"More Than a Polite Invitation"
April 17, 2015
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the Word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
In southern Brazil, 15 miles from the Brazilian border, there is a small town called Santa Vitória do Palmar.
The region around Vitoria do Palmar is known for a number of things: first, with flat land and abundant water, rice grows well there. Second, the wind is so strong and constant that a huge wind farm is being built.
Another characteristic of this area is the growth of pagan religions among Brazilians. Cults such as Candomblé and Umbanda worship a variety of gods and goddesses. These religions are influenced by the veneration of Roman Catholic saints, Indian rituals, and African animism.
I have often wondered how can you be a Christian in a place like that?
I found out when, in December of 2014, I went there for an evangelism workshop and met Rogério. Rogério is married with two children. As soon as I got into his house, his wife stated, "He is too shy to evangelize." But the next morning Rogério was there, in the church, listening with his whole family about how to live out his faith.
Then, at a certain point I asked the participants, "How did you come to Jesus' church?"
Surprisingly, three families stated, "Rogério invited us to church."
At the time of Rogério's invitation, two of those three families were participating in pagan African-Brazilian cults and one of the men had been a leader of worship in Umbanda for 20 years! Now, they are Christians studying the Word of God to spread it to others!
Rogério, a shy, introverted guy, with a simple invitation, was God's instrument to call families "out of darkness into his marvelous light" (see 1 Peter 2:9).
Being part of God's royal priesthood is to live every day as a witness of God's amazing love. It is to bring the light of Jesus to a world that relishes darkness. By the Holy Spirit's power, a simple invitation becomes more than a polite gesture. It is an act of love and care which shows that "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20b).
God has blessed every one of us with gifts.
Rogério, even with an introverted personality, found a way to share the love of Christ. So, too, I encourage you to do the same. Remember that you can reflect the light of Jesus into "the midst of a crooked and twisted generation."
THE PRAYER: Jesus, my Savior, forgive me when I use my limitations and decline to let Your light shine in the darkness all around me. Help me find ways to share Your love. In Your Name. Amen.
Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by Rev. Fernando Henrique Huf, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil. In 1997 Pastor Huf graduated from Concordia Institute of São Paulo and started his pastoral ministry in 1998. He served as a pastor in Recife for seven years and in São Paulo for eight years. Since March 2012 he has been serving with The Lutheran Hour of Brazil. In that capacity he writes short devotions for e-mail, answers questions from respondents, receives prayer requests, and presents a weekly online Bible study.
In this South American country of more than 200 million people, Lutheran Hour Ministries operates as Cristo Para Todas as Nações (CPTN)-Brazil. Outreach programs include "Five Minutes with Jesus," a radio program; "Messages of Hope," which is also distributed via e-mail; an online Bible course; and a live weekly online Bible study. Its ministry center in São Paulo also utilizes Equipping the Saints (ETS) workshops to train volunteers in sharing the Good News of Jesus. Another resource, the "Chaplaincy with Jesus" project, does coordinated work with various chaplaincy programs throughout Brazil, ministering to individuals in prisons and hospitals.
To learn more about LHM's recent outreach work in Aracaju, Brazil, you can visit this country's blog by clicking here.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhm.org/international.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries