Thursday, April 08, 2010
The picture above is from our celebration time together from this past Sunday night.
My mom took it while we were praying for a special brother. Everyone had gotten together to lay hands on him and on each other.
We've been in Porto Alegre almost eight years and I honestly could not be happier with what God is doing here.
Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Are we some perfect church family? Absolutely not. We are a bunch of sinners who continually goof up but we, as a family, are learning to live by God's grace. As we grow together God is teaching us what it means to be a true family.
As I look at the picture I think of how normally we don't get to choose who is in our family. We get to choose, or are Spirit led, with our decision of a spouse or an adopted child but we don't get to choose our parents, our brothers or sisters, our grandparents, cousins, etc. Those decisions are typically made for us by the decisions of someone else. They are out of our control. Those people in our family may be different than us but we do our best to make it work. If you live for God you do whatever it takes to live in peace and have true fellowship with people in your family.
It's the same way in our church family. We don't make the choice of who is or isn't "worthy" of fellowship with Christ. We open the door to every person in our city. Warts and all. Honestly, who doesn't have warts? The warts are the reason Jesus died on the cross.
Eight years ago I had no idea what this ministry would look like or who would be part of this family. Eight years later I could not be happier with where God has us. We are a part of a strong, and getting stronger, body of believers. In that group we have recovering alcoholics, recovering cocaine and crack addicts. We have single moms, teenage moms and unwed moms. We have white people and black people. We have mixed race marriages and mixed culture marriages. We have single men and women. We have small kids and babies. We have new Christians, people who have been Christians for a long time and people who aren't yet Christians. We have Americans, Brasilians and Uruguayans. We have people that have some money, people that have little money and people that have little to no money.
We could not be more different in our life experiences, but we are family. We are learning to share our joys and heartaches. We are learning to confess our sins to God and to each other. We are learning to pray together. We don't judge one another and we are open to any person who wants to be a part of this church family. We are learning how to reach out to the lost in our city. We are learning how to disciple.
We are learning how to be God's family.
Our goal is to be an Acts 2 church family:
"And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved."
I'm not sure, eight years ago, where I expected us to be today. I just know that I had no idea how good this would be or how much God would have blessed us after those eight years.
We have been blessed to see Acts 2 in action here and it has moved our hearts. We know God has much more planned for this church family.
We have a real family here and it's incredible.