When we closed down our big building and moved to house churches one of the questions we had was where we were going to meet monthly for our big celebrations. It obviously had to be big enough to hold our family and at the same time have room for our not-yet Christian friends who wanted to visit. Rent for almost anything in our city is expensive. To be able to find someone who had a great space, who would give an affordable price for this growing family, and at the same time who would allow this place to be used only one day a month would truly be a God thing.
After looking around we decided to give our club a look. Our family and Matt's (our teammate)family are members of the same club. This is a place for our kids to swim in the summer, take year round exercise/sports classes, pre-school etc. It's a really great place and they have different places for us to meet together once a month at a fairly affordable price. The good thing about house churches is they are very reproducible. You don't need an American missionary to start one. You don't have to have a fancy building or lots of American money to keep it going. If God touches your heart to open your home then you do it. The price and location of the meeting place for our celebrations are very reproducible even if every American had to get on a plane and leave Porto Alegre tomorrow. God had, once again, provided for our church family.
We began meeting in an auditorium with mini stadium seating. We met there a one time. It never did feel worthy of a "celebration" type setting. It felt too "churchy" for our Brazilian friends and for the Americans as well. We then moved to a big room which allowed us to move our chairs in more of a circle and face each other. No podium, no stadium seating, etc. It was better but still lacking something. In this room we weren't allowed to bring our own food. Our club has a contract with a food service which enforces a policy for this room. Whoever rents it, if they want food, has to buy food from this food service company, which would be too expensive for us. This was a good room for our celebrations but the food thing was a drawback. One of the things we are learning in house church is that sharing a meal after our worship time is, many times, being church much more than what happened in the worship. All of the different house churches have some type of meal together after each time together either weekly or bi-weekly. Brazilians love their meal times together. Walls just break down and people open up over a meal.
So, in our family decision to "be church" instead of "do church" we moved rooms again for our celebration. We moved to a place called the "Galpão Crioulo" - a room made especially for having Brazilian churrasco (barbeque).
We met for the second time in this new place last week and it was incredible. The Spirit was present in a way that many people have never experienced before. It was really exciting and I personally had different Brazilians tell me throughout the week how good our time together was. One of the most exciting things about our time together was that one third of the people there were visitors. One third! All of these visitors were brought by Brazilians which is even more exciting. Our Brazilian family is really learning how it's everyone's job, not just the missionary's, to evangelize. God is really working here! I know for a fact that 4 of these visitors have already visited one of the house churches that meet throughout the city.
Here are some pictures from our great day together.
This is our teammate Matt sharing some biblical truths with God's family. He shared a little about spiritual gifts.
This place we rent has 2 sections....a lower, bigger section and an upper/smaller section. The lower section was overflowing with people and so most of the teenagers/kids took over the upper section. God has blessed us with a growing group of good, young people.
This is our brother Renato and his friend Dario (Dario is in the black shirt). They have been friends since their military days over 25 years ago. Renato spoke with Dario one day about house church and it really peaked Dario's interest. So, a few months back the house church that meets in Matt and Waleska's apartment became mobile. They met in Dario's house one Sunday. Dario and his family really enjoyed their time with our Christian family. Dario and his family came to their first celebration last week and he helped Renato cook the food. I spoke with him later and he expressed a desire to have house church again in his house. I love how God can just open a door like that. Please pray for this family of not-yet believers.
We'll do our best to update about more exciting celebrations in the future. Please pray for our entire church family as we continue to look and see where God is working and then join Him.