Ever since I can remember, I’ve known that I am God’s own. As a child, I would pick flowers and think of how my Father had placed them in my path because He knew that I would love them. He was what I knew to be love, and love wasn’t hard to understand.
As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve found that endless love is hard to explain and difficult to translate.
The more I experience the love of Jesus, the deeper and wider it becomes to me…but knowing it more fully somehow makes it harder to comprehend.
This love is my life, but it’s difficult to explain the mysterious ways in which God loves me. It’s even more difficult to express what happens in my moments shared with God. Nothing—especially love—can be done without Jesus.
About two years ago, God began to show me what His amazing, endless love can do in my life. I’ve been playing guitar at First Baptist Orlando for several years. I love to hear Him sing over my spirit and to experience the warmth of His smile as I play.
In 2015, Pastor Nassiff, the pastor of our Brazilian ministry, was in need of a guitar player for the Brazilian services. He asked me to join their team.
I was nervous, uncomfortable, and felt a bit out of place. I was a blonde in a sea of beautiful Brazilian faces, all speaking a language I knew nothing about. But before the first service had ended, I felt a strong, magnetic pull to the people of the ministry. I told God if He wanted me there, He would have to teach me the language and equip me to serve where He had placed me.
And He did. Over the next few services, God removed all my insecurities and poured into me the gift of Portuguese. It was the third or fourth week when I miraculously understood every song that was sung.
As the weeks turned into months, I found I could sit in the service and comprehend Pastor Nassiff’s sermons without a translation device. I didn’t know every word, but God interpreted what was necessary. The Brazilian ministry became my escape. As a student of English literature, I had often wondered if I had exhausted my native vocabulary. By teaching me a new tongue, God took the roof off my linguistic mind. And I saw Him without words.
I could see God in different colors. I could hear Him in sounds that made perfect sense yet no sense at all. God brought me into a new dimension of worship, where He sang both into me and through me. He removed the veil. To this day, I am more free worshipping in Portuguese.
Receiving the gift of Portuguese was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it as I thought it might be misunderstood by those who had not encountered the Holy Spirit in such ways, or misinterpreted by those who might think I was seeking attention.
My first experience understanding Portuguese with no knowledge of the language was during a conversation with a Brazilian friend who does not speak English. When she spoke to me in Portuguese, God told me what she said. It happened so naturally that it took me a few conversations before I realized why I didn’t need an interpreter.
Soon, I found God building a bridge between the two cultures through my presence at the Brazilian ministry. Many times at the Brazilian service, people would tell me, “We have been praying for someone like you to come be with us. We are so thankful that you want to be with us.”
I really do want to be there. At times, I feel more connected to the Brazilian community than my own. These people love God with such beautiful wonder; they seek Him with vulnerable and unafraid hearts. I have found an intimacy with them through the Spirit that makes me realize God is much closer than I had imagined. I want to honor the Brazilians. They have become my family.
I have never told this story outside of my family and close friends. It’s a sensitive place. But just as I gave Him my worship that first Sunday, I now give this story to God and trust that He will use it to His glory and protect the integrity of it.
Know this: God has an endless love for you. Let Him love you madly, wildly, and wonderfully. Don’t be afraid to let Him do mad, wild, wonderful things with you. Follow Him. You don’t have to figure out what He’s doing or why He’s doing it. He’s doing an amazing thing, and it’s not just for you. Others are waiting for the blessing that will come when you walk in His calling.
My experience with the Brazilian people of First Baptist Orlando has pulled the last inch of the ledge from under my feet, and I am freely falling into a wild, endless love with Jesus.
Because it’s all about letting go of every other desire our hearts are chasing; it’s about getting back to that garden, picking flowers, and singing with the Father who planted them just for you.
Written by Courtney Caggiano
Photo by David Diaz