Sunday, October 12, 2008

Boi Selado, Currais Novos, and Negros do Riacho Part 1

Where do I begin? Boisolado... it's an oppressed and dead place- with one light. We arrived here this morning, just in time for breakfast- but headed straight to the school. Marconi has this awesome method of ministry where he is extremely good at facilitating a way for the gospel to be shared and utilizes who ever is with him. Marconi is awesome at utilizing Christian and Andrews music talents. We have got to experience this time and time again, by going to places all around (schools in particular) and inviting them to another place later on outside to really share. We play some songs, and share with them a bit of what we're doing- but its just a sneak peak of whatever God wants to say later on in the night. So- here we are in the metropolis Boisolado of 700 people or so; and go to the school. We share with the older and younger kids about our trip story and our hearts for this time in Brazil- pass out Gospel tracks, play some ball, sing, pray, take pictures- you know the drill. Marconi tells us of the one man in this entire place who had put his faith in Jesus Christ alone, and worshiped Him as the God of his life. There was one man who was living out Jesus' instructions and walking side by side with him, in a personal relationship. We left to go meet Carinha, or little goat, in Portuguese. As we drove over there, I started thinking while looking over a sunset. "How in the world would he not conform? How could there be a love so good that he would live alone in a dark place and fight by himself...?" We were pleased to see all the parts in the bible that he liked painted on his house and rocks nearby. Marconi, Andrew, Christian, Carinha and myself gathered close outside his house to pray. After praying- I had the opportunity to encourage Carinha. It was the most amazing thing to sit with my brother across the world- having NOTHING in common except for our love for Christ.

To sit there, pray and watch God empower him. Before leaving, Marconi told us that he would be meeting up with us later on that night to play guitar with us- but we had no idea what was about to come. At the school earlier, Marconi got the unheard-of invite to talk and sing at the Catholic Church. This was huge! So, because of this amazing but odd offer, Marconi took it and investigated it when we returned back into town. As Andrew, Christian and myself entertained 40+ people with our broken Portuguese, Marconi found out that not only was he invited, but we could wear shorts! We exhausted every subject we could talk about- soccer, music, the Samba (dance), and... soccer. Before we knew it, as we sat in the town square, families were surrounding us and laughing at our poor performance but hard effort of Portuguese. I have found out something about God. He has a sense of humor. Time and time again, I find that He urges me to sometimes look like a fool or do something I am uncomfortable with to bring Him glory. More about that later. So, we walked over to the Catholic Church. This was all new to us- all of us. For some reason, we believed that God wanted us there. Marconi got to sing the Lord's prayer and go through it- like a lesson. As the service went on, I couldn't help but sing "Amazing Grace." For some reason it came to my mind over and over again and I couldn't keep the concept of grace quiet. I mean, who could? That we don't have to earn Gods love or the life he has for us. As it was over, we walked about 15 feet to the town square again, set up our stuff and played. God had divinely rounded up about 200 people in this little area to come listen. LIFE. We stepped out into life. We began to play and God met us here. Carinha was letting go and playing his instrument. I was acting like I could play the drum- but I had a blast. Its funny because even though not all these people had anything to be joyous about, but we were all able to laugh out there. We were free from criticizing tradition. We had the opportunity to share the Awesome News about Jesus being the way to heaven. His sacrifice was total and complete. He is SITTING at Gods right hand. We have to accept His gift, and it is life changing. God wants us, and there is a love that is more complete and full than we could imagine- its grace. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. Its Jesus. We finished up and engaged with the locals. So I walk up to a group of guys- and begin the soccer conversation. Somehow I ended up having to do my impression of the Samba dance- which mind you I cannot do. So this is not just a group of little kids giggling, it is that along with guys my own age and older. Thank you God. This has happened more than once. After things died down- we said goodbye to Cabrinha. With tears in his eyes, he left at once. Later we were informed by another man who came with us that the last time he saw Cabrhina playing guitar in that town square was when he had a beard down to his chest and he was completely wasted. He was up drinking and playing until 5 a.m. Now, years and years later, this new man sits in the same flesh playing songs as thanksgiving for his redemption. He was using his instrument for a totally different purpose, and that spoke louder than anything else tonight. People remembered him as that, and now he is this. Redemption. Grace. That he was blind, but now he sees. Cabrhina was a professional guitar player- but quit his band after coming to Christ because of the pressures of being in a band here in Brasil. He has not had a job since, and is waiting- just pursuing Boisolado, because he loves these people as God does.

But okay, besides the update of the day, let's focus here on what God is doing in Boisolado. When we see this story of Little Goat, I cannot help but think of Paul.

"even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me... Jesus came into the world to save sinners- and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on my so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience..." 1 Timothy 1:13, 15,16

All they knew was that people were saying, "The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!" And they praised God because of me. Galatians 1:23,24

Both of these are from Paul. He was known for trying to actually destroy Gods church. But God knew before time that He would redeem Paul so God would get glory for the amazing grace he had. Imagine what people think about Cabrhina's God. What happened to him? He was known for this, and out of no where- He is pulled out of that, and wants to share with those same people of the crazy love that has the power to do so. What in the world would motivate him to turn around so much that he would not budge or conform when he is the only one like him. That there is a love, a grace so good and complete, final and perfect- that has taken his life. It's so sweet. What kind of love would redeem Paul. What kind of grace would pull them in, and transform them? It is weird how we constantly feel that there is no such thing. There couldn't be a love great enough. We HAVE to do SOMETHING. We need to make sacrifices... travel hours to Carnaubas and walk up a brick-paved mountain on our knees, burn candles and endure the hot wax, make the unnecessary promises to saints, whatever. But there is a love, a grace that could accept us how we are. That kind of love makes me want to stand strong in a dark place- even if it's by myself.

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