I guess you could call it a bucket list experience, yes it definitely was! Being in Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics and being able to watch Usain Bolt win his 3rd gold medal in three straight Olympics in the 100m final was absolutely electric! At the same time with less fan fare however, Justin Gatlin also became the first American in history to medal in the Olympic 100m final in three different Olympics. The 100m final at the Olympics is basically the Super Bowl of Track and Field. It was super cool and unusual to even be able to get tickets for this event and experience it in person.
The whole thing happened because several things came together in just the right way at the right time! Confluence is defined as 1. a flowing together of two or more streams, rivers or the like. 2. a coming together of people or things. As cool as watching "the fastest man in the world" was in the temporary physical realm greater things were happening in the spiritual realm.
The main reason we were at the Rio Olympics was to distribute about 100,000 John and Romans and 20,000 gospel souvenir pins (mostly in Portuguese). Rio itself is more populated that New York City and there were well over 500,000 visitors that came from all around the globe. Most of the time our group of 40-50 spent long hours in tourist areas having gospel conversations and sharing the Word of God one on one (our translators were amazing to work with). Our primary source of transportation was the Metro (Subway) and each day we spent about 2 hours going in the morning and coming back in the evening. By the way did I mention we carried back packs full of these souvenir John and Romans all day long until we gave them out and then someone usually brought us more to carry! Talk about the burden of the word of the Lord :-)
One day as we were headed back I was completely exhausted and worn out. I said a little prayer and notified God that "I can't talk to anymore people. I am so tired and I don't have any emotional or physical strength left. So, God, that's just the way it is". I guess I felt a little guilty that I wouldn't even consider sharing anymore but hey, I had done enough for God that day already!
We were 20 minutes into our ride back and the Metro was getting so crowded and uncomfortable that I just wanted to stand there with my eyes closed and ignore the smells and tune out the whole world. Then I saw a gentleman trying to get on the Metro and I knew immediately I had to help him, he was blind. I guess no one else noticed or knew what to do so I reached out to him and helped his hand reach the pole in the middle of the subway car so he would not fall. I could not speak Portuguese and I didn't feel like talking but I wanted to give him one of our souvenir gospel pins. I used the little Portuguese I knew and told him it was a gift. He gladly took it! I knew this would interest him because he could touch it and it had weight to it. Having 2 blind children myself I knew that the tactile part of it would interest him. The part that bothered me was that I could not find any of the translators that were usually with us and I knew that this man could not read the gospel that was on the card and neither could I since it was in Portuguese. Even if I had decided I wanted to talk now it really wouldn't do much good (I see the irony in that, as God chuckles a little at me). At that very moment we stopped at another metro stop. Several people got out but more people got on, ugh. It's always a mad rush when the metro doors open, you better be quick or you will miss your stop. A very kind Brazilian lady happened to make her way to where this gentleman and I were standing and after a moment I guess she could tell I was from the USA and started speaking in English to me. I shared with her what we were doing and gave her a gospel pin also. Somewhere during our conversation she noticed that the blind gentleman had a pin. Then something amazing happened. This young lady took the gospel card and began reading it out loud in Portuguese to this man. She read it loud enough that not only did he heard it but many on our right and left began to listen.
There was a "Holy Hush" that came over many of the commuters and it was obvious that the Spirit of God was working on hearts. The blind man (who I now knew was named Pedro) after hearing the message was grinning from ear to ear and the young lady had a tear streaming down her face. Pedro gave me several hugs and then we came abruptly to the next stop. The young lady said I have to go but before she did she explained that she worked as a teacher for the visually impaired and blind in Rio. The very next stop after that Pedro got off the metro using his cane finding his way home. I probably will never see either of these two people again in my life and had never seen them before but God had a plan for that exact moment in time!
WOW! I love it when God has a plan and he brings it together. How can so many specific things happen and specific people come together in such an enormous city in a way that you can only say "God did that". It was a little glimpse of infinite wisdom, power and glory of God. God is always working bringing things together - He is The God of Confluence! I have found that when we are seeking to do God's will and we go wherever he leads that Confluence happens quite often, especially at TheOBP.com and GoCityReach.com mission trips I have been on. Astronomical odds and unusual events seem to be the norm when we join God where he is working and in what he is doing. The God of Confluence is working everyday sometimes we just get so caught so comfortable with routine and habit that our eyes are just not open to it. Open our eyes Lord and help us to see what you are doing so that we will join you today!
"All this also comes from the LORD Almighty,
whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent"
Isaiah 28:29 NIV