ClarkCountyToady.com reporter Jacob Granneman shares his experience filming the start of revival in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Note to readers: Hi there, if we haven’t met yet, my name is Jacob. I am a reporter and filmmaker from ClarkCountyToday.com, and I love telling the stories of people from all walks of life, in my community and around the world. What follows are the true stories I witnessed with my eyes and my camera while serving abroad in Argentina. I am not here to prove anyone wrong, or shove Christian ideas down anybody’s throat. I need to get that out of the way. I believe I am here to share these stories of how much Jesus loves people, and loves you. I hope you find what I have to say uplifting and meaningful, and want to thank you for reading.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Over 850 lives.
This is the number of people who encountered love, restoration and healing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the first week of March 2019.
Together, with a team of people from the U.S. and the world, local churches in the area of Buenos Aires went out into their city’s streets and neighborhoods, actively practicing what they preach.
Love. Compassion. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Healing. The person Jesus.
When Vancouver-based nonprofit, Compassion To Action, (CTA), asked me to journey with them to Argentina and document what they believed God would do for and in 1,000 of people’s lives, I said “yes” so quickly I surprise even myself.
Traveling for photography, film and documentary is something I have always wanted to do. So to have such an incredible door opened was all I needed to take a chance on a new experience.
We departed Portland International Airport on the morning of March 10. The some 18 hours of travel that followed were unusually easy going and free of complications. Not even a single TSA fiasco.
The minute we landed, the team jumped into action. This might look different than one might think.
Essentially, close to 30 people, tired and jet-lagged, decided to have conversations with total strangers as they made their way from EZE Airport to their hotel in Buenos Aires. Loving them; because they know that is what they were made to do.
Throughout the first few days, myself and an incredible cinematographer from Redding, CA, Jay Wagner, began documenting. We filmed what we witnessed happening in the lives of the team, folks at local churches and the people they interacted with in the city.
This is where I stop talking about my story, and begin to tell you the stories of others.
Encountering love and compassion
Perhaps the story that stands out the most is one that shouldn’t have happened at all.
Somewhere around the third day, ( I am not 100 percent sure which day, they all mix together with all those 3 a.m. nights), I found myself riding with a local pastor to a hospital across town.
The goal was to pray for folks there, and believe that Jesus would heal them. Things were looking to get pretty crazy, muy rapido.
Upon arrival, we discovered the hospital security was not as excited about a documentary as we were. No cameras allowed. We respected their wishes and turned to walk back towards the street.
At this moment, Jonathan Chandra, who works with CTA doing evangelism, noticed a young woman walking across the street with a bandage around her knee.
“She’s going to get healed,” he said, walking closer.
With the help of a local pastor, Jonathan began to ask the woman what had happened to her leg, and why she was limping. The woman and a young man with her, explained how she had been shot by police recently, and was going to the hospital for a check-up.
Another member of our team, Shane Lorente from Portland, and Jonathan, began to pray in the name of Jesus that the pain would leave the woman’s leg and the knee would be healed.
Her face became one of confusion as she began to bend her knee bewildered.
“Could she do that before? Don’t lie to me,” Jonathan asked the man with her, smiling.
The young man said she was in pain all morning and could not move her knee or leg without increasing the pain. A miracle.
Shane and Jonathan began to pray with the young man, and I swiveled around to film from a different angle, when we noticed the woman not looking well at all and sitting on the curb.
Shane and the local pastor walked back over to her to ask what was wrong and if she was feeling ill. She said, through interpretation, that she felt a wave of fear and depression come upon her.
She had been abused as a child and the memories were coming back in the moment, she said. Jonathan, whose life story was much the same, began to explain how Jesus loved her so much and wanted to heal all the pain, even that which was in her heart.
After praying with her a second time, the woman became joyful again, and made the decision on that street corner to ask Jesus to be her best friend and lead her in life.
It gets crazier.
Jonathan felt he had heard from God that something had happened with the woman’s womb. A sensitive and personal subject. The local pastor gently and quietly took her aside and asked the question in Spanish. She immediately began to cry and ask how he knew that.
She had suffered a miscarriage a few years prior, and was currently pregnant again; worried for the life of the baby she carried that day.
Shane and Jonathan asked the young man if they were together and if the child was his. He nodded, the shame evident on his face.
Shane and Jonathan explained that with Jesus there is no shame and no condemnation, and that He loved him, his girlfreind and the baby too.
As they all prayed together for the life of the baby, I could not help but think, “This was not supposed to be the plan today, but wow, God is so good at changing our plans.’’
As they finished praying Jonathan exclaimed, “Are you two married? Would you like to get married right now!?”
They were not, but they said they would like to be.
So right there, in the shadow of a hospital we thought was the end of our day, two human beings who God loves so much, were healed, saved and married; joined together to support and love one another, just as Jesus loves us.
After our friend, the local pastor, performed the ceremony, he explained how though it would not be a legally recognized wedding, they were married and God was proud of them. They said they would come to his church and he embraced them before we moved off.
The power of faith
Whether you believe what you just read or not, it happened. I watched it happen; much of it, through my camera lens.
It might be easy to disbelieve such a singular, in-the-moment occurrence, even I can admit that. Where that breaks down for me though, is this isn’t a singular event. It happened hundreds of times, throughout Buenos Aires.
I have the 800 gigabytes of footage. I should know.
For me, the trip was a tipping point into realizing the infinite potential of a Jesus who loves us and wants to meet us right where we are. He wants to be our closest friend, not a legalistic, bible-thumping god.
He wants to heal, by every account of mine, he does heal.
He heals young girls of deaf ears and He heals the legs of those who could not walk on their own. He heals pain in all forms, and He grows out legs to remedy years of spinal problems. He heals, because that is just who he is.
I think one of the most inspiring moments was when my friend Austin came to us while on the trip and told us the story of two people he had met in the city. They were a gay couple, and they told him they believed God hated and was mad at them.
Austin explained that he loved them, and Jesus loved them even more. They both received Jesus as their best friend and savior, and walked away connected to the family of God.
I have walked away from my time in Argentina with many, many incredible stories. As I spend the next several weeks working on the footage, I am struck by the simplicity and powerful love I witnessed everyday.
Telling the stories of healings, redemption and community were life changing. The epic shots of skyscrapers and culture were cool too.
As I made my way back through three airports, (this time I got to make friends with some TSA folks … yay), I reflected on why I went in the first place. I traveled across mountains and oceans, rivers and wastelands, to document these things in a far away land.
The answer rises like a loud whisper.
‘Because it is what I was made to do.’
God made us all to love. It is etched into our humanity; into our DNA. Love doesn’t have to be like a movie though. It doesn’t have to be this grand thing, that everyone covets.
In reality, it is often times listening to your neighbor across the street, or encouraging a stranger who is crying in a coffee shop, or just being the one to go and help yourself.
God made us to love, and love everyone. So I went because I wanted to love, and document the inspiring love I witnessed.
I wanted to be sent. And God sent me.
I hope you enjoyed hearing these stories of hope, and I want to thank you again for reading. If you want to hear more, or read more about Compassion To Action, visit them at their website or through social media.
I would like to thank Chris Overstreet, Brandon McCallum, Jonathan Chandra, Evan Threlkeld, Jay Wagner, Ken Vance, and David Madore for their incredible faith, wisdom and generosity throughout this endeavour. God bless you guys!