The Reformation Herald Online Edition

October-Novemeber, 2019

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Experiences with God in Brazil

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31).

Around 1974, Jacinto Pereira, then a young man of 27 years, was invited to become a colporteur. Until that moment, he had never sold anything in his life, but he understood that the call to literature evangelism was divine, so he worked in several locations as a missionary of the printed page.

Near the end of 1975, young Jacinto arrived at the city that was chosen to be one of his fields of labor—Mozarlândia, in the state of Goiás.

It was a very rainy season. There was no way to work because of incessant precipitations. In the course of the day, there were two or three hours of dry weather available, in which Bro. Jacinto used to work in commercial or residential areas as the case may be. When the rain returned, he would return to a small hostel in the center of the city where he had rented a room.

One afternoon, upon leaving for work, the young colporteur found a gentleman sitting near the door of the hostel, weeping. Brother Jacinto approached him and asked:

“Good afternoon, my good man ... What is happening to you? How can I help you?”

The gentleman explained that he had been working on a farm in the countryside for several months, and because of heavy rains the manager had not been there for many, many days. Now this unfortunate man had contracted malaria, and the disease had progressed to an almost terminal stage. He was at the brink of death. His colleagues, who worked on the farm, had taken him to the small hospital in the city, which was private. The clinic did not want to admit him because he did not have the money to pay for the treatment. So the companions left him in front of the hostel and returned to the farm. Finally he sobbed:

“I’m going to die here! I have nowhere to go and there is no one for me in this city!”

“Not so!” declared Brother Jacinto. “I may not have a doctor here to look after you, but in heaven above there is a God who heals everything!”

At that moment, the young colporteur took the man into the hostel and treated him. When malaria manifests itself, first comes a very strong heat (a symptom of high fever). Then the brother applied a cold shower over a basin where there was ice water. Then, when the cold arrived—as is characteristic of the disease—Brother Jacinto would give him a hot bath.

So the days went by. Along with this shock treatment, Brother Jacinto removed all solid food and began to give him juices of various types of vegetables. He toasted lemon peel, from which he made a powder and gave it to that man as an infusion with hot water. In addition, the man drank bitter teas throughout the day.

A few days later, the sufferer realized that the attacks of heat and cold were becoming less and less frequent, until he felt nothing else. After a few more days, he told Brother Jacinto:

“Look, I thank you very much for the treatments; these juices have helped me a lot. But I cannot take them anymore. I am very hungry; I need more substantial food.

“How wonderful,” said our brother. “But I cannot give you solid food yet. You have spent many days without eating anything substantial. It may be dangerous to do so abruptly. Let’s reintroduce the food slowly, okay?”

Then our brother began to prepare potatoes and other tubers, into a thin broth on the first day. On the third day he gave him mashed potatoes and in four or five days, that man was eating normally, without any more fever attacks.

The following week, the day he was to leave the boarding house, the man pulled a watch from his bag and handed it to our brother, saying,

“Dear Jacinto, I cannot afford to pay you for everything that I have received from you, but I would very much like to give you this watch; it’s all I have in this life. My gratitude is too great, but I know I can never repay it.

“No, I’ll never accept that!” answered our brother. “You will need this watch in the future. I did this from the heart and I will not accept such a gift. What is your plan now, my good man?”

“I have to go back to my hometown in the Northeast, but I cannot.”

Brother Jacinto sought the owner of the boarding house, explained the situation of the man, and they gathered donations. Brother Jacinto got what the man needed to pay for the ticket and took him to the bus terminal and the man was pleased to board the bus that would take him back to his beloved family. But before having him embark, our missionary brother presented him with Spirit of Prophecy books compiled in Portuguese with subjects such as “The Future Unveiled,” “The Ideal Home,” and other missionary materials containing the present truth. At the time of farewell, that gentleman said:

“I do not know if we’ll see each other again, but I promise you that if I will find your church there, I’m going to see you, because this church is what God left on this earth. No other person, however well-intentioned and sincere, could do for me what you did for me.”

Our brother, moved, replied:

“If we do not meet here on this earth, we will surely meet again in the heavenly mansions. Tell your family the wonders that the Lord God worked for you.”

After that man left, some soldiers of the Military Police went to the hostel, looking for Brother Jacinto. They asked the owner of the hostel:

“Is this where a young man who medicated and cured a man who was dying of malaria is staying?”

Our brother was very scared, thinking that he would be arrested for having cared for a patient without the authorization of the Medical Council. They explained to Jacinto in more details the reason for their coming:

“Look, we have received orders from the sheriff to buy eight sets of these books that you sell: one for the sheriff and one for each one of us. He wants you to come to the police station this afternoon for some instructions.”

When Jacinto appeared before the sheriff, he was informed that he would receive full support from the police in his work in that city. There was a loudspeaker in the town’s central square which played music all day long. The sheriff pledged to pick up the microphone every afternoon and announce the name of our brother, asking all the families to receive him and buy the set of books.

Thereafter, Brother Jacinto never needed to canvass in that city. People came to meet him in the streets, in the alleyways, in the square, in the hostel, begging to place their order in time for the next delivery.

Brother Jacinto was preparing to marry at that time, and with the money raised on that wonderful occasion, he was able to buy all the furniture and arrange everything necessary to establish his new home with his future wife.

Here are some words from our brother, referring to his life in canvassing:

“I am grateful to God for having the privilege of participating in this great mission. I am sure that it was the Lord who called me to the canvassing and accompanied me through all these experiences. Later, my wife was working with me in the canvassing after we got married. Then I sent my brother José Henrique to do canvassing. He eventually attended missionary school and today he is retired as minister of the gospel. My dear mother also began to canvass. She stopped only when the hand of death snatched her away. I am very grateful to God for this and other experiences.”

The Angel of the Lord Can Be You!

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

My name is Zenildo Alves de Barros, I am a colporteur, I live and work in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. One time I was impressed to labor in a city called Glória de Dourados. Near this city is a small town called Deodápolis, where we have a group of brethren in the house in which I stayed for a while, and from where I set up my operational base.

On a Friday, around 11:30 am, I had already canvassed several homes and had sufficient sales for that day. I had decided to stop working because the colporteurs usually set aside the afternoon to prepare to receive the Lord’s day. As Deodápolis is several kilometers from Glória de Dourados, I started toward the bus station to take the bus.

However, on a certain street, I felt strongly that I should do one more canvass at a certain house, trusting that I would still not be too late to receive the Sabbath. Two houses before this certain residence, I canvassed and sold a book, and the tenant there advised me to go to the house next door. So, I went, and the landlady also bought the book and advised me to go to still another neighbor. It was this house that the voice of conscience insisted for me to approach. When I reached the gate, there was an older lady sweeping the yard. When she saw me, she looked ecstatic and amazed, and stared at me for a few seconds. When I gave the usual “good morning,” she dropped the broom and came toward me, running. She opened the gate, so I introduced myself, stating my name and my purpose there. She greeted me cordially, inviting me into her living room and we started a lively conversation. She politely listened to my canvass, but said she was not in a position to acquire the canvassing materials at that time. Then she said:

“My name is Rosa Trindade. Are you an evangelical? Do you belong to any church?”

“Yes, I serve God in the Seventh-day Adventist Church—Reform Movement.”

“Wow,” she answered in amazement. “So you’re the person I dreamed about last night. In that dream, an angel told me, ‘Prepare! Tomorrow you will receive in your house a person who will present you with all the truth for which you have groaned and yearned, and never could understand. This man will speak about the complete doctrines, including the Sabbath. You can no longer continue as you are. You need to progress; and the knowledge necessary to your progress I will send by the hand of this man that you will receive tomorrow. Get ready!’ ”

“What do I have to do with this angel?” I asked.

“I do not know, but you were introduced to me by the angel, in that suit, well-dressed, smiling—and he told me that you have all the truth I need to know. It will be revealed to me through you, according to what the angel told me.”

At that moment I asked her to which church she belonged. She said she had been in the Assembly of God for 40 years, but then she explained further:

“Before I came to the Assembly church, I was a spiritist for many years, where I served Satan; but God set me free by bringing me to the Assembly church. However, I am not satisfied with the degree of commitment of this church. I cannot say well, but there are truths that my church is not following; I feel it, unfortunately. But, Brother Zenildo, tell me a little about your church’s doctrine, please. Why is it called the ‘Reform Movement’?”

At that time I explained to her that the term “reform” is linked to a reformation in health, clothing, marriage, family and especially the Sabbath. The seventh day was forgotten by humanity, and our purpose is to reinstate it as the true day of rest instituted in Eden and confirmed by Jesus Christ and the apostles in the New Testament.

“That’s true, my brother,” she replied. “I was in the traditional church, and I realized that everything is half-done. The Sabbath is badly ept; the sanctity of the family is being violated. I realize that the SDA church has accepted remarriage after divorce. That does not seem right. I have a friend who is an Adventist who divorced her husband and married another man, and the church willingly accepted her situation. I cannot agree with that. If it is for me to learn to serve God, let it be in a more suitable environment. The Word is very clear about divorce. We must follow it faithfully. Now, I am even more certain that you are the angel that God sent to my house, according to the dream I received last night. Brother Zenildo, I am a very distressed person; I have not been sleeping lately as I should. I am very concerned about my salvation. It’s been a while since I’ve asked God to reveal greater truths to me, even if I have to leave my beloved church.”

At that moment, her voice tightened, and my eyes filled with tears as I realized how important this visit was to her, according to the grace of God. From that moment on, I forgot that I had to go to Deodápolis for lunch and prepare for the Sabbath. Time seemed to have stopped, and I did not want to leave; it seemed to me that everything around me had lost its importance and I continued the conversation. However, I realized that she was a very anxious person, eager to know the truth; so I had to weigh each explanation well. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12), were the words of Christ to the disciples, which could be perfectly applicable to this lady’s situation.

As our conversation developed, I realized how Sister Rosa’s facial expression was changing for the better. Her face reflected complete fulfillment. It was as if lightning had illuminated the darkest corners of her mind. She begged me not to hide anything of the truth; then, at her request, I revealed to her what could be revealed. After more than an hour of conversation, I announced that I needed to leave. She begged me to come back and I promised to return. At that moment she hugged me tightly and wept aloud, saying that I was her angel who appeared at the right time in an hour of darkness and distress, to reveal to her the way of salvation. It was an inspiring moment for me.

That visit made me ponder very deeply: I am a sinner, full of serious defects and problems. Why was I assigned to find a soul so keen to know the truth? Why did not God choose a person better prepared? Why did I get to receive such a great privilege without deserving it? These doubts hovered over my head and left me wondering for a long time. The conclusion I came to is that a lottery prize could not have made me happier. The feeling of accomplishment and usefulness that took hold of me had no match. It was the confirmation of all those many years knocking on doors day after day, faithfully, in the houses of the people, making sales. For me, it was clear: God confirmed my ministry, indicating that my personal work was not without usefulness, that my work was not in vain in the Lord.

Later I gave this lady’s name and address to pastor Durval Bishop, a servant of God who lives in Dourados, the local worker, Brother Vanderson Rosa, and pastor Renato Konrath, president of the Field, and they all came to visit her. They made friends with her husband and she received a full range of studies. He made a special friendship with the sisters of the town of Deodápolis, and on most Sabbaths she attended Sabbath school with them there. As this lady got to know our people, she soon attended a conference and marveled at our sisters’ clothing, our food, and the deep knowledge demonstrated by our keynote speakers.

A few months later, I was working in a city called Novo Horizonte do Sul. The baptism of Sister Rosa Trindade was already scheduled. On a Friday, the day before the baptism, her relatives called me telling me that she had been hospitalized and wanted to see me urgently. I left work and took a bus to Glória de Dourados. When I arrived at the hospital, they led me into her room. Sister Rosa could not speak, but she took my hand and I could feel the vibrant energy of a grateful lady, renewed by the grace of God, as if her eyes told me: “Thank you, Brother Zenildo! Today I am a new creature in Christ, thanks for your visit!” On the dawn of the Sabbath, on the very day of her scheduled baptism, she died.

At the time of the funeral service, the pastor of the Assembly church was present. Soon after, pastor Renato Konrath arrived from the capital and sought out the Assembly minister present. The spiritual leader offered our pastor the opportunity to speak for a few minutes, and then he would complement the funeral service with the last words. Hundreds of people were present. As our pastor Renato spoke, the atmosphere was amazing; it was as if some great monumental declaration was being made. The result of the speaking was so positive that the Assembly church leader did not want to close the event with the last words. He simply stated:

“All that God has sent through Brother Renato is more than enough. Nothing I say will improve what has already been said. God bless you all.”

I would like to leave these last words with you, dear reader:

The moment I saw her in the coffin, I was sure that it was God who orchestrated all this. However, on the day of the resurrection I also want to be prepared, for I am sure this sister will be there.

Man’s Extremity is God’s Opportunity

“And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews” (Acts 12:11).

My name is Marcelo da Silva Santos, I am a missionary evangelist and am currently working as a canvassing director. The following experience occurred while I was working in Rio Grande do Norte a few years ago.

I was giving Bible studies in a family home—that of Luciano and Maria do Carmo, his wife. The study was about to begin when suddenly the house was surrounded by four robbers armed with guns. As the neighborhood was apparently a quiet place, the door had been open with free access to the street. The bandits were already on the run from another occurrence and caught us by surprise. Eduarda, the daughter of the couple, and their mother, Maria do Carmo, both began to cry a lot. The man and I were very calm. In the assault, they took our cell phones, my car, money, and Luciano’s motorbike. We were held hostage for almost an hour. One of the bandits stayed with us, weapon in hand, while another was searching the house; the other two stood near the door, watching.

As soon as the action was completed, they asked the reason for my visit; I explained that I was going to start a Bible study with the family. They asked if I was an evangelical, and I confirmed. When they were leaving, I said that I would pray for them so that God could get them out of this dangerous lifestyle, for the Lord could do for them something they could scarcely imagine if they only would trust in Him.

As soon as the bandits were out, carrying all our belongings, we said a prayer and went to the police to record the incident.

The next morning, the leader of the church of Natal (RN), Brother Nailson Santos de Sá, called my phone, which now was in possession of the thieves, and the wife of one of them answered. She told our brother that the husband would give me back the car because he could not sleep because my image—a missionary who blessed them at the end of the robbery—was engraved in his soul and heart. She scheduled a set day, hour, and place to return the vehicle. Brother Nailson informed me of the details and I went to the place to rescue the vehicle. The audio system and laptop inside were missing, but the vehicle was intact. I drove home and thanked God very much.

On the same day, at 3:00 p.m., the woman again called brother Nailson and informed him that they intended to return the laptop and the audio system of his car. They arranged the next appointment in a community called Mosquito Favela. On the call, she explained that she could not return Luciano’s motorbike because the vehicle had stayed with the other assailants who had no intention of repaying the loss.

Before going to the meeting place, Brother Nailson had informed me that her family was in great need. Her husband was a fugitive from the penitentiary, so he could not get a job. This brother, who was head of the church, organized a collection of the church welfare department in Natal and raised a lot of food. We gathered all these perishable goods along with more than $100 worth of nonperishable items such as rice, beans, diapers, oil, etc., and we went to the meeting place. There, the lady came with a small child and another woman who accompanied her. As soon as I got the laptop and audio system, I gave some important advice about trusting God and about giving up the dangerous life in which they were engaged. I also gave them lots of missionary literature, along with the food and goods we had collected—and finally asked permission to pay a visit to her house. She said she would tell her husband about our intention and we went home. While we were still on the way the bandit called and spoke with Nailson, thanking him, thrilled for everything we had done for him and his family, and said he was willing to receive our visit.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and I went to worship. After the meeting, I got a call from a police officer saying that he had found the motorbike. The thugs had apprehended another boy and taken his motorbike. Since Luciano’s bike had a flat tire, they had left it with the key and everything. Then, Luciano was able to go to the police station and recover his bike, intact, except for the repair of the tire. God gave us back everything we had lost. It was a blessing!

Unfortunately, we lost contact with the assailant’s family. A week after that, he went on to another theft and was arrested by the police in broad daylight. He might have left this lifestyle, but he did not take advantage of the opportunity that God had given him. Since he was sent to a remote penitentiary, we do not know if he’s dead or alive. His wife no longer had the number we had called, and everything was apparently lost.

In all this, we perceive the divine hand guiding all events. By the grace of God we were delivered from this emergency situation; we had been coerced, but we did not suffer physical or moral violence, and everything ended well. I acknowledge that God acted in an unimaginable way so that we could rely more and more on His strong and powerful arm. May He be praised!