Last week I returned from a ten-day trip where I
had a wonderful time with Eduardo Pedreira and his family.  Eduardo is the leader of Renovaré’s
Brazil expression.  The Brazilian
expression made a huge impression on me.  What struck me most were their relational rhythms and the
organic nature of the movement.

During my visit we had a three-day retreat
with thirty pastors as well as a one-day spiritual formation forum, I also
preached in three churches.

The pastors from the retreat were from
different denominations and regions in Brazil. The retreat was the beginning of
a proposed three-year journey wherein this group will meet biannually and work
through fourteen spiritual formation texts. They are training their lives towards
becoming like Jesus.

The Renovaré Brazil leadership team invited
all these leaders.  It was not an
event that was advertised.  It was
obvious to me that there was a relational foundation established between the
pastors.  This made for a retreat
wherein we could journey deeper together than we would have if we were just

The Brazilian emphasis on relationship and
long-term commitment excites me and strikes me as very strategic. Eduardo
started the retreat with an overview of the proposed three-year journey and the
excitement in the room was palpable. He then set the tone of the retreat by
explaining the ancient spiritual reading technique of Lectio Divina.  The importance of a holistic formation process
was stressed.

The Brazilian pastors took Eduardo’s
emphasis on a journey into holistic formation to the heart and for the next few
days we had a wonderful time of exploring and growing together.  We had four sessions wherein we
explored the Jesus life in the circumstances of pastoral life.  In the first session we explored
pastoral burnout, in the second servanthood, the third session was about
keeping our relationships aflame and in the fourth session we looked at
developing a rule of life.

We were deeply touched by a very real
experience of Jesus’ life, love and presence.

At the Spiritual formation forum Eduardo
shared about the importance of the “interior dimension of spiritual
formation”.  I had the opportunity
to share some thoughts on the importance of a listening – and acting life for spiritual

The day retreat was a great success with
great conversations and learning happening. Once again people from different
denominations were present.

My time in Brazil confirmed to me that the
Renovaré Brazil movement is a real blessing to the people of Brazil.  The focus on serving pastors and
leaders to walk the with-God-life is exciting.  Imagine what is going to happen once they take the congregations
they are serving into the adventure of a relationship with Jesus!

On a personal note Eduardo and the Renovaré
team inspire me.  They are showing
how to be faithful to the spiritual formation tradition in a Brazilian
context.  Their focus on being an organic
network of friends strike me as true to our Leader who walked the dust roads of
Galilee with twelve men all the while planting seeds in their lives.  These seeds have germinated and
produced a movement of extraordinary love! 

The Brazilian experience gives me hope that
we can be faithful to Jesus’ vision of embodying the with-God-life one
relationship at a time.  In my ten
days I’ve gotten to know my friend Eduardo even better and I’m more convinced
than ever of his desire to see Jesus formed in his own life and in the life of
other people. It is a welcome interruption to the shallow version of
Christianity being peddled by the prosperity gospel groupings in Brazil.

It was a real honour for me to be able to
get a glimpse of this loving community. 
As I return to South Africa I’m determined to take the lessons learnt in
Brazil and contextualizing it for South Africa.

May we continue to learn the rhythms of
God’s kingdom work and may Jesus be formed in every fibre of our being and
society, wherever we are!