What a special group of people. Often I make a comment such as this as a team from N. America leaves and returns home. The beauty of the broken vessels that our Father brings through our lives here is remarkable. We delivered water filters, food, and the good news of Jesus’ love this week with a group of eight people from a Lutheran Church in Calgary, Alberta. They were a wonderful group of people who came to this poor region of the world to be a blessing and they blessed each and every person that they touched.
The dry season is upon us, by the way, as I am writing this at 5:00a and sweating. It is hot and sticky and still. The flood waters are receding and have dropped more than a meter in two weeks.
We traveled to the Gurupa region, to a small river (the Arinua) that feeds into the Amazon, about six hours from Porto de Moz. Our Vineyard pastor in Gurupa, Antonio, had remarked to me a couple of months ago that the people of this river were especially poor and that he would begin to visit them to share the good news of Jesus’ love with them. It sounded like an ideal location to deliver filters with this team.
We delivered about half of our filters and food baskets to a small village on the Amazon, called Flexinha ("Little Arrow") prior to entering the Arinua River. The people of Flexinha had been somewhat reluctant to accept Antonio prior to our visit because they are predominantly Catholic and he is evangelical. We arrived and spent the day with them, feeling quite welcomed. We delivered filters to their homes, addressed their health concerns, delivered food baskets (each enough to feed a large family for two weeks), played games with the kids, face painted, and just spent time with them. We then held a meeting in the evening that was well attended (about 30 adults and 30 kids) and they were all quite attentive to our message of God’s love for them. Seven children and young adults responded to an invitation to begin a relationship with Jesus and all the adults expressed interest in having Antonio visit further.
Isn’t this what the Kingdom is all about? We are called to love, and this team loved these people. As we love, we share about the truth of our Father’s love. One’s past and one’s religious affiliation is not our concern. Helping another in their pursuit of intimacy with our Father is our concern. Communicating the Kingdom is our priority, not a religion, a church, or a certain way of life.
This scenario was repeated daily through our team of eight N. Americans and eight Brasilians. How they loved each other and those that they visited. Jesus’ love was demonstrated and taught. We laughed, cried, played, prayed, and shared everything together. It was beautiful to behold.
This team made humility attractive. It was a group of leaders from their community, who laid down any need to be first, to be in front, to be right. They served and encouraged and made each adult and child know that they were special, just as Jesus would do. Jesus got a lot of attention while the individuals on the team blended in to the whole. They were such a blessing to our group of young Brasilian leaders that joined us on the trip. I doubt if any of these guys will forget this trip and how special they were made to feel. I have heard so many comments from them about how it may have been the best week of their lives. They were loved, accepted, honored, and embraced. So very cool! God has truly placed within us the ability to make a real difference in someone’s life. This team so demonstrated this, over and over.
I was sure thrilled to see Luke (our 15 y/o son) enthusiastically participate. He guided the canoes, directed the filter loading and delivery, worked hard, translated, led worship, played soccer, and even woke up early pleasantly! He was a real blessing and is maturing into a neat, neat young man. He even suggested that his dad do some work because all he does all day is sit and hand out medicine!
I sure love God’s family. It consists of some beautiful, beautiful broken vessels. I love being a part. I love His presence in our work here. He is so very good!