In 1894, a lost young man from Garanhuns, Brazil was transformed. His name was Antonio. He, along with his brother Geronimo, were some of the first people baptized into a protestant church in the interior of Pernambuco state. These two rebel rousers were told by the Roman Catholic leadership to cause a raucous at the evangelistic meeting led by Henry McCall, a young missionary who was an “enemy of God and of the Virgin Mary.”
The transformative power of true worship was explicit in their lives. These two young men were lost in their gambling and whisky. Psalm 115 teaches that you become like what you adore, and these young men loved that which was broken. The gospel of grace transformed their lives. Even while traveling by donkey, Antonio was instrumental in starting over 60 churches in his life. He became known as the evangelist of the Sertao.
Today, only one daughter of Antonio’s 12 children is still alive, but his legacy of faith lives on. Most of his sons became pastors or elders. As a pastor and great-grandson of Antonio, the legacy continues today through my work. My family has long been associated with the property that is now the Soli Deo Gloria campus, and we had the joy of hosting the family reunion. Over 250 people attended, and we were able to meet a lot of family that we have never met before. I also had the privilege of preaching from God’s Word on the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
On Mt. Moriah (Gen. 22:2) a substitute lamb was sacrificed in the place of Abraham’s beloved son. A Son, however, one day would be the sacrificed substitute. The Son of God was slain as the perfect substitute for sinners (2 Cor 5:21). Solomon built the temple at or near this place. Lambs were slain in place of the sinful people of God for a thousand years. Christ, the true Lamb of God, died in the place of sinners, and He lived a perfect life for them. It is this same gospel message that transformed my great grandfather and will still transform the lives of many Brazilians today. Abraham had faith in God. We are saved by faith alone in the perfect Son. This is the powerful message of the cross that transformed Antonio the rebel. Many of his descendants were gathered on this day and heard the same message that transformed his life over a century ago.
What did Antonio do? What can we do? Rest and receive. Believe and trust in the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The beauty of this grace in our lives is why we desire to live Soli Deo Gloria (Rom. 12:1). We live for the glory of God because we have inherited the riches of the Father and have been adopted into His Family.
It was a great day of fun and fellowship. The land was in the best shape ever. We are thankful for all that has been done and what we hope will continue into the future. Soli Deo Gloria!