Pastor Davidson Freitas of Rio de Janeiro has been traveling to the sprawling urban center of Curitiba regularly for some 13 months. He has worked with pastors, trained Christians and met with authorities.
“The churches are very unified here, all denominations working together,” Freitas said. “This is a blessing to work not with a flag of denomination, but one flag: Jesus Christ the Savior.”
Perhaps the unity among believers—combined with the prayers of many around the world—helps to explain the scene that unfolded Sept. 16 at the rodeo arena in nearby Campina Grande do Sul, where an exuberant crowd gathered for the one-day Esperança Curitiba (Hope Curitiba) outreach.
Long before the first band took the stage or Will Graham opened his Bible, the overflow audience—more than 17,000 in all—was caught up with enthusiasm over the proclamation of the Gospel. With an atmosphere that rivaled a soccer match (this is Brazil, after all), some waved massive flags emblazoned with the Name of Jesus. Others stomped their feet and clapped in unison. At times the entire arena would erupt in an orchestrated, celebratory cheer.
The lively scene grew as powerful worship broke forth, led by some of the top Latin worship leaders. Hands and voices were lifted in passionate praise.
When Will Graham took the stage, he immediately focused his message on the cross of Jesus Christ. “God took the sin of the world and placed it on the shoulders of Jesus, for sinners like you and me,” Will said.
“The cross was the most important moment in the history of the world. It’s impossible to measure God’s love on the cross. It doesn’t matter how deep you are in sin. God’s love on the cross covers you.”
Will then gave those in attendance the opportunity to turn from their sin and surrender their eternities into the hands of Jesus.
Nearly 1,000 people responded to the invitation, filling the empty space in front of the stage before spilling over into open areas on the sides. Many young people, in particular, responded with tears and hugs as they prayed with trained counselors.
Among them was Carlos*, a teenager with a tightly trimmed beard and bloodshot eyes. Sobbing, he explained that he had drifted far from God, influenced by others. Thankfully, a friend invited and brought him to Esperança Curitiba.
“He left here very emotional, very touched,” said the counselor who prayed with Carlos. “He said his heart felt warm, like it was burning for Jesus once again. He made bad choices, listened to bad influences that distanced him from God. But today a good influence brought him here,” the counselor added.
“For the city, it will be transformation time,” said Pastor Freitas as he scanned across the mass of people in the arena. “Now is our opportunity to preach the Gospel and start discipleship of these people who today, I believe, will bow down before God.” ©2023 BGEA
Erik Ogren is media relations manager for BGEA.
*Name changed to protect anonymity.
Photo: Logan Ryan/©2023 BGEA