Conversations with Portuguese Speakers
In early March, Rev. Hernandes Dias Lopes couldn’t record his usual television and internet videos from a studio in Campinas, Brazil. Lopes serves as Back to God Ministries International’s Portuguese ministry leader.
Still, God’s Word is reaching believers who are struggling during the pandemic.
Rev. Lopes hosted several videos from his home for brothers and sisters who were worried about COVID-19’s effects on Brazil. Following a reflection on Isaiah 41, he began to answer live questions that viewers submitted on YouTube.
Read on to see some of the highlights from his conversations with Portuguese believers. We hope his responses also encourage you during COVID-19.
Elizangela: “How do we embrace our brothers and sisters at a distance so they don't feel alone in this fight?”
Rev. Lopes: “Our physical hugs are now symbolic hugs. In this period of social isolation, we must avoid physical contact but we have to make emotional contact and heart contact. We have to make phone calls or send social media messages. Using these means we will shorten distances, bring hearts together, and grow long lasting relationships.”
Roseangela: “Is it normal to be afraid?”
Rev. Lopes: “It’s normal. God created us and God knows us. He will guide us through this. The most repeated order in the Bible is ‘do not fear.’ God knows we tend to be afraid of what we don't know, so he repeated this command over and over again.
Our God has a purpose and we must seek him, put our fears at his feet and know that he walks with us and holds us tight. If we have hope in God, we know that death has already been overcome.”
Jose Augusto: “Should we make comparisons between what is happening now to the prophecies in the Bible about the end of days?”
Rev. Lopes: “First, you have to be very careful not to link the Bible’s prophecies to world events. When you do this, you’re making an assumption about Jesus. In the past, people have gotten into trouble trying to predict Jesus’ second coming.
Jesus addresses this question in Luke 21 when he warns of false prophecies and mentions signs of the end times. He says, most importantly, that we should always be prepared for this second coming.”
Maria: “How do we deal with people who are angry about this situation?”
Rev. Lopes: “There are a lot of people who are angry, especially those who don’t have the knowledge that you and I have of the Word of God. We can use God’s Word to give us direction for those who are angry with the government, with God, with life, with the economic situation, and with the health crisis. We can’t alleviate the situation, but we can bring calm and peace if we have a quiet heart. We can be an example by seeking God’s presence, finding refuge in Jesus Christ, and have hope for a solution to this crisis.”
Brazil was already in a deep economic crisis before COVID-19 began. And as you can see, people are worried about the long-term and short-term effects of the pandemic. But, in Christ, we all have hope! The Christian Reformed Church’s support for BTGMI’s ministries has helped to equip believers in Brazil to share that hope with those who don’t yet know Christ.