Dear Friends & Family,
I just returned from Brazil, and this trip was special in many ways. My friend and translator Pastor David Suasunna and I celebrated eight years of working together in Brazil. We have traveled hundreds of thousands of kilometers by air and land, visited 13 of the 26 states in nation, and have held well over 500 meetings, the majority of which were in new churches. I also had the honor of the dedicating David’s church, Gera Vida located in the city of Feira de Santana, a place I affectionately call my second home. It was the perfect season and perfect venue to host 5 days of local church evangelism, baby dedications and a youth conference called Upgrade!
This statewide conference hosted teens and young adults from 10 different churches. Each group of visiting young people were committed to seeing their private and public lives impacted by the Word of God. This expectation was the catalyst that set each night’s meetings ablaze with the power of His presence. Every altar call was filled to capacity, young and old alike coming forward expecting God’s mercy to do what He does so well, forgive and make all things new! As with most of my events, it is expected that one of our animal examples make an appearance. For this weekend event we brought out our raptors. Two hawks and one eagle were the perfect example for the Saturday night message.
“Every altar call was filled to capacity…”
After a long weekend I received a last minute invitation from a church in Paulo Afonso. We had two open days on the calendar and as God would have it, the timing was perfect. We only had one problem, how would we get there? Over the years, our team has grown and when we travel it can get crowded. Thankfully a member of the church offered to let us use of his 16 seat van for the five hour journey. The event was held at a local church on a Tuesday night, traditionally a terrible evening to have an event, much less a “youth” event. We were amazed when we arrived at the church. It was packed to capacity and after the doors opened they had to turn hundreds of people away. They, of course wanted to the hear the snake message, honestly most do expect some sort of animal in our meetings and we did not disappoint. Galak, our 12 foot albino python made her appearance and helped me explain the message of salvation in unforgettable fashion. The altar was filed with people all desperate to receive a miracle in their lives. Prayers of salvation, deliverance and healing were offered, God doing what only He can do, pouring out His grace on all who reached out in faith. The meetings were a huge success and the participating churches invited us back for a citywide event next spring, focused on exposing the lies behind the spirit of suicide, I of course said yes!
As with all of our trips we will always take full advantage of any opportunity to speak about the value of life. These meetings are called “Life Events”, or anti suicide campaigns. This event was different in that we had an invitation from the mayor of the city to come and expose what has been happening in the lives of teens around the region. The city of Itumbiara in the state of Goiás has seen its share of sorrow. Known as the one of the most prosperous cities in the area, Itumbiara, like many other cities in Brazil, has seen teen suicide rates increase drastically in the past 5 years. The pressures of social media, a break down in traditional family models and substance abuse has left a generation of teens and young adults susceptible to the ravages of this insidious spirit. When the mayor of the city suggested we come and hold a Life Event, I had my tickets booked that very hour. This was unusual because he offered to pay for the entire event. This included our in country flights, the students bus transportation, venue rental and lunch for the 2000 teens who attended. What was even more unusual was that 90% of the attending teens were not confessed Christians or church attendees. This was a mandatory event for the local schools, sanctioned and paid for by the local government
Our two session event started at 10am with the first group of 1000 teens arriving at 930, the second event was at 2pm with another 1000 filling the venue. Our friend and local pastor provided the music and audio and video systems. From the moment we took the stage the kids were transfixed. I gave my 20 minute traditional “ non- religious” presentation, explained who I was, what I did internationally and described the Sea of Trees documentary we created in Japan many years ago. I did not tell them I was a pastor or that I had been working with teens for almost 30 years. It was a very formal and informational presentation. After I spoke I presented the 15 minute version of the video, and that is when things got very spiritual. As with every other time that the video is played, the atmosphere changed drastically. The power and anointing on that video has the God-given ability to speak life to those who are considering suicide and to those who have lost someone to the act. For 15 minutes un-churched teens sat silently as the video communicated the message of life in a way that at times defies explanation. I then took the stage and brought my closing message about life, revealing that it is only Jesus who can make all things new. The tangible power and presence of Jesus is undeniable and is clearly evident in the response of the kids when I began to tear back the lies behind this demonic strategy. When I asked how many in the room have considered suicided or who have been impacted personally by its deceit, almost 500 respond standing to their feet.
I invited them to come forward so that we could pray with them and that is when things began to get interesting. As if on cue, they began to weep, at times audibly. The grace of God so filled the venue that even the hardest hearts melted before Him. This was the norm for both sessions. Over 1000 teens responded to God’s words of life and received prayer for salvation and for the grace to begin living a life of hope and mercy. We took each of their names and are putting them in touch with local churches to continue loving them back to life! It was an incredible time, the entire team stood in wonder as we saw God’s grace poured out on the hurting. For some, the message received has literally meant the difference between life and death. I know that this is just the beginning of something incredible God is wanting to do, not just in Brazil, but around the world!
I will be heading back to Brazil in October for another two weeks of ministry in Sao Paulo. Please keep my team and me in prayer as we declare the Good News of Jesus to anyone who will stand still.