This is Day 6 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I am having an incredible trip. I really enjoy the people I get to meet on trips like this, especially those who are beginning to see that the God of the Bible has been disfigured by the lies of religion. Most of the people I have met only know me by readingSo You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. It has been translated and published in Brazil by the same publishing house as did The Shack. It has sold incredibly well through secular stores and has caused quite a buzz in this country. Traditional churches and pastors have spoken out against it, and many warn people not to read such a dangerous book. But so many others have read it, resonated with its message and wanted me to come to talk more about this amazing life with God and a different way to view the church.
We had a weekend retreat where 200 people gathered to talk with me and it was broadcast live on the Internet. They had never heard of He Loves Me or Transitions. Unfortunately most of them do not speak English and I do not speak Portuguese, so I had to work through translators, which makes it a bit more difficult. But I’ve had some wonderful translators, and one young woman who just graduated from a college in the U.S. stays with me all the time to help with personal conversations. It has been wonderful to talk to so many people and hear what Jesus is revealing to them as well as helping them sort through some of their questions.
I’ve been talking nonstop since I arrived, so I’m pretty tired. We had a five-hour meeting last night in a home with scores of questions about how to live this life individually and corporately. I love the hearts of these people, what they already know of him and what he is shaping in their lives.
Let me tell you about one moment that touched me deeply. Saturday night I shared the teaching of the cross, which has had quite an impact. It is a view of the cross that has not been taught in Brazil so many are just processing it for the first time and we had some incredible dialog about all of that since. But it is always difficult to teach that content through translators because it is highly nuanced and I’m never sure how it is being interpreted.
When I finished, I sat down next to a young woman I know understands English. I leaned over to her and asked if she thought all that made sense. So much theology in so short a space, I wanted to make sure it had communicated through the translation.
She turned to me and her eyes were filled with tears. She whispered to me in the most awed, grateful, overwhelmed in a good way, and breathless voice, “I have never heard that before,” as if she just discovered a tender Father she’d never known before. And she cried.
And so did I. It moved me deeply to see how God had made himself known to her in such a simple yet profound way. If people ask why I travel around the world, crawling into cramped airplanes for hours on end, sleeping in beds that are not my own, eating strange foods I don’t always enjoy, missing Sara, my children and grandchildren as well as the comforts and joys of home, moments like this are the answer. That one moment would have made this entire trip worth it for me if nothing else had happened here. A daughter meets the Father she never knew she had.
And she cried tears of great joy as if she had just discovered a father she never knew she had. It moved me deeply to watch her new found joy
So, yes, I guess he communicated. It has been so transforming for her and so many others. Person after person came up to me at the end and told me how much this had shifted their thinking about God. Others have struggled to grasp it, as I did when I first heard it. You want to believe its true but so much religious tradition has taught us otherwise.
One man asked me why I to the risk to share that. Because I believe it the foundational reality on which all else is built. Most people see God as the tormentor of Jesus, rather than the Father who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. Because of that so many Christians live our lives trying to appease a demanding, angry God instead of living in the affection of a gracious Father. If we don’t get that right, we’ll never learn what it means to grow in him, share life with his family, or love the world with the same compassion Jesus did. (If you haven’t heard some of this teaching you can listen to it free on our Transition page.)
One more day here, and then I fly home for the holidays with my family.