Brazil - Fall - 2014
One of the biggest highlights of this trip took place in the City of God, which is a very rough favela (slum) in São Paulo, Brazil where many women are left alone with their children and don't know what to do with themselves. Joshua Prior, a fellow minister in my church, along with myself spoke three times in a soup kitchen in the middle of this favela in which about 20 or 30 women showed up with their little children. Men rarely show up to this soup kitchen service.
As we preached, the love of God moved on us heavy for these women. I gave part of my testimony in Portuguese, without Joshua knowing what I was going to say. Joshua ended up preaching on the same subject of which I was giving my testimony. The subject was how that God loves us no matter what we may do, and no one can take this love away from us if we can only receive it. These women were so touched that they were crying and asking us to pray for them and their children. Several of them committed to meeting with each other every week to pray for and help the community which is in miserable condition.
God gave us a very clear message for everywhere we preached. We preached from the book of Romans chapter 7 and 8 which speaks of the The Law of the Spirit of Life being greater than the Law of Sin and of Death. What we spoke to most everyone we met was this message, that God loves them and does not judge them according to a harsh law. He loves them right where they are at, and all they need to do is receive it and He will change their lives and heal their hearts. We told them that only His Spirit and His grace could heal their lives and help them to be better people, not their own willpower.
Joshua and I spent a good deal of time walking around the community, praying for people, and inviting people to church. During the services in the favelas, we lead one boy to receive the Lord, and spent time ministering to children, teenagers, and older women who poured out their life problems for us. One woman had pain in her foot and it was hurting her when she walked. After we prayed for her the pain left and she began stomping her foot.
We also preached at a youth service at a church led by Pastor Vanderlei, who has become a good friend of mine. I have been preaching to the same youth in that church for about 5 years now. It is been very encouraging to see the same young people committed to each other’s growth in Christ. Toward the end of the trip, we preached at a church called, “In the Name of Jesus,” led by Pastor Jose Carlos, and a church called “Redimidos Apostolicos” under Pastor Wladimir.
Along with this, we spent the majority of our time with Pastor Dirceu and the members from his church, “Casa de Jesus”, which is our sister church. Pastor Dirceu has moved to the entire church from the suburbs into the favelas. I was so happy when one Sunday morning about 60 women showed up from the favela to watch a play that we did and hear a message Pastor Dirceu spoke about loving your family.
I used to be scared to spend time in the favela, especially after receiving a death threat. However, I've been going on there for 5 years now and made many friends and have learned to speak the language. It's amazing the see the respect that even the drug traffickers will show to Pastor Dirceu, myself, and those with us who are working in this community. It's really a blessing to see God at work in a place like this. I think it is easier to see God working in a place of poverty and darkness because as Paul says, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Rom. 5:20).
One of the biggest lessons I learned on this trip is that we are called to let His light shine in any situation and circumstance we are in, because Christ is in us and is greater than anything else in the world. We are called to reign in life as kings and priests and make a difference in whatever place we are in, if only by our good demeanor. We were in some very dark places, but we were always aware of Christ with us and always had peace.
Thank you all again for your support and prayers for another powerful time in Brazil.