I remember from my childhood a certain afternoon in the city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, where I and some friends were gathered on a bench, beneath a tree, talking and playing. Then we spotted a man and a woman we had never seen in the neighborhood. After knocking at one or two houses, Pastor Reginaldo and Miss Ilene [BMM missionaries Reg and Ilene Santos] came toward us. They asked if they could tell the story of a book without words. Obviously, we were curious to know how to read a book without words. This was the first contact that I and many of my friends had with the gospel of Christ.
These visits of the Santoses repeated themselves for a few weeks, and at least once there was an appeal to believe in Jesus as Savior. I cannot remember well if I accepted the call at that time, but later I began to attend church. As I understood more about the Word of God, I recognized that I was a believer in Jesus Christ. Many times I doubted whether I had prayed “the prayer” or not, but with a greater understanding of the Scriptures, I was convinced I was a believer in Jesus.
It is interesting that a few streets away, around that same time, a young girl also believed in Christ under the influence of Reginaldo Santos. Isabela grew up in my church and today is my wife and ministry partner.
As a young man, I realized that God was calling me to seminary to prepare myself to serve Him. It was a great internal struggle. It was hard to believe that, as the first believer in my family, I would be the first pastor too. There was also the difficulty of announcing to my mother and relatives that I would drop everything to study to be a pastor, without guaranteed support to pay for my studies. By the grace of God, all accepted it well and never stopped me from studying or serving God.
At the end of my four years of study at BMM’s Paraná Baptist Bible College in 2016, I returned to my hometown, got married, and began serving as an assistant pastor at my home church. I served for one year and three months, and then we realized God was calling us to go back to Curitiba and serve him in the Berean Baptist Church. After serving alongside missionary Johnny Nunley, I was accepted as the senior pastor of the church at the beginning of 2019.
I often wonder, “Where would I be, what would have become of me, if Reginaldo Santos had never presented me with the gospel?” This thought fills me with joy in knowing the wonderful way that God works to save souls. My prayer is that I will be an instrument in God’s hands like he was.