J. C. Choate wrote today to say he has just returned from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., for cancer surgery. He said, "The doctor was able to remove all of it and recommended no radiation kemo treatments. I am very thankful that it was found in time. I am doing fine."

He asks for prayers, and we'll certainly be praying for him.

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Monday, 12. August 2002

Course reaches churches in Salvador

Christians from the Bonocô and Itinga churches in Salvador came together at the former's building August 9-10 for the Total Transformation course. Friday night 65 people heard the introduction and first two modules, and 110 participants met together Saturday for the main part of the course.

In the picture above, the group is doing one of the exercises in the booklet.

On Friday the hours were from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Lunch was served at the building and provided by the Bonocô congregation.

In the evaluation afterwards, one sister wrote to "compliment the content of the course, the theme, and the simplicity of the speaker."

Another wrote that, in the course, "you evaluate yourself and only yourself and your relationship with God. This is very important."

Still another noted that the course "took care of questions I had that I'd not had opportunity to resolve."

On Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m., I met with friends Petterson and Sandra, who were looking for words of counsel and encouragement for their upcoming wedding in December. Vicki and I have known Sandra many years from our time in Belo Horizonte. She was transferred in her job to Salvador two years ago. There she met Petterson. He and I have formed a good friendship over the past several years as we've met at different brotherhood events across the country.

The evangelist Nilton Barretto Jr. (above with his wife Rosilene and daughter Priscila), invited me to preach Sunday morning, and I spoke on "The Man and Woman of God," before running to catch my 11:20 a.m. flight back to Sao Paulo.

Nilton and family received me warmly in their home.

I did not see much of the city -- mostly through the windows of the plane, car, or city bus -- but it was a pleasure to finally get to know the church in Salvador. This was my first trip to the city.

Though my plane was late, I made it back to Sao Jose dos Campos and to the hotel where the church meets 10 minutes before our Bible study, where I taught the fifth lesson on "An Hour with God."

Finally made it home at 10 p.m., where I crashed for the night.

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Wednesday, 31. July 2002

Congregation plans national event

BZeal for July 2002

by Randal Matheny, in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
31 July 2002

Note: SJC is an abbreviation for the city where we live
and work, Sao Jose dos Campos.

Congregation plans national event

During July the men of the SJC congregation met twice
to plan for the National Christian Workers Encounter
for next year. A good group of men met July 16 and 30
at my office and defined the theme and speeches for the

This preaching event is held on Friday and Saturday of
Easter weekend each year at the Mt. of Olives Christian
Camp. It is the major event for Christian workers in
the Brazilian brotherhood.

Each year a different congregation is responsible for
the program. We have the privilege of planning it for

We'll meet again August 17 to consider speakers.

An hour with God

The adult Bible school class began studying "An Hour
with God" in the third quarter. My study is designed to
help people know what to do in their devotional time
with the Lord. Otavio Carvalho is using the same
material to teach the young people's class.

Once again, I'm working up the material pretty much
from scratch, since so little material is available in
Portuguese for the churches.


A young Christian wife and mother in the congregation
was diagnosed with breast cancer. Valeria da Silva
lives in Taubate, about 40 minutes from SJC. She and
her husband Clayton have two small children. Please
pray for her and the family as she undergoes further
tests and schedules surgery.

Transformation course in Sao Paulo

Thirty people met early Saturday morning, July 13, at
the Hotel Estan Plaza on Funchal St., in Sao Paulo, for
an all-day marathon of the Total Transformation course.
The course began at 8 a.m. and ended at 8 p.m.

Because of the city-wide nature of the course, it was
not deemed feasible to hold the usual period on Friday

Christians attended from several congregations in the
city: Butantã, Itaquera, Jardim das Flores, Nove de
Julho, Vila Maria. The coastal city of Sao Vicente was
represented, others came from the city of Sorocaba, and
one couple, Carlos and Emmanuelle Prazeres travelled
six hours by bus from the city of Curitiba especially
for the course.

The course materials and lunch, held at a nearby
restaurant, were included in the registration fee,
which costed just over $5.00.

In this course, I invited Francisco to share the
teaching load. He developed well three of the thirteen
course modules. Francisco is Events and Promotions
Manager for the Rio-Sul Airlines and editor of
Edification Magazine, published by BZeal. He arranged
the hotel conference room and negotiated the restaurant

Five more courses have been scheduled for 2002 and one
for 2003.

Vicki and I stayed in Sao Paulo Friday and Saturday
night at the hotel, thanks again to Francisco's
contacts. Sunday morning I preached at the Jardim das
Flores congregation on our unity, basing the sermon on
Peter's exclusive use of the word "brotherhood" in 1
Peter 2.17 and 5.8-9.

A group of three families from that congregation and
the couple from Curitiba lunched with us, and we headed
home for our meeting with the church in SJC. There, I
taught the Bible class and lead singing. A great day,
in all.

Magazine on course

I traveled to Sao Paulo the 30th to meet with
Edification magazine editor Francisco Bezerra. We
lunched together and talked about the magazine.
Francisco has worked hard to get new writers and has
recruited people to help with news, ads, and promotion.

Since I'm online and he is also in his business, we've
both hooked up to the praize.com messenger and exchange
messages as needed. This has greatly facilited our
joint work with the magazine.

If you'd like to contact me during the day by
messenger, here are my IDs to various services:

Praize.com - randal
Yahoo - randalmatheny
ICQ - 162797959
AOL - randal32916
MSN - randal32916

Ripples of usefulness

Many of our published materials are reprinted in
bulletins and media all over Brazil by the brotherhood.
Not only Edification Magazine, but even our church
bulletin articles, which we often post on the web.

On the 29th, missionary Larry Zinck from Rio de Janeiro
wrote, "Thanks for that info. I went to your site and
read what you wrote. I hope you won't mind if I use
your article as the basis for a radio message. I do
some three-minute spots for a community radio station
here in Jacarepagua."

The article he referred to is a brief response to a
report in a national magazine that purports to separate
truth from legend in the Bible.

New site coming

To be less dependent on freebie services and the
goodness of people who have granted us free space,
we've started the move to paid web hosting and a first-
level domain name for our sites in Portuguese. Except
that the name we chose had been taken by the time we
got our payment in. Now to think of a new name!


On the 21st, we met and lunched with Don Ward, a
Christian from Sidney, Texas, who came to SJC for the
week to teach an course to engineers at Brazil's
aviation company, Embraer. The company is based in SJC.
We spent a pleasant afternoon together and took him
with us to church that evening.

Don had contacted us by email about the church's
meeting address and time.

Before retirement in 2000, Don was an elder at the
College Station church.


Daughter Leila went to the first week of Christian
camp, for her age group (7-10), and Joel went the third
week (ages 14-17). At 19, Micah can't attend the
regular sessions.

Joel has been invited to play basketball at SJC's
Tennis Sports Club, which represents a move forward for
him, as does Micah's move to train with the Trianon
Sports Club in the neighboring city of Jacarei.


Please pray for these tidbits of news, that in each
moment and situation, the Lord may be glorified by our
work and lives.

Thanks for your prayers, support, and encouragement.
May our Lord bless your efforts.

Randal & family
You can read this newsletter and more on our website at
E-mail: randalm@uol.com.br

Mailing Address:
Caixa Postal 11
Sao Jose dos Campos, SP
1220-970 - Brazil

Tel.: (11-55-12) 3942-7753

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Wednesday, 17. July 2002

Course Reaches Sao Paulo and Beyond

Sao Paulo, site of the course

Thirty people met early Saturday morning, July 13, at the Hotel Estan Plaza on Funchal St., in Sao Paulo, for an all-day marathon of the Total Transformation course. The course began at 8 a.m. and ended at 8 p.m.

Because of the city-wide nature of the course, it was not deemed feasible to hold the usual period on Friday evening.

Carlos and Emanuelle travelled six hours for the courseChristians attended from several congregations in the city: Butantã, Itaquera, Jardim das Flores, Nove de Julho, Vila Guilherme. The coastal city of Sao Vicente was represented, others came from the city of Sorocaba, and one couple, Carlos and Emmanuelle Prazeres (above) travelled six hours by bus from the city of Curitiba especially for the course.

The course materials and lunch, held at a nearby restaurant, were included in the registration fee, which costed just over $5.00.

Francisco teaching Total Transformation

In this course, I invited Francisco (above) to share the teaching load. He developed well three of the thirteen course modules. Francisco is Events and Promotions Manager for the Rio-Sul Airlines and editor of Edification Magazine, published by BZeal. He arranged the hotel conference room and negotiated the restaurant meal.

Five more courses have been scheduled for 2002 and one for 2003.

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