Thursday, June 04, 2009

Rio--Protected by sustained love

Rio, the marvelous city as the Brazilians call it, is a city of enormous contrasts, conflicts and challenges. In this city much has changed and much as stayed the same.
The city is home to over 200 slums called "favelas". Some of these "favelas" are over 60 years old. They are home to millions and they are now so entrenched into the fabric of Rio's day to day life that they will always be part of this complex social fabric.
On June 1st and 2nd I was invited by the Evangelical Assembly of God church of Bom Successo to help them celebrate their 50th anniversary. It was an honor.
The abide ministry is rooted in the First Baptist Church of São José dos Campos. Even so, I have been given an opportunity to minister in many Brazilian denominations. Why? Because I have determined to know only Christ and Christ crucified. In other words, I believe I have been called to help all Christian rediscover their first and only love--Jesus.
While in Rio with the church Pastor Jaime Suarez took me to see six of their 50 congregations. Most of these congregations are in the slums. Some of these congregations are as old as the slums. Some have memberships of over 500.
We had to enter the slums in the church van. Pastor Jaime instructed me to look straight ahead and not make eye contact the with young men standing guard at the entrances to slums. They were armed with rifles, handguns and machine guns. They are drug gangs that literally control the slums. We could only enter, because the church is welcome but the police are not.
It was like going into a war zone.
Once inside the "favela" we visited the beautiful, clean and happy congregations. For over 50 years these churches have served their community with Jesus' love. Inside the slum it didn't seem important to me that I was with Pentecostal brothers even though I am not pentecostal. I was protected by their sustained love for Jesus and for the people of the slum. I was safe in their sustained love for these incredibly poor but precious people.
I have deep respect for doctrine, but I have greater respect for doctrine that is turned in to sustained love.
Enjoy a few pictures from Rio. Be proud of the love of your brother's in Christ. Jesus is so very proud of them!

(The tiny shack pictured is home to mom, dad and 7 kids. Mom is pregnant again. The church is helping them as they are new arrivals in the slum. Click on pictures to enlarge.)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We, as Americans, are so blessed and yet take it all for granted and actually believe that we earned it!! Except for the grace of God, that family could be mine and we could be living in those conditions! I thank Him daily for His blessings and rest in His love.