I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift (Ephesians 4:1-7).
I've been reading through Ephesians recently and wanted to share a few words about what God has been teaching me. Walk in a manner worthy of the calling. God has called me to live on mission for him in Brazil. Many times I do not feel worthy of the calling. Then I realize that Christ has made me worthy through his sacrifice on the cross. By his blood, that is, by Christ's gift, we are given grace to walk in a manner worthy of the calling. By his grace, Christ is working humility and gentleness into me, deepening my patience and love. What's awesome is that he's doing this not just for my good, but for the good of others. Reading on in Ephesians, we see that Christ gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (4:11-12).
Each week, as we go to Cidade de Deus (City of God) to serve, we have different volunteers come with us. This past week a woman from our church went with us and we had a better chance to get to know her. She is new Christian and is excited to serve with us and is growing quickly in faith. While we were walking through the streets we came across a small church that belongs to a gigantic prosperity denomination called Universal. Prosperity theology teaches that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will increase one's material wealth. Alongside these teachings, this church sells oils and offers healing services. Our friend commented that she liked the work they did and had gone to several services. We shared a bit about their theology and how it differed from what we see God sharing with us in the Bible. She was shocked that they sold healing oils and charms. We loved sharing with her the truth about Christ in love.
"so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" (Ephesians 4:14-16 ESV).
City of God and other communities like it are plagued by false teachers who share wild claims about health and wealth for their own personal gain. We are trying to see that changed, by sharing the truth about Jesus. The truth that "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5). This is our anthem.
Here are a few photos from our Christmas party in City of God. We had a lot of help from our church and it was incredible to see the help we received from people in the community. It was pouring rain, so we scrambled to set up our tent and had a lot of help putting up other tarps. We strung them across the street and people tied them to their fence posts and walls. We prayed together and then served food and gave away presents for children. Thank you for making all of this possible because of your prayers and financial help. I could not be living here serving if it were not for you.
We're excited for what 2015 will bring!