What a difference a year can make! The implementation of the vision for REVID, “Recovering Life for God,” by Pastor Fabio continues to grow and he is no less intense about seeing his dreams come true for rehabilitating guys in the name of Jesus. Pastor Francisco informed us that all the money our team saved and gave last year to the church went to this ministry of the church out in the jungle that restores lives broken by addictions. I can’t think of a better use in the church! Jesus, quoting Isaiah 61:1 to refer to His mission vision, said, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” We got to hear from their own lips how this is happening with startling success at REVID. Read the rest of this entry »
When the alliance of churches with whom we partnered found out that my daughter was joining our team and that she was fluent in Mandarin, their first question was, “Does she preach?” So I relayed the question to Mimi and she promptly replied, “No, I do not preach.” At first I was a bit surprised. God had already supplied our team tickets for a window of time that perfectly coincided with Mimi’s break between the end of her school year and the beginning of her summer internships. She had asked God, and her superiors, if she should go — they all agreed and made it clear that she should go.
So this warrior princess of mine who has excelled in military and linguistic training that few could endure, who has seen more of China than Marco Polo, who placed fifth in the nation in collegiate powerlifting, who rubs shoulders with generals & leaders from the US and China, etc., flat out turns down an invitation to preach in Mandarin. It just didn’t sound right coming out of her mouth, so after Mimi’s tickets were confirmed, I told the leader of our team to tell the church that she would be honored to preach. What else can one say to such an honorable invitation? (Don’t worry. God got even with me on this trip, but that is another story coming up soon.) Read the rest of this entry »
At each of the academies in Manaus we visited this year, I presented the leaders with a silver medal. Now you need to understand that Ricardo, Chico, Christiano, and Luis, are far more accustomed to receiving gold medals. Ricardo and Chico presented gold medals to Eric and I for Amazonas (largest state in Brazil) state championships they had recently won. Christiano was training his guys who had qualified for the World Cup, and Ricardo was also going to Rio de Janeiro for that competition. These guys are champions and my heroes — so why give them a silver medal? Read the rest of this entry »
I can’t begin to explain all the mighty things God did through us in Brazil, and in Mimi & I while there, and in Kathy, Andrew (just graduated from EOD school), John & Liz while here, but I wanted to let you know that I am back safe & strong. I actually feel better now than when we left for Brazil June 15th! However I was a bit tired, physically & emotionally, after the all night plane ride from Manaus to Atlanta. Monday morning God blessed us with a spectacular sunrise over the Atlantic at 37,000 feet, and an African American mission team in the customs line who were singing hymns with amazing harmonies — just a couple of nice homecoming gifts from our Father to refresh our spirits!
However, we had only about 16 more hours with Mimi (in Washington, DC, now on her next assignment) when we returned. Also, JB&Liz are moving to Chicago this week so Andrew, Kath, & I are helping them pack up. Andrew will be gone until Christmas too after he takes off this week. So you can see that Kath&I will be pretty focused on our cherubs this week. Realize that sharing the stories with them will give me practice for sharing them with you! You may want to go to Walmart and stock up on some Kleenex!
I am going to try something different for this trip to share how your prayers were answered. I found out that the guys from the academies in Manaus often come to this site to see the pictures, so I am going to try to add a new photo more often and post a story that goes with it. Besides, if I tried to write a full report of this trip it would take a month, and I don’t want to make them or you wait. For now, we are back home, and we are grateful for your prayers on our behalf!
In Jesus’ mighty grip, Mike
Dear Prayer Team,
Here is a prayer acrostic to help you and me remember to pray for this little SubMission wrestling trip up the Amazon! We will be in Manaus, Brazil, from June 15-23.
Thank you for your powerful prayers to our almighty God!
In Jesus’ interlocking grip, Mike
M Mighty Men & Mimi’s Mandarin — We desire that God would draw men hard into the Kingdom, grow them up, train them up as leaders in the Church, and that the Church would welcome them as men on a mission! Please pray also for my daughter Mimi who will be with me, and her yet unknown ministry in the Chinese church in Manaus — that God would give her just the right words to serve them.
A Academies – Luis, Chico, Ricardo, and REVID, the rehab camp in the jungle. That we discern how best to bless & affirm what they are doing in the lives of the young men they teach, to encourage them, & especially to learn from them.
N New Things – Flexibility, on the mat and in our hearts, ready for God to do new things, greater things than before
A Armor Up – Spiritual alertness, guarding our hearts, remember our training, ready for anything, fear only God so that we fear nothing else
U Unity – Everyone knows who we are and has heard about our arrival, and they will be watching closely to see if our actions match our words, to see if our lives match Jesus’ life, to see how we relate to one another, how we love one another and take care of one another
S Spiritual Power – That God would do only the things that He can do in us, through us, and around us, as we bring the Kingdom of God near to the kingdom of darkness.
B Broken Hearts – For hearts not numbed nor shocked, but open, transparent, vulnerable, willing to personally engage individuals seeking freedom from slavery to poverty, drug abuse, prostitution, gangs, etc, as God leads us.
R Relationships – For long term, mutually beneficial, working partnerships in the Kingdom between American & Brazilian followers of Jesus. For relationships that prove the unity in the Body of Christ across cultural and even generational lines.
A Able Bodies – For strength, endurance, recovery, healing, & to remember what we’ve learned this last year of Brazilian wrestling.
Z Zacheus – Like Zacheus (Lk 19:1-10), we are “small” but we want to see Jesus, no matter what, from wherever, however!
I Intensity – Our schedule is full of incredible opportunities to serve, each of which will be a stretch of our faith, and God sometimes surprises us with opportunities. that we didn’t schedule, but He did. Despite the intensity of ministry, may we remember Whom we serve, and that He will empower us to do what He desires us to do.
L Love – Most important, that we demonstrate our love for God and one another before the watching world there and here. That we would love selflessly and sacrificially from our hearts.
p>How do you build up your body?
Stretch to the point of pain, push to the point of failure, and practice to the point of reflex. Good general principles if you want to see improvement in fitness and skill. More specific training principles that help to avoid injury include: train hard but don’t overtrain; listen to your coach but also listen to your body; strengthen weaknesses and improve strengths; regular intervals with appropriate recovery times; individualize training but never do it alone; periodized training with seasons and variety; etc. All good principles for building up your body AND for building up the Body of Christ.
Follow this link to hear Kenyan pastor Oscar Muriu speak on Body building with a worldwide emphasis. In this half-hour talk you will hear balanced and practical wisdom for the mission of the global Church. Required listening particularly for the Church in the West, especially for the Church in North America, and specifically for any of my guys going to Brazil and their support teams.
We recently received some fascinating news from Ricardo regarding his growing academy in Manaus. Shortly after we left last July, his academy almost doubled to over 200 students, so mat space was getting crowded. Ricardo provides teaching and takes care of his students largely from his own means. He also receives gifts from others, but mats are very expensive there. So our Discipleship Jiu Jitsu (DJJ) groups in Platteville, Belmont, Genesseo, and Freeport had sent a gift of money down to help buy some more mats. Well, we sent the money, and a couple months later, we got a report back saying that he had tripled the amount we sent! What!? Read the rest of this entry »
23 Oct 2008 / Brazil
If your culture were being taken from you, what would you do? If drug lords, pimps, and gangs were stealing your culture, your honorable way of living, and replacing it with their destructive and dishonorable “life,” what would you do? If your children were being taken from the streets of your own barrio, and enslaved by the very forces of evil, what could you do?
Luis Neto grew up in such a barrio in Manaus, and has been wrestling from a young age. He has seen the corruption of the jiu jitsu culture, and felt the oppression of its corruptors. A few years ago after Luis completed the requirements for his black belt, his instructor said he was ready to be promoted–at a graduation to be held at a brothel, where he would “prove his manhood” by taking drugs, alcohol, and women. Luis refused, saying that he would not do anything he would be ashamed to tell his church. As a result, his instructor did not promote him, and the other students scorned and ridiculed him. Read the rest of this entry »
09 Oct 2008 / Brazil
I call Ricardo the George Mueller of Manaus. His wrestling academy is more an orphanage than a gym, and it’s located squarely in the mouth of the dragon–the barrio that is most known for drugs, gangs, and prostitution. Ricardo was deep into all these things when he received a vision from the Lord: Read the rest of this entry »
26 Sep 2008 / Brazil
p>The next Mighty Man of Manaus is Chico, who leads a wrestling academy out of his home. His school is actually a ministry to street kids out of a cell church that spun off from Allianca. It took us a half hour to drive across Manaus to his barrio, and at that time of night it looked like the wild west. We pulled up to a garage door opening in a wall and that is where the 20′ X 30′ mat of Kadosh Academy begins. On one side of the mat is traffic which looks to me like one continuous game of chicken! There are prostitutes and drug dealers doing their thing, but one step across the threshold is a holy mat where wrestling students open their class in prayer and close with a Bible study. The word kadosh is Hebrew for “holy” – the mat is holy ground and these guys are learning to set their lives apart for God’s use, rather than drug use. On the other side of the mat is Chico’s peaceful living room. Surreal! Read the rest of this entry »