That was 10 Years Ago



What a day that was for me and my family, When on that Sunday, we surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ! It was also the day that Alcohol ceased to rule my life.

Living with my father in Goiânia, Goiás State, Brazil, since childhood, I had heard about God and I was familiar with the catechism, but I got my first chance to read the Bible when I was 18, as I was spending some time with my mother in the Rondonópolis area of Mato Grosso State. It seemed just another book, and not all that interesting. Yet I kept on reading.

At times the “Assemblies of God” had special meetings in this rural community, and I attended several of them, attracted mainly by the singing. The Gospel message, however, did not get through to my soul.

By then I was already a smoker. But since my Mom didn’t want me to smoke, I used to cross some fields, and on to the river bank. There I thought I could enjoy my “hidden smoke”. Afterwards the strong smell of tobacco would still give me away. This was in July, 1976.

In February, 1977, it was Mato Grosso again. But this time my younger brother Antonio came with me. As we got to our destination, we found that Mom had moved away. Fortunately, we found out she was in the town of Corgão, where, at last, we managed to locate her.

In reality we had “run away” from our father’s house. Antonio was under age, and I was sure that my Dad wouldn’t allow him to come with me. So I had lied to him, saying that we were going to Anápolis, not far away in Goiás State, and that I intended to find work there and get Antonio enrolled on the Air Base. When after a few days my father still had no sign of life from us, he asked a friend to go and look for us. Of course, that was a fruitless effort, and we caused our Dad a lot of suffering.

It took a full 6 months for him to find out that Antonio and I were in Corgão. The aunt we were working for happened to ‘bump’ into my Dad on a journey and she told him about us. How happy my father was to know where we were and that we were well! He wrote us a letter, telling us about his anxiety at the total lack of news, but also about his happiness when finally the news reached him. He encouraged us to work hard and be honest men.

In Corgão I had renewed contact with the Word of God. My mother, my stepfather, Erasmo, and my brothers all used to stay over at an uncle’s in order to attend the “New Testament” meetings there. Antonio soon became enthusiastic about the Gospel and made a decision. He did not develop a stable walk, but today he is standing firm.

I did not want to make a decision, but I followed the meetings with interest, wanting to learn more of God’s Word. It bothered me a little to see that the believers read and expounded the Bible with some difficulty. I used to be itching to speak up and help, but since I was not a “believer”, that was out.

Finally our time came to return to our father’s house. Before setting out, I told Erasmo that I wanted to receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior. In reality my idea was to make my relatives happy. And so I “accepted” Jesus. Antonio and I then traveled back to Goiânia as “believers”…

When we arrived and my father found out that we had changed our “religion”, it didn’t exactly make him happy. An old friend suggested to him, however, that what he should do was help us find our feet in life. And, lo and behold, Dad got us started as green-grocers in a new district. Not only did we sell fruit and vegetables, but also rum and tobacco… It only took us a few months of business to get “un-converted” – and back to square one…

We made that trip from Goiás to Mato Grosso during a number of years. As long as we were with my mother’s family, we’d be “Christians”; back in Goiânia, we’d be anything but Christians. Then, in 1983, when Manoel Paulo, a well-known servant of God in Rondonópolis, talked to me, I decided I should stop the “double life” of deception. I stopped pretending that I was saved. In fact it seemed I got more and more lost! Oh, how much I drank in those years!!

On January 19, 1985, when I was 27, I married Lourdes. The following year we moved to Poxoréo in Mato Grosso, where we have lived ever since. I had been studying Law for a year, but during a heated quarrel with my dad, in which I caused him much offense, I decided we were going to move and I’d leave my studies. Of course, I was drunk. As we were nearing our destination, I finally sobered up, enough to realize how stupid my decision had been. But it was too late to do anything about it.

Nine days later our first child, Fernando, was born. Quite how Lourdes, Fernando, or anyone else, managed to live with this out-of-control alcoholic, I just don’t know.
Then in 1994, on my 36th birthday, I thought I was dying. So I bought all the rum I could find and drank as much as I could, losing all notion of reality. My friends came to celebrate my birthday… But it all passed as in a fog, even though I ate and drank with them late into the night. But then, after the hangover of the next day, suddenly the “scales” fell from my eyes, as they had fallen from Saul’s in Acts 9:18.

That day, for the first time ever, it dawned on me that I was lost (Lk 15:17). Up till then I’d always thought things were going pretty good. But now I came to my senses, a decision had to be taken, a life-changing decision. It was then I started to seriously think about God. I understood that only He could set me free from my alcoholism. And to him I went (Jn 8:36). Without saying anything to Lourdes, I made up my mind, I was not going to drink anymore. Temptation would come, but I’d simply pray and call on God until the temptation passed. It seemed to work.

Interestingly, during that same week, Fernando told me he’d been invited by the nuns to their catechism classes. Would I let him? I replied I’d take him to the NT congregation instead. So on that Sunday all of us went. We’re still going…

Then, in August, a speaker asked for someone to read Hebrews 10:26-27. Almost mechanically I complied, but what a blow!! God was speaking to me and… He expected a response (Is 55:6). When we got home, I talked to Lourdes and Fernando. We decided that together we’d surrender to Jesus. That evening the preacher read and spoke, but we can’t remember what about. The three of us just waited for the moment the ‘invitation’ would be given.

And then, to our bewilderment, the meeting concluded without that invitation to come to Christ. But God was still in control. The preacher, realizing something was amiss, raised his voice and asked everybody to sit down again. There and then he still gave that invitation: Would anyone surrender publicly to the Lord Jesus? The three of us rose to our feet. We said that that was what we wanted to do. At last… I was born again; I had become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)! I even had a new family!

That was ten years ago! Now, for all my remaining days, by God’s grace and with great joy in my heart, I can say like Joshua (Jos 24:15):