“I have a surprise for you,” said my mother as she entered my room with her hands behind her back.
“What is it?” I asked as I looked up from my bed.
I was ten years old and was taken aback. Seeing my mom in my room was unusual for me. And I didn’t understand why her hands were behind her back.
“Well,” she said, “Today at work, someone gave me something to eat and I thought of you.”
“Yes,” she replied, “And when you eat these, you’ll dream of other countries and distant far away lands.”
She had my full attention.
“What is it?” I asked.
She then tossed a package of Brazil nuts into my lap.
We both laughed, but that memory came to me this past week when one of our Brazilian Mission Team members offered me a Brazil nut.
“Huh,” I mumbled as I munched on the nut. “I’m actually eating a Brazil nut while in Brazil.”
Manaus, Brazil is a city of roughly two million people. Like most cities, there are wealthy people and poor people and lots of other somewhere in between.
While in Manaus, I had the opportunity to work with Pastor Edson Fernandes from the Igreja Batista Agape. Agape means Unconditional Love. Pastor Edson, his wife Neide, and the congregation of their church live up to that name very well. They show unconditional love to the people of their community and to each other.
They took a risk in welcoming us into their church. Over a week’s time, we were able to minister to the children of the community during the day, visit with many people in the city and in schools during the week, present a special dramatic presentation to a packed house, and see many children, teenagers, and adults commit their lives to Jesus Christ.
I was honored to spend several days ministering alongside them. We left them with many supplies, clothes, and other items they could use for themselves, for outreach, or for their ministry. One of our team members even purchased lots of supplies to help them begin their own food bank ministry. As we were leaving, the Pastor and his wife said to us, “We will take many of the items you have left and use them to reach out to a mission church we support. It’s 20-30 minutes by boat down the Amazon River.
Seeing the love they have for others and their willingness to share what little they have to share the love of Jesus brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. I thank God for my time with Pastor Edson and Neide Fernandes and Igreja Batista Agape. I pray I can live up to the standards of love they demonstrate in and through their church.
Thanks, Mom, for tossing me that package of Brazil Nuts so long ago and sparking my interest in the nation of Brazil. Your investment has given me great joy on this day.