A BRIEF REPORT ON THE CLOSING OF A BAR IN SITIO SERROTE, BRAZIL
(by João Soares da Silva (shown on the far left), translated from Portuguese by Steve Loopstra)
God has been burning in my heart for missions, and I cannot sit still, knowing that so
many people walk enslaved by the enemy and perish for not knowing Jesus of Nazareth, the truth that liberates. Despite my being a very quiet person, I have been disquieted by the Holy Spirit to open a new work. I wanted to hear and obey God's voice. The Lord has led us to start a cell group in Sitio Serrote Low. We have been taking the Word of God to this community for a year, and to the glory of God, that work has not been in vain. That might have been the case if not for one thing - the house where we conduct the studies is connected to a bar where the owner is not a Christian. However, his wife and daughters serve the Lord.
Every Saturday, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and with brother Ronoldo as my motorcycle taxi, we bring the Word of God where Satan has brought lies and deceit. After several weeks of being bothered by the voices of boring drunks and the constant interruptions of the customers, the Lord made me understand that I was being prepared to reap the harvest of that work, as Psalm 126:5-6 says, "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. Who takes the precious seed, walking and crying, again, no doubt, will, with joy, bring in his sheaves."
My ordinary routine was to teach the study amid the noise of the bar at Serrote Low, return home, and go to church in the evening. I expected to follow the same schedule Jan. 30th of this year, not realizing God was preparing something tremendous. As I approached the house of Lena and Erasmus, while still far away, my heart was saddened to see a truck at the door with several people already drinking. The noise was even louder than normal, but I acted as though nothing was happening. I entered the house, greeted people, and started the study, which had as its theme "The Ten Enemies of Answered Prayer."
As we went through the study, people began to leave the bar. Across the room I could see a small window, framing the face of a bearded, drunk man. I recognized John, who had pastored the Assembly of God Church for nine years. He had been away from the Lord for the past five years. He saw me using a cube to share the Gospel with a woman. From his place at the window, John began to lecture me on how I was preaching, but I ignored his taunts and did not retaliate. He then approached us and began to discuss the Bible with me. That biblical debate was the first step to the miracle God was about to do. Until then I did not understand how God was working. John told me he was backslidden and would go to hell if he died. The Holy Spirit helped me to reply to him with words of love and grace. This became an advantage, because who are we to judge others, as the Word of God states: "He, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." (I Corinthians 10:12).
Just when I thought it was over, God opened Lena's mouth to relate a vow her husband (not a Christian) had made some time ago. Erasmus had said he would never again sell alcohol if John ever came back to Jesus. Erasmus, though not a Christian, was bothered by John's deplorable situation. When John heard Lena speak, he immediately uttered the following words that will forever mark my ministry: "As of today I will never put alcohol in my mouth." John knelt, repenting of his sins, and returning to His Father's arms which he should never have left. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever witnessed in my life.
After this, we entered the bar and began to prophesy the Lord's blessing on the place. Brother John prayed his first public prayer after his meeting with Jesus, the heavens descended upon us, and we were all shaking. Hallelujah!
To summarize the story, Brother John is strong in the Lord and attends First Baptist Church in Algodão de Jandaira. Erasmus kept his promise to stop selling alcohol, despite the disappointment of many. On February 10th, we helped him pour out all the alcohol he had, and closed that bar for the Glory of God. God did all this by His power, even without us speaking a word.
I know the Lord promises in II Chron. 7:14, "And if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
We believe prayer is the key to revival. Our church has been committed to regular fasting, seeking God's direction, and praying from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. every day from Sunday to Thursday. Some servants have cried to the Lord for the healing of this land and He has heard us. Not only has He heard, but He has acted and He is healing the land of Algodão de Jandaira. What He is doing here He will also do in all of our country, if indeed His people humble themselves, pray, and turn from their wicked ways, "For it is written, Be ye holy; because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16). Watch for more such experiences that I will share. Do you believe?
You can watch a two-part video of the pouring out of the alcohol from the bar on YouTube. This is in Portuguese.