It’s already been one week since I arrived in Fortaleza and it has been an eventful week. On the way to Fortaleza, I missed my flight from Rio de Janeiro to Fortaleza, but I did eventually make. Needless to say, I arrived tired and ready for bed. I came on a Thursday evening and the team was ministering in the community (favela or slum). Andrew (a co-leader from England) picked me up from the airport and we went straight to the community; so I jumped right in! I had a good time conversing with people and praying for them.
A portion of the team left the next day for a trip to the interior. The purpose of the trip was scouting for future church planting, and to encourage the believers who were there/ minister together with them. The trip lasted a few days and while the group was gone, I had the opportunity to connect with Herb and Lorelie. Herb was able to sit down with me and get me up to speed about what is going on in Fortaleza as well as find out what my goals/hopes are for this season in Fortaleza. I believe that this time in Fortaleza is a springboard for me as far as missions is concerned. I have had a growing desire and urgency to take the Gospel to the unreached places of the earth.
Since I arrived, I’ve had had the opportunity to help out with some practical things around the house such as installing shelving, curtains as well as helping a missionary couple move into a new apartment. I was encouraged by Alex (the missionary whom we were helping out). He also works in a favela here in Fortaleza and he has a heart for the lost and to preach the gospel. He is a former gang member and God has set him free from many things and is now using him to bring the light of the gospel into a very dark place.
A few days ago a short-term missions team called Convergence from Texas arrived here and are ministering in Otao Preto (the favela or community we are working in) with us. I have been very encouraged by this team so far, by their love for Jesus and willingness to serve. A few days ago we had a full day of ministry in Otao Preto together with the Convergence team as well as a local church from Fortaleza. Some of us spent the afternoon doing house visits in the favela, praying for people and sharing Jesus with them. We prayed for an older lady who had pain and fatigue in her legs. She stood up after we prayed for her and said that she no longer had pain or fatigue in her legs! Later on in the evening a few members of the Convergence team shared their testimonies and the Gospel was presented at the end. An invitation was given and one man gave his life to the Lord. There were others who were touched by God’s Spirit; very encouraging.
Yesterday we also spent time working in the community and it was encouraging for me. I spoke with a young man from the community who has been a Christian for three years. He shared his testimony with me and about how God has transformed his life. He used to be a leader in one of the gangs in the favela, involved in trafficking drugs and a perpetrator of much violence in the community. He shared with me how he had no desire to read the word of God but how God started to give him the desire to read it and he started hungering more and more for God’s word. He was also taken up to heaven in a dream where he saw some pretty amazing things. His life speaks for itself. In the midst of opposition, he has been a faithful witness for the Lord and though his life has often been in danger, he continues to follow Jesus. He is currently in a lot of danger and will probably be coming to our house to stay for a while. If you think of it, please pray for him as his life is in real danger right now. Later on in the afternoon, a few girls from the Convergence team shared their testimonies about how God had saved them and set them free from drug addiction. There were some from the community who were very clearly impacted by these testimonies. One old lady was particularly impacted by the testimonies as she was currently struggling with drug addiction herself. I believe that the Lord touched her and set her free.
I’ve also been having fun while I’ve been here in Fortaleza and believe it or not, we (the guys) have had a fun time killing rats in our kitchen. I’ve only been here for one rat slaying, but there was much excitement and testosterone flowing through the kitchen; there is now one less rat in our house.
I have also been able to practice Portuguese and have been very stretched. Talking with Brazilians who cannot speak English is difficult but very beneficial to the process of learning the language. I am still by no means fluent (and really no all that conversational yet) but I’m getting there and I’m enjoying the challenge of learning. The other day I talked to a few young men in the community and read Romans 3:23ff to them (I’m able to read more fluently than speak). They said that they understood it and so I’m trusting that it will bear fruit in their lives!
Well, that’s all for now. Tonight we have a service at our house and have been inviting people from the surrounding area to come. I am praying that people will be touched tonight by God and for those who do not yet know Him, to come to a saving faith in Him. Thanks for all your prayers!
P.S. I’ll soon be including some photos for you all to see.