A cold shower of discouragement makes me quiver with the thought of being trapped in the side-lines of Kingdom work. I hope my story will help inspire God-glorifying change when discouragement knocks on your door.
Years ago, I left my country of Brazil to pursue my secular ambitions internationally. I met the Lord through the expository preaching of pastors from the US and UK, and he kindled my heart to serve him through that same kind of preaching which rescued me from my meandering in spiritual deserts. I thought of Jonah, as I was sent back to where I had fled from to proclaim God’s Word, which had been so poisoned inside the church as well as choked outside of it.
When I was born 58 years ago, 93% of my Brazilian countrymen were Catholics. Since then, 25% of these have become Pentecostal or neo-Pentecostal, 10% have turned agnostic or atheist, 5% have embraced other faiths, while conservative evangelicals only grew from 3% to 4%.
I returned to Brazil in 2020 to serve with the founding pastor of a financially poor, 170-member church in the coastal town of Guarujá. I have been honoured to be ordained as their pastor and to have been able to reach out to some who were detached or in the claws of unbiblical ‘isms’, and bring them back to God’s fold. Even some rogue agnostics have also been listening by the bank of the quiet waters before the green pastures.
Reduced preaching opportunities
But the local church is made of people of different opinions and influences, and my preaching opportunities were reduced from what was initially proposed. “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Psalms 39.7)
My wife’s support is precious and so are the prayers of beloved brethren “back home”. As I am humbled, I sense an encouraging breeze from the Holy Spirit keeping my faith and focus on the Lord’s calling.
I sense an encouraging breeze from the Holy Spirit keeping my faith and focus on the Lord’s calling.
I keep looking to the Lord and wonder how he will consolidate my ministry. He keeps me alive: preaching in my church and nearby churches, leading a small book club, and often having neighbours over for coffee and to share the Bible and pray with them. But I prayerfully ask the Lord to open doors for me to preach his Word more, in the hope of seeing more people transformed by it, in the same way I was.
I prayerfully ask the Lord to open doors for me to preach his Word more, in the hope of seeing more people transformed.
As my prayers intensify, the Lord starts broadening my perspective. I am drawn to an abandoned estate where preaching could be more evangelistically visible. I know believers who run a private school and I have discussed with them how to mentor students and use their space to preach on Sundays.
I am drawn to an abandoned estate where preaching could be more evangelistically visible.
I have befriended the manager of the cemetery and crematorium, considering its pleasant premises and auditorium as another option for a preaching ministry, as well as offering burial services for bereaving families who are pastorless.
There is also an international church in São Paulo in need of a pastor: perhaps the Lord will use me to work with sheep of the same upbringing as me, back in my native city?
I am comforted by the support of dear mission-partnering churches and Christians.
I am seeing the Lord establishing my steps. I praise and thank him for working his good pleasure in me (Phil 2:13) and am comforted by the support of dear mission-partnering churches and Christians. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16.9)
Eduardo Lemos and Anna Marzia Frattini serve in São Paulo state, Brazil.