Hope Spreading in Morada do Vale
A year ago I was sitting in a coffee shop in Ankeny, Iowa, praying for the right contacts upon our return to Brazil in October 2007, so that the gospel would advance in the neighborhood of Morada do Vale—one of the last two areas left of the six we had originally mapped out to plant churches in Gravataí. Meanwhile, back in Gravataí, something was happening—a twenty-six year old gas station attendant was receiving his severance pay.
It was mid-October, and we were back in Brazil, when I stopped at the gas station close to our house to fill up the motorcycle. I recognized the young man who had served us many times at the other station across town. His name is Dauri. As he pumped the gas, he told me that he remembered us. I asked him if he had been transferred to this gas station, and he told me that he had left the other one and only recently been hired on here.
“Why did you leave the other station?” I asked. “I’m kind of embarrassed to say,” said Dauri. “No, really, why?” I insisted.
He told me that he had a dream that seemed so real that he had to do something about it. Dauri is from a animistic and spiritist worldview, so he was raised with a strong belief in the power of dreams. He dreamt that a great war had begun and people all around his house were dying, but God told him to build a church in the front part of his property. Into this church people came and were saved from the devastation. He was so convinced that he should do this that he asked for his severance pay and began to build a kiosk auditorium. His neighbors all thought he was nuts. Since he didn’t know how to start a church, he decided to use the place as a coffee shop and LAN house, a place providing internet access, until God sent someone to help.
“Do you go to church?” I asked Dauri. “No,” he replied. “Do you know what I do?” I asked. “No,” Dauri replied again. “I am a pastor, and I start churches,” I said.
In early 2008, we began a weekly time to go through The Story of Hope chronological Bible story with Dauri and his wife Renata. This March when our home church was here on a mission trip, Dauri worked alongside our team and he and Renata came to the ten year anniversary service of our first church that we planted in Gravatai. The team from Montana donated the cement and gravel for him to put the floor in his kiosk. They did this in the name of Jesus with no strings attached as part of what God is doing in his life.
Last night, we finished the Story of Hope, using the pictures we had scanned into a power point presentation on my Motorola Q smart phone. (We have also printed a keychain with all the stories and we use both for personal evangelism and discipleship.) Five adults sat around the living room and prayed through The Bridge to Life, that comes from God’s story: God, man, sin, death, Christ, cross, faith, life. We had begun the prayer for salvation when a man named Rogerio arrived and we had to start the story back at the beginning. Then Alexandre and Clesio, other friends of Dauri and Renata, arrived and we had to go back to the beginning again. A man named Clesio also came, who was recently baptized as a Mormon.
As they took turns praying out loud through the Bridge to Life, Clesio stood up and declared: “I have been in many religions, but now I finally understand who Jesus is—that he is the promised Deliverer from the garden. He is the substitute Lamb of Isaac, and he is the substitute Lamb for my sins. And I believe it all right now.” Four out of the five people there trusted in Jesus Christ there in that living room last night. Rogerio was in tears and said: “I was raised in a Christian home, and I know what this is all about. It’s about being born again and I’m not ready to do it, but I believe it all.” I commended him for truly counting the cost, and I prayed he would soon have the courage to make this decision.
Some people have asked me why I took months to get to the gospel with Dauri and Renata. In our conversations, Dauri has told me of several dreams and coincidences as well as how he has been searching for the truth. He had read Nostrodomus and spiritist books, as well as some of the Bible. After the training we received from Mark Zook on worldview deconstruction, it was evident to me that Dauri required the longer path, with the detailed story, so I could begin to iron out the wrinkles in his spiritually inquisitive worldview. God has blessed and I am sure that discipleship will also involve a long road of retelling the stories with a spiritual growth and maturity purpose this time. It’s exciting how God is answering our prayer for Morada do Vale.