"But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” - Jeremiah 29:7
Our team of seventeen had been preparing for months to train leaders in the city. From a large Esther Initiative conference, to Marketplace Missions workshops, to training in a local social community, there would be many moving parts to our ten days of strategic ministry together. To say that we were fired up to get on the ground and get to work would be an understatement.
But a week before we were set to depart for Porto Alegre, an unexpected truck drivers' strike was paralyzing the nation.
In twenty-four of twenty-six states, trucker roadblocks shut down highways in protest against rising fuel prices that took yet another hit to Brazil's suffering economy. Airport transportation was halted due to lack of fuel. Supermarket shelves became sparse. A massive loss of livestock resulted from lack of animal feed, and procedures in some hospitals were suspended due to lack of medicine. It is estimated that the strike resulted in a loss of over seven billion dollars of economic production over just five days. All the while, tension grew between a frustrated people and its government.
And so we hit our knees and we prayed.
Our Global Advance international coordinators in Brazil have become more than beloved ministry partners; we have a deep heart connection that truly feels more like family. For the last five years we've dreamed God-sized dreams with them, lifting their arms as together we train leaders and pray for the transformation of their nation. In this time of historic economic crisis, political corruption, crime, and the poverty of millions, we know that the answer for Brazil is Jesus. There's no denying that Brazil's recent challenges have opened the door to bring the hope of Christ to this hurting nation like never before.
We felt strongly that the time to GO was now, and God answered our prayers.
The weekend before we were set to travel the truck drivers' strike was lifted. We were on our way to witness MORE of the powerful move of God in this city...
Three years ago we launched our first Esther Initiative training conference in Porto Alegre. One church was represented and 400 women gathered, hungry to know more of who they are in Christ; to know of their calling and capacity to be used by God to advance the gospel in their city.
Two years ago the Lord captured the hearts of the Brazil team to help bring unity to the city by inviting multiple churches to our second Esther Initiative conference. South Brazil - with only 11% of its population identified as evangelical Christians - had long been known as the "pastor's graveyard" due to a rejection of the gospel and the disunity of its people. A powerful moment during that conference came when representatives from 26 churches came forward, humbled themselves, repented, and committed to serving God better together. Over 700 women in one auditorium proclaimed that together their focus is Jesus, the message is the gospel, and their task is the Great Commission.
When God moves in a city, the beauty of multiplication is evident.
Last month we partnered for our third Esther Initiative conference - this time in a university campus auditorium in order to accommodate the 1,200 women who flocked together from 65 churches! From one to sixty-five churches. Only God!
These women know without a doubt that God has called them to work together to shine His light in their city... for such a time as this.
They joyfully accepted our challenges to recommit to daily time with God, to pursue intentional mentoring relationships, and to boldly step into their calling to reach the unreached in their city and beyond.
But the impact doesn't stop there.
In between conferences church leaders have begun meeting monthly to build relationships, pray, and seek the Lord together for the welfare of their city. Their unity and momentum has caught the attention of additional leaders throughout the marketplace, social, and government sectors.
As God continues to move in hearts across Porto Alegre, city leaders are now asking how they can work together.
When God moves in a city, it has the potential to transform an entire nation. We believe that in Brazil He is doing just that.
Please PRAY for our additional training conferences in Brazil yet this year: for our large NextGen event that kicks off next week, and for our much longed for Marketplace Missions conference in November. Lord willing, we're already strategizing about how our holistic approach to Global Advance trainings can impact even more cities in Brazil in 2019.
The harvest is plenty, and the workers in Brazil are multiplying thanks to your partnership. Just look at what God is doing around the world as we empower frontline leaders to fulfill the Great Commission... together.