We arrived at our host’s apartment and we are treated like kings. I ate shark sufle. Delectable. Our hosts were Nedson & Andrea who have a house church. James visits here every two months to encourage and bless them as well as a number of other families in Rio. There was a meeting that night and people showed up to talk and receive an encounter from God. It was insane how intently they all listened to James. Andrea even took out her camera to record him speaking.
The next day Nedson took us to the beach. It was so clean and it smelled great. Everyone wears a speedo and it’s gross. We climbed a nearby mountain and could see the city, mountains, and the beach at once. It was beautiful.
One of the most important things I have learned here is how to be hospitable. Wherever James travels he has hosts and he takes visitors to the places that he knows they will be cared for. Oh and was I ever. Excellent meals were made and our hosts would not let us help or clean. They wanted us to feel at home, giving us access to their refrigerator and anything in their home. I need to learn to be a better host. If I have a guest with a dirty plate and they wonder where to put it, I show them to the dishwasher. All in all, I was treated like a king.
We left Nedson’s place on Sunday and thats when we knew things were going to get uncomfortable. James was asked to minister at a Baptist church whose pastor is names Edison. He had no idea what the church was like nor the people. He was also a little skeptical of their motivations for inviting him. Was it genuine or did they just want to use James’ status in the ARC to give them popularity. Churches in Rio have a tendency to be concerned with numbers. It seemed a little awkward at first(By the way the word “akward” doesn’t translate into Portuguese at all. It doesn’t exist. So it becomes awkward trying to express this sentiment) just because the ice was breaking, although it was apparent that their hearts were in the right place. Little did we know that God was planning something much greater for the next day. AfterI James conducted the service, we were given a meal and we slept at the pastor’s house and were again shown great generosity. I like traveling with James.
The pastor, Edison, has two kids, Didigo and Stephany. Both are the music leaders at the church and Godly kids. The former is 14 the latter is 18. Both play the keyboard. Didigo also plays drums, guitar, and a little violin. He is amazing at guitar. I was astounded by his skill and ease while playing. He played insane solos with finger-tapping and chords that spanned the entire neck of the guitar. He has been playing for two years.
The next day’s meeting at the church was amazing. It was here that I realized and experienced the presence of God. I always believed but never really felt it. This is precisely what James spoke about in Portuguese, and though I was not listening because I was playing drums for the church meeting (which was awesome). James told the people who believe but have not felt the love of God to come forward. Then he told those who told a stranger that Jesus loves them to run forward and prove it. Immediately people were hugging and praying over each other. Some were slain in the spirit for the entire service. Though I didn’t understand I felt an extreme sensation of love come over me sitting at the drum set. A feeling that validated my beliefs.
In the same way I realized the presence of God was through James and the pastors that he ministered to. The Holy Spirit seems to talk to James all the time, rather all of us all the time. Whatever congregation or group of christians he is asked to minister for, God puts something on his heart specific to that group. I stand in awe at how often God speaks. I’m with people who are listening all the time, but not only listening; obeying. And the results pour in. I can see physical changes being made as well as changes in the hearts of the people in Rio toward Christ. It’s amazing what simple obedience to the almighty God can do. I rarely see this in the United States; something specific that God lays on someone’s heart that makes itself known and changes people.
While I was in Rio, there were some things that I realized about my churches in Denver that I have come to appreciate. One, that both Scum and Celebration are open to new people coming in unlike other churches that are stagnant because the old pastors are afraid of change or a loss of power. They are unwilling to lay down all that they have achieved for God; they are unwilling to give up their earthly possessions. But not only new people, but the young and the entire body. My churches are not defined by an old guy preaching down to those from the pulpit. It is a community of believers that all bring something to the table. The pastors know that they are not the single most powerful one in the church, but rather the least. Pure humility.
Coming back to Nova Lima, we witnessed the most spectacular sunrise. I always like sunrises better than sunsets. It reminds me that we are on a planet constantly in motion. I can’t understand how some people can look at a sunrise like that and not believe that there is a higher power that gave us eyes to see the light frequencies to witness the spectacular dance of colors and a planet with an atmosphere to make it all possible. James described it as a marble-like sunrise. How the light played upon the beautiful green mountain ranges of Minas made my jaw hit the floor. But the thing I love about sunrises and sunsets is that the one we are witnessing at that moment is the best one we have ever seen, every time! Its glory is fleeting and can only be enjoyed for a minute before the entire sky canvass changes. A photo doesn’t even do justice to it because it is limited to a box of a photo. Our eyes can only fully appreciate it due to our periferal vision giving us the ability to see it all at once, engulfing us in its beauty. beleza.