I told everyone that I was going to Brazil to see my son get married and then I was going to see Jesus. So as we entered into Rio, we immediately began to search every mountain top, hoping to catch a glimpse of Him. This beautiful city with the mix of mountains and beach is absolutely stunning. The Brazilians say that it took God 7 days to create the world but on the 8th day he created Rio de Janeiro. And on one of these magnificent mountain tops stands one of the 7 wonders of the modern world; the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
We spent a couple of days sight seeing in Rio, taking the cable car to the Sugar Loaf mountain and there in the distance we saw Him. What a sight! It was a cloudy day and the clouds hovered over the statue and at times it looked as if Jesus was standing on the clouds. I thought of Jesus coming back for me appearing in the clouds.
The very next day, with a beautiful clear sky of blue, we ascended the Corcovado mountain to see Jesus. We arrived on the mountain top with hundreds of tourists from all over the world. We heard the languages of the world there at the feet of my Savior. And while the statue is just a lifeless representation conceived in the imagination of a man, I wondered about the significance of the statue for the people that stood with me with cameras and selfie sticks snapping pictures of themselves mimicking the Christ with outstretched arms.
For me, seeing Jesus in Brazil would be so much more than my visit to the top of Corcovado mountain. I would see Jesus in my new family; Izolis and Manasses, the parents of our new daughter in law Sameah. Izolis loves children and everywhere I went with her there were kids running up to greet her with hugs. She started a school in the ghetto of her neighborhood that now reaches over 400 kids for Jesus. Manasses, Sameah’s father is an Old Testament scholar. His love for the word of God, the church and people was so impressive and another way that I would “see Jesus” in Brazil.
I saw Jesus in Brazil in the church. There were churches on every corner and I would often hear the music flowing out into the streets and the people gathered for worship. I saw Jesus in my friend Everly as she shared her love and passion for the children of her church. I saw Jesus in the beauty salon as we got ready for the wedding! Josie, a sister from the church and my hairstylist introduced her talented family to me. We ended up gathering together we singing songs of worship while my hair was getting fixed. While Josie’s husband and son played guitar, we would sing “Alleluia for the Lord God Almighty reigns.” in a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish and English. As we sang, there in the beauty shop, Jesus was larger to me than any earthly representation of his likeness.
And I saw Jesus as I watched my son gazing upon his bride as she walked down the aisle. While everyone was snapping pictures of the bride, I was taking a picture of the groom, my first born son. I wanted to catch his expression. I saw his eyes were twinkling with awe at his first glimpse of his beautiful bride. And I thought of my living, death-conquering Jesus on that day when he first sees His bride, the Church. Perhaps more significant and magnificent than the soapstone statue on top of he Corcovado mountain was seeing Jesus in the eyes of these two young lovers on the day of their wedding.
While I was seeing Jesus everywhere in Brazil, I wonder how many live in that marvelous city of Rio only know Jesus as a lifeless statue that attracts tourists. I wonder how many get up each morning and rarely even raise their eyes to look at him on that mountain because he is no more than an icon to them? Jesus as a statue is nice to see, but honestly, after you take a few pictures, the wonder begins to fade. But when you see Jesus represented in the beauty of his people, his Church, there is an awe that cannot be captured with a cellphone and a selfie stick.
On the day of that the Cristo Redentor statue was dedicated, way back in 1931, the cardinal spoke these words of proclamation for the people of Brazil “Christ wins! Christ reigns! Christ keep Brazil from all evil! “ Now as I leave the beautiful country and people of Brazil, I pray for the people of Brazil and especially Rio de Janeiro. I pray that they will not just see the statue of Jesus, but that they will see Him like I saw him in the beauty and love of His people. It is a shame that we often misrepresent who Jesus really is. I am praying for the Church in Brazil today to be an adequate representation of Christ the Redeemer. Without a doubt Jesus is at work in Brazil. I know it! Because I really did see Jesus in Brazil.