The big news this month is the 31st annual Congresso (Lectureship) of the Northeast (Brazil). It started Thursday and ran through Sunday. It was held in city of Belo Jardim (120 miles west of Recife). Each year this event moves around the cities of Northeast Brazil. It was the third time this congregation hosted it. The official count for this year’s event is 340 participants representing 49 congregations. This was an excellent turnout for a rural congregation far from the big cities. Many brethren traveled over 500 miles by bus or car to participate.
The theme this year was “Return to your First Love” based on Revelation 2:4 where Jesus warns “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love”. The keynote speakers included Alan Dutton Jr. (son of the late pioneer missionary Alan Dutton) from Sao Paulo and Dr. Howard Norton, 82. Brother Norton now serves the Lord in Texas but was on the first mission team (which included Alan Dutton) that came to Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1961 to begin planting churches of Christ.
Besides the lectures, there were over a dozen concurrent studies on a wide range of subjects which included: “Keeping drugs out of your home,” “Training Sunday school teachers”, “Honoring God in your youth, etc”. Aureni and I were given the subject of “Marriage Counseling”. Since we only had two hours each day we decided to go focus on “How to resolve conflicts and restore relationships”. About 30 took our class. All the studies were repeated so everyone could go to two different studies during the lectureship.
On a side note, while the city of Recife is on the coast and gets plenty of rain coming in off the ocean, I had heard that the rural areas away from the coast were suffering a drought. I didn’t realize how severe it was until this trip. Belo Jardim is undergoing the worst drought in 50 years. All their reservoirs are bone-dry and they haven’t had city water in their faucets in six months. All the water must be trucked in from places an hour’s drive away. In spite of the great challenges the brethren there were wonderful hosts who protected their guests from this harsh reality. They made us feel the love of Christ in all their service.