The importance of our leaders

In Brazil and in the United States we have upcoming elections. That’s a moment that we should take to think about the importance of our leaders, no matter where they are: in a government office, at work, in the church.

leader

Photo credit: FMG2008 (Creative Commons)

Talking about leaders, one thing caught my attention while I was reading through the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles in my yearly Bible reading: every time that Israel or Judah had a godly man as a king, one that followed God and lived according to His will, all people also behaved according to God’s will.

But when they had a bad king, one that worship other gods and rebelled against God, so did the people.

Some of the narrations in the Bible are brief, and they don’t explore the matter very deeply, but one thing is undeniable: the people followed their leader, no matter if he was a good or a bad one.

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Changing the world one child at a time

Have you ever wanted to change the world? I think all of us dream of making a difference in other people’s lives. All of us need to be needed. But we usually have no idea where to begin…

child

Have you thought about helping a child in a far away country? Get her to learn about Jesus, study, learn a profession, and break the cycle of poverty?

I’ve always dreamt about that, but I had no idea how easy it actually is to do it.

Do you want to know how?

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The power of one prayer

A few years ago, while evaluating my christian life, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t able to love like Jesus wanted me to. I realized that I needed a change in my life, so I prayed. I asked God for help.

Seed growing

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto/Anest

I’ve written about this already, you can check out this post. God first showed me what I needed to do, which was to act with love towards people. But what I didn’t expect was how He would change my life in the process.

The first seed that God planted in my heart was the love for the less fortunate ones. It took more than two years for this seed to start growing. And it is still a seed, but it has already changed a lot inside of me.

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What love looks like

Have you ever thought about what you consider a sign of love?

Couple at sunset

Photo credit: Lake Effects Photography (Creative Commons)

The other day I was going through some photos from one of my trips to North Carolina, and I remembered an interesting scene that I observed while I was having lunch at a restaurant facing the ocean in Wilmington.

While I was eating and enjoying the beautiful scenary, a couple approached one of the tables in my line of vision. The man had white hair and he was in a wheelchair. I couldn’t tell the age of the woman. Maybe she was his wife or daughter, or someone else.

I got distracted, and when I looked back at them, their food had already been served, and the woman was feeding the man. Apparently, he couldn’t move his arms either.

When she finished feeding him, she took a napkin and cleaned the corners of his mouth. I thought that whoever she was, she was taking good care of him.

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All they need is love

In the last couple of Saturdays I attended a leadership class prepared by Suzanne Duppong, a missionary from JEAME, the non-profit organization I’ve been working with.

Poor boy

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Suzy, as we call her, has worked for 31 years reaching for the needy and preaching the Word of God in slums, state shelters and in the streets, seeking for children and teenagers in need, usually those who are somehow involved with drug addiction.

Even though the class I’m attending is technical, in order to prepare us to be social project leaders, she also shares stories. Stories of amazing things that God has done in her life and also to reach those lost young ones.

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One year later…

Time flies. In a few days it will be one year since I quit my job at IBM.

calendar

Photo credit: Andreanna Moya Photography (Creative Commons)

Back then, I didn’t know exactly what God wanted me to do, but I was sure that it was related to social causes and getting involved with a non-profit organization.

Now I can see how He indeed guided me towards that direction.

I found out about integral missions, which is to provide for the person’s needs in all areas: physical, psychological and spiritual. Then I realized that this is an example of what the apostle James talked about when he wrote about faith and deeds (check James 2:14-26):

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. (James 2:18)

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Challenges and opportunities

Last Saturday, a few people from my church and I went to Francisco Morato, a city near São Paulo, to visit one of the facilities of a non-profit organization called JOCUM (short for “Jovens Com Uma Missão”) which is the local branch of YWAM (short for “Youth with a mission”).

Five loaves of bread and two fish

Photo credit: © Anyka – Fotolia.com

At this facility the missionaries work to help and provide for a very poor population (Francisco Morato is one of the poorest cities in Brazil). Their main focus is the children, for whom they provide several activities in order to keep them from drugs and criminality. They have soccer practice, English and Spanish classes, and they also teach them the Word of God.

The vast majority of these children comes from broken homes. In that region, unfortunately, it is common that the father flees and the mother is left behind to care for herself and the many children.

It is overwhelming to see such poverty so close to São Paulo, the richest city in Brazil. Yet, it is reassuring to see the sacrifices that those missionaries face every day in order to reach for those people. I am sure many other missionaries face similar difficulties all over the world at this very moment.

Looking at such poverty and overwhelming need, I kept thinking about how God works.

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I shall not want

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1 – KJV)

Young girl praying

Photo by: ©iStockphoto/AlexMotrenko

This is the first sentence of the most known Psalm in the Bible, Psalm 23. That is such a powerful affirmation! However, the second part of the sentence is sometimes misunderstood.

Most often, people think that it says that the Lord will give them everything they want. They assume that if the psalmist says that they don’t want anything else, that is because they have everything they do want.

Notice that the subject of the second part of the sentence is “I”. “I” is the person doing the action, and the action is “not want”.

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The unlikely adversaries of God

When we talk about the adversaries of God, everyone thinks about Satan and his demons. But the painful reality is that, sometimes, the ones that claim to follow God put themselves in a position that creates opposition to His plans.

Wrestling

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One of the most painful experiences I had in the church was facing opposition inside the church against something that I was positive that God had instructed me to do.

The Bible gives us several examples of people who had good intentions, they never meant to oppose God’s will, but in fact they did.

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The rise of the underdog

I love sports, and I enjoy the Olympic Games very much. I like to watch all sports matches whenever I can, even if I don’t have a favorite to root for.

Gold medal

Photo Credit: ©iStockPhoto / BrianAJackson

One thing that has always fascinated me is my behavior towards a match where two athletes or two teams that I don’t root for compete. As soon as I know that one of them is the favorite, I start rooting for the other one. Actually, I think most people do the same thing.

In fact, one of the most special moments of sports is, in my opinion, when the underdog beat the favorite one.

But we don’t like it to be unfair. We want the underdog to rise to the occasion and beat the favorite, and do it fairly so.

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