I always mark the Friday and Saturday before Easter Sunday as reserved in my agenda.
Every year this time is held the National Christian Men’s Encounter at the Mt. of Olives Christian Camp, near Sao Paulo.
Some 400-500 men come together from across the country for study and fellowship.
The messages, from both missionaries and national brothers, often stir and inspire.
But I come away even more encouraged by the conversations shared during the two days.
This year I forewent setting up my stand for the magazine and books in order to spend more time with people.
I was glad of it.
Because I heard stories like these.
• Everaldo, after helping to start a new church in the Northeast, is now here in Sao Paulo. A new church began in his home in Itatiba on the second Sunday in January. They’ve already had one baptism.
• The Jundiai church has grown to over 160 saints, many of them from extreme situations, like the rock band member, or the homeless man. Soon, a religious priest who is now cutting his ties with his former church will be baptized. The three elders rotate Sunday preaching.
• Jason, as we’ll call him, continues to struggle quietly with an addiction. His conscience torments him, and though he has asked to be removed from leading in worship, still is faithful and hangs on to hope.
• Daniel, 20, after suffering a troubled adolescence and the separation of his parents, is now preaching in a small congregation and teaching in another’s evangelistic outreach. He pumped me for an hour about materials to use and how to speak.
Hearing stories like these reminds me that the power of God is still at work in his people.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:19-21, ESV).
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11,12).
Lectureships and Christian encounters provide moments to be encouraged by others’ stories.