29 March 2021
Reflections from Brazil: Brazilian passion
Shortly before the pandemic hit, Carolyn Lawrence visited Brazil to see at first hand the work and mission of the Methodist Church in Brazil.
Whilst in Brazil I met so many people who were exuberant and passionate about life in general. I wasn’t sure if it was anything to do with the huge amounts of very strong coffee that is consumed daily! It definitely seems to be a culture in which extroverts would feel completely at home which is why as an introvert I perhaps found it a little overwhelming at times! There is consultation and discussion on everything large and small – even when choosing a drink in a café! It means that things take some time but relationships are key – this meant I had to lose my irritation when it took ages to decide on everything – it made me realise afresh how task orientated we are in this country and sometimes that means we forget the pleasure of consulting and discussing together.
One of the things that struck me was in the responsiveness to people in the church services and the evident hunger for God. Prayer times were an inspiration as people didn’t just sit passively but were all engaging in fervent and often loud intercession, confession or thanksgiving. The music was also very inspiring – I noticed that in most churches, the excellent musicians had no sheet music at all but were just playing in complete harmony with each other, clearly led by the Holy Spirit. It was like a spiritual version of a jazz jamming session!
I was also struck by people’s responses to the preaching of God’s word. We were told that it is usual practice to make an appeal at the end of a sermon and invite people to respond to what God might have been saying to them. I have been in situations where appeals are given in the UK and sometimes have found them a bit cringey or embarrassing. Sometimes I have felt that the appeal is made to give the preacher affirmation that what they have said has hit the mark! I have given appeals a few times in my 25 years of preaching but very rarely and only if I feel God is really laying that on my heart for a special reason. However, in Brazil I followed their traditions and gave an appeal at the end of my sermons and was completely amazed by the enthusiastic response. At each service dozens of people came forward for prayer and all those with whom I had the privilege of praying were really seeking God and had a deep desire for him to work in their lives.
I realise that different people respond to God in different ways but came back with a real sense that we could learn from the passion and hunger for God’s presence and power demonstrated by our dear Brazilian sisters and brothers. Oh that God would pour out his spirit on us in the church in the UK and move amongst us in revival power, breathe life into our dry bones, convict us of sin, give us a passion for the lost in our world and empower us to share the love of Jesus day by day.
Carolyn Lawrence, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, 2020-21
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