December 29, 2001

I did not get a letter sent out yesterday, so here is today's.

We went to Ceres yesterday. That is where Bettie lived until she went to the States to King College. It obviously has grown up a lot in the past 40 years. Her dad was a "pioneering" missionary. He would start and organize a church and stay with it until it was strong enough to support itself. I have attached a picture of the church he "built", with the house they lived in next door.

When they went to that town, Brasil had a "homestead" act, where the government gave land tp anyone who was willing to build on the land. They homesteaded several tracts of land for the church building, a school and a few houses.

We went North from Anapolis to Ceres. Evidently, Anapolis is on the very edge of the high plateau, because when we went North (toward hot weather; that is, toward the equator), the mountains were high peaked as they are in VA. I attached a picture. We also went through banana and pineapple country. I have one picture of a pineapple field. There are small stands selling fresh pineapple along the road. When Bettie lived in Ceres, the road to Anapolis was mud, but it is paved now. It seems the first half of the road is being allowed to return to mud. It was a rough two hour trip.

On our way back, Becky took us by a Catholic monastery. (A couple pictures attached.) The surrounding fence has statues of angels everywhere. There are statues of "Christ" that look as real as anything can. They had a "chapel" surrounded by water with a statue of "Christ" sitting on a throne. You can't see the image well, but it is there. Another small chapel on a raised place had a statue of "Mary" standing.

It is sad: This country has pictures and statues of a man they call "Jesus" everywhere; the name "Jesus" is on even the rear end of trucks and on mud flaps (we followed one for many miles yesterday; it even had a crown of thorns over the middle "s"). Scripture verses are common on the walls of even "public" buildings, yet the country is overrun with poverty, witchcraft, prostitution, drunkenness, corruption, violence and theft (we passed through a town yesterday that is known for making copies of "designer" clothes. The owners of the designer names complain, but as long as the state gets the tax money, it could care less about the theft of the designer names).

There is a house of prostitution almost across the street from Fay's. There was a fight one night, and a man shot another. The bullet struck Fay's wall. The neighbors got together, and Fay's dad filed suit about the danger of the place there in a residential area, particularly with the bullets flying. The police fined the house a few kilos of coffee for a couple of months, and that is all that was done. The "fine" was paid to the police.

The Church of Rome has worked hard to keep the people in ignorance, forbidding any copies of the Word of God in the hands of the people. However, it sees that they all have a copy of the catechism. Mention anything from Scripture to the average Catholic, and they are amazed at the "goodness" of the quote.

Rome keeps the people in superstition in order to keep them in their clutches, and the superstition weaves in very well with the black and white magic of witchcraft. Roman Churches in areas where people are well-educated (including the US), allow more freedom; the wedding the girls went to last Saturday had a good gospel message. If they do not allow the freedom, they will lose their people. (Sounds like Protestant churches. They give the people what they want in order to keep them. A local Presbyterian church had a Christmas program with Christ on a skateboard with body piercing all over him.)

So both the state and the Roman church has a reason to keep the people here in ignorance: it provides a cheap labor source for the state and it provides great power and income for Rome.

Our people do not realize the blessing of God to have the Bible in their hands. They should have an unquenchable hunger to know and understand it. We take the Scripture for granted, to our shame. We should be ashamed of ourselves for not desiring the meat of God's word.

(I cannot count the number of beer trucks we saw just yesterday. "Skol" beer. Making and transporting that beer seems to be a major industry here.)

Probably the most distressing thing to me here is the use of "Jesus" and Scripture as no more than a talisman. Christ and the Word of God seem to be simply on a higher level than the magic charms used in witchcraft. The people seem to use the name Jesus and the symbols of Christianity as not much more than a stronger magic to protect themselves from the black magic.

It is probably not much difference than the States; we want just enough of "Jesus" and the Word of God to protect us from the destruction of the world, but we resist any more than that.

In my opinion, down here, "Christianity" is protection from witchcraft. In the States, "Christianity" is protection from the bad things that might come our way. In neither case is Christianity something to pursue with one's whole heart, soul, mind and might.

Enough of a sermon for now. There will be plenty of time to preach when we get back.

If it were not for Richard coming down, Bettie and I would be ready to come back to the reality of life. We miss you all.

Please share this with the people Sunday.

Love you all,

Bro Need, Bettie and Christina. Note the size of the mango