This week on the Champion blog, we will be sharing stories from the team that traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 10-21, to serve alongside Restoration Ministries. The team's mission was to share the Gospel and love of Jesus with children and families within the city's favelas (slums). Today, we introduce to you, Debbie Forland. Read below to hear how the Lord moved in her life during the team's weekend in Sao Paulo.
Portuguese is hard. Really hard. I don’t really like it. I like listening to it, but trying to learn it is an entirely different story. Just when I think I have a phrase figured out, I find out I am saying it wrong. I have often thought, “Why can’t these people just speak Spanish? That’s easier."
The last two trips to Brazil, our team has had the blessing of working alongside Ken and Arlene Flurry, a missionary couple with World Venture from Colorado. Like us, this couple has fallen in love with Restoration Ministries and the work that they are doing. The Flurry’s will leave Sao Paulo in April and travel to a village in Mozambique where they will stay for three months to work with a missionary couple there with Young Life. While talking with them about what that trip would entail, Ken mentioned that Portuguese is the main language of Mozambique, just as it is in Brazil. However, the particular village where they would be living had a language of it’s own. While Ken and Arlene are very fluent in Portuguese, they would begin to focus on the language of the village as they prepared to go. His reasoning was this: “If you want to reach people, you have to learn the language of their hearts.”
As each word of that statement left his mouth, it was as if it was being etched directly into my heart. I could not get it out of my mind. I remember sitting there letting that soak in, thinking, “This is going to stay with me. Forever.”
As the week went on, there were several times the Lord connected the language of my heart with the language of the heart of a Brazilian woman. I found myself in conversations more than once where a woman was pouring her heart out and sharing some very serious issues she was facing. Life and death kind of issues. As I listened to the interpreters tell her story, I became so heavy-hearted for her and prayed, “Lord, this is going to take more than a sweet smile and an "atta-girl." This is really heavy stuff. I. NEED. YOU. Like, NOW.” Without fail, EVERY time I asked Him, He brought scripture to mind as well as a personal experience of my own to share. Every. Single. Time. And ALWAYS, as she talked, there was one piece of her story that I could relate with.
As one woman told of devastation that had recently happened in the lives of her daughters, I began praying. I couldn’t identify with the devastation, but recognized the burden that she was carrying on her shoulders as a mom and wife. That burden of being the glue that keeps the family together. A burden that was not meant for her to carry alone. The Lord brought to mind Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I spoke those words to her and loved on her.
God connected our hearts, despite a language barrier, despite a cultural barrier, and despite circumstances that I couldn’t totally identify with. He connected our hearts through compassion, love, and His Word.
I brought that great little gem of truth home with me and I wanted to share it with you.
Learn the language of peoples hearts. It’s one that everyone can speak.
Continue to follow along each day this week for more stories from the team!