Home again and happily so. It was a good trip, as business trips go, and will likely be fruitful. Travel and accommodations were perfectly fine, without snag or complaint. That is, until I got to my car in the parking lot at the James Cox International Airport in Dayton on my return Saturday afternoon at which point I found that I couldn't find my keys. They remain lost to date, presumably in Atlanta, but who knows...they still haven't turned up. Nevertheless, thanks to my son, I made it back home in time to catch the end of the worship rehearsal at church and the evening's service.
The highlight of the trip was, without a doubt, the worship concert that I attended Thursday night. Diante do Trono ("before the throne") is the worship team of Igreja Batista da LaGoinha, a large evangelical church in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, that I mentioned in a previous post. I had been invited by Randy Adams, who is the recording engineer for most of the Diante Do Trono's worship recording projects. (Go here to see a list of Randy's astounding discography.) The amazing thing was that these friends of mine from so far away, whom I had never met in person before, happened to be in Atlanta at the same time I was, performing at a local church that was less than a mile from my hotel.
My friend and colleague, Jeff McLeod, and I stood behind Andre Espindula, the chief engineer whom I have known telephonically and virtually for several years now. It was a joy to meet him in person at last. The worship was wonderful. They had a full rhythm section, background singers, six-piece horn section and a pair of young dancers. Ana Paula Valdao Bessa is the worship leader and she is a great leader, possessing a wonderful voice and a strong passion for the gospel.
Jeff and I speak enough Spanish between us that we could roughly interpret the Portuguese lyrics and speech, although the languages are, in fact, very much different. It is not the first time that I have worshipped in a non-native tongue and, hopefully won't be the last. I believe that Heaven will be very much like that. It is likely that in Heaven, the Lord will reverse the curse of Babel so that we will all speak and understand a common language, but it is undeniable that the children of God come from every time and every culture on Earth. And language is an integral, inseparable part of cultural identity.
An especially moving segment was when Ana spoke at length to the predominately Brazilian audience of some 1200 or so people about the need for them to remember that most Christian believers in Brazil were saved as a result of the efforts of American missionaries over the last 150 years. She encouraged them to now do all they can to, in turn, embrace and positively impact their adopted country. I was somewhat undone emotionally by the passion of her prayer for our country, the outpouring from the people, and the power of the worship song that followed, Águas Purificadoras.
After the concert, at Andre's request, the host-pastor of the Brazilian congregation took us back to the green room and introduced us to Ana. As it turns out, we share a number of friends in Texas, where she went to college in the early 90's. She was humble and gracious, and it was very considerate of her to spend time with us after a rigorous evening. They were to leave by bus later that night for Miami, Florida for the final concert on the tour before returning home.
What an unexpected blessing this was, and one I will remember often for years to come.