After graduating from Bible School in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, David and his wife Myra were called to France. David is currently pastoring a new church plant in Paris. His desire is to see native French pastors raised up and sent out for the establishment of biblical churches throughout the country.
Testimony of my Conversion
My older brother and I were raised by our single mother. We lived near the beach and our life was consumed with surfing. When I was thirteen years old my mother was transformed by the gospel and began to attend a Presbyterian church. From that time on I began to have a growing understanding of the fear of God.
From time to time I visited my mother’s church, and it was there that I had the first of two significant spiritual experiences in my life. I compare these experiences to the two touches that Jesus gave the blind man whom He healed. One day, I was overcome by a deep sense that all truth resided in Christianity and that a relationship with God was what gave true meaning to life, true pleasure, and peace. This period, however, did not last long because I was very attached to my non-Christian friends and I had not established close relationships with the church. For another five years I had a very distant relationship with Christianity, until through many trials, I began to have a sense of my profound lack of God.At the age of nineteen, I decided to reconnect with the church through the encouragement of an old friend who had become a Christian and had demonstrated a great transformation in his life. He was part of a church that was nearby and I started to participate in some of the meetings. However, my participation did not allow me to find the peace and joy that I had once felt from God. I considered myself so unworthy of God’s presence because, despite having known the truth, I was disobedient. I was afraid that God would never allow me to enjoy fellowship with Him.
In one of the meetings, a man whom I had never met encouraged me to continue seeking the Lord in spite of my fears and doubts. He said that I should persevere in seeking and that God would hear me. His words strengthened my confidence that the Lord would hear me if I cried out to Him so I searched further for the presence of God. Although I had never developed a habit of reading, my hunger for God, now accompanied by great hope, became so great that I not only read the Bible, but I also read “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer in a very short period of time. Even though I had a very limited theological understanding, the book served as an even greater motivation to seek after God.
One evening, during a night of prayer in the church, I experienced my greatest and most indescribable visitation of God. It was then that I was made to understand that by faith I had received the greatest prize – adoption by God! Immediately, I began to have a greater love for Jesus Christ and the church. After that night, I realized that the Holy Spirit was creating in me a supernatural power to resist the temptations that in the past I could not overcome. I felt Christ really living in my inner man, and despite the countless tribulations throughout my life at that time, I was able to endure them with a peace and joy that were inexpressible and full of Glory. It was not merely my reasoning or intellect that was changed. I also developed a strong compassion for the lost, a compassion that I had never before felt in my heart.
The Call to Ministry
Shortly after my conversion, I began to organize prayer meetings in my home. Initially, it was with only a few Christian friends. I then started inviting some non-Christian friends to the prayer meetings and they all had many questions. Soon the meetings became a Bible study group. For me it was a very natural inclination to share what I had found with my friends who were still lost. These meetings became a means of evangelism where people were asking many questions about the truth and it had a big impact on me.
All my life I always wanted to help people who searched for advice or counsel, but I was so fearful about what to say because I didn’t have an authoritative basis on which to speak the truth or offer correct advice. I was always much more an observer than a talker and people saw me as shy because of that. But now that I had the truth of the gospel and the authority of the Bible, I knew that I could speak of it with confidence. Yet I still felt incapable and I realized that I needed a higher level of theological training.
Because of this, I went back to the church that my mother attended and there I came across an overwhelming source of biblical knowledge. I began to take notes on all the sermons I heard and I participated in all the Bible study meetings. A great thirst for the knowledge of the Bible came over me. I constantly called upon the pastors of my church to help me prepare my Bible studies, and I began helping with the youth ministry at the church. Soon the lead pastor approached me and invited me to a weekend with his two sons and his wife at the beach. There he spoke to me about the very obvious signs of my pastoral calling and suggested that I enroll in a seminary to get my degree in theology. During this same period, other people from different Christian communities also spoke to me of the possibility of a ministerial call, saying that they recognized certain evidences. I took it all to the Lord in prayer and soon decided to enroll in the seminary.
At that time, I was dividing my schedule between my commitment as a professional surfer and my studies in industrial design in one of the best universities of Rio de Janeiro, where I had a 90% scholarship because of my financial situation. However, my ministerial call began to weigh heavier on my heart, and I knew that entry into seminary would require more time than I had available. I had to leave one of my two main activities. Should I give up industrial design school or professional surfing?
By the grace of God, and with the advice of my pastor and the agreement of my mother, I decided to stop design school and maintain my career as a surfer. My pastor offered the following questions as criteria for my decision: “Where have you had more opportunities to preach the gospel? Which proved to be more of a missionary field?” I am glad I made this decision, since I later came to work eight years as the Christian Surfers Coordinator in Rio. By our Lord’s grace, I saw much fruit in those years.
The Bible School lasted for four years, at the end of which I was completely and actively engaged in the life of the church as a youth leader, preacher, and Sunday school teacher. I was serving as part of the leadership of the local church as well as working with the Christian Surfers. During this time I also met my wife Myra. In October 2009, I was ordained as a pastor.
The Call to France
God brought together many different factors that led to our calling to France. First, for a long time I had felt a missionary calling, especially for unreached nations. Second, as a professional surfer I had many cross-cultural experiences and opportunities for evangelism. Third, during my theological preparation I had a professor who was a missionary pastor from Portugal. He was regularly showing us the need in the unreached countries of Western Europe – France, Portugal, Italy and Spain (today he is working in Spain as a missionary). He also taught us apologetic in the context of a post-modern European worldview.
Fourthly and finally, shortly after I had entered into a relationship with my future wife, she moved to France for her studies in Industrial Engineering. We had a long-distance relationship for three years before our marriage. During that time she was involved with the University Bible Group at her university, and lead evangelistic bible studies. I had the opportunity to visit her on several occasions and was amazed at the spiritual thirst, oppression, and need of France. Paris seemed to me to be very hollow. It promised and pretended to be very deep, but had nothing meaningful to offer. It created in me a sad feeling that echoed in my heart. The need was clear, but although we mentioned France in our prayers, we did not yet have plans to start a ministry there.
After my wife received her degree and came back to Brazil, we were married and spent one year living in Rio. It was a period of many changes in the local church, our financial lives, and in my wife’s career. My marriage and commitment to the ministry required a salary but the church’s budget was very tight. Since our finances were still too low, my wife searched for work and was offered a job in Goiania, a city 820 miles from our hometown, Rio de Janeiro. We were forced to make major decisions in the midst of a very tough time in our lives. We submitted those decisions to the Lord in prayer and received some direction from Him.
We did not feel called to plant a church in Goiania, but we began to think that if we were going to have to move from Rio, we might as well consider an unreached area other than Goiania. It was then that we put France before our Lord. Since my wife’s degree is very valued in France she applied for a job there, and I applied for a master’s degree in Apologetics. In prayer, we waited for God to open doors. Finally, she got the job and I was accepted by the seminary, and we came to France with the blessing of our local church. From then on our Lord has been progressively and strongly confirming our calling, making it clear that this is where He intends for us to be.