“Put on your backpack … throw out your road map … God will use anything … check it and see … He’s given us more than we ever could ask for … that’s the way we roll ’cause we’ve been set free.”
Following more than 25 years of ministry, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about hitting the streets of Guaruja, Brazil, with the International Commission (17 from the Kansas City area, a total of 40 from the United States) Oct. 15-26. It was my first opportunity to join God on the “ends of the earth” stage of the Great Commission.
Preconceived notions of what to expect next were often dismantled by God’s ‘sovereign’ hand. He had positioned for our team an interpreter who had just returned to Brazil after spending 12 years in England. The Brazilian Portuguese language barrier had sufficiently been torn down.
Our backpacks were loaded with Bibles, tracts and Good News bracelets. It was time to go where God was already at work which meant we had to remain totally flexible as clay in the Potter’s hand. Sometimes we ate dinner at midnight which I never do at home. Speaking of food, we were fed like kings and queens at the only table in the house as the home watched us feast. It was a humbling experience. On multiple occasions, we expressed our appreciation but we just couldn’t eat one more bite. We had been told that we would gain weight on this venture but when I arrived back in Missouri, I had lost five pounds. No, I did not get sick. (God works in mysterious ways.)
Home visits were canceled at the last minute but God sent four pizza delivery boys our way. We shared an eternal message (the Gospel) and three received Christ as their savior. Down the street, five men were enjoying an afternoon drink in front of a convenience store. We again shared our testimony of faith in Jesus and with the Spirit’s movement, all received by faith Jesus into their hearts and lives. A juvenile prison with 54 young boys was opened to us. With 10 missionaries (mostly Brazilian) on hand, God moved on the hearts of at least 20 to confess and believe Christ as Lord of their lives. Whatever barriers may exist for these young men on the outside, God will change from the inside.
With our team of three, John Still, a layman from Spring Valley Baptist Church, Raytown, myself and our interpreter, God allowed us the privilege of leading 62 souls to the Lord.
On a more personal note, our visits to the juvenile prison, a Catholic care home, multiple home visits and several worship services were just what my heart and life needed to experience. I had sung “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord” on many occasions here in the States, but there in Brazil God spoke. How striking the words of the Apostle Paul now rang, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” I am also reminded of the words of Jesus in John 8:36: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
I have never laughed or cried so much in my life. We were free to go about the Father’s business with His blessing and purpose. That is the way God intends His children to move – without hindrance – because we’ve been set free, free indeed. (Tim Redding is pastor of First Baptist Church of Peculiar.)