Many times on mission trips you are seeing life through a keyhole. What your eyes tell you are only a portion of the entire picture. As we began our journey in Brazil Sunday, we made the attempts to get to know the people here and listen to their stories. We sought to understand how God had brought them to church today, just as God brings so many to church back home in the United States. We were just thankful that we could now be a part of their lives, and we can only pray that something we said will forever remain with them. At the end of the day we know that we are serving the same God, we sing (although in different languages) about the same God, and we pray to the same God. One cannot help but learn from how other cultures view God. It makes you wonder. Despite the prominent oppression of a nation, are they more joyful to live a faithful life in Christ than a nation that has been declared “blessed”? In the United States we remain in a constant state of division and diversion, always looking to progress for the sake staying ahead of everyone else. I have felt God’s presence more in the places of oppression and brokenness than I have in the places that are "free."
On Sunday morning we watched as several busloads of adults, teenagers, and children were brought in to go to church. They have all come from different backgrounds and they all have a different story. Our team split up into different groups and used our strengths to minister. I was blessed with the opportunity to share my testimony with a group of non-believers and I can only hope that seeds were planted. For me it has always been powerful to let others know that they are not alone in their suffering. That although we don’t come from the same situations, we have the ability to speak life into even those that we don’t know.
Later that night we went another location in the state of São Paulo and had church again. There have been several times in my life that I have found myself where the boundary of heaven and earth is especially thin-these have been called “thin places”. Some may believe that God does not communicate with humans anymore-I have to disagree. As I hummed along to the worship music that was sung in Portuguese, looking over the backdrop of the city of Campinas I was in that “thin place”. I could almost hear God’s whisper, “take off you sandals, for you are standing on holy ground”. God works in mysterious ways and can often be found in the cities that you would never see on screen. If one wants to know what true discipleship looks like, they need look no further.
In the few days that we have been on the ground here we have ministered to babies only twenty-two days old and elderly men and women. I have seen more joy over less than most will have in a lifetime. The joy is found in those moments that others, who felt their lives had no value, find their worth because someone came four thousand miles to say-God loves you. It may seem trivial, but it starts with planting smalls words of encouragement in the minds of the discouraged.