God has blessed us with a couple of great Portuguese teachers. We have class with each for an hour and 15 minutes each day. Today during our class with Maria, Matt was sharing with her how it went last Friday when he & Heitor did street evangelism near our apartment. See his last post for more on that. Anyway, she shared her testimony with us and it was too incredible not to share (any testimony is too incredible not to share).
She grew up, like many people, knowing about God–but not knowing Him.
One day, when she was about 18, she went to a friend’s house as they had planned to go to a ‘Festa de Cerveja’ (beer) together. When she arrived, there was a car sitting outside her friend’s house. In the car were a Brasilian missionary couple who said hi to her, and asked if her friend was at home because they wanted to talk with her. Maria replied that she would go in and get her friend. Once she entered the house and told her friend that the couple was outside and wanted to talk with her, her friend said ‘tell them I’m not here! They want to talk about Jesus & God and I don’t want to hear it–don’t want anything to do with it!’ Normally, Maria didn’t lie, but this day, she went back out and told the couple that her friend wasn’t at home. ‘Well,’ they asked, ‘do you know where she is?’ Maria was thinking–uh, yes–but now what do I say? So she responded that she would go back into the house and ask her friend’s mom where the girl was. Back into the house she went, told her friend what the couple had asked, that she’d said she’d check with the mother, and, now what should she say?? The friend answered ‘tell them I’m at our other friend’s house!’ So, Maria went back outside and said just that. The couple asked if she knew where this other friend lived….yes, she did, but it was little far….well, would she like to ride with them. She was rather stuck, because she couldn’t say she needed to stay where she was because she had just told the couple that her friend wasn’t there, so she rode along to the other friend’s house, and when they arrived there, of course the other friend wasn’t there either. So the couple offered to take Maria home, and as they drove, they told her about Jesus. She was mesmerized by what they told her, and they talked together from 6pm until midnight! By the end of the night, she had prayed and asked Jesus into her heart as her Savior. She said that at this point there were still so many things that the Bible talks about in regard to how a Christian should live that she didn’t know. For about a month after this she didn’t see the couple at all.
So the next night she headed back to the Festa de Cerveja with the 2nd friend, and while there she told her about all the missionary couple had told her the night before, and offered to pray with her friend if she wanted to ask Him to save her too! Her friend did, so Maria prayed with her–I think that’s incredible, and exactly how we should be–excited to share it with our friends right away because it is an AMAZING thing.
I don’t remember if it was that same night, or the next week when they went back to the Festa de Cerveja, that something very interesting happened. Maria commented that this was a place she had always enjoyed going, she had a lot of friends there, her friend loved it–loved to dance,etc. This particular night they arrived when the party started at about 11pm. After being there just a short time, they both felt strange and commented to each other about it, like something was weird about the place. There was a second story to the building, so they decided to go upstairs. Up they went, sat down at a table, but felt strange there too. So they decided to go back downstairs. There, same feeling, so back upstairs, to a different table. She said they went back and forth like this for almost 3 hours, and finally decided to leave, and never went back. The first of the promptings of the Holy Spirit, that that wasn’t the best environment for them to spend their time in.
Maria also commented that this friend smoked, alot, almost 2 packs a day. One day soon after, her friend, who was very tall, held up a cigarette in comparison to herself and said ‘ why should this little thing have control of me??’ She quit and never smoked again. No one told her she needed to stop smoking because she had become a Christian, but God showed her in His own time that it wasn’t a good thing for her to be ruled by a cigarette.
This reminds me of something we read in our Perspectives class last year….hopefully I remember the story right. In centuries past, missionaries in Africa would run into problems when tribal peoples converted to Christianity and the missionaries immediately tried to impress that the men needed to give up their extra wives, stop smoking and drinking, etc. Meanwhile, other issues like anger, jealousy, theft, and greed loomed large and unaddressed. Many times the focus was more on ‘looking like’ a good Christian on the outside rather than focusing on some of the heart issues on the inside. And, the tribal men came to the conclusion that they weren’t sure they wanted the ‘white man’s Christianity’ because it seemed pretty dull. Had heart issues like fighting amongst tribes, or within tribes, stealing, etc. been confronted instead and the Holy Spirit been given time to work on the men’s hearts, the outcome likely would have been different.