A Journey of Miracles: Living for Serving
For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)
If you have read all my posts so far, I know you agree with me that I have experienced a journey of miracles. How I survived a lonely, starving, and depressed childhood. The raising of my dad from his bed of death to a life of honor and dignity. The preservation of my life in the dark time of my adolescence struggling with alcohol, drugs, fights, and hostility. How God delivered me from the domain of the darkness and transferred me to the kingdom of His beloved son Jesus Christ. How God called me to ministry and made me a pastor over His sheep. Finally, you learned about the miracle of the new chapter that God started in my life bringing me to the United States to get my formal education.
In this last post, I want to share with you a little more about my journey of miracles. Nevertheless, before I move on, I want to state the purpose of my posts. I want to be clear as to what is and what is not my goal in sharing my life story publicly as I am doing.
First, it is not the purpose of these posts to victimize myself or to seek pity. Instead, it is to show that it doesn’t matter what kind of life background a person may have. It is possible to change, and even for better.
Second, it is not the purpose of these posts to expose or to blame anybody for any of my bad behavior. Instead, it is to show that living in a fallen world we are affected by the evil things that fill it, and ultimately everyone is responsible for the way they chose to live their lives. I am responsible for mine, for the bad and for the good.
Third, it is not the purpose of these posts to call attention to myself and to show how good I am, because I am nothing. Instead, it is to show what God can do with nothing when this nothing is in His hand.
Last, it is not the purpose of these posts to place me at the center of the story. Instead, it is to display God’s unconditional love for sinners like me, His healing hope for those who are suffering, and His transforming power to change anyone’s life. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom.11:36)
Having said that, let's go back to the journey of a miracle.
The Miracle of Salvation
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
Even though this bible verse is not a theological foundation to state that those who believe in Jesus will see their household becoming Christians too, I knew that God was still the same God of salvation who loved my family and wanted to rescue them. Upon this belief, I began to pray for the salvation of my family. The first member of my family that God saved was my older sister. She was facing a tough time since her husband had divorced her and she had a little boy to raise. I was praying for my sister’s salvation and telling her about the hope that we could have in Jesus. I invited her to come to a Saturday night service, and I remember as if it was today. After preaching the message, the youth leader began to worship God with a song based on Psalm 139. My sister was in tears, she was broken. She came to me and said, “What is going on with me, I can’t stop crying? But it is not bad, I feel good like never before.” On that night my older sister surrendered her life to Jesus. On the day of her baptism, her ex-husband was present, and he also gave his life to Jesus. God restored their marriage, and later on, they became missionaries working with homeless, prostitutes and LGBT community. My sister worked as a missionary for fourteen years until she passed away in 2012.
My mom was the second person to give her life to Jesus. Even though my mom in the past had attended a charismatic church, she had never confessed Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Now she has done that and she was baptized. The next to be saved in my family was my younger sister. She accepted Jesus, was baptized and she also became a missionary. She got married and currently her husband is the pastor of the church where I was the pastor. There are still three members of my family that need to be saved, but now we four were praying for them. My oldest brother was the next reached by God's great love. He surrendered his life to Jesus, was baptized and served alongside me in my church. My older brother also prayed confessing Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He is not attending any church yet, but I firmly believe that he has made a genuine commitment to Jesus. Finally, my dad was the next to become a believer. Thirty years after God set him free from his addiction and restored his health completely, he got saved. He lived as a good Christian in this world for two years until Jesus took him home. God performed a great miracle of salvation in my family. When I began writing my testimony we were a family of seven lost people; I am writing my last post telling you that God saved all of the seven. “Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!” (Psalm. 3:8)
Living for serving: A calling for ministry was extended.
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.” (Jer. 1:4-7)
I want to remind you about my call to ministry quoting what I wrote in my third post, "After praying together with my pastor he said, “Young man, I will tell you something that is hard even for me to believe, much more for you, but while you were praying, God spoke into my heart that one day you are going to be the pastor of this church." It was the way that God initially touched my heart for pastoral ministry. Nevertheless, I remember a Saturday early in the morning when I was still before God in prayer. It was around 3am when I decided to go to Scripture, and I opened my Bible to the book of Jeremiah. When I read the verses above, it burned my heart, and I was so sure that God was using this passage to speak to me. I had no idea of the dimension of my call, but I was a hundred percent sure that whatever God had for me I would accept it. I just kept those words in my heart and decided to live one day at the time.
As I said, I began my pastoral ministry in 1996 as associate pastor and became a Senior pastor in 1998. When I started my ministry as a Senior pastor, our congregation was about 60 people attending the services. Our church was small and a charming chapel made of wood. Oh, how many beautiful memories I have of our little chapel. However, God was blessing us, and blessing the works of our hands. We found grace before God and our community. God added day by day those who were being saved. In 2012 when I left my church, we had built a temple for five hundred people, and it was almost filling its capacity.
The first part of my call for pastoral ministry, as predicted by my pastor, was already done in 2012. Now was the time to begin the call that I truly believe God gave me using the call of the prophet Jeremiah to speak to me. As I said in the fourth post in 2009, Birchman Baptist Church in Texas in partnership with my church in Brazil brought me to Texas to get a basic formal education at SWBTS. I returned to my church in 2010 and worked there for two more years with the certainty that God was going to do something more prominent in my life. At the end of the two years, I began talking to Birchman's pastor about returning to America to continue my education. He readily encouraged to come and started working to make it happen.
As you already know I never made enough money to have any savings, and my church wasn't a church of great income. So it was a significant obstacle for me to come to America. It was an obstacle for me, but not to God who made the call. Once again I came to America in a partnership between my church in Brazil and Birchman Baptist church. My church in Brazil was responsible for supporting me financially to pay for my rent, bills, and groceries, and Birchman would provide for my books, a car, and the school tuition.
My first year in America was dedicated to learning English. I went to TCU for one year of the Intensive English Program. In the first semester at TCU, God gave me the opportunity to share the gospel with over twenty-five muslin youth. In the second semester, they (the muslin youth) elected me to be a leader over them, and I just continued sharing the gospel. One of my speeches to them in class was about the beauty and truth of the Bible. At the end of my presentation, I gave a copy of the Scriptures to each one of them. “For to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.”
In my second year of living in America, I started facing financial struggles. The Dollar increased significantly compared to my country’s currency. I lost fifty percent of my income from Brazil, but God used other ways to continue to provide for us. We moved to SWBTS for both studying and living. The life on the campus was cheaper than off campus. At Southwestern we were benefitted with two ministries that they host to help students; the Brother's Keeper and Daily Bread ministry. We were able to get clothes and food as much we needed.
Being at Southwestern, God gave the opportunity to minister to many people counseling them Biblically. At Birchman Baptist Church I could minister to others through the We Care Ministry. God also used my life to preach revival in churches in Kansas and California. God took me to Portugal, Spain, England, South Africa and Thailand. Months ago a kind man came to me and said that I should be a rich person because I had traveled to so many places; then I told him that I never had even one penny to invest on these trips, but God was the provider. He indeed is. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1Tess. 5:24)
The faithfulness of God never fails, and if He needs to perform miracles to accomplish his plans in anyone’s life, He will. Sometimes God will do a supernatural thing, but most of the time He will use the natural. He used the SWBTS professor to reach me in Brazil. He used Birchman's pastor to bring me to America and to provide for my education. He used SWBTS for granting me a presidential scholarship. He used good friends to encourage me and to help me with my papers. In the most recent critical time that I was facing in 2017, struggling with finances and emotions, God raised First Baptist Church in Springtown, an amazing church and a fatherly pastor as a miracle in my life. I am a servant of God; my life has no meaning except to serve Him and to accomplish the plan that He has already established for me. “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”(Acts 20:24)
In six years of living in America, I have learned English, I have concluded a Masters in Biblical Counseling, and I am half way through my Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling as well. My goal is to be well prepared to serve God and those who He places in my path.
I want to finish this series of posts saying thank you to my church in Brazil; saying thank you to Birchman Baptist Church; saying thank you to Southwestern Seminary; saying thank you to First Baptist Church in Springtown and saying thank you to all of you who dedicated part of your precious time reading my life story. The biggest thank you goes to my wife who in every moment has supported me. My last words are, "TO GOD BE THE GLORY."
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