Over the past month we’ve had people from the states reach out to us to ask us if we are ok. Yesterday I even heard from a sister in Uganda making sure we are healthy. Brazil is the hot spot for coronavirus cases and, unfortunately, deaths right now. People have sent links to us that state our city has been the worst place in the world for coronavirus deaths over the past few weeks.
It’s definitely been bad. All ICU’s in the city have been running over 100% capacity. All of them. I didn’t even know that was possible. One reached 170% capacity. We have a brother at our church who is an ICU nurse. He has told stories over the last few weeks of his day to day life which will just crush your heart. Patients dying every day. Containers being shipped in just to hold bodies. He said he has moments where he gets away from everyone and just cries. After one year of not knowing anyone who died from coronavirus it seems like we are getting weekly news of people close to us who are affected by it in some way. Many have had to deal with deaths in their families.
When we send out our monthly emails we, obviously, try to send out the things that happened in that month. We share the good and the bad but it’s usually more good. Benay and I were talking the other day about what in the world we could share from March that wouldn’t be just completely depressing.
To be honest, not much, in the physical, happened in the month of March.
We still wait for city approval to begin working again on Hope House. City governments have locked down cities which meant we went to the rehab farm only one time in March. Our church wasn’t allowed to meet in March. All our weekly Bible studies continue to be online. Anderson and Giovanni continue to study online. It’s a broken record that we know you all understand.
Benay and Anderson were sick during March. Benay got tested for coronavirus last week. It came back negative. They both are doing much better.
So not much for a “ministry” update or monthly newsletter in March, so we decided to go ahead and mooch into April.
I mentioned that not much went on in the physical during March. Last week the spiritual made it’s presence felt strongly.
On Good Friday our church, along with lots of other churches in our city, physically surrounded hospitals, and prayed over them for an hour. We had signed up to go but Benay did her coronavirus test the day before. We had no idea when the results would come out so it looked like we were out of luck but during the night the lab posted the negative results. We woke the boys up Friday morning and we headed to the hospital.
It was an amazing time together. There are two hospitals right across the street from each other close to downtown. Those were the ones our church prayed over. So we broke up into two big groups. One group surrounded the entrance to one of the hospitals and the other surrounded as much of the other hospital as possible. It’s a big hospital.
As we prayed, some men from our church walked the sidewalks in front of us, back and forth, playing the guitar and singing praise songs. Hands were raised as we called out for healing and protection to the Lord.
Our family was on a corner. To my immediate left was Juliana. Four days earlier coronavirus had taken the life of her dad. When we saw her that morning she wept on my shoulder. And yet there she was praying for patients and doctors and nurses and staff dealing with coronavirus and all other sicknesses. It was amazing. Click here to read more of Juliana’s story.
Towards the end of our hour a woman pulled up on a bike, parked it in front of me and settled in between Giovanni and myself. Arms raised and calling out to God. As she left I told her, “God bless you.” She looked at me and said, “This is what we need to be doing. Calling out to God.” She said she was late for work, got back on her back and was off.
I watched as one woman walked by Lucian, our worship band leader, as he sang and walked on the sidewalk. As she passed him she kind of shuddered like she had the chills and looked down at her arm and rubbed her hand over what I assumed were goosebumps. She looked kind of surprised. I felt like I was blessed to witness an unexpected encounter with the Holy Spirit in her life.
As we prayed Juliana looked at me and said, “Did you hear that?” I told her that I did not. She told me that she and her husband, Alexandre, could hear singing coming from inside the hospital as our men played their guitars. People were singing praise songs with us from inside the hospital. Juliana had a huge smile on her face as she shared.
When our hour was over we all left together and went to a park next to the hospital. We sang together, praised God together and listened to a few words from our pastor. We then all faced one of the hospitals and, with hands lifted, called out to God for healing of the brother of one of our leaders who was in that hospital with coronavirus.
Satan is trying to control the world with fear through coronavirus. Open a newspaper, read a website, listen to your friends, fear is all around. But Jesus overcomes fear and sickness and death. Even death brings us, as believers, victory. Jesus has already won against anything that Satan can throw at us or ever will throw at us and I don’t say that lightly. Suffering is around us and will always be a part of life on earth. It definitely isn’t fun to go through but even suffering can be used for kingdom glory.
We praise God that we are blessed to be a part of a church family who is attacking enemy territory and is not being dominated by fear. It’s a powerful thing to pray bold prayers like we did with our family. It’s a day none of us will forget. I have no doubt God used that group to bring all kinds of healing and to shake the very gates of hell.
Below are some pictures from that day. Focus on the first picture with the woman with her hand raised up. It’s our sister Cinara. One year ago her 32 year old husband died in the very hospital we were praying over. I loved watching her faithful strength in Jesus to come back and pray for those suffering. Jesus definitely was victorious that day. You can read about Cinara and her husband Douglas by just clicking here. We miss our brother.
Here is a fast motion recap video of the day that Giovanni made. Our family is at the end of the video and the line kept going around the corner. It was amazing.