The word "kingdom" conjures up the image of a castle overlooking a sprawling landscape; distant peasant homes; smoke curling above the chimneys and horse drawn carts full of hay. The King, standing on his balcony surveying a pastoral scene unfolding with lush green forests, sculptured hills, and a courtyard of cheering subjects. These are the elements of a full-length Disney feature.
Until the oppressor of our soul is bound and then tossed into the lake of fire, our glorious kingdom suffers violent attacks. Like the medieval infantry using catapults and flaming arrows, the battlefield engulfs the peaceful citizens, engaging them in a fight against evil - Christians at war.
As you survey your personal hamlet in the King's eventual domain, maybe you see injustice and evil. It tugs at your heart because you have a "mission" in God's kingdom; one for which he gifts you, calls you and prepares you - that is if you are willing to count the cost and be molded on the potter's wheel.
As a short-term missionary, I have seen some very profane recesses of our earthly home. The most disturbing to date, were the slums of Londrina in Southern Brazil.
The last time two times I was there, my team visited churches that held meetings in these slums - or should I say, sprawls of lean-tos, cardboard boxes and tin shacks on the outskirts of town.
It was there that we met Joséanna, just 19-years-old. Her father had abandon her and her mother for a life in another city. She hadn't seen him in about seven years. Her mother had become accustom to the way of life in these difficult and dangerous surroundings - but longed to be with her family up north.
My friend Pastor Erinaldo invited "José" to come and stay at his home while her mother went to see if she could find work up north where it was warmer.
Joséanna (that's her in the blue dress on the right) quickly fell into family life in the little apartment over Poco de Agua Viva Igreja (Fountain of Living Water Church). She was polite and happy. She helped serve meals, walk the dogs and ate whenever there was food offered.
A few days after I had arrived, I felt like we should get her some clothes so that she could look for a job. The pastor and his ever present clan (pictured above) took us to the mall which took two trips in his Ford KA. There we bought her an outfit, perfume, and make up. She cried as the ladies brought different outfits to dressing room.
After we returned to the pastor's house, we sat around talking about Jesus, our families, life in America and I learning Portuguese. I excused myself to prepare for my evening sermon (HERE is that story). As I passed Joséanna's room, through the crack in a slightly opened door, she knelt there on the quarry tiles, sobbing and almost whispering, "gloria deus - obrigado senhor - obrigado pi." She was thanking her Father, and giving glory to her Lord and Savior.
Later that evening, I was standing on the platform during worship. There she was in the front row - her eyes closed and her hands extended towards heaven. At first she simply sang the words in Portuguese. Then an amazing thing happened. She began to praise God, but this time in English; a language she did not know. I will never forget her words that night.
She sang, "Lord Jesus, you are great and mighty, you have not for gotten your daughter and left her to die. Lord Jesus you are great and mighty - Lord Jesus you are great and mighty and your Kingdom has come."