Good morning, Bishop!

I’m sorry, but I have to get this off my chest…

Yesterday, I was surprised by the things I saw on several media outlets. It’s nothing that I haven’t seen or heard before, since coming to the Universal Church. Stories about the Church don’t usually catch my attention, but this one was different. Bishop Alfredo Paulo’s name was in the title.

He was the one preaching when I first walked into the Universal Church, in my teens, more than 15 years ago. I learned my first lessons from the bible through him. Through his words, I began to crawl, walk and grow in faith. When I was 16 years old, I participated in the night vigils he held. Then, I would often have to sleep in the pews until morning because there was no way for me to get back home.

How can I forget the first man that taught me about faith? How can I not remember him with regard and admiration? This is the reason why I opened the video – something that I don’t usually do when I see the Church’s name on the title. And to top it off, I even dreamt about it. I spent the day wondering why he fell away from the faith? What happened? So I decided to research. It’s not that difficult to do nowadays, when we have Google, Facebook and so many other means of communication. What I found was a personal page on a social network, exuding poison. I thought over and over about whether or not I should open one of those videos…

Two of my friends had a falling out last year. They haven’t spoken to each other since, but I’ve kept in touch with both. I don’t know who is right or wrong. They were alone when everything happened. Each one has their own version – and I don’t really care about what happened between them. The point is that, during all these months, one of them speaks fondly of the other, showing great regret about their argument. For her, it was all just a misunderstanding. This friend has continued with her life and, in a subtle way, without showing any kind of resentment, recalls what happened with sadness and respect. The other has harbored a hatred that’s consuming her. She attends an evangelical church but, during New Years, she was “spitting fire” at the pastor for saying she needed to forgive. Whenever she talks about her former friend, she calls her a monster, snake and expresses such a rage that doesn’t seem to fit in her chest. Every time I try to show her the benefits of forgiveness, I am attacked with words. This is when I began to notice that, though it’s not up to me to judge, the way both act has been enough to show me who could hurt me and who I should keep away from.

This is why I decided NOT to open those videos. Because I am not interested in knowing what this man has to say about the Church. Someone that creates a Facebook page and, for two months, spews HATRED about a person, thing, institution, or whatever it may be, does not deserve to be heard. We know a tree by its fruits. The devil led me to a tree that is full of rotten fruit and I chose NOT to harvest them.

I’m an ex-assistant, who has been trying to return to the faith for 13 years. After we fall, we must dig ourselves out of a pit that is seven times deeper. I chose to leave the work of God and I regret doing so every day of my life, for the last decade. In all of these years, I NEVER doubted the integrity of the Universal Church. The mistakes the Church (or its leaders) may have, are not up to me to judge. This is where God changed my life. This is where I learned to live. This is where I saw hundreds of people being transformed and healed. It’s where I see pastors giving their all, no vacation or personal projects, to keep the doors open at any time of the day or night. It is where I have seen churches and more churches opening throughout the world – which is why offerings are necessary, but not mandatory. I give mine when I want to – and IF I want to.

Many, many times I fervently wished to return to that pew in Belo Horizonte, where Bishop Alfredo Paulo was preaching, to learn everything all over again. Today, I continue with the same desire. If it were possible, I would take advantage of the opportunity tell him not only to preach to me but to himself as well. Because this abyss that is separating me from God, while I am still, at least, trying to find Him again, will be infinitely greater for him, who seems to have surrendered his life to the devil.

You cannot reap figs from thorns, or grapes from weeds. Likewise, it is impossible to hear the Voice of God coming from a mouth that preaches so much hatred, injustice and ungratefulness. I am relieved for not opening those videos because above all else, I must keep my heart with all diligence.

Bishop, may God continue to bless you and all the leaders of the Church.
I’m sorry, but I had to get this off my chest.

Julia

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