An evangelism effort titled "Hug in the name of Jesus" has been heralded a success by a group of Christians calling themselves "Crazy for Jesus." The effort was conducted at a gay parade in Goiania, in the central region of Brazil.
As part of the effort the participants held signs that read, "Give me a hug, Jesus Loves You."
The signs reportedly attracted suspicion at first, but soon became increasingly contagious as groups formed lines to give and receive hugs with one another.
"Crazy for Jesus" is part of an online program for young evangelical Christians in Brazil called "Unidos na Web" (United in the Web), which aims to evangelize in different and irreverent ways.
"Homosexuality is sin, but God loves the sinner. We deliver the message that Jesus is our salvation. When the love of Jesus enters the life of these people, they will leave this perversion that comes from the flesh, not from the spirit," the Unidos na Web leader, Guilherme Batista, said to LGBT publication Parou Tudo.
Even though the hug-fest was enjoyed and approved of by many of those taking part in the gay pride parade, the parade organizers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the initiative.
In an official statement, the LBGT Parade Association of Goiania has said it condemned the attitude of the group, and asked participants of the 2013 parade to denounce them if they came back.
The "hug evangelism" effort cited the Biblical passages of John 6:37 and 1 Corinthians 1:21 as the basis of the action.
John 6:37 says, "All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."
1 Corinthians 1:21 says, "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."
In previous "missions" the Crazy for Jesus group has preached with megaphones while climbing over food court tables in a shopping mall, as well as taking their efforts into a big private college in the city.
After preaching inside one college the group was heard chanting: "But I choose God, I choose to be friend of God, I choose Christ everyday. I already died to my life, now I live the life of God."
The young evangelists have said they have received numerous emails from people testifying how their lives had changed after seeing their "madness."
"It is exciting to see that God has used us to influence our generation," said Thiago Lobo, one of the group members.