This summer, we had two weeks of Children's Bible Club which we blogged about here .
A woman named Andrea happened to see the sign outside of our house advertising the club, and decided to bring her son to attend the last two days. She mentioned that she was interested in learning more about God and the Bible, and a few weeks later, we began a six-week Bible study with her. She was always attentive and seemed interested in the gospel. What she had been taught all of her life had caused her to be afraid of God, knowing that her life was not pleasing to him, but not knowing how exactly to change that. She was trying to change some sinful habits in her life so that she would be acceptable to God because she felt he wanted nothing to do with her because of her sin. When I asked her what she would say to God as to why he should let her into heaven, her answer was that she really wanted to get in.
Her understanding of the gospel continued to grow as we studied, and when we were finished the six-week study, she said she wanted to continue. Last week, she told me she was facing a difficult decision in her life and didn't know what she should do, but wanted to know God's will. As she shared the details with me, I immediately knew that God already had a couple things to say in the Bible about her situation. I asked her if she considered herself to be a Christian and her reply was "yes." Not wanting to place doubts in her mind, but wanting to know if she truly understood what it meant to be a Christian, I asked her some more questions about how she knew she was a Christian. She said that she was trusting in Jesus for her salvation and believed that he had died on the cross for her sins. She said she finally understood that God's love for her was personal and that she didn't have to do any works to receive his salvation. Amazingly, she said that the Christian life was not a life of suffering, like she had always believed, having to follow a list of rules of what to do or not to do to earn God's favor, but the desire to make necessary changes in her life came naturally once she placed her trust in Christ.
Yesterday, Andrea and her son, Saimon, joined us for our Sunday morning Bible study. She and I currently meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to study the Bible and when I invited her to come on Sunday too, she was excited and said that she gets sad on Thursday because it will be several days before we have another study. Andrea is a talented musician, and she brought her guitar to play along with David. She quickly picked up on the songs and David said she was filling in places with notes he wasn't even playing. It was great to see her using her talents to praise God.
I am learning more and more the power of the gospel to change lives. God chooses to use us in the process of salvation, and that is amazing. Just recently we were discussing all the other religions we are in "competition" with in this neighborhood. It's easy to get discouraged when we are automatically associated negatively with another religious group. What distinguishes our message from every other message out there being taught to those around us? We concluded that our message is the only life-giving one. It's the only one that has the power to give someone new life in Christ and fellowship with God. We are here in São José, Santa Catarina, Brazil because God wants us to take this life-giving, life-changing message to the people here.
Last week we began a study with a woman named Adriana, and this week we will be starting one with a couple named João and Patricia. Wednesday, David and James are starting a study with a man named Aguiar, and James and Christen are currently involved in two other Bible sudies. Sometimes the work seems slow, but then God begins to open doors and give us entrance into people's homes and lives and it's exciting!