I had the privilege of being invited as one of the guest teachers at the inaugural Reach Conference sponsored by Every Home for Christ in Brazil. The ministry there has recently purchased the former campus of a seminary which they have converted into a retreat center for training pastors in how to more effectively reach their communities with the gospel. For two days of the six-day training, I taught on the importance of discipleship and engagement in Bible study. As I led the pastors in a practice session of the Be Fruitful and Multiply approach to Bible study that I helped develop for EHC, I had to literally make the group stop their discussion sessions – an indication of how much they were enjoying their time in the Word. This was exactly what I had hoped would happen as the ladies and gentlemen found themselves fully engaged in the study. All of the delegates – even though they had been Christians and even pastors for many years, testified to having discovered new truths through this short practice session. Additionally, they all said that they saw real value in the approach and planned to implement it in their churches as a way of disciplining their members and new converts.
I already knew a few of the pastors who took part in the meetings from my previous ministry in the country. One of these acquaintances approached me and began to recite the message that I had preached at least two years previously – a confirmation that my ministry had truly impacted the pastor. When the pastor added that members of his church are still talking about what I had shared, I knew that my time in Brazil had produced fruit that had remained. (John 15:16)
Knowing how much the Brazilians love soccer (or – as they say – “futball”), I showed up at one of the sessions wearing a jersey that was given to me on by first visit to the country. Since this conference was in a different part of the country from where I was on all my previous trips, I was aware, of course, that the shirt was not going to be for the team that the people in this area followed. I opened the meeting with, “The first thing that I learned in Brazil is that if you want the people to love you, all you need to do is wear a “futball” jersey. The second thing that I learned in Brazil is that if you want the people to hate you, all you need to do is wear a jersey from the wrong team.” It turned out that the people loved me no matter what jersey I was wearing.
I was also able to share a copy of my Finally, My Brethren book in Portuguese with each man in the group and a copy of Peggy’s Women for the Harvest book in Portuguese with each lady in the meeting. A real highlight of the conference was the release of the Portuguese version of my new book, The Seventh Man at the Well – which hasn’t even been released in English yet.