The Story of Hope Opens Marcela's Eyes to God's Amazing Redemptive Plan
Marcela was struggling with loneliness. She had moved to the state of Rio Grande do Sul from her state of São Paulo to study biology at Unisinos University. The apartment she lived in was close to school but far from much of city life and was especially quiet and deserted on weekends. One day she walked into the Hangout, a coffee shop across from the university entrance, run by ABWE missionary, Erin Wawro. She felt comfortable and accepted and developed a friendship with Erin. Soon, she began to spend several hours a day there on the weekdays that it was open studying, drinking coffee, and enjoying being around people. This went on for many months. Weekends were still quite lonely, however, so when Richter, another college student from Angola, invited her to come to Logos, the bible study group/church plant that meets at the Hangout on Sundays, she accepted.
While she enjoyed being part of the group and was interested in studying the Bible, Marcela believed that everyone was on their way to heaven, each finding their own path to God. The group had just started to study The Roots of Faith lessons together when COVID hit south Brazil hard, and they could no longer meet. Erin thought this would be a great time to ask Marcela to study The Story of Hope with her so that they could stay connected. Marcela agreed. Due to rigid restrictions, they began exploring the Bible’s big story using their phones and then later also met in person several times. Marcela became truly interested in learning about the Bible, and the lessons about God’s law and the sacrifices began to impress upon her the seriousness of sin and the problem it caused with a holy God. As they finished the last couple of Old Testament lessons, she was struck by how the Bible all tied together and the stories connected. She told Erin, “This has to be God’s working and God’s plans; man by himself could have never come up with or accomplished this!” That really increased her interest in the Bible and Erin gave her an NIV Study Bible which she immediately started reading and marking up.
Marcela is not one to show her feelings much, but when they studied the crucifixion of Jesus, she began crying and was quite upset at the way the soldiers treated Him. That was the last lesson Erin was able to do with her for a while until the long four-day holiday weekend the beginning of this month. They sat down together and over a period of a few hours finished lessons 32-40. Upon finishing and asking the question, “Do you think your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?” Marcela responded, “I don’t know, I think so, but I guess only God really knows.” Erin invited her to work through the Chronological Bridge to Life and review the eight gospel truths. At the end of each one she affirmed that she believed and when they were finished, Erin asked her how she now felt about being in the Lamb’s Book of Life. She joyfully replied, “I know I am! I am trusting in Jesus.”
She filled out the last page, signed her name, and dated it September 7th, 2021. September 7th is Brazil’s Independence Day. Marcela was rejoicing in her freedom from sin and death. She asked Erin to pray for her and Erin said they could both pray. Marcela’s sweet words thanked God for being the Creator, for being righteous and loving, and for saving her. The following night at Wednesday night Bible Study she told everyone of the faith response she had made and asked them to thank God with her for her salvation.
Erin shared that this journey with Marcela renewed her love for The Story of Hope. She was fascinated with how well it brought Marcela step by step to understand exactly what she needed. At times it seemed slow working through it during the pandemic, but God’s timing was perfect as He worked on Marcela’s heart to draw her to Him.