Coral Infantil Sementes da Esperança (http://www.alagoas24horas.com.br/conteudo/?vCod=77856)
Some time ago, Lau and I were invited to participate at a youth conference and for the first time I was listed as speaker. Usually my articulate, immersed-in-the-wisdom-of-the-Bible husband, was keynote preacher and I accompanied him for support and maybe a question-answers session for women, but I was never a spokesperson. This time was different: both of us would be speaking to the entire group at different sessions, and I must say I loved the idea. The week before the event, my doctor pronounced a verdict on my intermittent sore throat: we’ve got to operate, or the infections will escalate to unbearable heights. So I had a tonsillectomy and was forbidden to speak. I went to camp with Lau and the young people of the church, but was not only mute for public speaking but also for singing praises. All I could do was play the recorder – and I was never a great instrumentalist –when they sang in congregation. I wrote expressing my frustration:

Lord, I want to be a mouth,
shout from mountaintops, proclaim through great reads
-- but today you make me silent,
and to a mute voice you whisper, “Just be still
and remember that I Am.
I give and take what plans you make
to work out well all one can say
of mercy and sheer grace.”
  I wanted to proclaim, I confess it now,
for it made me sound important
   and the sound of my enamored voice seemed
   clearer than the message I was to communicate.
“Dumb speaker, talk with your life,
shout with your being and love with your seeing,
be a hearer, be a doer – but stay quiet,
listen humbly, learn intensely, share my infinite gentleness!”

When our children were young and my mother was visiting, she once exclaimed, “They are so loud! Why can’t they be more quiet and polite like so-and-so’s kids?” I confess that I was never a good teacher of politeness or quietude. At the dinner table we always seemed to have wild discussions about everything under the sun – sometimes three or four simultaneously. Ideas, dreams, frustrations, spiritual struggles and temporal victories were all on the table, spilled over, hoarded while shared, communicating thought and hope with words, not always of wisdom, but always wielding authenticity. Sometimes our words rose from the flesh, but we always looked toward the Word who became flesh, and tried to flesh out faith in action. All of us, became, become and are becoming speakers, though the sound of music runs from rhythmic rap to symphonic praise to the simple do re mi of pain.

When I consider that one of the only permanent aftershocks of my cerebral vascular accident is losing my voice I must concede that God was generous to me. (He is always generous and good and would still have been good if I had lost everything, even my life – but a proud and strong-willed loudmouth can learn a lot when she is not the soloist and can’t even carry a tune in the choir – if she learns to listen well). So losing one’s voice is an opportunity for learning to hear – even when one perceives that physically my hearing impairment is increasing.

Jesus’ brother may have had similar issues before he wrote: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1.19NIV). Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger! My tendency is the opposite: quick indignation, quick and easy talking, hard of hearing and harder still to listen well, so James’s admonition is counterpoint to what comes naturally. And we not only must listen well, but do what we heard from God. Jesus said that what distinguishes his sheep from others is: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10.27). Christ knows those who listen to him, and those who hear his voice follow him. Doers and not just hearers or sayers (I must concede that some Sayers, like Dorothy, are real doers with their stories – but you get the point).

One of the aspects of writing, for me, is communicating truth in a way that is lovely and loving. Paul says it well: “speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” and “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” Ephesians 4:15, 25). The result of truthful communication in love is growing in all things in Christ, and the reason we do so is that we are all members of the same body.

We see progression: good listening yields true speech, which results in growing as participants in one body. When Charles Wesley expressed the desire for a thousand tongues to speak the praise of our Redeemer, he was not just talking about multiple languages. We believe there are people out of every tribe and nation who have heard and are practicing the written Word by the living Word incarnate – so more than a thousand tongues are talking, and talking well. But each singular Christian has the opportunity to express what has been expressed in: “the honors of thy name”. One Word made flesh and dwelt among us – this “charms our fears, bids our sorrows cease, breaks the power of cancelled sin, sets the prisoner free, ‘tis music in the sinner’s ears, ‘tis life and health and peace”[1]. Wesley’s wording is laden with awesome!

Isaiah saw the incredibly awesome throne of the Lord, encircled by six-winged seraphs singing the holiness of the God who fills the earth with his glory. The prophet’s exclamation was not of having reached a personal pinnacle of spiritual success – on the contrary, he had to say “Woe to me! I am a man of unclean lips, and live with people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the king, the Lord Almighty!” Isaiah’s mouth was touched and his guilt removed, and he was commissioned to tell God’s wayward people “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken” (Isaiah 6.7-12). A prophet sent by God must communicate the truth even under the threat of total ruin. In an utterly forsaken land, arises a voice crying in the wilderness – predicted by prophets, fulfilled by the last prophet of the old covenant: John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3; 43:19; Matthew 3:3). Even the advent of the locust and honey-eating prophet was preceded by his father Zechariah’s being stricken with... muteness (Luke 1.5-20). And John was called to preach in the middle of nowhere – in the desert of Judea. Some of God’s servants who were pretty holy had to shut up while God was entering humankind!

Awesome were the scenes witnessed while shepherds watched their flocks and angels sang one unforgettable night, and the uncultured sheep-watchers were commissioned to spread the word concerning Jesus (Luke 2:8-18). The same John (not the Baptist, but the old apostle who had walked with Jesus since early in his lifetime) who spoke about the Word made flesh (John 1.1-14) wrote to complete the joy of every believer with “the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete!”(1 John 1:1-5). Nearly a hundred years later, John heard the voice of angels and fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing the vision of the eternal city, when the messenger intervened: “But he said to me, Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" (Revelation 22:8).

The entire Bible is laden with the dance of hearing, understanding, and being silent and acknowledging our woe before we can communicate life-giving speech. Listening to the voice of the Wind that blows when and where he wishes (John 3:8-12) we are born anew. It is in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11, 12) that the Lord speaks to us after letting loose earth-shattering thunder and fire. Likewise, he expects our powerful speech, whether through multimedia at full volume or written books shared by word of mouth in plain English or Portuguese (in our case), or Chinese, or International Sign Language, Swahili or any other language in this world, to be simple, understandable truth spoken in love, with the whisper of the Spirit that resounds throughout the earth.

This Christmastide, I wish I become known for listening well – not just music that I love, but God’s forever music, the sound of a mighty rush of wind and a gentle breeze that touches one’s life to leave it never the same. I wish my friends to hear the Voice – not voices of idols or babble of incoherent speech, but the voice we are admonished to listen to without hardening arteries or heart. May we develop learnable hearts and minds, so we acknowledge the God who gives “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning” (Daniel 1:17).

I remember my Jewish friends who celebrate the feast of lights, Hanukkah, a lesser festival in their calendar, and the words of the prophet who was displaced from his land and served faithfully through several international[2] dynasties:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.

This song is reminiscent of Paul in his letter to the ex-pagan Corinthians:

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).

May Faith communicate the truth of a brilliantly happy Christmas to you and yours, with glories that are not our own, and treasures multiplied throughout the earth in every tongue, for every nation!

Elizabeth Gomes

[1] O for a thousand tongues to speak, Charles Wesley, in Hymns of the Christian Life # 7, Philadelphia: Christian Publications
[2] From the year 605 to around 532 BC, from Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon through Cyrus, the Mede, and then Darius, king of Persia.



I am not a TV addict. While my husband enjoys watching action-packed adventure movies, almost as soon as the television is turned on for us to relax most evenings, I get down to more serious relaxation – and doze, or even sleep the whole night, if I remember to put and turn on the C-pap before saying goodnight. After prayer, hugs and kisses and a screen-filled story, I usually don’t follow the CSI’s or NCIS’s or Blacklist or whatever past the first ten minutes. If I have a good book, I can spend hours past bedtime reading, but only a short scene or two on the screen – unless it is a historical novel or well-crafted mystery. If Lau gets up to answer the phone, however, I grab the remote control and do some serious surfing, checking out several national and international news stations, a couple of cooking experts (I especially loved Kylie and Nigela and enjoy Jamie Oliver’s thirty-minute meals) and even take a peek at ridiculous situations on What Not to Wear or Wife Swap. As soon as Lau gets back to the bedroom sofa, I return the remote control to him, trying to focus the scene where he left off – while I return to Terra Somnia.

What makes me crave the control when I don’t even like TV? Guess it’s really a matter of wanting to know what’s on on twenty-something stations in living color and deadly world news or crime scenes. It’s having that gadget in hand and doing something different from what is presently presented – like the idea of “anywhere but here” of a wanderlusting reader or watcher. I have to confess that not a few moments of irritation have risen around issues of remote control and who says what we will watch.

Long ago, when I was younger (I am still young at heart, though over sixty-five!) I used to criticize my mother for her need to control every detail in her well-ordered life. Mom’s closet had clothes with notes about the date they were purchased (shortly before she died at 88 I found a skirt she had bought in Porto Alegre when I was fourteen), what accessories she could wear with the outfit, and a rubber band on each hanger indicating whether the garment was sparkling clean or had been worn and would need laundering after two or three uses. She knew where every penny she paid had been spent (or wasted, in her opinion, many times when given to someone else). Mom made to-do lists and grocery lists, collecting coupons and comparing savings. She had reams of paper of all colors, shapes and sizes, but used to cut up used envelopes and write notes in her impeccable ambidextrous calligraphy on everything from “B’s birthday” to “mail check for tithe” to “turn over the compost pile” and “make soup from chicken bones” or “pray without ceasing”. On her birthday list, besides writing the name of the person whose birthday would be celebrated on a certain date, she wrote the relationship beside the person’s name: Beth – daughter –August 17th; Deborah – granddaughter – October 25th, Louella – friend .... and for many years indicated what was given for the occasion. As I said, I used to criticize my dear mom for the controlling details of her life, until I realized that the need to be in control was due to the fear that she was losing control, forgetting, and worse, not being able to foresee the outcome of plans and dreams. To a detail-oriented, well-ordered woman, the shocking surprises of life were earth-shattering, and she had trouble dealing with them, except as “reasons for prayer requests”.

In John Frame’s Doctrine of the Christian Life we read about the reformed understanding of God’s authority, presence and control, and when we learn about God’s control over all things, we learn to trust God and his providence. Our faith is in who he is, what he does and did, and what he promised for our future. It is trust in the sovereign care of our loving Father. We often think of Romans 8:28 as a catch-all for a sort of fatalistic clichéed Christian life, but when we look carefully at the text we understand that God’s will in the life of those who love him is full of purpose and controlled conformity – to him!

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints
in accordance with God's will.
And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
For those God foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined, he also called;
those he called, he also justified;
those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:27-30)

In the case of God Almighty, control is beneficial (God works for the good of those who love him), relational (that he might be the firstborn of many brothers) and progressively better (those he predestined he also called, those he called, he also justified, those he justified, he also glorified). Human control freaks (like you and me) often do not want to control for the benefit of the one(s) we control, but for our own personal benefit. Instead of thinking relationally of others as brothers and sisters, we want to dominate or dictate as captains of our own souls as well as of others’ lives, and in lieu of improving the circumstances toward glory, we want to control because we don’t believe the other person is capable of wise decisions and actions! Remote control in hand, we boss around here, there and everywhere – even when our choices are just as stupid as the other options presented!

Jeremiah was a prophet who received the Word of the Lord when he was still very young, and foresaw and experienced the destruction of his people and nation even when every other prophet was preaching peace and good times, and the shepherds of Israel were “curing the hurts of their sheep superficially”. When he got to writing Lamentations, there was no way to control what was happening in current events or heartfelt stories – for Judah has gone into exile and she who was queen among the provinces is now a slave (Lam.1:3,1). But Jerry had to admit he lost all control: “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath”. His skin and flesh “grow old and he has broken my bones”; he is “surrounded with bitterness and hardship”, dwelling  “in darkness like those long dead”; “walled in so I cannot escape”; “weighed down with chains”; “barred my way with blocks of stone”... “he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long” (Lam. 3.1-20).

Truly Jeremiah, who was called by the Lord before being formed in his mother’s womb”, and was appointed to have control “over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:10) seems to have lost it all – health, prestige, being believed, family, friends, position and even possibilities in his nation.

Some of my friends and family have situations similar to that of Jeremiah. They are faithful to God, but by the standards of prosperity-gospel preachers and of the real world we live in, all seems lost. Even I  have no control over circumstances or situations, and wish there were a magical remote control to put things back onto the right station or more pleasant programs. Like Jeremiah, they (and we) “well remember... and our soul is downcast within” but there is something else, something more:

YET, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:20-26)

And in spite of no control in our hands, like crying prophets, demoted priests and fallen kings and queens, we sing: Great is thy faithfulness, Oh God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with thee/ Thou turnest not, thy compassions they fail not/ as thou hast been, thou forever wilt be! Great is thy faithfulness!

Elizabeth Gomes



Thomas Alva Edison (born Feb 11, 1847 -- died Oct 18, 1931), was taught at home by his mother because at age 7 he was expelled from school for being considered mentally retarded -- he was deaf.
I remember in Grandma Kate’s kitchen, seeing the old man with long hair and crooked hands. “So you’re Dougie’s girl,” he said. I was five going on six, loved my daddy Douglas and had never heard him called Dougie, but it sounded like a good mixture of Douglas and Daddy. I nodded. Cat swallowed my words. That was the first and only time I met my Grandpa Charles. Later I asked my parents about him and was put off with “He’s in a hospital”. Institutionalized. “Always been crazy”. How come there were such pretty paintings all over Grandma Charles’ homestead, though everyone said she was so poor an’ he never gave her anything? Why does Grandpa Charles have long hair – boys wear it short. ‘Cept in pictures of Jesus and Moses and people from the Bible. Is Grandpa from the Bible times? Did he die? And when we visited the Richmond park and zoo, daddy told me that his daddy had worked on a lot of the parks – he was a landscape architect.  Later asked mommy what a landscape architect was, and she replied, “It’s a glorified name for a gardener.” I liked glorified names. Having seen television for the first time, I was enthralled by some of the advertisements. “Halo shampoo – it glorifies your hair!” and was sure that would make me not only more beautiful, but somehow holier. There was always a vague remembrance of an unknown grandfather who sired twelve kids and left my valiant, perfect matriarchal grandmother to raise them by all herself during the Depression. Some years later I overheard my mom and dad mentioning that he had died in the “Institution”. No great grief. Just emptiness.

Nowadays the problems of mental illness are different. People are no longer institutionalized for long periods. Several friends I know on both sides of the Atlantic have family members who struggle with mental illness and though there is no more a culture of “putting away” or institutionalizing people who have “gone mad”, many are the unresolved issues, and families are embarrassed to talk about them. Often family and friends wish there were a way to simply “lock up” the “offender”. “Crazy” family members spend like made, though they may have been the most beautiful child in the family, do weird and irresponsible things like getting rid of all their belongings, or expecting Christmas presents every day, or hiding and hoarding food, when not getting drugged and dragged naked into the street by their folly. They are old children, never growing up and never knowing what a soft, gentle demeanor can do to make them lovely once more.

Once when a recovering addict answered the phone at the Refúgio clinic my husband directed in Brasília, the person on the line asked, “Is that where the crazy people stay?” and Ulisses, without missing a beat, answered, “Yeah, here the best of us drool!” Especially after I suffered a CVA, I felt that not only the “best of us drool”, but also the Brazilian saying “between doctors and madmen, we all own a bit of both”. Edward Welch describes diseases that “characteristically alter intellect, emotions or behavioral capabilities. These can impair understanding, pose limitations on the expression of the heart, provide occasions for temptation and sin, and raise unique problems for families.... because they mimic spiritual problems of the heart, they are often misdiagnosed by counselors and physicians”.[1]

Now, a blog is no place for an all-encompassing, deep essay on mental disabilities – and I am certainly not qualified to analyze such problems. Have a couple of friends who are respected neurologists, many who are practicing psychologists, and even a couple of psychiatrists, besides the pastoral and family counselors with whom I am familiar. I can only write as a Christian reader who wants to know what the Bible can offer to those who are perturbed. Mainly it is a matter of hope and encouragement.

I write as a “drooler” -- one who not always can control the saliva I produce – much less the mental and psychological issues that we confront on a daily basis. I write as the child who discovered that her grandfather was labeled “crazy” and put away, the young mother who discovered a child she begat and wholly loved -- with mental illness that loses her, the middle-aged couple who have to deal with their parents’ senility, the “golden years” grandmother who faces the reality of her own disenfranchisement as she forgets more often, remembers “long ago” but lets the beans burn and the shower run dry and mixes up the grandchildren’s birthdays. I write to friends who are afraid of “losing it” and want to grab every detail of their past and hold tight so it won’t get away, while hoping to forget those things that hurt deep in their heart of hearts and still make them feel “like the motherless child” of the Negro spiritual.

Mental and emotional disabilities remind us that nobody is really normal. Disability requires patience, time, trust, submission and hope” – qualities most of us, normal, mildly or severely disabled all, severely lack in our post-modern world. There is need for “awareness that to live will involve us, at some time and at some level, in physical and/or psychic suffering”.[2]

Michael Beates poses some hard questions:

Why do we... demand that everybody be ‘normal’ and look the same? Why do we ... try so hard at hiding people with disabilities from our everyday view? Why do some people with visible and invisible brokenness often feel as if they have to hide the problem in order to join God’s people for worship? Finally, and perhaps more importantly, what answers does the good news of the gospel give us for those questions, and how does the gospel give us hope in these situations?... Many sources number statistics as to Americans with disabilities at over forty million people.... Add to this the number of people whose ‘brokenness’ is relational and emotional, and this category may include almost every other person in the pew.[3]

I have a dear friend who struggles with bipolarity and a split personality, and has illusions that, if by faith, she stops taking her meds, the Lord will heal her through the television ministrations of some quack evangelist. Another loved one is locked in her room and her dreams while hoping she will be healed by a new relationship, a new love, so she buries the meds and tries out new loves.

Disability is not foreign to the Bible. King Saul was tormented by fits of madness for which David was called to sing, play his harp and comfort the king – First case of music therapy that we have documented knowledge (1 Samuel 14:14-23). Later, David sought refuge with the king of Gath and faked madness in order to save his own life (1 Samuel 21:10-15). Job found himself disabled, disenfranchised and in despair, and his wife gave the counsel of a madwoman (Job 2:8-10). The Bible runs the gamut of descriptions, from “simple” (13 times) folly (9 times) fool or foolish (24 times), stupid or stupidity (5 times) madness (54), unreason (3). The book of Proverbs is pregnant with contrasts between wisdom and folly, good-sense and nonsense, giving vivid examples of various types of spiritual, mental and emotional “disabilities” which all of us have seen, if not experienced personally. Reason and understanding were removed from mind and behavior of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who behaved like an irrational animal (Daniel 4). Later both reason and government were restored.

When, upon preparing to enter the promised land, Moses presented his people with the fullness of blessings or destitution of curses as they obeyed or disobeyed the Word of God, I was intrigued by one of the curses: “The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart.... So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see” (Deuteronomy 28.28, 34), and goes on to a horrifying description of evil in the land. A couple of thousand years later, Paul warns Timothy of the evil of the “last days”, which in every detail seems to describe our days:

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:2-7).

.We are confused at Biblical representations of those who are disabled. The imago dei, the fact that we are created in God’s image and likeness, would indicate that we were created perfect, and the many imperfections in the people around us whom we love and loathe are the result of the universal fall, but definitely “not the way it should be”. Just as the sacrificial lambs goats or bulls had to be “perfect”, entrance in the tabernacle and temple were denied to those with deficiencies. But sacrifices were made “for the simple and those who could not answer for their own sanity” (Numbers 15:30; Ez 45.20). On the cross, Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” Luke 21.34. There is a disability due to ignorance which is freely forgiven. But as we look at the Gospel, we see that the Spirit was upon Jesus to heal and set free. Beates says:

In many respects (John 9 being an exception), Jesus never fully explained his focus on the lame, blind, crippled and poor. He let the healings and parables speak for themselves, allowing the hearers to connect the dots, so to speak.... Paul drew the lines more clearly, perhaps for the sake of those new to the covenant community... but throughout, we continue to see (albeit sometimes subtle) an important thread in the fabric of our understanding of the gospel: brokenness (spiritually and emotionally) and weakness (physically representing our spiritual state) are the normative human condition. And recognizing this reality is the first step to embracing the life-giving power of the gospel.[4]

There is a very special boy in our family who has struggled with learning disabilities, mental and neurological challenges, and in a way will always need help, medical and psychological, to function properly. But he loves the Lord and was taught in the Word. When he was still quite little, at a school that denied the Trinity, he said to his dad, referring to his teacher, “Here Dad. Tell her that God is three in one -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Tell her like the Bible says!” More recently, he has depended on the Lord to strengthen him in the areas where he is weak, and prays that “God will use me with my disabilities to help other kids like me to know Jesus”. We are as proud of this young man as of the other children all – whether normal, gifted or disabled. This gospel is what gives hope to us – whole or “special” – in manifold ways. Paul says it humbly and triumphantly:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption -- that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD." (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Elizabeth Gomes

[1] Counselor’s Guide to the Brain and its Disorders, Edward Welch, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991, p. 107
[2] Disability, p 71”.
[3] Disability and the Gospel, Michael S. Beates, Wheaton: Crossway, 2012, p. 17.
[4] p. 61.



A garland of grace for your head (Prov. 1:9).
Over the last couple of weeks I had a translation deadline that forced me to ignore simple pleasures like checking my emails or posting comments on various things that were happening in the lives of friends and family. Once when I began a posting, my computer went beserk and so I went on to other activities, only to discover two days later that that unfinished comment “graced” my timeline and several people “answered” my unfinished incomplete non-thought. Talking to a friend, I had affirmed that one of the reasons we are involved in Christian counseling is that we have seen and felt more than skin-deep the need for wisdom in the body of believers who so often set off for “ministry” with the best of intentions but total lack of wisdom in practical life, even though they (we) believe the Word of God and serve the living Word with heart and mind. The Bible is full of guidelines for our path, from Genesis to Revelation. This early morning I made a pit-stop at an old favorite, Proverbs, whose God-breathed words of wisdom were collected by the wisest of men who was a total fool when it came to marriage and involvement with the idols of his culture.
The introduction delineates the raison d’etre for the book that at first glance seems to be a potpourri of antithetical sayings: attaining wisdom and discipline;  understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. When I mentioned to the friend my desire to help women in ministry deal with their being as redeemed Christians with fallen worldviews in a decadent world, I felt guilty of being like a blind person trying to lead the blind. I am certainly no better than the women and men we have observed over the years – stumbling, bungling, banging their heads and breaking their hearts while trying to love God over all and love their (our) neighbor as (our) themselves (Matthew 22:36-39 rehashing Deuteronomy 6:5).
If we deem ourselves wise, we must learn to listen and add to our learning (Prov. 1:5), and if discerning, get further guidance for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. It’s not the understanding of ancient clichés, though the name of the game is “proverbs, parables, sayings and riddles of the wise”. It starts with the fear of the LORD –without which we will fear what man can do to us, fear our very stepping into the arena of true knowledge. This fear of the Lord goes with us at every stage of life – unless we are fools enough to despise wisdom and discipline.
Fear of the Lord touches even on our ambivalence to our forefather’s instructions: though our memory listens to the instruction and teaching of our father and mother, we often forget the garland of grace for our head and chain for our neck – we remember instead the goads to our self-esteem and fear they instilled on “what will other people think?”
In a way I was a Christian “flowerchild” wearing a crown of daisies and wishing a gold necklace of rubies, but too often I neglected Peter’s reminder that:
           His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness
            through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
           Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises,
           so that through them you may participate in the divine nature
           and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
           For this very reason, make every effort
           to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
          and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance;
          and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness,
          brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
          For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,
          they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive
          in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
          But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind,
          and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
          Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager
           to make your calling and election sure.
          For if you do these things, you will never fall,
          and you will receive a rich welcome
          into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
          So I will always remind you of these things,
          even though you know them and
          are firmly established in the truth you now have.
          I think it is right to refresh your memory
          as long as I live in the tent of this body,
 Often I forget that wisdom calls out from the streets and plazas of life and think that “nobody knows anything worth knowing.” But they do! Somebody does! He says: “If you had listened to my rebuke I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you...” (Prov. 1:23). I remember the lament of Wisdom Incarnate over Jerusalem: “How often I would have gathered you under my wings...”
God’s wisdom is not an intellectual assent – it is essentially a conjunction of mind, heart, gut feelings and action. From the injunctions to the Law in Deuteronomy (see, for example, Deut. 32:47: They are not just idle words for you-- they are your life. By them you will live long in the land...”) to the petrine, joannine and pauline injunctions to Christian living (example: Eph 1:17-18). Every son of Adam or Daughter of Eve is admonished in Proverbs 7:1-4 to use wisdom as safeguard for moral purity:
           Keep my words and store up my commands within you.
           Keep my commands and you will live;
(Living according to God’s word is a matter of life and death!)
           guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
(Look at God’s teachings as the most precious of gifts)
           Bind them on your fingers;
(That is why my fingers, though sluggish, are anxious to write!)
           write them on the tablet of your heart
(this tablet is affectionate and written in living stone).
           Say to wisdom, "You are my sister,"
           and call understanding your kinsman
(if I want to be keen in wisdom I must make Wisdom my kin!)
The story of Wisdom began in eternity, and the Proverbs narrative (7-8) reminds one of what John narrates in the beginning of the Gospel when the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and glory (and sends us back to the beginning of time narrated by Moses in Genesis one). The entire story of learning and understanding from God in love which encircles and inspires (in spirals of involvement from the Lord of Life to human creature created in his image) is a true story that gives hope for me and any other person who realizes we have only begun to scratch the surface of learning – but He promises that we will know Him! That will be sufficient to learn and proceed to know throughout eternity!
Elizabeth Gomes



How many books I’ve translated from English into Portuguese? Lost count! Well, if I sit down and concentrate, I’m sure the numbers will show up on what has been one of my major jobs for the last forty years (besides being a pastor’s wife and mother of three, voracious reader, Bible student, English teacher, cook and dishwasher, sometime gardener, not such a neat cleaner and a few other mundane activities). Lots of experience still leaves me stymied with some texts. I don’t make the same mistake of translating a Christian sex education book for pre-teens (Ken Taylor’s Almost Twelve) substituting “Eustachian tubes” for “Fallopian tubes” as I did in the early seventies. I’ve had several ear surgeries since and don’t mix them there  tubes with those of the reproductive system. Bilingual from the time I learned to talk, having majored in English and Portuguese, I thought translation would be a cinch. The editor caught my mistake in the galley proof. So began my experience as book translator.

That first publishing house had a monthly meeting for translators and editors, which contributed to smoothing out and improving most texts. These meetings with peers forced us to go beyond formulaic translation, using our imagination to produce quality work.

I gained writing experience in the process—often re-writing ten times and still not getting it to “sound” right. I also became immersed in published works by established writers, learning to distinguish good writing from bad. I have always learned about writing from translation. For instance, my first attempts were with a few chapters of textbooks that classmates at seminary had trouble reading. I translated almost word for word, resulting in an incomprehensible Portuguese text that caused as much trouble as the English original. A couple of medical students asked me to put a few chapters of their dense textbook (where I had to consult a medical dictionary at almost every paragraph) into readable Portuguese, on which I labored almost a month, and they, “in gratitude, paid me with a box of chocolates”! À propos, the difference in payment between secular and Evangelical publishers is still humongous, so we do Christian books as ministry, not money making. The money made is minimal.

Translation in history

From the time of Babel in Genesis to the flames of Pentecost in Acts, language, meaning and understanding another cultural context have moved and revolutionized all people that on earth do dwell… The drama and dialogue between Joseph, his brothers and all others concerned was done through translation, because Joseph hid his true identity until his youngest brother had arrived in Egypt (Genesis 42-47).

When young Jewish noblemen were transported to Babylonian captivity, besides the well-known story of refusing the rich food of a pagan king, physical transposition and cultural translation is an even greater emphasis: “young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans... God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1.17). The book of Daniel also relates a divine translation narrative in which the untranslated words MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN spoke of the doom of Belshazzar’s Chaldean rule (Dan 5.17-31).

Bible translation

Ever hear of the lady who wrote to a Missionary agency saying “I never got beyond eighth grade and don’t know nothing but English, but if you can spare me an English-Spanish dictionary, the Lord will help me translate the Bible into Spanish to help all those Mexicans be saved”! Translation work is as varied as the types of texts to be rendered into a new language. Guess that is why it took over seventy scholars to translate the Bible from Hebrew into Greek in second century BC. I would say that producing the Septuagint was one of the major cultural-religious feats of the interbiblical period. This translation of the Old Testament plus Apocrypha was only translated into English by Sir Lancelot Brenton in 1851. Jerome (347-420) took twenty years to translated both old and New Testaments from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (using Origen (185-254)’s translation of that Alexandrian VXX as well as the Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim in original Hebrew, and koiné Greek for the New), producing the Vulgate translation into Latin which the Bible Christians had in hand (though only a few erudite people had access to it) for the next few centuries. The birth of the Reformation could be described as a season of translations: Erasmus of Rotterdam translated from Greek into Latin. Meanwhile, Martin Luther used Erasmus’s Greek-Latin translation to translate the New Testament into German (1522), and by 1532 had finished translating the entire Bible. This translation helped develop a standard for the German language and added several principles to the art of translation. William Tyndale lived for a time under the wing of Luther and, stimulated by the German reformer, produced the first Bible translated wholly into the English language. Then in 1611, James I of England (James VI of Scotland) ordered a new translation, which was to be accurate and true to the originals. He appointed fifty of the nation's finest language scholars and approved rules for carefully checking the results, insisting that the translation use old familiar terms and names and be readable in the idiom of the day. This was to be made readily available to be read in a land where seventy per cent of the population was illiterate and a single book cost the equivalent of a year’s salary for a humble laborer or even a tradesman! A good part of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) was actually translated by Tyndale. Very quickly translations into almost all the modern languages were being made and the Bible was spread throughout the world. Today there are translations of the Bible in over two thousand languages!

Translation as transmitting the Gospel

"Translation is the church's birthmark as well as its missionary benchmark," say Lamin Sanneh, of Yale University. "The church would be unrecognizable or unsustainable without it... Translation is profoundly related to the original conception of the Gospel: God, who has no linguistic favorites, has determined that we should all have the Good News in our native tongue." The writer of Ecclesiastes said there is no limit to the writing of books (Ecc 12.12), but that was translated from Hebrew. Without translation it could not have reached English, Portuguese, Swahili or Chinese ears, as it has for hundreds of other languages. Gods Spirit made the Good News understandable to “devout men, from every nation under heaven” – the multitude came together, were confused, everyone heard his own language spoken by ignorant Galileans (from Acts 2 throughout the entire New Testament). Some of the sharers of Glad Tidings were well-versed in  Scripture and secular literature (Paul, Apolos), but others such as Peter had been sub-literate until the Holy Spirit invested them with power to preach, teach and live out the Word. Communicating God’s Word turned people and their world upside down!

Modern translations into previously unknown languages

Several of our friends are missionaries involved in translating the Word into native Brazilian languages, the result of dozens of sending churches, seven missionary agencies, 66 translators and more than 150 native speakers directly involved in the translation process. There are two complete Bibles (in Wai-Wai  and Guarani-Mbyá) and 32 New Testaments translated into indigenous languages in our country alone. A great part of these translators have difficulty simultaneously dedicating their time to translation and evangelization – even though the only means of evangelizing will be through the written word which they produce. It usually takes over twenty years to translate the Bible to native tongues, and these may be read by a population of three hundred to three thousand people! Not what you would call a popular edition!

Modern Translation foibles

I admire those dedicated translators mentioned above, but confess falling short, by far, of their abilities and goals. Two Western languages with similar enough cultures suffice for me. I have done a couple of translations from other languages (French and Spanish, and in a pinch could try my hand in German), but English and Portuguese keep me on my toes and my arthritic fingers to the keyboard. Though English is an Anglo-Germanic tongue and Portuguese Neo-Latin, about 70% of the vocabulary used  in English texts is of Latin origin, so it’s relatively easy to translate into Portuguese – though some words with the same origin took on different or even contrasting meanings. “Exquisite” in English is uniquely marvelous, while “esquisito” in Portuguese is strange, weird. ”Pretend” in English is “make believe, fake” while in Portuguese “pretender” is synonym for “intend, plan”. Even in the same language, some things are interpreted differently: as an English teacher in Brazil, I was valued for being a “native speaker”, but when I wrote about “sharing the gospel to the natives” I was definitely politically and vocationally incorrect! The germ of this blog was planted by observing my peers’ translations – even having two cultures one can make serious mistakes, such as:

• In a book about Augustine, where the author wrote “be content” the translator wrote “be chaste” and mixed continuance with continence – though the old saint was dealing with sexual purity in his Confessions, the modern author was talking about being content (happy) in the Lord’s commandments, which surely implies all of that but was not the gist of the book in English.

• A translator used a computer-generated translation for an important document on airport enhancement and support, declaring that the suite of computers which commanded airplane traffic control  “wore a modern suit”(“usou um terno moderno”)!

The translator must have thought of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings when he was doing The God who is there’s “the ring of truth” into Portuguese, because he translated into “o anel da verdade” -- substituting the idea of bells pealing to announce truth with a golden circle to be placed on a finger!

• For every time the original author mentioned that someone was raised in a God-fearing home,  a recent translation I saw had rendered into “levantado”, or “lifted ”, (So and so lifted his good house) --changing the sense and making the translation nonsense.

A dictionary-sized book could be written about translations that do not make sense, or contradict common sense, or lose tract of what the original author really meant to say. But as long as people are diverse, translations will be needed. I would like to see more Brazilian authors published here, because communication – whether Biblical or biological -- is clearest within the cultural context of the people being addressed. For me, translation was a beginning place, an initial interpretation of ideas to another group. It should also be my end, in whatever language I write, to communicate and interpret from one framework of thinking to another – relaying the truth of the Written and the living Word of God to people like me, in order to understand God’s eternal truth in fresh language, so that “all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7.14 NKJ).

Elizabeth Gomes



The last few days for us were laden with history in the making. The touching description written by our son, Davi Charles Gomes is worth reading to get a feel of what is happening at Mackenzie University and in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil where he is a servant-leader.


Wow!  What ten incredible years!  That thought could not leave me during all of yesterday... a different day from the days this past week, different from the last more than 3,000 days. I woke up a little later (different from the dawn that marked my other days this week).  I did not arrive at the office rushed or running to a class... There were only a few loose ends that needed attention... I did not find things waiting for solutions – just friendly faces with sweet-sour expressions, half loving, half missing – at least that was the way my heart looked at my colleagues at CPAJ with whom I had invested the last ten years of institutional ministry.

The previous day had already been ridden with emotion. I had entered the classroom early to finish my graduate course in Ecclesiological Identity in Church Revitalization and Multiplication – a touching time with beloved student-pastors and my last class administered as director of CPAJ. Naturally I went overtime, thus, after saying goodbye to students, holding back my tears (both because of that strange feeling of dismissal and because of hearing pastor-students speak of the deep things of the heart) I was half an hour late as I raced toward the last meeting of the CPAJ Graduate Chamber’s farewell meeting...

At my office my brothers and colleagues were already patiently waiting for me. I began the meeting still as president. After prayer led by pastor Valdeci Santos, I said some words of thanks to my colleagues -- authentic sentiments that I shall not try to reproduce here, leaving them only in the memory of those brothers who mean so much to me. I thanked them because they were instruments of God’s grace in my life... I will tell you only two little humorous tidbits: seeking relief in humor, I thanked them because in all these years everyone managed to always leave the director "looking good on tape"; and borrowed a few lines from a song that expressed to those brethren how I felt: 

You Give Me Strength (Snow Patrol)

I choked back tears today
'Cause I can't begin to say
How much you've shaped this boy
These last ten years or more
My friends, we've seen it all
Triumphs to drunken falls
And our bones are broken still
But our hearts are joined until
Time slips its tired hand
Into our tired hands
We've years 'til that day
And so much more to say
You give the strength to me
A strength I never had
I was a mess, you see
I'd lost the plot so bad
You dragged me up and out
Out of the darkest place
There's not a single doubt
When I can see your faces
My friends, we've seen it all
When it made no sense at all
You dare to light my path
And found the beauty in the aftermath
Let me hold you up
Like you held me up
It's too long to never say this
You must know I've always thought 

After using pieces of the song to speak to them I asked to pray and did so thanking God for each of the brothers present, for their lives and specific moments of friendship and closeness to each of them. After the prayer, I heard some loving and encouraging words from pastor Heber Carlos de Campos. Once more resorting to humor, I passed the presidency of the faculty to the Vice-director that with my leaving would assume the direction. I did something I’ve always wanted to do since I used to watch Captain Kirk or Captain Jean Luc Piccard ("Star Trek" and "Star Trek, The Next Generation", for the non-initiated). I turned to pastor Mauro Fernando Meister and solemnly declared: "Number one, you now have command..."  All that was missing was hearing him say: "Warp speed ahead!"

After fraternal embraces, the remaining teaching body (the Graduate Chamber is composed only of Coordinators and Tenured Professors) was called in.  I saw the younger professors enter, each of which had joined CPAJ under my direction. Only two beloved colleagues were missing -- pastors João Alves and Augustus Nicodemus, both also Chamber members, absents at that moment for necessary reasons, though still near to the heart. With the faculty were also our valorous co-laborers, Sunamita, Hothir, Márcia and Rafael.  

My heart was already pressed but it was harder still when I saw them enter with a beautiful light-wooden chair -- and I could already imagine what was coming...  Pastor Valdeci explained that, according to a tradition from other reformed schools of theology, they were giving me a chair that represented my chair at CPAJ and would follow with me as a permanent  remembrance.  He read the writing on the plaque fixed to the beautiful chair: The CPAJ seal was accompanied by the following words: "Rev. Davi Charles Gomes, PhD. In honor of your work done with excellence and dedication in the direction of Centro Presbiteriano de Pós-Graduação Andrew Jumper - 2004 to 2013. Faculty - CPAJ". 

That was when it was very difficult to hold back my emotion, for my colleagues made me sit on the chair and pose for a final photo with the faculty seated and outlined around me.  Sheepish at being honored in this way, I acceded, feeling profound  gratitude for those men who I wish so much to honor at this moment of leave-taking and yet they made me agree to being honored by them in a way I normally would find very hard to accept – because the honor belongs only to Christ and these are men who always honor Christ, but who at that moment wanted to honor, in submission to Christ, a lesser brother whose greatest honor was serving them for these last ten years, and with them, serve the cause of the Kingdom of Christ and the Presbyterian Church of Brazil!

 Meeting ended, still touched by deep feelings, I went with them to a simple nearby restaurant for some moments of informal fellowship.  The beloved pastors Augustus Nicodemus and Fernando Almeida joined us.  Breaking bread in deep fellowship still carried the flavor of farewell, but in a different sense, maybe due to the choice of an everyday, unpretentious place; it also had the same delicious everyday flavor of thousands of times we ate and communed together at the table...

Finishing lunch, we walked back to CPAJ.  Some colleagues went for better coffee at a place nearby, others had various appointments.  I walked back with pastors Mauro, Jedeías, Augustus and Fernando.  I talked a while with pastor Fernando, chief of staff at Mackenzie Chancellery, who is helping pastor Augustus and me in the transition of offices and then, both of us continued to the João Calvino Building where pastor Augustus Nicodemus and all of Mackenzie’s chaplains were waiting for a transitional meeting. Of

I was kindly received by dear Augustus, who introduced me to each of the chaplains and then presented a report about the last ten years of his work as Chancellor of Mackenzie. Even though I have been close to Augustus and the Chancellorship all these years, and have regularly substituted the Chancellor in his absence, therefore knowing well the actions he has always developed, I must confess that watching the presentation left me proud of my friend, colleague and predecessor in  the position.

The presentation summed up the principal actions, challenges and victories for the Kingdom, developed in the chancellery in the last ten years, reminding me how much was accomplished, making me admire the faithfulness with which Augustus developed his ministry there, and agree with the members of the  Board of Directors of Mackenzie, that had received the same report the previous week with such appreciation and respect. I was also very happy to remember how my dear friend Augustus leaves his position with so many protests of admiration and e respect, from his superiors (The Board of Curators and The Board of Directors of Mackenzie), his colleagues at the Institute and the University and all the people he led.

Pastor Augustus Nicodemus Gomes Lopes leaves his position by his own initiative  and under protest from many. Also under my protests.  Not negative or misunderstanding  protests. He goes forth because he desires new challenges, because he hears the attractive, memory-laden song of his  pastoral-academic work, because he feels from God the tranquility that his task, by the marvelous grace of God, was faithfully fulfilled – at least this is what I clearly perceive, though I don’t  presume to speak for Augustus, but I think I know well such a feeling, for it is the way I leave CPAJ!

After Chancellor Augustus Nicodemus’s presentation, he asked each chaplain to make a ten-minute report, relating the ministries developed at the various campuses and the diverse areas of activities as chaplains of Mackenzie.  I was happy to perceive what they have done and the important ministries they have in the Mackenzie community, for the Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil, in whose name they work, and for the Kingdom under whose greater authority they minister.

At the end of the presentations, pastor Carlos Henrique (institutional chaplain), chosen by his peers to speak in their names, said words of honor and gratitude to the friend Augustus – at moments he was clearly moved...  Beautiful words of admiration, respect and regard – all clearly visible in the looks and words of all the other chaplains. They gave Augustus a beautiful gift and the opportunity to make his feelings known. Then, pastor Carlos Henrique concluded with what I believe sums up the entire sentiment. He said, “Pastor Augustus, we are very sad with your leaving..." But he then  graciously added something that did good to my heart, "...but we are also happy that pastor Davi is the one appointed to come and continue with us what you, and above all, the Lord, have done”.

All of this was day before yesterday, Thursday, May 23, 2013. After the meeting with the chancellor and chaplains, I stayed briefly with Augustus in his office and then the two of us went down to the garage, along with pastor Fernando.  I drove home, and upon arrival, went with my beloved to the home of my parents for a little more heart-comfort. Pastor Wadislau heard me tell about the day, expressed his paternal support and then we said goodbye.

With such an emotion-packed day, Adriana and I decided to stretch our night a bit and so some hard labor on the farm on which we live... With rubber boots and raincoats, wheelbarrow, shovels and spades, we spent some time and energy, spreading stones and gravel on our inside road that had been damaged by the rain of the day before. This hard work for our arms sometimes does good to the body and soul, specially when our emotions are erupting. Of course Adriana only pushed the wheelbarrow when it was empty, and I did not let her handle shovel or spade... When I got tired we went to bed, me and the one who is my reward for the work with which I fatigue myself under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9).

Back to the beginning, yesterday I got up later, at eight AM, instead of the 5:30 of previous days. At the very beginning I wrote about the friendly faces that I found upon arriving at CPAJ for my last day of work there. I entered my office finding comfort in the fact that CPAJ does not belong to me, does not even belong to my peers, to our students, to JET or IPB – it belongs to Christ, the One who is my Lord, Lord of my peers, of my students, of Mackenzie, of JET,  of IPB and of all things...  Therefore, there really is no saying goodbye, because I proceed, serving the same Lord and in the same Harvest Field.

Soon after arriving, I went to pastor Mauro’s office to call him to the office that no longer would be mine...  On returning, I found pastor Emílio Garófalo Neto, my beloved cousin, blessed pastor and multi-talented professor – he was saying goodbye after a week giving a graduate course as visiting professor at CPAJ.  A cup of coffee with Mauro, brotherly, affectionate greetings from Hothir and Sunamita, a strong hug from Valdeci... It was now time to proceed to a churrascaria for the official farewell luncheon. As we got there, what was my surprise at finding, not only all my partners at CPAJ, together, but also RE Solano Portela, a friend and Vice-president of IPB’s National Board of Theological Education, and pastor Roberto Brasileiro, friend and president of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Brasil. Only my friend Tarcízio was absent, due to family duties, and my friend Augustus, who is in Recife, preaching the gospel as always, and my friend Jedeías, in Paraíba, caring for the expansion of our church...

How pleasant to be at the table with all my colleagues!  But how difficult to hold back the heart when Mauro began his short speech, followed by speeches by RE Solano and pastor Roberto.  Each one expressed personal, affectionate words, recognizing supposed merits and qualities in me that I myself cannot recognize – word of which I am not worthy, except for the fact that we are in Christ and used by Him, which make us receive a dignity that would never exist in and of ourselves. At the same time, the three orators quieted my heart as they clearly left the message that  all this was only the end of one phase of the ministry done together in the Lord and for the Lord – our fight and our co-laboring continues! This is what, summed up, I heard from them and it comforted my heart!

We returned to CPAJ and pastor Mauro and I went to his office where we wrote the last documents that needed both of our signatures. It was time to go, and I was in a hurry because there was still a doctor’s appointment at the end of the afternoon. I spoke by phone with pastor Roberto Brasileiro, said goodbye to Sunamita and Hothir, then Rafael and Márcia, and then my friend Mauro, who now answers alone for the direction of CPAJ, decided to go with me on the last long walk leaving the institution which I had been honored to serve these last ten years. He carried the chair I had been given to take with me and we went to the parking lot, where we embraced and said words of brotherhood and friendship that will remain only between us and in our hearts. Hurriedly we said, "see you next week..."

On my way home, I spoke by phone to several of these dear ones (using the car’s hands-free device, of course, because I would not be breaking any laws...). I talked with Solano, Mauro, Valdeci and Jedeías, and also talked with Sunamita. Arriving at home I found the tenderness of Adriana, of my sons Daniel and Rafael, my parents, Wadislau and Elizabeth and my brother Daniel.  Every one of them was waiting to hear about this last day and encourage and comfort me: it was celebration and emotion.

Then, before going to sleep, I thought about sharing this narrative with those that might be interested – I decide I would write this in my blog.  More than just sharing the story, I desired an opportunity to honor and thank the many people who have been part of my story, doing this on my terms, in a written register, in this transitional moment. 

I shall have three rest-days next week, then we have a short national holiday.  I will be speaking at the Fiel Jovem conference during next weekend. Next Monday, June 3rd., I will be with Augustus celebrating his ten years in the Chancellery with thanksgiving to God and then being installed as the XIII Chancellor of Mackenzie Presbyterian University. The thanksgiving and installation ceremony will take place at noon of that day

If you are reading this report, do not seek or see it more than a mere expression of a grateful heart to God, full of affection and emotion, ready for the new challenges, but most of all, depending on the grace of the Lord!  This grace makes me lift my voice in gratitude for the many people who have blessed me and have been my companions in the marvelous adventure of living coram deo! 

To Him be glory, power and honor, always!

Davi Charles Gomes
Mogi das Cruzes, May 25th, 2013


To God, my gratitude, for brethren and coleagues...

  • for my wife and children: Adriana, Rafael and Daniel;
  • for my parents, Wadislau and Elizabeth;
  • for my siblings, Deborah and Daniel;
  • for my extended family, Joarez and Marisa, John, Márcia, Flavio, Bianca, Andrea, Deborah and Claudio;
  • for my nephews: Matthew, Felipe, Timothy, Leticia, Davizinho, Nicoli, Ruth, Jonathan, Luca;
  • for my local church and  colleagues in the session: Wadislau, Heber, Alderi, Márcio, David and Rinaldo;
  • for pastor Roberto;
  • for JET, the present one and the two previous ones;
  • for Solano, Eli, Jaime, Damócles;
  • for CRIE: Eliezer, Solano, Ludgero, Roberto;
  • for the Curators and the Board at Mackenzie;
  • for chancellor Augustus;
  • for the administrators at Mackenzie: Mauricio, Solano, Anaor, Jose Paulo; Wallace; Benedito and Marcel;
  • for my co-workers at CPAJ: Sunamita, Andrea, Marcia, Hothir and Rafael,
  • and, today, especially for my brothers, partners -- my pares:
Heber Jr,
João Alves,
João Paulo,