Besides my wife and me, The 8-32 Movement (given this name based on John 8:32) has enlisted the participation of former Priority Associates (Campus Crusade for Christ) staff member, Erica Ribeiro, to help us get the professional component off the ground. Erica is currently discipling and training three professional women on the staff of Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ).
Getting back to my ministry activities in downtown Rio, I have found, in light of my strengths and gifting, the best of both ministry worlds! Not only do I get to interact with students about their faith (or lack thereof), but I get to open air preach in the notorious "Largo da Carioca," where tens of thousands of people pass daily. "Carioca," as this nerve center is commonly called, is a smorgasbord of sights, sounds and experiences. You never know what's going to happen next!
For example, I was introduced to a slightly-built preacher two months ago when a crowd gathered around him and an older gentleman decided to start slapping him! I intervened, holding the aggressor at bay long enough for the municipal guards to show up. I wrongly assumed they would uphold the preacher's right to preach, but they hauled him off and warned him to stop. Seeing a crowd of nearly 100 gathering out of curiosity, I whipped out my bullhorn and began preaching! After scolding the guards for violating the Brazilian equivalent to the preacher's First Amendment rights, I started to use God's Law to show the crowd its need for a Savior. After asserting that the Ten Commandments condemn lying, I asked anyone who felt they had never lied to raise their hand. Two men raised their hands. I told them they were lying about lying, and asserted that I knew they were sinners based on Romans 3:23. One guy grumbled something as he walked away, but the other guy - probably in his late teens to early twenties - started getting visibly angry, saying I had no right, as a foreigner, to be preaching. I responded with the fact that I may have been in Brazil longer than he, assuming he was 18 years old or less. He looked like he wanted to attack me, but his friend ushered him out of the area.
So, it's never a dull moment in the "Carioca!" This past Wednesday I was preaching against the gay agenda in our schools here, and a guy stopped to listen. He interrupted me to inform me that a well-known comic book series was introducing the gay lifestyle into its stories; 5 minutes later he handed me a copy of the comic book in question, pointing out the subtle, yet clear, message: "Let's all be tolerant of our gay friends and their choices." I'm going to boycott this comic book publisher from now on, as well as encourage others to do the same! Absurd!
When I was wrapping things up, a guy shows up and asks me to look up a verse in my bible for him. He then took issue with the fact that the verse translated God's OT name - Yahweh - as LORD. I knew I had a Jehovah's Witness (JW) on my hands, so I asked him about his view of Jesus. I confess that I didn't handle the situation the way I would have liked to (Hindsight is always 20/20.), so I plan to take a different approach next time. I encourage you to get your hands on the following tract and/or memorize it's approach to dealing with JW's. I know I will! Fortunately there's a Portuguese version.
To finalize, I came across the following video that graphically explains the benefits of open air and campus preaching. Yeah, it's considered controversial today and the results are not often immediate; nevertheless, God uses it to change lives. Invest just 7 minutes to see what I mean: