Living Bread Ministries Showcased in Lynchburg Business Magazine

Yes! I am alive and I know it seems like forever since the last time I posted. I never claimed to be good at this and my life is simply too hectic to keep up with a blogging “schedule.” This post is brief, it’s more of a link per se as Pat and I were recently interviewed by a local business magazine about Living Bread Ministries , how we got started and what it stands for. Please take a minute or two to read it: Living Bread Ministries: A Local Couple Plants Churches Among the Global Poor.

 

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Missionary Support

Below is a post taken from the Living Bread blog.  It has to do with my family’s support needs so I thought I would share it.  Please pray that the Lord provides and consider sharing this post with anyone you think might like to invest in our work.  Will you also consider sharing this need with your facebook friends and Twitter followers?

Help Support Our Founders

In 2004, the Hubbard’s stepped out in faith to begin a ministry focused on planting missional churches among the global poor.  Their vision has evolved into Living Bread Ministries.  The ministry has grown over the past eight years with eight missional churches planted in urban slums in southern Brazil.

 

Even more exciting than the eight churches planted, is the Brazilian led church planting ministry the Hubbard’s helped to establish. Ministério Pão Vivo shares our vision for missional church planting among the global poor and is overseeing the work in Brazil.  MPV is receiving an increasing amount of it’s support from Brazilian churches and individuals.  As both LBM and MPV continue to grow, we are working as true partners to plant churches among the urban poor in Brazil and beyond.

Due to their drive to see churches planted among the poor, the Hubbard’s refused to raise personal support in the early years.  Rather, they put everything into getting churches started in Brazil.  As a result they have had to balance the need for family support with the need for funding an ever growing ministry which now has a staff of five church planters in Brazil and an Administrator stateside.  This has meant that they have not been able to achieve the support levels they need for their family.

They currently lack $600 a month in support.  These funds include $300 for income and $300 for insurance.  Will you partner with the Hubbard’s as they continue to follow the Lord in building LBM into a global ministry planting missional churches among the global poor?

To make a special gift online, please click the link below.  If you would like to partner monthly please contact us to make arrangements.  We thank you in advance for your prayers and investments in the Hubbard family and the future of LBM.

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Church Planting Strategy

In order for new believers to be discipled and grow in their faith, it is necessary that someone invests in these new converts lives and directs them to a solid Bible believing, Bible preaching congregation where they can be taught, encouraged and held accountable.  It is with this thought in mind that our strategy for church planting among the desperately poor is formed.  Living Bread Ministries strives to plant churches in needy communities, meeting the needs of the residents both spiritually and physically, ministering to them as Jesus did.

Church Planting Strategy


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Spiritism in Brazil – Part Five

Although these posts are not all inclusive of the different facets of animism, and only a surface scratch has been made to seek to understand Spiritism in Brazil, many issues have been raised that need to be taken in full account for those going to minister among animists. Whether we are one half of the way around the world, or right in our own neighborhood, chances are we will come in contact with someone who has or had dealings with animism of some type.  It is important that we live intentionally looking for opportunities to share the Salvation Jesus Christ offers.

When the Gospel is not well contextualized, syncretism will occur.  Once that happens it makes it that much harder for the individual to come to an understanding of Scripture.  Having said that we must not forget who sits on the throne and works through the Holy Spirit to convict and draw people to Himself.  When going to the mission field, foreign or domestic, we must make sure that we have prepared ourselves spiritually through prayer and ask God to open our hearts and our minds to understand their worldview and that He will communicate His message through us.  He equips those whom He calls.

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Spiritism in Brazil – Part Four

Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are considered major religions of the world, and are classified as high religions because they ask the cosmic questions of life, have written texts (Bible, Qur’an, Rig Veda), have defined leadership roles, and they provide a set of directions to live by.  In contrast, low religions (i.e. animism) are concerned with the immediate issues of daily life (crises, disease), they have few or no trustworthy texts, and they are informally organized and provide no set of rules, or model to live by.[1]

As previously mentioned, it is crucial that the missionary/Christian worker come to understand the animist’s worldview and what he concerns himself with in order to show them that the message of the Gospel is the only one that can truly, and fully, meet all of their needs; that the true and almighty God is the one who possesses all the power and deserves all the glory.  It is unfortunate that missionaries are so ill equipped to minister and reach those of animistic practices for Christ.  Often missionaries spend years preparing themselves through the study of theology, hermeneutics, homiletics and the like, but fail to also study the people.  They must learn to not only exegete a scriptural text, but they must learn to exegete the host culture.  “The effective communication of the gospel cannot take place, however, without a deep understanding of the language and culture of a people.”[2]

Here, a holistic church model is essential as new believers can experience first hand how God provides for their every need, according to His good and perfect will.  A holistic approach “begins with a theology of cosmic history: of God, the heavens, and eternity,”[3] answering the questions of ultimate origin, purpose, destiny of universe, societies, and individuals.  It also addresses the meaning of life.  Next this approach must also answer the questions of well-being, suffering (sickness, disasters), and provide guidance in times of trouble and injustice.  Finally it needs to address the natural order and its service to humans, the sociocultural orders and their relationships to the natural order.

Although we need to minister to the whole person we cannot leave behind the issues that deal with the world of the invisible, or the “excluded middle,” and we must work hard to seek to understand and accept that it is real.  Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that the powers of evil referred to in Ephesians 6:12, have ceased to exist.  We must also teach that God is the center of everything, that all power belongs to him and not us; we must teach submission, obedience, and worship to the only living God.

Hiebert, Shaw, and Tiénou, also mention the importance of teaching them a theology of the Kingdom of God, a theology of power and the cross, a theology of discernment, a theology of suffering and death, and a theology of the church as a caring community.[4]  A theology of the Kingdom consists of Christ coming to redeem His people and how they too can be a part of those who will be reconciled to God.  The power and the cross will resonate with animists as animism revolves around power.  “God’s use of power is demonstrated supremely on the cross.  There Satan used his full might to destroy Christ, or to provoke him to use his divinity wrongly.”[5]  Had Christ not been able to resist Satan, God’s plan of redemption would not take place and Satan would have overcome him.

A theology of discernment teaches how to distinguish a work as being of God’s or Satan’s: 1. Does it give glory to God? 2. Does it recognize the lordship of Christ? 3. Is it power of the Holy Spirit or an expression of the flesh? 4. Does it conform to scriptural teachings? 5. Are people and leaders accountable to someone? 6. Do those involved manifest the fruits of the spirit? 7. Do the teachings lead towards growth and maturity?  8. Does it lead to unity or division of the body?

Teaching people to deal with the realities of suffering and death in this world is paramount.  There are times when God does choose to heal, others he does not.  It is crucial to teach and explain that by becoming a Christian we are not exempt from suffering, we must understand that the promise of full deliverance is after death.  Finally it is necessary to teach them that the Church is to be a caring community, coming together to learn and grow and sharing each other’s burdens, praying for one another in time of need.

It is important to remember that animists are highly syncretistic people.  It is vital that the missionary/Christian worker work hard to contextualize the message in such a way that it is clear and does not point to self and that the concepts of sin and salvation are understood.  Sin and salvation may be mistakenly understood as simply social acceptance, whereas sin can be seen as a separator form the social community.

As in our own context, we must always point non-believers to the cross.  Van Rheenen states that “the greatest message to the animist is that God has mightily broken into human history in the ministry and death of Christ to break the chains of Satan.”[6]  We must preach the cross and God’s sovereignty and complete surrender to Him.


                [1] Van Rheenen, Communicating Christ. 57-58.

                [2] Paul G. Hiebert, R. Daniel Shaw, and Tite Tiénou, Understanding Folk Religion: A Christian Response to Popular Beliefs and Practices (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 369.

                [3] Ibid, 372.

                [4] Ibid, 373-378.

                [5] Ibid, 374.

                [6] Van Rheenen, Communicating Christ, 303.

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Spiritism in Brazil – Part Three

Brazilian spiritism, as it is found today, is divided into two types: “the popular or low spiritism and Kardecism, or high spiritism.” [1] Kardecism originated in France in the 19th century after the publication of Allan Kardec’s book The Spirits Book.  The book is said to be a collection of answers from spirit beings based on Kardec’s medium contact with such spirits.[2]  Spiritism teaches the immortality of the soul and communication with the dead.  Brazil has the largest and most influential spiritist movement in the world[3], and is the host of the International Spiritist Council.  This high spiritist belief system, has many of the same characteristics of major world religions, such as organized institutions, books and other written material, and specialized training.  A visit to the Federação Espírita Brasileira (FEB) website will give you a substantial amounts of information from history, to revival movements and online curriculum.[4]  High spiritism is not only animistic, it combines Christian doctrine and uses the name of Christ to unify the animistic practice of mediums and divination into what they call the “spiritist-christian” (espírita-cristão).[5]

Low spiritism however, is the spiritist practice of the lower classes and most popular among the masses.  Many are heavily based on the Afro-Brazilian religions, and today they can take on many different names, depending on which spirits are being invoked.  Macumba, Umbanda, and Candomblé are among the most popular ones.  Macumba is defined as an “Afro-Brazilian syncretistic religion, derived from Candomblé, having African elements and Christian influence.”[6]  Macumba is most popular in the Southern part of Brazil whereas Candomblé and Umbanda are more popular in the Northern and Central parts of the country.

Amimist live in fear of the spiritual powers, therefore they work hard to appease them.  Spiritists believe “that human beings can contact spirits and influence them to act on their behalf. Hundreds of believers come to spiritist centers to seek guidance from spirit gods.”[7]

Spiritism is practiced in groups and many festivals are involved to honor and worship the spirits.  The festivals are public gatherings and the spiritists are often joined by Catholics and other religions, including Evangelicals.  This is especially true during the new years’ celebration of Festa de Iemanjá (utilizing the image of the Virgin Mary.  Iemanjá is the goddess of the sea).  People dress in white and in a procession carry small boats filled with offerings (usually flowers and candles) to be placed in the water for her.

The private gatherings however, are made up of members and guests only.  These gatherings are held in a terreiro.  A terreiro could be someone’s home or the spiritist center.   Many rituals include blood sacrifices and dissecting of animals, while others use organic offerings, black (spells meant for harm) and white (spells meant for good) magic or a combination of many different rituals.  The sacrifices and offerings are done after the spirit gods come down and possess the medium(s) that are called the cavalos (horses) of the spirit gods,[8] then these offerings are taken to the streets of the city.

David Burnett in his book World of the Spirits presents a detailed description of an Umbanda ceremony:

The initiates enter carrying smoking incense burners and begin to sing.  The tempo of the meeting increases and members of the congregation begin to sing songs inviting the spirits to come down and work through the initiates.  As the mediums dance, the spirits begin to appear, each spirit possessing the particular medium who is accustomed to receive him.  Mediums, as they become possessed, stop dancing, begin to perspire and often look slightly ill, sway, and then, bending over and giving a series of rapid jerks, receive their spirits.  Upon straightening up, they have taken on the facial expressions, demeanor, and bodily motions characteristic of the particular spirit they received…they wear stern, even fierce expressions and utter loud, piercing cries.  They move vigorously around the dance floor in a kind of two-step, often dropping to one knee to draw an imaginary bow, and they smoke large cigars, whose smoke will be blown over their clients as a form of ritual cleansing and curing.[9]

 

Other characteristics of these rituals are: beating of drums at dusk announcing the beginning of meetings and prior to sacrifices, tarot and shell readings, casting of spells, and voodoo dolls among many others.  The purpose of these ceremonies may vary; it could be to appease and worship the spirits, as well as seeking guidance or healing.  When driving/walking in Brazil one can easily spot the altars kept outside of the homes where offerings are placed regularly.  These are usually small structures resembling houses which can be easily mistaken as a dog house or a child’s play house.


                [1] James Peter Wiebe, “Persistence of Spiritism in Brazil” (DMiss diss., School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1979), 5.

                [2] Centers for Appologetics Research. 2010, http://www.thecenters.org/searchgroup.aspx?groupid=103  (accessed 19 May 2010).

                [3] Neuza Itioka, A Brazilian Perspective: Case Studies From Brazil, (The Lausanne Movement), http://www.lausanne.org/all-documents/brazilian-case-study.html (accessed 19 May 2010).

                [4] The “Brazilian Espiritist Federation” website is www.febnet.org.br (accessed May 8, 2011).

                [5] Federação Espírita Brasileira, “Mensagen de Unificação” – “Message of Unification” http://www.febnet.org.br/site/movimento_brasil.php?SecPad=24&Sec=277 (accessed May 9, 2011).

                [6] “Macumba, s.f. Sincretismo religioso afro-brasileiro, derivado do candomblé, com elementos africanos e influência cristã.” Dicionário Melhoramentos da Língua Portuguesa, edição especial para Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil – Melhoramentos Dictionary of the Portuguese Language, especial edition for the British Encyclopedia of Brazil (São Paulo: Melhoramentos, 1988), 638.

                [7] Van Rheenen, Communicating Christ, 257.

                [8] Ibid.

                [9] Burnett, World, 246-47.

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