Archives for posts with tag: Brazil

And here is my favorite Fourth of July story: When I first came to the U.S. in 1982 some people who had never met anyone from Brazil couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask some very probing questions: “Do you have television in Brazil?” “Did you ever see a piranha on the river?” “Can anacondas really go through walls like in the movies?” But the question that topped them all was always: “Do you have the Fourth of July in Brazil?”, which I, in my unenlightened years, I would respond with, “Yes, it’s between the third and the fifth.”

In truth, though, Brazil’s July 4th is September 7th. On that day Brazilians celebrate the end of Portuguese rule in the country, a violent struggle that lasted three years and though it did not shed as much blood as the struggle for independence in the U.S. did, it is still equally significant to Brazilians who this year will celebrate 194 years since it declared its independence from Portugal.

240 years ago brave U.S. citizens also threw off the shackles of British control and carved a destiny for a young nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all who fought to secure our freedom from tyranny.

I number myself among those who are eternally grateful and here are some of my reasons:

  1. Your struggle for freedom inspired some even younger nations to fight against their oppressors. Whether Brazilians recognize it or not, we stand in that long line of true freedom fighters, of which the U.S. has produced some of finest. 
  1. I grew up under a brutal military regime that ruled Brazil for 20 years. I didn’t even get to vote for the first time until I was well into my thirties. As a young university student, the exploits of people like Martin Luther King were always a source of great inspiration for me. A country of justice and laws, a people who dreamed to be whatever they wanted, and a body politic that was guided by a sense of a high moral calling — these things made the U.S. the lighthouse of the world, giving hope to all who yearned for freedom. And I for one followed that light. 
  1. Contrary to most people I know in this country, who through no choice of their own were given birth rights as U.S. citizens, I chose to live in this country. My story is not much different from an adoption story, except in this case the child, as it were, chooses his own mother. I chose the U. S. and I am proud of it. My sojourn in this country has enriched my life and blessed me beyond what I can express in words. 
  1. Being from Brazil has also given me a fresh perspective on the difference between loyalty to country and loyalty to Christ. I am a patriot alright. I rise and place my right hand on my chest whenever I hear the sound of the national anthem. I am humbled by the ultimate sacrifice that so many made so I can enjoy the freedoms I have. I am at awe of the moral leadership of this country that has allowed it to come to the aid of those who suffer.

But the experience of growing up under a regime that elevated love for country to the same level as love for God has also taught me to be cautious. Governments are predictably fallible and the best of intentions can sometimes result in disastrous policies. We are journeying through a time in the history of our nation when there is a paucity of moral courage and an amplitude of small stomachs to stand for things that are right. If we are not careful, we will soon be drowning in a sea of relativism so the Church of Jesus Christ must refuse to be identified with any ideology or world view that is contrary to the Gospel. We should love country without ever forgetting that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21).

Happy Independence Day, everyone, and remember to thank God for the greatest freedom we have — forgiveness of our sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. He has defeated the greatest tyrant of our life, that old serpent, the slick usurper and father of all lies, whose only mission is to keep us under bondage forever. Thank God we are free from him, once and for all! (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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Christmas Babies - Blog header

“Every time the righteous screams, a hangman rises to silence him; the wicked goes on living, the upright, they order him killed.” These words, originally penned by Brazilian poet Cecília Meireles, were later popularized in a song by Brazilian composer and singer Chico Buarque. They echo the story of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, the man who planted the seed of Brazilian independence from colonial powers in 1789 and for this was executed and later hailed as a sort of Jesus Christ in the minds of the populace.

Well, fast forward to 1964, when the democratically-elected president of Brazil was forced out in a coup. A military dictatorship was installed and its brutality lasted 21 years. I personally witnessed so many aspects of those languished years, without freedom of movement or expression, dreaming of a world where people would go to sleep without worrying if they might still be here tomorrow.

But that world became elusive to the many that died at the hands of a repressive regime without ever experiencing the fruit of their labor. It wasn’t until 1984 that a President was finally elected and the country finally breathed a sigh of relief. I was in graduate school in Indiana at the time, tuning an old short-wave radio to a Brazilian language station and by one of those inexplicable feats, managed to get the live feed of the time in Congress when the candidate would reach the majority in the Electoral College. I was never able to get that station again.

So many times in our lives it seems that the long, languishing night of shattered dreams will never end. The forces we come up against seem invincible. Our bodies slip, our hearts faint, our souls shrivel, and our fragile humanity hangs by a thread. Metaphorically speaking we are like the righteous raising their voice only to feel the cold, sharp and merciless blade of the guillotine coming down fast for that last strike.

And it seems that throughout history this has been Satan’s main strategy of war. Not even God is immune to his malevolent plots. First, Satan gets in the pages of Scriptures by getting out of heaven. Next, he lands in the garden where God had started His perfect world and immediately chaos ensues. Man and woman fall and a permanent war between God’s Seed (The Messiah) and the Serpent (Satan) is anticipated in Genesis 3:15.

From then on, like a gyrating semi-automatic weapon, Satan goes on a rampage, shooting in divers and daring directions, hoping to strike at the heart of it all – God’s plan to redeem mankind through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

He tried ridding the world of all the descendants of David, through whom the Savior of the world was to come in 2 Chronicles 11, but the bravery of an unlikely heroine, a woman by the name of Jehosheaba, never known before or since, saved a little baby boy and thus made the Messianic line safe. Other attempts would be made at the Messiah Christ, but none more insane than Herod’s massacre of the innocents after the Birth of Christ.

For those being oppressed by foreign powers, and especially in the northern part of Israel, (“Galilee of the Gentiles, by way of the sea; the people walking in darkness”), as Isaiah put it (Isaiah 9), for them there seemed to be no end of suffering. But God was not sleeping. He was not distracted. He was not unjust or cruel. Eventually, He chose to act and when He did, the whole world took notice.

But ironically, God chose the fragility of a baby in a stable, an infant as exposed to danger as one could be, watched by parents who might be dozing off from sheer exhaustion and a labor in less than ideal circumstances, that’s where God chose to take His stand against Satan.

If God was afraid of Satan, the last thing He would do would be to put a bright star on the sky pointing to the place where this baby, who was targeted by Satan and his armies, was to be born. But God chose to fight on an open field with no fortification to show the world He could outdo the enemy anytime when He decided to. And in doing so, He claimed the victory for His Beloved and declared once and for all that no one could ever defeat His purposes.

Let this be a lesson to all of us who claim to follow Christ as we look this Sunday at three of Satan’s most daring strikes against God and His Messiah. Satan is defeated and the baby in the manger is proof of that. And that also means that the future will be bright for us. So don’t give up, don’t grow weary in doing good, and don’t lose hope. God is faithful and His promises are true.

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress… The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” (Isaiah 9:1, 2, 6).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade