Recife Update: Quão Maravilhoso, Meu Deus (How Marvelous, My God)

“God’s presence is so powerful here it has been a constant battle choking back tears.”

“I’m so forgetful, but you always remind me. You’re the only one who brings me peace.” (United Pursuit-Running in Cirlces)

The past few days I’ve been a sniveling mess. God’s presence is so powerful here it has been a constant battle choking back tears. It may be a song of worship, such as the lyrics that I’ve written above or an inspiring declaration of faith from one of my students at Escola da Biblia that seizes my heart. My students, Keliana, Ana, and Karol are such a joy to teach! They arrive and I am instantly uplifted. Ana is the mother of Karol, and Keliana is Karol’s b.f.f. Its such a warming experience digging into the book of  Luke with these three. Karol and Keliana are both around the age of 13, and it is extraordinary how much knowledge they have of the Bible. Tonight, we read out of the book of Luke 2:41-52. We all reveled at Jesus’ ability to converse with the religious teachers in the Temple. When Jesus was asked by his parents why he stayed behind he said, “Why did you have to look for me? You should have known that I must be where my Father’s work is.” We contemplated together what Jesus meant by my Father’s work,” Karol confidently stated that her interpretation was baptism. Keiliana asserted that God’s work meant “cleaning people’s hearts.” Ana added that God’s work included “the forgiveness of sins.” To conclude the lesson we set out to accomplish a homework assignment. I asked them to reflect upon their own lives and determine a way that God’s work may be evident in their own lives. My apprehensions of giving an assignment were quelled by the girls’ bright, enthusiastic, smiles.

Yesterday, João was gracious to allow me to participate in his class covering Hebreus (Hebrews). João displayed an impressive array of presentation skills imbued with passion. On the whiteboard, he drew a timeline which represented our journey of faith. He drew various points above the line, some high, and some low. It was evident that he was illustrating the mountains and valleys of our spiritual journey. He asked me where my faith was at this point in my life and I told him that my faith is not as great as it could be, so I pointed low. My thoughts are if my faith were as small as a mustard seed, that I could move mountains. I believe that faith is something that I need for everything yet I possess very little

This afternoon I was privileged to visit the marvelous village of Olinda with Miss Mika and Teacher Jaja.

Teacher Jaja, Miss Mika, & Café com Leite from left to right in Olinda.

Teacher Jaja, Miss Mika, & Café com Leite from left to right in Olinda.

Upon our arrival we walked out to the shore of this alluring community. As we peered over the opalescent, aquamarine, waters of the Atlantic we soaked in God’s creation. The ebb and flow of the waves receding and returning turned on the shores of my heart. I could almost feel the water touching my heart and washing away the old. At the urging of the adventurous Jaja, we wandered to the lighthouse atop the hill that contains Olinda. As we neared the lighthouse, it became clear that the residents in this particular neighborhood of Olinda were not as blessed monetarily as the rest of Recife. I reflected upon the apparent poverty and filed it away in my mind. I know that I will face this again when I visit the “slums” of Recife with Everton in the weeks to come.

Friends,family, brothers, and sisters, if you are reading this and following my spiritual journey than I plea to you this; Search for your faith. Regardless of your religious affiliation take time to dig deep past the surface of your faith. Do you believe because the majority of people believe or do you not believe to go against the grain of everyone else? Identify the false perceptions that are inhibiting you from truly experiencing your faith. Not because it is what society deems appropriate, but because you owe it to yourself to search. It will be a difficult time. There will be doubt. Fear will be present. Hardship you must endure. However on the journey through the ocean of life it is only the bravest seafarers that reap the rewards. Do not look back at the port from where you left, to the right or to the left at the cannons that will fire. Keep Christ as your compass and rejoice! Heaven is in plain view!

“Keep Christ as your compass…”

LISTEN HERE to United Pursuit-Running in Circles


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