December 04, 2004
Temporarily Closed - But Visitors are Welcome
This season of mission teams traveling back and forth from Brazil is over, but we continue to have visitors come to The Rio Journal. I am not even sure who those visitors are, but the fact that people are still reading the stories from earlier this year convinces me that there is enormous potential for journalling (blogging) by members of mission teams.
I have turned off the ability to comment on all posts due to large volumes of unwanted spam from sources that are abusive in ways that defy description. The comment feature will return will the next season of The Rio Journal... or whatever flavor of blogging that we determine to be most effective for mission teams.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:21 AM
November 16, 2004
Mission Leaders Meet at TBC Building
Kim and David discuss plans for new and expanded missions projects in East Tennessee during the morning training session today. Ray and Sharon Fairchild spoke of this year's successes with several medical, construction, and evangelism teams.
This entry was used as a demonstration of how a blog (web log) can be used to quickly post images and stories from any computer with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 09:35 AM
WWPhd - What Would Paul have done?
Today at the Tennessee Baptist Convention building in Brentwood, I will be telling church missions leaders about the Rio Journal. Although the Internet is no stranger to this group, many are not familiar with the technology that enabled team members to communicate directly from Rio during the mission trip.
We will be looking at opportunities to train mission team members to write, edit, upload pictures, etc. on a web site much like The Rio Journal. My vision for this technology is to have a TBC Missions' Team site where any team member with the right resources can publish stories and testimonials, not just for their own families, friends, and church members...but for the entire world to see what is going on in the hearts of Tennessee Baptist volunteers regardless of where God leads them to serve on the mission field.
If the apostle Paul had the tools and technology available that we have today... What would Paul have done? What do you think we should do?
August 28, 2004
FBC Columbia Team Returns Home
The time for us to leave Rio came much to fast. The short week we spent there was amazing. God did many awesome works in and through us. Our trip home went well. God gave us a smooth transition back to our lives here in the states. While we came back home to the place we left, we did not come home the same.
Posted by Laura Breeden at 10:57 PM
August 20, 2004
FBC Columbia Clinic - Day 5
Our final day in Piraque was as wonderful, if not better than the others this week. Although, it came much too fast. Our team was sad about leaving the people and place we have grown to love this week. However, today was a tremendous day. It was a wonderful day to end an amazing week. Overall this week, the eye team examined 853 patients, the dental clinic saw 242 people, general medicine treated 351, the pediatric group took care of 497 children, and the pharmacy filled 2,477 prescriptions. The were 146 people who accepted Christ this week. God did more than we could have every asked or imagined!
Posted by Laura Breeden at 08:26 PM
August 19, 2004
FBC Columbia Clinic - Day 4
Today was another incredible day! When we pulled up to the church this morning we were overwhelmed with the number of people waiting in line. We later found out that the first people in line had arrived at three o´clock this morning. The eye team saw 189 people, general medicine treated 97 patients, there were 102 pediatric patients, the dental team saw 53 people and took out 77 teeth, and the pharmacy filled 525 prescriptions. There were 28 people who accepted Christ today!
August 18, 2004
FBC Columbia Clinic - Day 3
Today was a wonderful day! When we arrived in Piraque this morning there were many people waiting to get into the clinic. By mid morning more people than we had time to see all day had come. There were many who will be back early tomorrow morning to get in. The eye team saw 190 people today, the dental team worked on 52 patients (and pulled 120 teeth), the general medicine team took care of 59 paients, the pediatric group saw 134 children, and the pharmacy filled 588 prescriptions. 31 people prayed to receive Christ!
Posted by Laura Breeden at 07:17 PM
August 17, 2004
FBC Columbia Clinic - Day 2
When the bus pulled up at the clinic this morning it was obvious that today was going to be busier than yesterday. We did see more people, and God definitely blessed in more ways. The eye team examined 195 people, the dental team pulled the teeth of 63 patients, in pediatric medicine there where 125 children seen, general medicine worked with 84 patients, and the pharmacy filled 427 prescriptions. 33 people made decisions for Christ today!
Posted by Laura Breeden at 07:26 PM
August 16, 2004
FBC Columbia Clinic - Day 1
The first day of our medical clinic was wonderful. The morning started off a little slow, but the pace picked up very quickly. There were 154 sets of eyes checked, 38 dental patients seen, 70 pediatric patients, 58 patients in general medicine, and 364 prescriptions filled. Most importantly, there were 28 souls added to the Kingdom during our time today. God is so good!
August 15, 2004
FBC Columbia Update for Sunday
Our first full day in Rio has been wonderful. It began with a time of worship in the church where the clinic will be held. Along the hour or so drive to the site, we were able to enjoy part of God´s beautiful creation as we traveled along the coast by Ipanema beach. We were greeted by the many children (even more than in most of the favelas) who seemed delighted to see us. It is going to be such a blessing to be able to interact with them. We are excited about all that God has in store for us this week!
Posted by Laura Breeden at 07:34 PM
August 14, 2004
FBC Columbia Group Arrives in Rio
After a long journey our team arrived safely in Rio this morning! We experienced no delays or problems during any part of the trip. Everyone is doing well. We spent most of the day organizing supplies for the clinic which begins Monday. Please pray for us as we attend church tomorrow at the site where we will conduct the clinic. More to come later...
August 10, 2004
FBC Columbia returns to Rio for third year
In just a few days, a team from First Baptist Church, Columbia will be headed for Rio. Becky Clark emailed me today to let me know that the team will be in the Piraque favela located in the Campo Grande area. Please add Becky and the FBC team to your prayer list.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 05:47 PM
August 06, 2004
Rio Medical Mission - Day 7
´Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.´ 1 John 3:18
Greetings from the servants of Christ Jesus in Rio.
All are well and safe.
It was a short day today. We worked only till lunch time...then had a party for the children...then a departing celebration at the new church.
For the week, 681 eye, 833 children and 576 general medicine patients were cared for. 3,702 prescriptions were filled. 408 claimed Jesus Christ as there Savior and Lord. In addition, hundreds of floride treatments were given. For many, if not all, of the children, this was the first time their teeth had ever met paste and brush.
August 05, 2004
Rio Medical Mission - Day 6
'...Jesus said, suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven' Matt 19:14
Greetings from the servants of Christ Jesus in Rio.
All are well and safe.
Today was another beautiful day!
Children, children and more children..that is all that can be said about today. They were everywhere...and they all wanted to hear the salvation story. So we just sat on the ground and told the story, time and again...they are precious in His sight!
Praise God for the good work of today...and the good things He will bring our way, tomorrow!
The team cared for 155 eye, 147 children and 112 general medicine patients. The pharmacy filled 701 prescriptions. 98+ decisions were made (the + means that decisions were made, but for one reason or another we were not able to complete a card).
These bring the total, so far, to 584 eye, 728 children and 491 general medicine patients. 3,210 prescriptions have been filled. In excess of 356 have claimed Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord!
Posted by at 06:16 PM
Pharmacy - Redefined
I have been watching the numbers come in from Rio das Pedras over the last few days and I am amazed, gratified, humbled, and honored to have even been around the medical team. They are all doing what I would consider heroic work... you just have to see the conditions where this team is working to understand that.
I visited the makeshift pharmacy that has been dispensing many hundreds of prescriptions each day and want you to know what that really means. First of all, imagine a cement plastered room about the size of a walk-in closet, one door direct to the outside, a small window facing a swamp, and a single light bulb in the ceiling. Next add temporary shelves all along the walls of three sides and jam them full of medications of all shapes and descriptions. Mix in three people to the space, one missionary journeyman named Jennifer (a Samford pharmacy graduate) and two assistants, who must hit the floor running each morning and remain engaged with patients long after the last doctor has made a diagnosis. The smell from the poluted water of the wetland, you just get used to after awhile. At the door is a constant crowd of moms with babies in arms, the elderly, the sick, and children...lots of children; all waiting to have their prescriptions filled...and filled with compasionate care. It is a picture that has to tug at your heart.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 05:09 PM
August 04, 2004
Rio Medical Mission - Day 5
'But evil men and imposters shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But abide thou in the things thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.' 2 Tim 3:13-14
Greeting from the servants of Christ in Rio
All are well and safe.
We enjoyed another beautiful day. Although there were no clouds, it was still a comfortable day to meet and greet the people.
Today, 147 eye, 165 children and 132 general medicine patients were cared for. The pharmacy filled 767 prescriptions. 89 more were saved! Now these numbers might sound fewer than the previous day, but our day was cut short by 1 and 1/2 hours (for good reasons). By comparison, yesterday there were 42 decisions by lunch... today 65! Also, there was a surgery performed (albeit minor)that took the time of a number of people. Without going into a great deal of detail...this particular woman will have far less pain in her foot than she had earlier this morning.Praise God!
Posted by at 05:31 PM
August 03, 2004
Rio Medical Mission - Day 4
'And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.' Acts 2:46-47
Greetings from the servants of Christ Jesus in Rio
All are well and safe
Again, God blessed us with ideal weather conditions, overcast skies with a pleasant breeze.
On this day, the team treated 163 eye, 223 children, and 133 general medicine patients. Added to the first day, the totals are: 282 eye, 416 children and 247 general medicine patients. Over the two days 1,742 prescriptions have been filled. But the really great news is that an additonal 101 decisions were made, bringing the two-day total to 170. Praise God for the good work He has done!
Medical Mission Video Clips
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|Word spreads fast around the favela when there is medical attention available...and the lines are long, even before the medical team arrives each day. This short video clip is just a glimpse into the faces of the people serving and the people being served in Rio das Pedras. Both groups of people will be changed as a result of the activity around the temporary clinic and pharmacy. The song playing in the background speaks of no longer being what we were before...and not all that we will be. All will be changed by His glory.
Allow me to insert my personal thanks to the construction and medical teams from Brentwood Baptist Church. These may be regular folks in the eyes of some, but for me, I had the pleasure of watching them through the lense of a camera and have come to know and love these folks. They work hard. They are focused on their mission.
|These teams performed far-from-ordinary feats in less than ideal circumstances and touched many hearts in this small Brazilian community. Thank you for letting me be a part of this trip!
safe at home,
Warning, this video clip includes a life changing challenge from Raja...
August 02, 2004
Rio Medical Mission Day 3
´Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day´ Acts 2:41
Greetings from the servants of Christ Jesus in Rio.
All are safe and well.
We did not add three thousand this day...but it was still a good day.
God blessed us with overcast skies that made the day very comfortable.
God used the team to see 119 eye, 114 general medicine and 193 children patients. 857 prescriptions were filled...but most importantly 69 decisions were made. These numbers were very good, given that the first day always requires extra time for set-up. But on this day, the team was so well organized we started quickly.
Posted by at 07:02 PM
August 01, 2004
All is Well with My Soul
Where do I begin? Words can not possibly express how I feel right now. My cup truly is running over with joy of our trip to Rio!
Our team arrived home safely around 12:30 on Sunday after a little scare in Houston about some planes being grounded on account of terriost attacks. We prayed... and God answered!
What an amazing trip we had!!! We were able to complete the construction of the church building in Rio das Pedras. It is estimated that 6,000 brick were laid, two coats of sealer applied were after cleaning each brick, morter was put between each row and each brick, and then finally another coat of sealer was painted on for the finished product. That in itself was very time consuming. Six windows and a door were hand painted and installed after all the proper measurements were made. Electrical work was done and clean up was massive. No wonder we were tired. Ha! On Thursday night, we all stopped and watched as the capstone (final brick) was installed. What a celebration we had...
Many of us had the wonderful opporunity to take time and go into the community and share Christ with those nearby. People are already seeing Jesus and accepting Him as their Lord and Savior! How much more excited can it get?
On Friday, after a tedious day of final work, we had the celebration service with a full house and the new pastor. It was extremely emotional and tears flowed freely. What a blessing to be a part of such a God filled week! I personally feel honored and humbled to be a part of such an experience.
The team came to the conculsion at the final devotion and share time in the Houston airport that our work is just beginning. Our mission trip has just started. Now we must bring the love and saving grace of Jesus to those around us--our neighbors, our coworkers, and anyone else we come in contact with. Our mission field for just a few precious days was in Rio das Pedras. Now our mission field is here at home.
Each team member wants you to know how much we appreciated your prayers. They were felt in many, many ways.
Again, it is hard to express with words, but I will close in saying "All is Well with My Soul!" "Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow!"
Posted by at 08:55 PM
Rio Medical Mission - Day 2
´Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church the Lord which he purchased with his own blood´ Acts 20:28
Greeting from the Servants of Christ Jesus in Rio
All are safe and well
Today was a very special day as we celebrated the first worship service in the church that was constructed this past week.
Posted by at 07:33 PM
July 31, 2004
Medical Team Arrives - Construction Team Headed Home
The thirty member medical team from Brentwood Baptist Church arrived safely in Rio de Janerio around noon today. It is not official yet, but this group may have set a record for the largest luggage collection that the Miramar Hotel staff has ever encountered from a group of this size. Medical team must bring in everything that they need: medications, supplies, diagnostic materials, etc. Immediately after checking in, the group met for a buffet lunch at the hotel and soon after began preparing for the week ahead. In spite of the long plane trip to Brazil, all team members gathered in a conference room to begin processing the hundreds of medications that would be used in the days to come. Sharon Fairchild, IMB missionary in Rio, lead the local and cultural orientation session this afternoon and encouraged each team member to make a connection with someone back in Tennessee to pray for them.
The construction team departed Rio this afternoon and will arrive back in Tennessee tomorrow morning...if these tired-eyed people make it to church, give them an extra hug from their friends and family in Brazil. The Brentwood construction crew may not know it yet, but the Medical team will participate in the very first Sunday morning worship service to be held in the church building that the construction team finished on Friday. Please pray for Vladimir, the new pastor in this church at Rio das Pedras. Pray for the church and their follow up from the evangelistic team who walked the streets of Rio das Pedras last week. Pray for the medical team. They will likely see over two hundred patients each day at the church and the community center... and if history repeats itself, they will leave knowing that there are many more left behind needing the same kind of physical and spiritual help they provided during this week.
...and Raja is NOT driving the bus.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 12:26 PM
Construction Crew Mission Accomplished!
There are many times when words fail to describe the true emotions of an experience. Friday evening's dedication service for the new church building in Rio das Pedras was one of those events. The day was filled with a flurry of activity: setting windows, cleaning brick, painting, installing electrical fixtures, and cleaning up the building inside and out. Just prior to the opening of the doors to the community, the Brentwood Baptist team and the Brazilian construction crew gathered around a huge cake for a brief time of fellowship and celebration. When the doors to the building opened, people from all over the neighborhood streamed in, filling the space to capacity.
Several of the Brentwood team gave their personal testimonies to the crowd. All expressed their warm feelings for the people of Brazil and
the memories of working hand in hand with Christian brothers and sisters in Rio das Pedras. One of the crew reflected on his feelings from the prior days
of laying brick to build a church...and then told the group that he realized that he was mistaken about what he was building. "Bricks and mortar provide
only a space for people to gather. It is the people who gather in that space who are the church."
For the Brentwood Baptist construction team, this project has come to a close. The work at Rio das Pedras,however, is just beginnning.
July 29, 2004
Construction Nears Completion
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The people of Rio das Pedras are rapidly approaching the day when they will have a new church building. The construction team from Brentwood Baptist Church has worked hard over the last four days, conquered a new masonry construction method, and is within 24 hours of the dedication service for the building.
The video clips from today show the wonderful spirit of the team. Background music was recorded live in the new building at the begining of today's morning devotional.
There will be a celebration in Rio das Pedras tomorrow evening...the town, the new congregation, and a spirited construction team are looking forward to that time together.
July 27, 2004
A very busy week so far...
Here we are and it is already late on Tuesday evening. Actually it is really bed time. However, we just got back from a late dinner and of course we had to have our nightly banana splits! Yes, we do gain weight while we are here.
Since our last contact with you on early Sunday, we have had a very busy schedule. We were able to go back to the church our team from BBC built last year and be a part of their wonderful worship service. Bill and Carol Bedi were on that team and were major players in the construction of the church in Silverstre. But who would have ever thought that in the following year, their son Tim would be preaching a sermon in that same church. Wow! It is amazing to see God work.
Well, on Monday we got off to an amazing start on the construction site after tromping though a lot of mud and such to get there. All 16 members of the team found their place and worked eagerly all day long. We worked the ant line many times in order to get material moved from one place to another in a timely fashion. We all worked muscles we did not know we had... On Tuesday, we all expected to be sore and not able to move, but another miracle happened. We were tired, but not sore. Thank goodness! We put in another very full day and we are ahead of schedule at this point. The Brazilian who is in charge said we were very professional in our work. We work hard and we laugh a lot. Something funny is always going on!
On Wednesday, we will start our day with out with our morning devotion and work like little beavers all day. We still have a lot of work to do. I will not bore you with the details.
Just pray for us--health, safety, weather, and of course that our lives will shine for Jesus!
We know you are praying for us and we thank you for those prayers. They are so important to each one of us.
Posted by at 08:24 PM
July 25, 2004
Construction Team Arrives in Rio
The trip to Rio was smooth... no missed connections or hassles through customs. The trip over gave our team an opportunity to get to know one another and even have some conversations with some new friends. IMB missionaries Ray and Sharon met us at the airport and took us to our hotel. The top of the hotel has a beautiful view of the Copacabana beach. After an orientation session, we went to visit Denise, the Blough's Brazilian daughter, to have a cook out ("churrascaria") and celebrate her engagement that evening.
On Sunday (today), we went to check out the place where we begin building a church tomorrow. They have already laid down a foundation for us to get started. We then went to the mother church that is planting the congregation whose structure we are building. I had an opportunity to preach to this congregation through an interpreter.
After church, we arrived back at the hotel, and many of the team went to the "hippie fair," a large outdoor market. Tonight we are going to attend the worship service at the church the Brentwood team constructed last year.
Please pray for us as we begin work tomorrow (Monday). The area where we will be working is a favela, where you see lots of poverty. Pray for our ability to finish the building so that it can be ready for the medical team that arrives next week. Also, today we went to an evangelism orientation, and most of the team will have some opportunities to share the gospel. The Brazillians in our area are very open to talking about the gospel and are generally very receptive. Pray that God would open the hearts of those He is calling to faith and repentence. Pray for the church that will be housed in the building after the medical team leaves. They have already called their pastor; his name is Vladimir. Pray that many of the people in "Rios das Pedras" (name of this area) will be impacted by the ministry of this church.
July 24, 2004
Welcome Brentwood Baptist Visitors to The Rio Journal
The construction team from Brentwood Baptist Church is on their way. The smiling faces and tired bodies pictured here will arrive in Rio Saturday morning. Linda Blough will be reporting during the next several days and has already posted prayer requests. Be sure to read Linda's requests in the story below this one.
For first time visitors from Brentwood Baptist Church, WELCOME! The Rio Journal is an ongoing project that started with Belmont University's sports evangelism team, lead by Brentwood Baptist's own Betty Wiseman. Each day while your mission team is in Brazil stories will be posted from the area where the team is working. You are encouraged to join the team in specific requests for prayer. You are encouraged to add supportive comments to the stories that will appear here. Be a part of mission support right here at home!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:57 AM
July 23, 2004
Today is the day for Departure
Well, in just a few hours our team of 16 will be heading to the airport to depart for Rio! How exciting... Our bags are almost packed and our hearts are busting at the seams with joy and anticipation. We covet your prayers as we board the plane for a very long flight. Some of us have back problems and other health issues--Pray! Some of us have family members that are sick--PRAY! Some of us have job insecurities--PRAY!
God is so awesome! We can't wait to see what He has in store for us for the next ten days. Get ready here we go...
Love and Blessings to each of you!
Posted by at 10:30 AM
July 22, 2004
Betty Wiseman Tells Maria's Story
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|Belmont University's sports evangelism team had an awesome experience with the people in Rio de Janeiro. Each team member returned with stories of their experiences and memories of the faces of the urban poor. Betty Wiseman tells the story of sports evangelism and her encounter with a young Brazilian mother named Maria. Watch the video and learn about sports evangelism and Betty's new sister, Maria.|
The video is approximately 10 minutes long and roughly 8MB in file size...viewing is recommended on high speed Internet connections only. A free Flash Player is available via the Get Flash link at the top of The Rio Journal home page. Windows Media Player and QuickTime versions are available via the links beneath the Flash Player window.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 01:39 PM
July 21, 2004
Your Comments are Welcome but there is a Change
Toward the end of this week, The Rio Journal will be telling a new story of the partnership between Tennessee Baptists and the urban poor in Rio de Janeiro. Back-to-back construction and medical teams from Brentwood Baptist Church as well as others will be traveling to Brazil to continue ministering to the people around the new church site at Rio das Pedras.
Your comments of support for the team are welcome (and encouraged). When you complete the comment form (click comment at the bottom of any posted story), your comment will be stored instantaneously. To protect The Rio Journal from unwanted/invasive comments. ALL comments will be reviewed by a moderator before they show up on the page. We are sorry that this step is necessary, however, there are unscupulous individuals (particularly the pornography industry) who take advantage of journals such as this to insert links to their porno sites... We appreciate your understanding.
One last thing: If you post more than once, and we recognize you as one of the good guys... your posts will probably show up quicker. So, let us hear from you!
July 09, 2004
Rio Journal Upgrade in Progress
The Rio Journal is currently undergoing an upgrade in software and hardware. Some pictures may not be available during this transition, however, we expect everything to return to normal on Monday.
Thank you for your patience!
Friday afternoon UPDATE: Images on The Rio Journal have been restored.
Posted by admin at 02:29 PM
June 27, 2004
Comment Spam and My Apology
Last night the Rio Jounal was attacked by what are known as comment spammers. These individuals, using automated tasks on their computers, take advantage of the comment feature on pages such as this and use them to post off-topic, often pornographic links. Because of that attack, I have temporarily shut off the comment feature for this site. With an upgrade in the software (as soon as next week) we should be more secure and will be able to turn the comment feature back on.
My apologies to anyone who received notifications that included links from this site that were offensive.
Posted by admin at 06:14 AM
June 06, 2004
A Message for Rio Journal Friends at Brentwood Baptist Church
|Eric Reese, IMB Missionary ,and Amy Elrod, Missionary Journeyman, sent back a video message for the two teams from Brentwood Baptist Church who will travel to Rio de Janeiro at the end of July.
If the box on the left does not display a black screen with a Rio Das Pedras title, look on this page for the button labeled Flash Player 7 and install Flash Player 7 (it's free)...OR try the
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 12:30 PM
May 27, 2004
We Are Back!
The entire team made it through the night of air travel and arrived safely in Nashville around 9:30AM this morning. Just about everyone managed to ge a few hours of sleep during the 9 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Houston...but I wouldn't go as far to say that every one feels rested.
We had a terrific reunion last night at the Rio airport with Ray and Sharon Fairchild. The had just returned from the states and wanted to see the team off. Sharon's mom is showing signs of improvement. Sharon said that she had been out of bed and had managed to do some walking with the aid of a walker. Sharon and Ray also expressed their appreciation for the prayers that were said on behalf of their family.
There will be a few follow up posts coming to the Rio Journal, but for now, the trip is over. The work in Rio is far from over and hopefully there will be other groups and other chapters to add in the future. Thanks go to all of you who read, posted comments, and sent us email through the trip...it meant so much to all of us!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 11:39 AM
May 25, 2004
The work does not end here
Our trip has now come to an end with one more sightseeing day remaining. None of our lives are the same, in fact we all certainly feel blessed. The things we have seen in the last 10 days have been eye-opening to say the least. But however sad the conditions, God did not fail to move. There is no doubt in my mind that the streets we walked would be walked by Jesus if He were in the flesh today. However, He has proven to each of us that he is in fact in the flesh, and we saw Him over and over again in the lives we encountered. In fact, we were Him, despite our limitations, for so many we encountered.
Pray for those who received Him as their Lord and Savior. Pray that they and those that were delivered the Gospel but did not respond will actively seek fellowship with other believers and communication with God through prayer and Bible study.
Thank you for your prayers. They were felt, and people know Jesus today because of your efforts. I pray that each of you will be able (if you have never) to see the look on the face of someone hearing the Gospel for the first time. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in Rio. I encountered Him all week.
Rio Das Pedras - Day Two
Today was a day to play with kids. It was also a day for the local church to gather information on new Christians to get them involved in a local congregation and area Bible studies. There was a soccer game played between the sports evangelism team and the local soccer club team. Both teams seem to enjoy the play in spite of the heat on the field.. In a show of good sportsmanship, the soccer team agreed to a brief scrimage that involved men and women players from Belmont's teams. The two days here were challenging, enlightening, and productive in terms of ministry. Eric and Ramona Reese, the International Mission Board missionaries for the area, felt that this was a huge success for the local congregation and challenged the team to continue the witness that they demonstated here no matter where they go. Eric believes that the impact of the team on the community will be felt for seveal months to follow. Lots of hugs and tears ended the day. This is the last day of work for the trip and in celebration, we stopped at the beach on the way back to the hotel to enjoy the cool south Atlantic surf.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 06:33 PM
Rio Das Pedras - Day One
Eric, a Southern Baptist missionary (pictured in the yellow shirt), who lives in Rio Das Pedras classifies the 90,000 people in this area into three categories: the working poor who live in small terra cotta block homes, the poor who live in the wooden shacks that surround the working poor, and the desparately poor who live on the street or in flimsy temporary structures on the perimeter of town. Utilities are a mix of home remedy connections that sometimes include coat hangars as part of electrical tie-ins. Municipal water is scarce and unevenly distributed within the community. The street is a combination of muddy path, open sewer, and marginally covered sewage trench. Many of the 'streets' in the favela (slum) are not much wider than an American's outstretched arms.
Images on television do not adequately describe the living conditions, the smell, the near claustrophobic closeness of the spaces in Rio Das Pedras. According to Eric, the good news is that the drug cartels have been kept at bay and that the crime rate is very low in the area. For those who live here, there is no distinction in class, color, ethinic origin, or social status...they are all in the same boat and are doing their best. From what we witnessed, even the crudest of homes were clean and neat on the inside. The children are clothed and clean as possible.
If I were to tell you how many children showed up in the town square for this, our first, day in Rio Das Pedras, you would not believe me. The children were responsive to the basketball drills as well as the message that our team communicated. Barefooted (or wearing flip flops), these kids had a great time. No one complained. It was hot.. the paved court was very hot. After 6 hours of action on the court, the team left Rio Das Pedras having 'left it all on the court.'
If you do not already know that Betty Wiseman is a saint, then this is news. If you know even a small part of what Belmont's sports evangelism team knows, then this story is just another chapter in Betty's Christian Journey. If I wanted to show you what unconditional love looks like it would be a hundred more images just like these where Betty engaged the people of this town.
By demonstrating her affection for the children of Rio Das Pedras, Betty was able to connect, time and time again with the parents of these children to share God's love. In this brief post, I will not go further with this story...but here are questions that you should ask Betty the next time you see her:
Ask about the closet sized seemstress shop that she and Debbie visited...three women working on old Singer machines in hot, cramped quarters. Ask her about playing with kids on top of a play structure and the smiles that appeared on faces of children and parents alike. Ask her about an interrupted lunch break where a mom, hearing of Betty from another mom, asked for her by name to talk to. Ask Betty about how the love of these kids has rubbed off on the entire team...she will have pictures and video soon, you can see for yourself.
May 23, 2004
Tall American athletes dribbling basketballs through the streets are all it takes to draw a crowd...no advertising, no internet, no mailout, no brochure. Just the simple sound of activity is the queue that something is going on, and that whatever it is, it needs to be checked out. Saturday was another day of steep hill climbs to get to a community court where soccer and basketball seem to co-exist. From the older youth who showed up wanting to play soccer, seeing a bunch of Americans surrounded by several hundred children had to be a shock. Even with all of the excitement and noise surrounding the games and the basketball drills, people heard the message of Christ's love and responded.
The ministry of Pastor Douglas in this favela of some 26,000 people is pretty amazing. Construction teams from the U.S. have assisted in many ways to convert and expand existing structures to make them suitable for use by the church. The picture of Betty Wiseman and Pastor Douglas was taken at the rear of the church where a concrete baptistry was installed but not completed. The temporary wooden steps have become dangerous to use and 26 people are awaiting replacement steps as well as a roof over the baptistry before it will go back into commission.
The beaded crosses that the team makes when there are slow moments (and those are few and far between) provide a simple method using the different colors of the beads to represent the message of the gospel. Angel Jones and Destri Bockey are pictured here with a group of neighborhood children working on the beaded crosses. Amy Elrod, wearing the light blue top pictured in the foreground acted as Angel and Destri's interpreter.
A full day of activity ended with a cookout, a lively worship service, and hugs (and tears) as the group headed back to the hotel, an hour+ drive.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 10:53 PM
Two Words... Mexican Buffet!
After four days of early morning wake up calls, late night worship services, and long return bus rides, the team really needed a break on Sunday. The pace of activity and exposure to some rough environments has a few of us sniffling or stopped up from something...but it hasn't affected the great mood of the team.
Just a short ride from the hotel is an all-you-can eat Mexican restaurant. Nothing phased us from satisfying any sort of leftover hunger pains from the prior hectic days. Three trips to the line even took care of Andrew and Dan... not even the Portuguese speaking waiters (in a Mexican restaurant) seemed to phase the group.
The afternoon was reserved for some shopping in an outdoor 'Hippie Fair' (I'm certain there is a correct spelling for that, but that is at least close to phonetically correct). High marks go to Angel, she found some pretty cools stuff!
Sunday night we partcipated in a worship service in an area where the population is transitory. It was described as the Bourbon Street of Rio without the glitz that you would expect in New Orleans. Nick Otis and Angel Jones did a terrific job with their personal testimonies and I delivered a message from Romans, using a lump of clay that I formed into a small vessel for an object lesson. Sunday was relaxing by comparison to most days... the killer for the day was the announcement on the ride home that Monday morning's wake up calls would be at 5:30AM and every one had to be on the bus by 6:30AM ('negotiated' to 6:45AM).
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 06:41 PM
May 22, 2004
Saturday in Rio
Greetings prayer warriors! It is a beautiful morning in Rio as we prepare to return to the community that so touched each of our hearts on Friday. I do not dance well (ask my wife), but I sure acted as if I were the most gifted dancer in the world as we worshiped our Lord with the Brazilian people last night.
We have so much to be thankful for and so much to be in prayer over. We ask that you will remember Jasmine and Eru (2 children that have prayed to receive Christ) as well as several other children who came forward at the end of last night?s service. We know that if we humbly come before the Lord in prayer that He will hear us, forgive us and heal our land (Rio, Tennessee, etc...).
Moreover, continue to pray for the hearts of those we have not come in contact with as of yet. Pray that God will open their hearts to embrace His message. Thank you for your support. God Bless you all.
Today We Loved a Few Kids into the Kingdom
There are no words for what happened to our team or the small community that we visited on Friday...so here are a few snapshots of what happened.
Deb & Betty - Just Outside Downtown
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:18 AM
May 21, 2004
Over the last few days, I have acquired a great deal of video footage of the team's journey. Editing time has been squeezed down to a few minutes each day due to the early morning starts and the late evening returns. Wake up calls here at our hotel have been around 6:30 each morning...and our return bus trips from the other parts of the city have ranged from 30 minutes to well over an hour, generally well past my bedtime. This morning, I am seeking out a high speed Internet connection at one of the cyber cafes close by, maybe this will help us all get more information to you.
Last night's team meeting followed a family service at the local Baptist church who sponsored the first two days of our trip here. Adam Mark and Nick Otis did a superb job of presenting their testimonies to the crowd that gathered... these are impressive kids, one and all. These young people will not be the same when they return to Nashville. I know that sounds a bit worn out, but it is true. Mom, dads, family, and Belmont community have every reason to be proud of these young people!
Update on Sharon's Mom
The quick trip to Houston ran into snags. Sharon had to spend much of yesterday, nearly a full day of delay, in the Sao Paulo airport waiting for another plane due to engine problems with the regularly scheduled flight. The last word that we have here is that Sharon's mom has taken a turn for the worse. Sharon arrived in Houston Thursday night and Ray should be there sometime today. There are decisions to be made regarding the treatment for her mom. Please continue praying for Ray and Sharon. These are strong and wonderful missionaries and they will need our prayers and encouragement over the next several days and weeks.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:40 AM
We had played exhibition basketball in combined teams of men and women with Brasilians and Americans on each side for much of the morning. It was time for lunch and all of us were beginning to feel a little hungry and were ready to get a bite to eat. Our Brasilian host asked if we would play a little longer and the team agreed, inspite of the twinges of hunger. It was during this time that Brandon Owen, speaking through an interpreter, encountered 15 year old Yasmine and a small group of her friends. Yasmine began asking questions about why the team was here and was trying to understand the message the she had heard from the team's personal testimonies from earlier in the morning. Brandon sensed that Yasmine wanted more, but was not sure that perhaps she had just become intrigued by an energetic group of American boys, so, Brandon sent Yasmine to speak with me. On the bleachers in a noisy gymanasium, with the assistance of my translator, Ednan ('the edge'), I shared the simple message and invitation with Yasmine to accept Jesus as her personal Lord and Saviour. Yasmine understood the message and was ready to make her decision right there in the gym.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:37 AM
You Deserve Better
The signs and banners on the grounds of the Escola Batista (Baptist School) read Voce Merece, translated from Portuguese means, "you deserve better". If you saw the favelas (mountainside slums) that our bus drove through to get to the school, you might think that the banners are a call for social revolution. The school, celebrating 35 years of education, is an expensive private school but provides full scholarships to 60 young people who live in the surrounding slums (I hate to use that word, but there is no politically correct descriptor).
Speaking through an interpreter with one of the teachers in the school's technology center, the instructor explained that the banners are for students, parents, and teachers. For the students, the message speaks of the opportunities that come from learning in the classroom, but those opportunities come at the price of hard work. For the parents, it means that a strong and active partnership with the school can make things better in many ways for the future of the city. For the teachers, it means that 35 years of delivering quality education at this school is not something to 'rest upon', it is not enough, it is only the foundation for personal and professional improvement. What a contrast in outlooks: I looked at the envelope of the surounding area and saw poverty. The people at this school reflect upon themselves and see strength and hope.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:33 AM
May 20, 2004
Sharon Fairchild?s Mom
Betty Wiseman presented a signed game ball to the host principal following a morning of classroom visits, a brief intra-squad demonstration, basketball drills with the older children, and a lively game of duck-duck-goose with the younger crowd. Moments after this picture was taken, Sharon Fairchild (middle), received word that her mother suffered a stroke. For Sharon it meant quickly departing the team and an overnight flight to Houston, Texas to be with her mom. The team has requested that you please remember Ray and Sharon as well as the rest of their family as they work through this crisis...they are a beloved couple among the people of Rio and much like family to the rest of the Belmont team.
Wednesday - Two Schools, Planting Seeds
Small groups of the team made the rounds to individual classrooms in two different schools today. Children were excited to see the team, were amazed at their height, and full of questions about basketball and life in the USA. Questions such as, "What size are your shoes?", "Have you met the Shaq?", "Do you play in the Olympics?" and "May I have your autograph?" were commonly asked. The children heard personal testimonies from the team and listened attentively...all in all, a lot of seeds were planted today.
Time with students was an important part of the day. Working with interpreters, the team members are able to engage these young people on several different levels. Sometimes just sitting with a class while someone else spoke presented opportunities for personal interaction...those opportunities were not missed.
The height of the team draws particular interest when we travel to schools (or anywhere in public). There is something about a tall man doing a Macarena-like basketball drill that is SOME sight to see!
May 19, 2004
Tuesday Night Orientation
Ray Fairchild led the Tuesday evening orientation session with a powerful demonstration of how the fingers of one hand can be used to present your personal testimony. With a traditional 'thumbs-up' Ray demonstrates the first point, "God loves you and wants you to have a wonderful and fulfilling life". Within a few minutes, Ray illustrated how quickly an individual can deliver the basics of the plan of salvation using this and other easy to deliver techniques.
Andrew Preston (l) and Nick Otis (r) practice the technique during a break in the presentation. The team begins work in the community with a full morning and evening schedule of events. Plans for Wednesday include visits in the classrooms of two elementary schools along with inter-squad demonstrations for the student body. Registration numbers for Friday's camp have already reached 300 and Saturday's camp may include over 1500 children.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 04:56 AM
May 18, 2004
Rio, at Last!
Following a long overnight flight from Houston to Sao Paulo with a short hop to Rio, the team arrived safely, although blurry eyed. Andrew Preston (at 6?10") tried sleeping in an airline seat with his chin resting on his knees...but managed to unfold his tall frame in order to make it through Brazilian Customs.
Sharon Fairchild, the IMB missionary in residence here in Rio, has been mentioned in several posts on The Rio Journal. Sharons smiling face was there to great the team...and we were all relieved to see her.
The bus trip to the hotel on Copacabana was a rapidfire view of the city with all of its contrasts. As you can see, the team is intact and is in great spirits, awaiting orientation tonight with the Fairchild?s.
P.S. You should see Internet Explorer in Portuguese...this IS going to be a challenge.
May 17, 2004
A Journey of Prayer...Remember the Brown's
Sitting next to Betty Wiseman on the flight from Nashville to Houston was a man from Paducah, Kentucky who explained that he and his wife are headed for the M.D. Anderson Center for treatment of lung cancer. Betty and Mr. Brown chatted for much of the flight and Betty asked if it would be OK if the Belmont group could gather for a few minutes of prayer once in Houston. Pictured to the left are the Brown?s, their two daughters and the members of the team. Circled closely around the Brown's, Betty lead the group in a quiet prayer for strength and healing for the journey that the Brown family faces.
Mission trips certainly involve a destination, but ministry is a continuous part of the journey. Please pray for the Brown?s.
2 Corinthians 9
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 05:44 PM
...And They're OFF!
After a mid-morning session of filling out luggage tags and signing last minute forms, the 2004 sports evangelism team worked its way through security and successfully navigated their way to the first leg of the trip. Back row (l-r): Nick Otis, Jese Snyder, Dan Oliver, Adam Mark, Andrew Preston, Brandon Owen. Front row: Debbie Chenoweth, Vann Patton, Destri Bockey, Jenny Conkle, Betty Wiseman, Hollie Davis, Angel Jones. Everyone is well and ready to get movin'!
May 08, 2004
I'm Going Back to Rio
My name is Brandon Owen, and I am excited to be participating in my fifth sports evangelism trip through the TBC. This will be the second time Rio has served as our mission field. This is very exciting because my first experience with the team of missionaries that serve in Rio did a wonderful job planning our trip in 2002. I know that Ray and Sharon Fairchild and all of those that serve with them are prayerfully preparing for our arrival in anticipation of God using our volunteer team in mighty ways. Praise God!
My first four trips were as a student, but this is my first trip in more of a leadership role. I have learned so much from my experiences overseas. I ask that you pray that God would use our team to show the love of Jesus Christ to whoever we encounter. Most of all, please pray that our efforts do nothing but build upon the efforts of Ray and Sharon and all of their team who have devoted their lives to reaching the people of Rio for Christ. I look forward to updating you with exciting news about what God is doing in Rio while we are there.
Posted by at 06:38 PM
May 04, 2004
Remember Sharon Fairchild?
Our first orientation meeting at the Tennessee Baptist Convention building seems like a lifetime ago...but, do you remember hearing Sharon Fairchild, our missionary host from Brazil, speak several times from the back of the room? The more I hear of her and her husband Ray, the more that I am impressed with the quality of people that we will be working with. The following article in the Baptist Standard is several years old, but you need to read of Sharon and Ray's involvement in Sammy Tippit's Rio Crusade that drew 50,000 people to a stadium in Rio. Read the full article, but pay particular attention to the mention of Sharon's training and recruitment efforts for translators in the last couple of paragraphs. Here's the story: Tippit, teams draws 50,000 to Rio crusade
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:54 PM
April 30, 2004
A Little History Lesson of Baptists in Brazil
Brazil is one of the oldest mission fields for Baptist missionaries. Southern Baptists abroad: sharing the faith in nineteenth-century Brazil provides several pages of historical overview of how things started. No quiz. No grade. Not required reading...but you might just find it interesting.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 09:05 PM