By Ruben Alvarado
Brazil: 6,000 miles away. Known for its world-class soccer team and beautiful people. What it’s also known for is a sky rocketing crime rate and a corrupt government. I never thought my first mission trip would be to Brazil. I never thought Brazil would be the first country I would visit. But wow. God really knew what He was doing.
Before Glad Tidings announced that Brazil would be 2017’s mission trip destination, I already knew I was going to go. I didn’t know how, but God was putting it on my heart. After Glad Tiding’s 2016 mission trip, when the team brought back so many stories, pictures and videos, my life was slowly being impacted tremendously. It was also as if I did not need to be there to receive the spiritual awakening that the team had. Something in my heart had been triggered. After seeing video after video of Liberian people being spiritually impacted by the physical touch and prayers of my fellow church members, people who I looked at as normal people, fellow strugglers, it really did something to me. It was something I could not shake away.
The first half of the mission trip involved living on a boat. Literally. Once all 6 teams arrived to Manaus, Brazil, we began traveling by boat north up the Amazon River. One of the crewmembers said, “Once we leave this dock, we completely disconnect with civilization as we know it.” He was right. Over the course of 5 days we visited 4 villages, arriving at a new one each morning. One of the biggest village communities only had 14 families. Each village visit included 1-2 children’s events and a nighttime event for the adults. During the children’s events we played games, shared testimonies and danced to Portuguese Christian songs. The first village we visited, my team leader asked me to use one of the translators to give the final and closing testimony to the children and pray over them out loud while the rest of the team laid hands on them. I was beyond honored to share my personal story of how my family situation growing up was far from perfect. My parents argued non stop to the point where I hardly ever saw love come out of them. As I continued to tell these kids about how God brought my whole family out of the rut we were in, for the first time, I began to cry. It was the moment I said I had never seen my mom happier, I truly believed it. At the same time the children and their parents were getting touch by God hearing my story, I was getting touched, too. It was something so spiritually powerful. At the third village, I went to pray for one of the older men there. Once I touched his hands to begin praying, I immediately felt something come over me. I felt heavy-hearted and knew he was struggling with something. I prayed over him passionately and began to cry. He began to cry, as well. Although we didn’t speak the same language, our spirits knew what was happening.
After traveling up the Amazon River we arrived at the city of Manaus, which is still technically considered the Amazon. It was a little more developed than any of the villages we had just come from. Manaus triggered the second half of the mission trip. During the 5 days in Manaus we visited many churches, continuously praying over the people in the congregation. As I finished praying for one person, I would walk around to pray for the next. During these small breaks, I would look around and see people lying on the floor, crying their hearts out. Not because they were physically hurting but because they were being delivered. Delivered from bad habits, curses, demons, you name it. The Holy Spirit was definitely present. I can specifically remember praying for a man from behind him and an older leader of mine whispered in my ear to get in front of him and pray; a small suggestion with a big impact. I got in front of the man and began to pray like his soul depended on it. Within a minute he fell to the floor, weeping. He was being delivered from a struggle he was having with God. While praying for him, I could sense he was questioning God about something. While he was on the floor crying, I put my hand over him and asked the Lord to fill him with His love and joy. I could tell God was pouring into him, letting him know who his true Father is. After the service, he got up from the floor and gave me a huge hug. No words exchanged; just a hug, which said it all.
In all of this, it is God who gets all the Glory. He provided a way and used me when I did not feel worthy of being used. That’s just how God works.