During lunch at the home of a dentist and his family in Londrina, Brazil, I learned that my afternoon had already been planned. I was to preach in an industrial area of the city where their downtown Presbyterian Church had purchased a large warehouse, now “converted” into a worship and evangelism center. Their goal was to reach people for Christ who would not come to a more formal church sanctuary. As I entered the warehouse filled with over 1,500 empty chairs, I felt totally overwhelmed and unprepared for what to say. I met with the the pastor who indicated that after 45 minutes of praise led by the worship team, I had 15 minutes to give an evangelistic message in English. It would be translated into Portuguese by one of the lay leaders. I expected a small crowd of elderly people, since it was mid-afternoon.
“Lord, help me know what to say!” An illustration about a surgeon who operated on a young woman with melanoma cancer immediately came to mind. It was a testimony I had read of what God’s love looks like. Asking the translator if he knew how to say medical terms about surgery into Portuguese, he grinned and said he was a Brazilian surgeon, who learned English while receiving advanced training in Texas. The surgeon, Dr. Luis, was also an elder at the church, very involved in a ministry of prayer and evangelism, and their best English translator. Wow! I sensed something good was about to happen! Dr. Luis found other translators for each of our other three American team members, so all of us could do prayer ministry following the message.
Amazingly, over 1,200 showed up for the service: all ages, men and women, mostly poor, children, youth, college age and older. When I rose to speak, I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence following the extended worship and praise. At the back of the room, intercessors were standing with arms raised in prayer. Later I learned that in another room, over 30 intercessors were on their knees in prayer. When I finished the message with Dr. Luis’ excellent translation, we invited any who wanted to receive Christ, or to rededicate their lives to Christ, or receive prayer for any need to come forward to one of our four prayer teams. Over 120 came to the front. The Holy Spirit was clearly touching lives. Each team began by asking individuals their needs, listening, and then praying as others waited patiently for prayer.
As I stood beside Dr. Luis to pray with those in our long line, he listened to a young college age student as she explained her need. This was her amazing story. She was a spiritist and did not believe in Jesus. Several nights previously, however, she had a dream that several Americans were visiting Londrina and were telling her about Jesus. She shared the dream with her roommate the following morning. Her roommate, a member of the Presbyterian Church, said that several from the United States were speaking at the Wednesday afternoon worship service at the warehouse. Would she go with her? She did, heard me talk about Jesus and His love, and came forward, telling Dr. Luis she wanted to meet Jesus. Since she needed some spiritual “house cleaning” after she accepted the Lord, and our line was so long, I asked my wife Ida and her translator to pray with her. What a radiant change in her face when she renounced the spiritual forces of evil and accepted Jesus. Her roommate was able to do follow-up with her immediately. Jesus’ loving power was so awesome that afternoon. Dr. Luis and I kept praying for the line of people in front of us. He had to stop from time to time to call the hospital, explaining that he would be delayed making rounds with patients. I suggested he say that an additional 30 patients had come to see him unexpectedly at the warehouse!
If I ever wondered whether God still speaks through dreams and visions today, like in the Gospels and Book of Acts, that question was answered big time for me that afternoon.
Dr. Larry Selig 2/24/17