What Does "Real" Love Look Like?
I was nervous the moment I got off the plane.
I was in Recife, Brazil, and I was stepping out as a filmmaker in a way I had never even attempted before. This entire shoot—thousands of dollars spent on flights, crew, hotels, and everything else involved in making a movie—was hinging on whether or not I had heard God correctly.
My big problem at the moment was that I wasn’t sure whether I had or not.
It started when I was trying to figure out the first place I would film for this new film series, and I often sat in my studio and just prayed, trying my best to hear God’s voice.
I called up my good friend, Will Hart, and asked him if he knew of any amazing people around the world I should go film. He rattled off some names and what they did, and then he said, “There’s also an awesome couple named Nic and Rachel Billman. They’re in Brazil, and they have a ministry that reaches out to the homeless and the prostitutes down there.”
Immediately I felt a surge in my spirit, like butterflies in my stomach or a drop from a roller coaster.
I thought, this must be what God wants me to do.
So I hung up the phone and Googled their ministry. As I was clicking around, I heard (or again, I thought I heard) the Lord say, “Have them put on a banquet for the women, and have Nic sing the song that has never been sung before. When he does that, I will pour out my spirit on those women.”
When I emailed Nic, he was excited about me coming down to film, and the dates I had available worked well. This would be one of the first things I would film for these movies, and right off the bat I was putting my ability to hear God to the test for all the world to see.
Couldn’t we just start in the shallow end, Lord?
I mean, I was going to put on film the fact that I heard God give me directions, and if nothing happened, I’d have a very large egg on my face.
So we flew to Brazil. We filmed with Nic and Rachel, and captured some of what they were doing down there, and the entire time I had a knot in my stomach because I knew the last thing we had to do.
Catch a sneak peek of the rest of the Brazil story in the trailer below
I was a nervous wreck.
Earlier, during an interview with Nic, he had mentioned something I found interesting. When talking about the Holy Spirit, he said that one thing he had observed is that the Spirit never usually came the way you expected Him to.
If you were very conservative, often He would make things “a little messy” and maybe make you laugh, shake, or something else not deemed “normal”. If you were expecting fireworks, often he’d come as a whisper.
That night, we had over 20 girls show up straight from the streets, and we gave them a night to remember. Gifts, good food, a total makeover—it was designed to simply let them know that God loves them and believes they have real worth in His eyes.
Then the moment of truth came, and Nic started to play his guitar and sing a song that he was making up on the spot: the song that had never been sung before. My crew stood poised, cameras ready, and I held my breath.
God, were you going to come through for me?
I was expecting fireworks. Lots of weeping, maybe a little wailing, some shaking possibly, who knows, maybe even a demonic manifestation as God’s spirit drove out the darkness in their lives. I was ready for a showdown.
As Nic sang, at first my heart sank because it appeared that nothing was going to happen.
Then, slowly and gently, various women began to silently weep. All around the room, as the women heard the song the Father was singing to them, they had a quiet but profound moment with Him. We filmed it, and it was beautiful.
Afterwards, Nic came up to me and reminded me of what we had talked about earlier regarding the Holy Spirit’s methods. Then he said, “Think about what love is to these women. It’s forceful. Violent. It degrades them. It makes them do things they don’t want to do. But how did the Spirit show them love? He was gentle. Kind. He didn’t overcome or overwhelm them. It was a small act of trust as He attempted to woo them for the first time.”
And for me, it was a major lesson learned.
God is love, and love looks a lot different than many of our best ministry ideas. And the sooner we can partner with His love and not our own agenda, the sooner we can see Him work in amazing, powerful, and beautiful ways.
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