Crato, Ceará, Brazil
Reports: The Elijah Challenge in Brazil
The second most idolatrous area in Brazil
In July 2010, we were in Juazeiro do Norte, a town considered to be the second most idolatrous city in the vast country of Brazil—the fifth most populous nation on the face of the earth. The Lord gave us a great victory during that week. Click here to read the report on that event.
Crato is a town near Juazeiro do Norte which shares the same spiritually dark background as Juazeiro, but which is even worse. In addition to the people worshiping Father Cicero as their god, the practice of Macumba (imported from Africa) is prevalent. The practice of Catholicism here is horribly corrupted. The percentage of evangelicals here is around 1% of the population.
Miraculous healings at the Basic Training
At the first session of the Elijah Challenge Basic Training in Crato there were hundreds of Brazilian disciples, quite a few of whom had traveled from different states by car, bus, and plane, to minister with their beleaguered brethren in Crato. Evangelical churches in Crato are few, and the number of churches joining the Visitation of God number about 23—less than one-half the number of churches which participated in the Visitation of God in July 2010 in Juazeiro de Norte. Not only were there few churches in Crato, but they were typically very small. A church of even fifty people is considered to be doing quite well in Crato.
At the end of the morning session, we did a demonstration of healing for the trainees. I called for those with pain in their bodies to come forward for healing. Many come up, filling the front of the gymnasium where we are meeting. I instructed those who were about to minister healing with regard to the laying on of hands and the exercise of authority in Jesus’ name. Then with one voice we rebuked the pain and issued authoritative commands for the infirm to be healed in Jesus’ name. After several moments, I asked those who had been healed to testify. One by one people came forward to give glory to God for their healing—perhaps 25 in all. Some had been healed of severe infirmities. God’s grace for healing in this place of darkness was so evident.
The next day at the morning session when I asked the participants how many of them witnessed God’s power to heal through them as they ministered to the lost and the infirm from house to house yesterday afternoon, many of them raised their hands eagerly. People accepted Christ as a result. See the photos below with the disciples with their hands upraised to show that the Lord had used them to heal the sick.
Each afternoon following the morning training session, the disciples went door to door (weather permitting) to proclaim the kingdom of God and healing the sick. Every day they witnessed miraculous healings—including a cancerous tumor disappearing at an evening service—and people coming to Jesus Christ. The Light began to arise in this very dark place.
On the third morning Lucy taught the training session. During the time of healing demonstration, quite a few testified of being healed. In particular, there was an older but very sprightly man named John de Souza. He had played professional soccer in Brazil from 1956 to 1970. John was completely deaf in one ear. A nameless disciple ministered to him as Lucy had just taught, and the Lord totally restored his hearing! John was delighted to be able to hear all kinds sounds through the ear, and could not stop giving thanks to God throughout the day. See the photo below with John standing next to Lucy.
John at left wearing red T-shirt
The Visitation of God ministry in Brazil is very effective, raising up armies of powerful disciples in very spiritually dark areas to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. They don’t go to the “easy” places but to the most difficult ones. Prior to the training in a particular town, they bring together area pastors and churches to work together in a spirit of unity where no unity existed before. Then the trained disciples are sent out from house to house and to the streets. People are healed and saved; there is great impact on the Church. One church which participated in the Visitation of God last July in Juazeiro (click to see that report) grew so quickly that they had to break down walls of their sanctuary to accommodate all the new believers.
The “Empire” strikes back
Throughout much of Thursday night that week while we slept we could hear rain and lightning around us. Upon arising in the morning, we were told that some parts of town had suffered from severe flash floods which had roared through like a runaway train. We were also informed that our fifth and final Training session later that morning was cancelled because the high school gymnasium where we have been meeting was not accessible due to the flooding and consequent damage to the streets.
The pastor’s home where we staying was also nearly struck. It was surrounded by a thick wall made of rocks topped with barbed wire. But when we went outside this morning we saw a huge hole where a section of the wall had been completely knocked down. We wonder what could have made such a hole. There was no obvious sign of flooding or water on the street just outside that ran parallel to the wall. And although we certainly heard thunder, we do not remember hearing wind of such force that could bring down the rock wall. Our bedroom window faces the street and no wind came into our room last night.
When the wall collapsed, all the big rocks that made up the wall came tumbling down and just missed the house. There could have been damage to the house otherwise. The Lord was gracious. Below are a couple of photos for you.
The hole in the wall from the street
The rocks from the collapsed wall from inside the property
Later a couple of pastors separately suggested that what happened last night could have been an attack against us and the Visitation of God orchestrated by the forces of satanic Macumba (witchcraft originating from Africa) so prevalent in Crato. If it was, they had taken their best shot and had missed us. The Lord was faithful to protect us and the Visitation of God team members.
Calling on the God of Elijah
The final Visitation of God event took place Saturday evening at the high school gymnasium where we had also met for the Basic Training. The participating churches were invited as well as the lost and the infirm to attend this evangelistic event where the infirm would be healed and the gospel preached.
The gymnasium was in an area of town which was hit hard by the rare flash flood which tore through town on Thursday night. Access to the gymnasium the following morning was severely limited. There is a canal running through town which passes right by the high school. The water in the canal rose to a level about one meter above street level where the high school is. Here and there you could see the damage wreaked by the powerful torrents. Road access to the area was cut off.
But mysteriously the high school and gymnasium were not touched by the water and horrible mud. On Friday morning after the flash flooding about 200 Visitation of God team members were able to fan out over the affected area to minister in Jesus’ name and help stricken residents with the clean up.
Nevertheless, with practically no access to the area by car we did not expect many people to come to the Crusade at the gymnasium on Saturday evening. But the Lord surprised us. The gym was full.
Because of the prevalence of idolatry in Crato, that Saturday evening we preached the gospel according to the model of Elijah at Mt. Carmel who challenged the priests of the false god Baal. Most people in Crato claim to be Catholics who are supposed to worship the one true God. But in reality only about 1% of the population worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Many others pray to their local god Father Cicero, and many also trust in a brand of witchcraft called Macumba.
I proclaimed to the crowd our Father in heaven as the only true God, and Jesus Christ as the only way to Him. Now there were quite a few people in the crowd who had infirmities and wanted to be healed. Like Elijah at Mt. Carmel, I offered anyone in the crowd who worshiped Father Cicero or who practiced Macumba witchcraft to come forward to pray to Father Cicero or to use their witchcraft to heal the infirmities. I waited for a few moments, but no one stepped forward to accept the challenge.
God sends the “fire” of healing
Then, we disciples of Jesus Christ prayed to our God to send the fire of healing upon the infirm so that the people might know that He is God and that He is turning their hearts back again. After the prayer, I led the trained disciples to minister healing to the infirm. The Lord graciously released His power and authority through His disciples, and quite a few infirm people were healed. They came up to the stage to testify one-by-one what the Lord had done for them. The miracles demonstrated to the people that “the LORD—He is God, the LORD—He is God!”
The believers rejoiced to witness the faithfulness of our God to confirm the bold preaching of the gospel.
Throughout the weekday afternoons as the disciples visited an estimated 5,000 homes in gospel-resistant Crato to preach the gospel, many were healed and saved. Moreover, every evening individual participating churches held their own evangelistic healing services for people whom they invited as they went from door to door in the afternoons. 4,179 homes were visited, 302 people were healed, and 600 people accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
In a follow-up meeting on Monday, Visitation of God leader Pastor Jonathan set before the pastors a plan to continue the invasion of Crato using the weapons of preaching the gospel, healing the sick and casting out demons. In this way they want to see the born-again population of Crato increase from 1% to 20% in ten years.
Enemy counterattack: failed
The enemy was furious at us for what the Lord did through his people here in Crato last week. He and his minions were put to shame by the far superior power of God Almighty at work through His disciples. It is quite likely that we were attacked in various ways by the enemy—through “powerful” curses and the like.
But other than two incidents involving the collapsed wall which missed us in the night and an electrical blackout, we felt nothing at all. We slept well, even through severe storms.
Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.