Psalm 118:13-14, 17 My enemies did their best to kill me, but the Lord rescued me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. . . I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.
I’m just home from a wonderful week in Manaus, Brazil, participating in the Fifteenth REVER/MAPI Congress, along with about a thousand other people gathered from five countries and around Brazil. It was a lovely time of reconnection with old friends and meeting many new ones.
The highlight for me was sharing the teaching of a workshop with Márcia, leader of GAVS in Manaus, followed by an amazing time with the first “graduating” group of GAVS (whom I knew), and the second group (whom I didn’t know). Let me explain.
GAVS (as you would have learned in our workshop) is the acronym for the Portuguese of Support Groups for Victims and Survivors of sexual abuse. Three years ago, a motivated group from Manaus invited me to teach them how to lead GAVS groups based on my book Vítima, Sobrevivente, Vencedor (“Victim, Survivor, Victor”) published in Brazil in 2012. Three GAVS “veterans” from São Paulo came to Manaus to help me. Along with information, we taught and experienced with the Manaus women a variety of dynamics that took healing from being an intellectual idea to whole-body and soul transformation.
It became apparent to all of us (and especially to the Manaus group) that they needed to walk through the healing process themselves before they would be ready to lead others. Thus, over the course of the next year, they courageously faced into their own traumas, defenses and wounding, finding Jesus to be powerful and faithful. Over each of the subsequent two years, they took new groups through the process. And now these women—and finally, one man!—wanted to share with me what God had done for them.
I wish you could have heard the breathtaking stories, shared one after the other all around the circle, of what God has done. Each one was a “But God” testimony. “I was in despair…” “I was suicidal…” “I was terrified to speak of what had happened to me…” “I was completely broken…” But God met them through the love and compassion, knowledge and skills, prayers and commitment of their leaders and fellow-travelers in these GAVS groups.
As each story was told, we shared tears and laughter and much praise to God. There are enough “graduates” now to start several more groups. They are highly motivated to pass hope and healing on to others who are in the same kinds of distress they were in before they chose to pay the price needed to find God’s way into a redeemed life.
Related to this, another marvelous thing happened while I was in Manaus. For a long time, I’ve been praying for God to show me how I could make Vítima, Sobrevivente, Vencedor available in Spanish. I needed to find a native Spanish speaker with solid knowledge of Portuguese and the competence to translate well. The young Spanish interpreter for the Congress fit all my criteria, and she has agreed to do the translation! I am so grateful! Please pray for Nataly as she undertakes this work.
And pray for Márcia as she leads her intrepid band of “wounded healers” into the next adventures God has for them, in the Manaus region and beyond.
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This was the testimony I heard again and again during that precious hour in a classroom in Manaus. I am quite sure the only one whose joy surpassed mine was the Lord himself.