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Gathering plenary 4 – Emerson Cardoso

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Walking on our knees

“Think about the possibilities of ICOMB.”David Wiebe (newly retired executive director of ICOMB)

David Wiebe
PHOTO: Tony Schellenberg

Fighter jets and tanks. A blind preacher who takes pictures with friends. A strip club turned into an MB church.

These are hints of just a few of the stories of what God is doing in and through the Brazilian Mennonite Brethren conference (COBIM).

Emerson Cardoso (translated from Portuguese provided by Elton da Silva) filled his hour tonight (on Brazilian time) with powerful and memorable. If you missed it, find the live stream feed and watch for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Cardoso framed his stories around Palmer Becker’s threefold definition of Anabaptist faith:

  • Jesus is the centre of our faith.
  • Community is the centre of our lives.
  • Reconciliation is the centre of our work.

Emerson Cardoso (l) and Elton DaSilva (r)
PHOTO: Tony Schellenberg

As I sit here late at night reflecting on tonight’s presentation, there is a part of me that wants to “report” on the general outline of what Cardoso shared. I took pages of notes. But I’m going to refrain and simply share a few quotes and thoughts that had a particular impact on me. These aren’t prioritized; they may not be what others heard tonight. But they are the observations that connected with me at this time.

“If you’re in Brazil, you need to learn how to dance.” This quote was shared in the context of the importance of contextualizing the gospel to our congregations. Well, I’m in Abbotsford, B.C., so I need to learn how to…correct that, since I’m at King Road Church, I need to learn how to…

God, what do I need to learn to best impact my world with your gospel?

“There were many [Brazilian] churches with members working outside of their area of giftedness.” Cardoso gave the example of demanding a pastor be an evangelist. Is the reverse also true? Do we truly believe that God gifts the church with the necessary gifts? My observation is that serving in one’s area of giftedness brings joy!

God, what do I need to do differently to best utilize the gifts you have given me?

“Prayer is key!” This was not an unexpected comment. I doubt any in attendance tonight would argue this point. Yet somehow, too often I have experienced a disconnect between acknowledging the need for prayer and actually living as though I believe this. Why is it that the “Canadian default” is so often to spend much more time planning, analyzing, discussing, meeting…without prayer? Does this sound harsh? I know I feel convicted. Am I praying regularly for reconciliation? Am I praying regularly for the gospel to break into the lives of my neighbours, my friends, my congregants? Cardoso’s reminder of the place of prayer is one I needed to hear tonight.

God, what would happen if I (we) prayed more specifically, regularly, fervently, ________ (which word would you use)?

Cardoso ended with a challenge issued to us in Canada. He did this while on his knees. He challenged us to walk on our knees. Let’s take this seriously! I want to. Do you? Let’s help each other do so. We need each other, particularly our international sisters and brothers.

Thank you, Emerson!

[Leonard serves as the co-lead pastor at King Road Church in Abbotsford, B.C. 


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