TA BOM – April 26, 2023
I walk into church on Sunday thinking the service might be in Spanish. The name of the church, Alcance, gave me a clue. I was quickly informed that the service was in Portuguese, and there started my learning process.
First, I would like to mention, the Brazilian people are beautiful. They have this European chic vibe but yet they remain humble and friendly. Normally, I would be intimidated to be in such a unique environment, but they did not allow it. They were genuinely happy I was there, and strangely enough so was I. Being around people that were beautiful inside and out made me want to be better. Beautiful.
The second thing I noticed was the incredible amount of youth. The church had a kid’s club, so all the children were in class. Usually, when the pastor releases the kids, the only people left are above 35. If there is any youth left, they look like they were drug out of bed and forced to present themselves at church. It is important to note that even though the parents’ intentions are pure, many times they end up setting the youth on a path that leads them aways from God as they grow old. At Alcance, the youth were happy. They looked awake. They were listening to the pastor and responding to his calls and message. What was the difference? Why was the youth flourishing in this environment? As the service progressed, I feel like I came to understand. The Brazilian culture let their youth be. They had their cellphones out. Rude. They were talking to each other. Rude. They were getting up and walking around. Rude. They word sweatpants, crop tops and slip-ons. Rude? Rude?? My culture says rude. Their culture says free. The youth in this church is unrestricted from the chains of expectations and they are free to be with God and love Him their way. They also sang the songs with energy, they cheered when the message was just too exciting, they raised their hands for blessings higher than all the rest, and they prayed fully engaged and genuinely. Beautiful.
They offered me translator. Of course, I said yes. I don’t speak Portuguese. They gave me a little device to put around my neck and an ear bud to listen. I sat down in the last row. As the pastor started talking, someone, somewhere started to translate into my ear. He tried to keep up the best he could, but each word he spoke was like a message from God to my heart telling me that I am loved. I do not know this person translating into my ear, but he is willing to offer up his time and sacrifice his experience at his church service to make sure mine was memorable. Jesus teaches us in Luke 15, 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? I don’t know that we do, Jesus. I think a lot of times we are looking for the numbers, or the offerings. I don’t know if we are very good at leaving riches to follow rags. I am not sure if we care enough about the individual. I don’t know if we would risk it all to go after one sheep. They did. My translator did. At this church, I was lost, and they stopped everything to bring me back to be part of their flock. Beautiful.
There were a lot of men at church. At churches I have gone to so far, there is a large number of women. Women and small children are everywhere. Here at my newfound home, there were men, marriages, couples of all types. Why does it matter? When you look around a church and you see all women, you get a sense of a community with broken families and hardships. I am one of them. I show up by myself with two kids. When I look around other churches, I see a lot of people just like me. It is a hard path and I know they suffer from my own experience. When I looked around Alcance, there were couples holding hands, men carrying young children, and pushing strollers. They were tearing up while listening to the message. They received the blessing with an open heart. They were present. Just like the teenagers and young adults, the men felt safe here too. The women, the children, the young adults, the men and the sojourners, all felt safe. Everyone was welcome. No judgement. Beautiful.
I have to plan a trip to Brazil.