BRAZIL 2014--Kurt's Overview
Brazil 2014 was incredible! On Tuesday November 11th I arrived from Chile while Sheila Ann Smith arrived from Canada and Byron Spradlin flew in from the U.S. We were greeted by our hosts for the week, Ben Price, Wostenes Santos and Stenu. These brothers were full of love and we knew we were in for a great week. We drove 5 hours from the Airport at Recife to Campina Grande. After a quick dinner it was off to bed.
On Day 2 we enjoyed each others company and began tightening up details about the upcoming conference. During the first few hours it became clear that our hosts were instruments of God, worshiping Him with their lives. Their organization, Acao Evangelica which means Action Evangelicals is focused on showing Christ's love to the Northern Interior of Brazil through actions of Love. The movement started in the 1930'. They were probably the first group to bring the gospel to the Northern Brazil area. It was a tough road for them but through years of proving their love, the communities slowly opened up to them. They build wells that bring water to very thirsty communities, teach agriculture skills, open schools to reach children in great need, empower women and communities through farm animal projects and much more. Our learning and transformation had only just begun. We planned the rest of the day and attended a service at night where we shared in worship leading and got to know one of the congregations Pastored by Wostenes Santos in partnership with his talented wife Gleydice. That first night of being in Gods presence was beautiful. We stayed in His presence for quite sometime and it set the tone for the conference.
Day 3 we went into preparation for the conference that was to begin that night. Before the conference a local radio station hosted us during their drive time slot so we could play and talk about the conference. That night we started with introductions and worship leading. Byron Spradlin the President of ACT International set the tone by addressing the conference attendees about what we hoped to accomplish. We then worshipped a long time in the presence of God. His presence was so tangible that we actually started the teaching quite late. Sheila and I taught about Individual practice and preparation habits. Kurt focused on why we need to become skilled at our instruments and the practice habits it requires and Sheila focused on spiritual preparation, stressing that praying and fellowshiping with the Spirit who gives life allows His life will flow through us in worship. Worship is a lifestyle that overflows to the congregation!
Day 4 was spent in the morning preparing for the evening conference. We also were given the gift of visiting one of the families Acao Evangelical is reaching. This family was living in poverty and the children were at great risk of prostitution, crime and other vices that could create income. These families are often desperate for stability and resort to these kinds of activities. They either think they don't deserve any better or they have not heard the truth that God desires to help them. This family was definitely being changed for good along with many more who are in a desperate place. In the evening Byron was the Keynote speaker discussing how Artists are uniquely gifted to create atmospheres where God can be worshipped and known. Byron has a very unique way of communicating the need for Artists in the church and the need to develop and keep artists in the church. What a powerful message.
Day 5. We got to work at 9am by leading worship and Sheila Ann and I taught throughout the day on playing as a team and effectivley leading the congregation, vocal training and songwriting. We ended the night with a Brazilian barbeque at Stenu's house. Great meats, side dishes and fruits and vegetables. Then it was off to the concert put on by Gleydice and her team that was being recorded for a DVD. They were amazning and did such a professional presentation and worship service. They will use the DVD to encourage worship and tell the stories of those they are blessing by their good works.
Day 6 was the last day of the conference and again we started with a time of worship and then moved into teaching on using your music gifts to reach people outside of the church and then Shiela Ann gave her testimony of how God was with her during the ups and downs of her cancer battle and how He healed her.
Day 7 and the morning of the 8th day were spent at the beach in Northern Brazil with all of our new friends. We had such a nice time getting to know each other while swimming in the warm waters and enjoying all the great food of Brazil. It was a great way to cap off the trip. I will never forget our friends kindness and thoughtfullness. What a gift to spend the week with them and then cap it off this way.
Looking forward, I hope, to return in August to record a music project with them as a benefit to their work among desperate children. We also hope to go back and teach many times in the future. Brazil 2014 was such a beautiful time. I will never forget it.