Counting the Omer in Brazil
by Avi Tekle, Associate Pastor, Tents of Mercy Network

BBQ Brzaillian Style

I have always had the most common associations of Brazil that everyone has - world class football (soccer) players, colorful carnival dancers, tasty beef dishes, beautiful people, great Jazz music. My father-in-law Eitan, who traveled to Brazil numerous times, told me that I would feel right at home in this land of lovely diversity. I was excited to meet new people and see new sights but I wasn't prepared for the intensely personal experience I was about to have.

Eitan and I left for Brazil right after celebrating our community Passover Seder. We were very busy just before our departure and awaiting us was a time of intense speaking engagements during the days of Passover and the counting of the Omer. The specific season of our visit had a lot to do with the messages the Lord orchestrated for us to share to the different groups that we were going to address.

The holiday of Passover is foundational for us as a nation and for followers of Yeshua. It parallels the path of new birth and freedom and its commemoration is God's commandment to us. First we enter through the gate of God's gracious provision for redemption through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son Yeshua. Then we begin a time of consecration and preparation for the outcome of His Promise, to be filled by His Spirit and power of Resurrection. What a meaningful message to convey, and even better to experience!

Our first meeting, coordinated by our dear friend and brother Andrey, was with two dynamic young men leading a new movement of college age students. Their ministry is committed to creating a fresh sound of worship with God's presence at its heart. I was moved to hear how this young generation gathers by the thousands to seek the face of God. Their testimonies were inspiring and moving.

As we traveled, we met other young leaders with a similar vision. One of them was Pastor Rinah. A surfer at heart, he leads a network of 80 churches throughout Brazil. The common element within his network is that every leader is also an enthusiastic athlete. We met these sportsmen and women: skaters, soccer players, surfers, bikers, motor sports enthusiasts, the list goes on. Their fellowship with one another was enviable, characterized by mutual appreciation, joyful competition and a common passion for life with Yeshua.

Pilgramage Tourism

Pastor Rinah's surfboard pulpit

Avi speaking at Israel Now Conference in Goyania

At every conference we attended and every church we visited there were advertisements for tours to Israel and there were many people preparing to visit Israel in the upcoming year. From 2009 to 2010 there was a 79% growth in tourism from Brazil and the numbers continue to increase. Over 55,000 Brazilian tourists come to Israel every year.

Tourism is a major source of economic blessing for Israel. However, pilgrimage tourism focused on viewing the ancient stones of archeological sites is incomplete without visiting and fellowshipping with the living stones of Israel's Messianic community. "Righteous tourism" happens when a tourist connects with his/her past, reflects on his/her present, and affects the future through intercession and prayer. People who come to Israel need to realize the potential blessing they would both give and receive by rearranging their itinerary to include visits with the Messianic Body in Israel. As we join together in intercession there will be power! The instruction of Yeshua to His disciples to "pray in Jerusalem until you receive power" is still the way to bring revival to Israel and the nations. We shared these truths with our Brazilian brothers and sisters and they enthusiastically expressed their desire to align themselves with Israeli believers and the Land.

A Fresh Touch

My final destination in this captivating nation was Cianorte. The city of Cianorte was impressive; young, lively and modern. The conference was highly energetic and the hosts were young pastors with a hunger for the move of the Spirit. I sensed there was a message, not just for the people present, but for the city itself. I shared that I had come to bridge two gaps; between Israel and the city of Cianorte, and between sons and fathers. These two themes touched a deep nerve in the audience and God began to open afresh their hearts for Israel and the generations. Words are not enough to express what happened next, but somehow the truth of the bond between Jew and Gentile, fathers and sons opened to us God's heart for the times we are in. His visitation was powerful and glorious.

Dancing in Cianorte

Israel Now Conference dancers

I arrived back in Israel while we were still counting the Omer. On the day before the Shavuot festival; the 49th day of counting the Omer, Tents of Mercy gathered for a time of extended worship and prayer. We assembled to focus on God's harvest that is soon to come. Now at the completion of this amazing journey, from Passover through the counting of the Omer and into the celebration of Shavuot, we are at the gate of a new season. More than ever we are eager to see the move of God's Spirit to produce a harvest of people in this land and the nations. Let the passage of Passover, the preparation of the Omer, and the promise of Shavuot move us to take our place in the harvest that has already begun.

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