Blessed are those….
Loud, boisterous, crowded, littered, graffiti-ed, opinionated, don’t-drink-from-the-tap, exuberant, colorful, generous, laughing, trendy, fiery…
I stood in the crowded church and looked around. The place was packed. Seating consisted of plastic lawn chairs, something that has been consistent in all the churches we’ve visited. No pews or fancy seats. Just plastic chairs, quick and easy to move.
Not only was the main floor of the church packed in like sardines, but so was the balcony. Glancing at every entrance, I could see people pushed in, lined against the walls and rails, willing to stand, unwilling to miss any possibility that God would manifest His power and glory in the place.
It was noisy. Even during the quiet times like prayer and teaching, the place sounded the way most American churches do before the service even starts. Lots of conversation and rustling, kids fidgeting and fussing, the sound of lighweight movable chairs, well, moving.
And then the worship. At a glance it looked like any young hip church with lights and a band. But the sound…oh, the sound.
All around me were people with arms raised, dancing in their seats, crying out to God. It was a glorious cacophony, an extended shout of praise in Portuguese and English and French and who knows what else. Good thing God understands them all.
The service began. Story after story of how God has healed in the recent past. Not thousands of years ago, but last month. Not through God’s Man Of Power For The Hour but by regular people: grocery clerks and engineers and artists and construction workers and grandmas and bus drivers.
You could feel faith rising in the room.
In America we so often get wrapped around the axel of being afraid we’re promising that God’s going to do something that He’s not going to do. No such fear exists here. God is good, healing is for today, and the Spirit is willing. In Brazil they simply believe it. They believe the bible is true and that God is really good and longing to give His kids good gifts.
And as words of knowledge are given in the room, people begin to find themselves healed of seemingly hopeless issues, delivered of a lifetime of plagues.
The team was called to the platform to give whatever words of knowledge we’d received. I stood there and looked out on the crowd. They were so hopeful. So willing to be squished in anticipation of seeing Him move. So lost without His intervention.
I thought of the scripture where it says that Jesus looked out on the crowds and had compassion. My throat caught. He loves the people of Brazil. He has no need of anyone playing small in order to attempt to protect His reputation. He wants to be Himself amongst them. Amongst us.
“Do you want to receive the Jesus who has done these wonders here today?” Randy asked. After all I was seeing, I wondered if maybe I needed to rush to the front myself. This was so incredibly far out of the grid of American church. People did rush to the front.
A truly compassionate, powerful Jesus is very attractive.
After the invitation the team found spots down on the main floor to pray for people. Some of us had translators, some didn’t. Mine’s English skills were only slightly better than my Portuguese, but that was good enough, and it turned out I wouldn’t get to keep her anyway. So many teams, not enough translators.
And the crowd pressed forward.
An injured ankle restored to pain-free strength, on the spot.
A woman with head and stomach pain. I prayed, and the pain left.
A man with lumbar pain…and another man with lumbar pain…then a woman with lumbar pain. All backs healed, all pain ordered out.
And then that last woman dropped the bomb. She was blind in one eye. She could see really bright lights if they were big, but that was it.
We prayed, The Spirit touched her with His goodness, and her eye was opened to normal vision. We tested it before and after, and had to pray a few times to get it all the way to normal. But it did become normal.
The blind really do see when He touches them. I saw it. I was there, I prayed, and it happened in front of my own eyes.
I’ve heard plenty of folks in the States fuss that this couldn’t possibly be God. I mean, look—people get touched, they sometimes holler and shake, they often fall to the ground, they feel heat and electricity and sometimes they act like they are being electrocuted. How could this be God?
But my question is: how could it not?
Praises sung to Jesus, prayers lifted to Him…people get saved, people return to the heart of their Dad. God’s kids ask for bread and fish. He will not give them stones and snakes.
Like them, I ask and receive. And this I know: we have a good Dad. He loves to give His kids good gifts. He loves to thrill us, fascinate us, inspire us, fill us….transform us.
I am captivated by this place, by what I’m seeing here, what I’m experiencing here. I am enthralled by my God, by His beautiful hungry children who are willing to trade pride and dignity for a chance to be touched by His power and presence.
My body misses Florida, but my heart?
In this place, with this ministry team and these people, it’s at home.