The cathedral of the day after tomorrow
By Pastor Adauto Rezende
In 1977, Ron, Joan, their two daughters, Kristina and Carolyn Morin left Canada, heading to a nation very far away from their home. The missionary couple felt a divine call to go to Brazil, which at the time was facing a huge social-economic crisis. The country's population was around 110 million. Many citizens survived on a minimum wage of C$1.106, 40 (roughly $70 dollars). Inflation was 46.27 percent per year, making survival even more difficult for most Brazilians.
Ron arrived in São Gonçalo do Pará, in the state of Minas Gerais in 1978. It was a great challenge for the family. They had to face a new culture, an unknown language, a changing of a socioeconomic status, and climate—the north of Minas and Bahia are very hot places. During that time, children were suffering from diseases, malnutrition, and domestic violence. There was also a high rate of unemployment and alcoholism, making life much more miserable for them.
These Canadians missionaries, by simple definition, left a land of abundance to live in scarcity; they exchanged luxury for essentials.
However, they knew in their hearts that even in the midst of such spiritual darkness, God had sent them to preach the gospel to the largest South American nation. In many years of serving the Lord in Brazil, Ron has now planted several churches in Minas Gerais and Bahia. He mentored many young men and women, sharing the gospel with thousands through open-air meetings and radio broadcasting, established a Bible college in Salvador, Bahia's capital, and blessing thousands.
An amazing story
I met Pastor Ron almost thirty years ago, and during these years I had the privilege to visit some of the churches in Bahia. Recently, I flew from São Paulo to Salvador to stay with him for a few days and to preach in the congregations in the state. As we drove south, he shared a testimony of the sixty-year-old Maria José, who became a Christian in 1978 through his ministry, in the first apostolic church of São Gonçalo, Minas Gerais.
Maria lived three kilometers from the church premises. Her home was a small room built with sticks and mud, without electricity, or basic sanitation. She was not just poor; she also had leprosy on both feet, which were eaten by the disease.
Every Sunday during the first two years of her conversion, she faithfully attended the services, joining with other believers. She walked on the dirty and rocky road with her feet wrapped in rags. One Sunday, Pastor Ron noted her absence and soon went to see her. She welcomed him into her hut and shared her malady. Days earlier, she had cut one of her feet on glass, and she still had a piece of it inside her foot. Adding to this, she didn’t have cloth to wrap her foot; therefore, she couldn’t walk to church as usual.
Ron’s narrative of the incident is as follows:
"After taking care of her immediate needs, I figured out that there was another leprous woman who lived a few dozen meters from her and also two other families that I previously had visited in the village. Understanding their difficulties, I decided to build a place of worship nearby. I went to a farmer, who lived in the region, and he gave me some giant bamboo, which I had to cut down myself and, with it, we built the site, roofing it with hay. At the time, the evangelist Rex Humbard had a church called "Cathedral of Tomorrow" and I thought to call our tiny chapel the "Cathedral of the Day After Tomorrow." Our services were held in the evenings, and because there was no electricity, I would take my Bible and place a small round kerosene-fueled lamp on top of it to read the Scriptures. As a result, my Bible pages were stained, however, my heart rejoiced to share the gospel with that group of saints hungry to hear the word of God. The people were very simple, but they loved Jesus and we would always feel the presence of the Lord in that little sanctuary."
I was so inspired after hearing Ron’s testimony that I asked him if I could make this beautiful and inspiring story public. To my surprise, a day later, Ron found the picture of the church on his computer and sent it to me. I wanted to understand what we could learn from “The day after tomorrow’s” story, and I came to the conclusion that there are many lessons to take from it.
1. Morin's behavior demonstrates a tremendous love for Jesus. The Lord said, "Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
2. It was an incredible act of faith that was proved through Ron’s efforts to serve that community regardless of the obstacles. Because the Lord poured out such love in his heart for the people, nothing could separate that small congregation from Jesus' love. There was no stumbling block to frustrate the divine assignment, neither disease, finances, tiredness, bricks, tiles, electricity, nor anything else would matter, for like the apostle Paul, Ron was saying, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
3. It showed a special mark of a true missionary: action! We know that financial resources are important; however, in many circumstances, they are not essential. I can imagine someone in this situation taking photos of Maria Jose and the village huts, creating a project with building costs, and sending letters to dozens of supporters requesting donations. Probably, by the time the funds arrived, the group’s faith was gone. Ron saw that the resources to build the place weren't miles away; it didn’t cost thousands of dollars, but just some bamboo and hay from a farmer nearby.
We will find missionaries in situations that can’t wait; there is no time to lose. It is all or nothing! Either you do it, or it dies. There is divine audacity to take action because the order from Jesus is to go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”
4. A missionary knows that a crisis is an occasion for a miracle. Consider the hungry crowd in the midst of a desert. Jesus asked Phillip, one of the twelve apostles, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" The skeptical disciple answered, "It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" The passage stated that Jesus asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Andrew heard the conversation and stepped in, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
I could see in Ron’s dilemma a similar challenge. Like Christ, he was in a poor place with a group of needy people. As Jesus, he had compassion and didn’t want to send them away empty. Where could he find funding to help them? Nonetheless, the Lord showed him a farmer who had some bamboo and hay. This was the entire message he needed to hear. The visionary knew that Jesus was there to perform the miracle to serve Maria Jose and the others. He had only to trust and act, which he did. The gospel’s narrative concluded: "They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." Likewise, Pastor Morin, from the leftovers from São Gonçalo do Pará, ended up with "baskets" full of converts in other towns and in the state of Bahia.
To God be the glory!
 Matthew 25: 40
 Philippians 4: 13
 Luke 14: 21
 John 6: 5
 John 6: 7
 John 6: 6
 John 6: 9
 Matthew 14: 20