Last Sunday, our church took to the road. The whole church that meets in our house went to worship with another family in our network of house churches. The family is Claudio and Rute Salgado and their three daughters, Keity, Jennifer and Lhaumar. We met Claudio and Rute (Ruth in portuguese) when we lived in an apartment during our first 2 years in Brazil. He was the superintendent and the whole family lived in a teeny, tiny apartment there in the building. After knowing them for a while, they started coming to the small group meeting in our house and to worship. We rejoiced with them as they were married and baptized on the same night about 2 years ago. Claudio, Rute and the girls at their wedding.
God has done a lot of work in their lives. For several years now they have been working hard to get out of debt and buy their own house. This was especially important to Claudio because if he had to leave his job as a superintendent for some reason, his family would have nowhere to live. About 4 months ago, they were able to buy a small house in a suburb of Porto Alegre. Since it is very expensive for their family to come into the city every Sunday, they have started a house church in their own home. They have just moved in and are just getting to know their neighbors, so they are worshipping together as a family and praying for others to join them.
Their new house in Cachoerinha, a suburb of Porto Alegre.
So, as an encouragement to them, our church family drove out to worship with them on Sunday. Their whole house is probably about 18 x 18 feet. It includes a living area with small kitchen, a bathroom and 2 bedrooms. We had 31 people in this house. We sang together, prayed together, listened as Claudio and Rute shared their testimony, shared communion and a meal together. As I sat there on Sunday, the word that kept coming to my mind was "sweet". Not sweet like "oh, how cute", but sweet like "there's a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place....."
I read a book recently which was like a novel telling about some people starting a house church. In this story, a minister at a large congregation was asked, "What would happen if you announced this Sunday that you had sold the building, eliminated the programs, the Sunday school, the scheduled meetings, the home groups, etc......If you removed all of it, whatever you would have left is all you really have now." In other words, the building and the programs don't count. A church is the people.
At Claudio and Rute's house, we didn't have a slide show or a sound system. We didn't have a Sunday school - the kids all played together in one of the bedrooms. We didn't have a praise team. We didn't have a sermon. We didn't even have enough chairs for everyone or a camera to record the event. But what we did have was a church. Worshipping together, praying for each other, rejoicing with each other. And it was sweet.