testimony threads

18 May

Each morning before the Teaching time, we spend time in worship together, followed by sharing testimonies of what we’ve seen God do so far in this trip. The tricky thing is that it’s a little difficult to report those here, without running the risk of making anyone we’ve met feel like we’re just out to “conquer and convert.”

That’s one of many reasons I wish you could join us on this trip – and a reason you should consider going on a future Discovery Trip! Even if I could tell you all the details, there’s no way I could capture the amazing things God is doing this week.

But here are some snippets of what was shared this morning, and a little “commentary” to tie together what we’re seeing God do!

more on the Starbucks community

I reported last night on the exciting way God seemed to bless Monday night’s Starbucks gathering. Today, Chris Julian (our church planting host) reported that the crowd was the largest they’ve had – and that’s not counting the North Americans! I believe hat total was 31, plus a good dozen of us by the time all was said and done – yes, smooshed into the back area of a Starbucks. It was really exciting to learn that we got to be a part of bringing more local young adults to that event than had ever attended.

Chris also rejoiced that the Zoe church members had taken ownership; he certainly didn’t need to “run the show” last night, regardless of his status as Zoe’s lead pastor.

links in the chain

God has been so gracious to show us just how effectively He can use multiple individuals and multiple encounters to draw people into community with believers and into relationship with Him! It’s easy on a trip like this to discount the value of giving out a card with church info, or having a single conversation that doesn’t seem to “go anywhere substantial.”

But God has made it pretty hard to miss the value in all of this. We’ve been blessed to see people actually responding to multiple “links” – and all within our time here!

For instance, one individual visiting Brazil had the chance to connect with quite a few of us last night: First, he was hugged by someone from our team during a “Free Hugs” session, and indicated that it was just what he needed. As he continued down the street, he encountered several more of our people. So this guy decided to check out these crazy, community-loving people by coming to the Starbucks gathering. There, he ended up having at least two spiritual conversations (in 3 languages!) – which in turn led to an appointment to meet up later in the week.

How’s that for God’s rapid linking of a few faithful attempts to love somebody?

follow-up, follow-up, follow-up

In the same way, several of the testimonies this morning ended up in virtually the same way: without an ending!

  • “We were invited to rugby practice later this week.”
  • “I’m going to work out at the school gym with him tomorrow.”
  • “We thought we saw an icthus tattoo on his arm; we’re going to investigate today.”

This whole trip is built around… well, simply building. The little things we do are meant to be a part of a much larger effort within the Zoe community. And yet even in this week, we’re getting to see little pictures of God’s planting-watering-harvesting plan, as God links the chain and declares that, at least today, the part of His story that involves us-in-Brazil isn’t over!

help leads to conversation

Finally, one of the common themes of this trip has been that when all else fails, conversation often starts when Brazilian strangers have to come to our rescue! (And this fits perfectly with the Persons of Peace methodology we discussed at the outset of the week.)

For instance, Victor (our Canadian on the team!) reported that he and Gene “weren’t doing so well” at finding connections at Largo San Francisco, the Law College of the University of São Paulo. But they decided to ask someone where to eat – and ended up connecting with five guys over lunch! That conversation led to accompanying two of those guys to the Starbucks community last night.

Once there, they indicated a desire to come back. “This week I want to watch, but next week I want to participate,” one of the guys told Victor. And today, Victor hurried to make a noon appointment for lunch with the same guys!

(Similarly, when I made ridiculous attempts at ordering food today at Habib’s, an English-speaking, Japanese-Brazilian man came to my rescue. And you know what? Some of our team ended up talking with him for the next 2 hours!)

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