"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Giu

This is Bronwyn with her three best friends from school. In fact, they call themselves the "Fantastic Four." From left to right is Giu, Bronwyn, Bernardo and Julia. We want to share about Giu. Giu is an amazing 17 year old. He lives with his aunt and uncle. His father passed away a few years ago. His mom lives in São Paulo. She got a job there a few years ago and moved with Giu. Giu didn't like it and wanted to move back to Porto Alegre and so he moved in with his mom's sister. In a lot of ways it's hard for Giu living with his aunt and uncle. They have 3 girls of their own and his aunt is pregnant. Giu sometimes feels like the odd man out. It's family, but it doesn't always feel like home. We've always tried to make our kids' friends feel welcome in our home and to let them know they are welcome here any time.

One thing we've noticed is that many of our kids' friends (mainly Bronwyn and Ansley as they tend to have the most church activities) don't really seem interested in being a part of a church. They'll come to our house but won't go if our kids invite them to something that seems "churchy". That sounds very familiar.

At the beginning of this year Benay and I felt the Spirit's leading to do something about bridging that gap. We felt led to begin having a supper and game/Nintendo Wii/movie/whatever night in our house once a month. We wanted to allow our teenagers to have a night to bring people here and allow our family to be Christ to them. Something not overwhelming, but that would allow their friends to sense the presence of Jesus. Our plan was to have food, to say a prayer for that food and then let them do some kind of activity together. We wanted to allow God to do His stuff as He worked on their hearts. Benay, Bronwyn, Ansley and I all felt that this is an area in which God is working and we just wanted to join Him there.

We planned on starting this in March (because most people are still traveling in January and February because of our summer break) but have yet to have the first one because of different parties, etc. that keep messing up our plans. Even with us not having one supper yet, God is showing His faithfulness and His love for these kids.

I asked Bronwyn if she ever asked her 3 buddies if they wanted to come and visit with the church family that meets in our house. She said yes and some expressed interest but that she would ask again. She did and Giu said he wanted to come to the next one.

You need to understand that Giu is a very special young man. He is not afraid to show his emotions. In fact, on his first time with us he began to cry, in front of the entire house church, while sharing a prayer request. He says what is on his mind but not in a bad way. His first time here he sat next to Benay as she shared from God's word and one time he said, out loud, "Wow, that's really cool!" It's fun being around Giu because he just really brings it straight from the heart. He has a fun loving, dynamic personality that just draws people to him.

After his first experience with house church I gave him a ride home. We began talking about that first experience and he said he really liked it and he wanted to come back every week. These talks have happened every Sunday since and it has become one of my favorite parts of the week. God is really blessing me in my time with Giu.

The next day, after his first house church visit, he called his mom to tell her what had happened. She later spoke with Benay and told her that on that same weekend she felt led to go on a personal spiritual retreat. She spent the entire weekend praying for her son to want to get close to Christ and give his life to the Lord. She got home, and the next day Giu shared with her his desire to be a part of our house church. Is God good or what?

As I mentioned before, Giu's home life here has been tough. Not abusive tough but "Spirit of God is not living in this place" tough. His uncle is Jewish and his grandmother (who also lives in the same apartment) is spiritist and now Giu wanted to be a part of our house church family. He asked if he could sleep here on Saturday nights so he could already be here for house church on Sunday. We told him yes and the next week he slept on our couch. The following week his aunt told him that wouldn't be allowed to come anymore because she thought he was being a nuisance to our family because he wanted to spend a lot of time here with us. Giu was sad because he felt like something good was being taken from him. He wasn't sure if he would be allowed to come back to our house church with any kind of frequency. Giu could never be a nuisance to us. He has a big heart that is searching for Jesus and his personality makes him like sugar to our kids. They literally flip out when they know he is coming to our house. I guess it's a Giu rush.

Shortly after, Giu's mom called Benay and told her she was very excited that Giu was part of the house church that meets in our house. She had already called her sister (the aunt Giu lives with) to tell her that she approved of and, in fact, wanted Giu to participate as often as he wanted. She then asked Benay if she would call her sister just to reassure her and let her know our house was Giu's house. Benay did and Giu's aunt was very kind and began to understand that we wanted Giu in our house. Since that time Giu has been allowed to participate in everything he's wanted to involved with God's family. He even went on the Easter retreat a couple of weeks ago.

Here's a photo of Giu (in the yellow shirt on the right) singing at the retreat. He spontaneously started one song during our sunrise worship time, and had people snapping to some songs as well. This is after just having met most of these people and learned many of the songs just a few days earlier. Just last week at our celebration worship with all of the house churches together, a mom of some teenagers came up to Benay and told her that Giu was "something else" and that he was exactly what the youth group needed. His dynamic personality can easily draw people to him and, better yet, to Christ.On the second night of our Easter retreat Giu came up to me and, with tears in his eyes, told me he had made a very important decision in his life during that retreat. He wanted to give his life to Christ and be baptized. Here is a picture that Benay took just a few moments later. Obviously, we are so happy for Giu. He called his mom to share the news and we are going to see if she can come here from São Paulo to witness this faith walk step of baptism.

All this has happened in about a month's time. This just reminds us that God is in control. When we try to push the walls of His will (and I've done this many times) it doesn't work. But, when we join Him where He is already working, it is always blessed. That doesn't mean it's always easy. In fact, like we've mentioned before, this "being church" instead of "playing church" is the hardest thing we've ever done. Satan constantly attacks us and tries to discourage but we are becoming more aware of the spiritual nature of this battle. This is truly a war with the evil one but nothing has ever been more rewarding for Benay, myself and our kids.

We praise God for Bronwyn's influence over the years on Giu. Bronwyn, like all of our kids, lives her faith and her friends see that. She isn't a preacher and doesn't daily ask her friends for Bible studies. She's just intentional about being Christ to all her friends and her friends see this in the choices she makes, the way she talks, etc. Her example makes something unattractive, like religion, become attractive - just having a personal relationship with Christ.

I've said that Bronwyn, Giu and Ansley together can take over their school for Jesus. They now have another friend from school who has been coming to some things in our house. In fact, she came to her first house church praise time this morning. Who knows, maybe soon we'll have a blog about her faith walk as well.

Please pray for Giu as he begins his new walk with Christ.

3 comments:

Mark&Ali said...

the ministry of teenagers is a powerful one!
my parents forever encouraged Paul and I to realize that we were as much a missionary as them.
both paul and i had very strong ministries with our high school friends, and were able to bring dozens of close friends to Christ. gracas a Deus! continue to encourage your children.

may the Lord give you many more fruits

much love,
ali

Sascha said...

Having been at the Easter Retreat and knowing Giu personally I already knew all that was in this post. However, the tears of joy still come a flowin! God is so good!

Giu said...

Hello I am giu
I do not speak much English then prefer writing in Portuguese (Used Google translator)

quero agradecer a deus por colocar uma familia com tanto amor em minha vida e que me fez enxergar o real amor dee cristo com tudo isto nao tenho palavras que digam melhor que estas...

thanks
i love you family