As I sit here, Atlanta-bound on Delta flight DL60, it’s 10:00 p.m. on the last day of our trip. My eyes are heavy, but my heart is full. The back of my eyelids have become the perfect projector screen of memories from the week. As I look back, I cannot help but want to shout, “What a God we serve and what a people He has created in Brazil!” This people who feels deeply, loves passionately, serves faithfully, and devotes themselves wholeheartedly. We saw these amazing qualities put to beauty and destruction as some gave themselves to God and others to the kingdom of darkness. Yet, amidst it all, one thing is clear: Brazil is ripe for the Gospel of Jesus to flourish.Read More
Day 3 of Updates from the 2017 Brazil Team, Written by Jamie Thomsen
As we have reached Wednesday and the middle of our trip, I think the whole team can agree that we all feel exhausted physically, mentally and most definitely emotionally. We started our day with a devotional using Jonah 4:1-10, and we discussed our own sinful ways and how we sometimes seem to run from God. I felt that this was a good way to start a day we knew would be tough and would want to turn away from.
We drove to the ministry near Crackland, Hug Therapy, to prepare breakfast. Each year, the Karis team visits Hug Therapy and serves breakfast to Crackland.
We buttered and packaged many rolls to be distributed. As we worked we sang some worship songs in preparation. Before we headed into Crackland, we heard from Paulinho, the leader of the ministry, and about his journey from substance abuse to finding the Lord and starting a ministry for the neighborhood. Paulinho told us of the quick growth of his ministry and how much of an impact he has made in the neighborhood.
We took our supplies down the hill to the entrance that is a small strip where crack is sold on the corner. We stopped so Paulinho and Scott could offer a Word, prayer and understanding to those on that corner. To enter into the city, we had to physically walk through a large hole in a cement wall. As we walked through Crackland, we sang songs and made few stops except to preach the words of the Lord and feed people. When we fed some people, Paulinho let them know we could put them on a list to be prayed for. While there, we saw the worst living conditions I have ever seen in my life, such as homes made of wood pallets and tarps. The area was covered with trash and animals roamed free. We stopped for a moment to pray for a woman named Maria and her son Lucas. Maria’s life was saved by the ministry when she was addicted to drugs and pregnant with Lucas. When Jana Rae and Scott prayed for Maria, you could see the sadness in her eyes and the hope for her young son. Before we left Crackland, we had the chance to hear the testimony of Simone, one of the women that works with Paulinho and how she hit rock bottom but after many years found the love of Christ and worked to help herself to a better place. This lead to a very heavy hearted morning.
In the afternoon, we headed back to city of God to have the third day of VBS. While entering into the city, we saw a stronger presence from drug lords. We even passed some men stationed on a corner with large guns. The VBS had its largest turnout yet with over 80 children. I felt that the interactions with the kids were better and less chaotic than yesterday. I personally enjoyed building relationships with some children in my group that made them want to hug me and hold my hand a large amount of the day. This made me feel amazing connections. As we headed out of the city it was hard to say goodbye today. I know I personally feel a lot for all of the kids and hope they understand we are here to show Christ’s love.
As I reflect on today I realize why I needed to be here. These kids need us and need a hope for something more. We can’t give up on them. I hope when we are done, this trip helps the Papps and Jessica feel renewed in their call to be here.
Day 2 of Updates from the 2017 Brazil Team, Written by Tabitha Kohl
Today was a day of seeing God work, despite imperfect situations and faulty vessels.
I emerged from my room this morning to the sound of rain on the tin roof. For me, this is a blissful way to start my day. To the more experienced and practically minded on the team, it brought groans and wariness. Rain turns City of God’s dusty streets to mud, and we were in for a long day of traveling. Beyond that, there were other difficulties in the day to face: the disappointment of not getting to go witness to the men’s homeless due to government issues, paint supplies at Instituto Consuelo Pinheiro (ICP) being so delayed in arrival we were unable to bless them by doing that work, and facing again the restless and untamable spirits of the children in Cidade de Deus (City of God).
However, through mishaps, God is ever faithful. While we weren’t able to go to the men’s homeless shelter today, we can continue to pray that God will work through that connection and open doors in the future. Though we were unable to paint at ICP, we were able to spend twice as much with the children and mentally challenged adults there, and they were an absolute joy. We had a blast, and all the workers at the facility were very excited about how things went and are open to more such work there in the future.
And as for the reckless children, our VBS at Cidade de Deus went much smoother today than yesterday, rain and all. My team, vermelho, has the eldest children. Yesterday they were obstinate in getting what they wanted, constantly talking over us and our translators alike, and simply leaving activities when they got bored. We didn’t even get through our Bible story for the day; we were happy just to get them to say the memory verse a few times. And today I was handed the baton of the storytelling section.
I would have to lie to tell you I was not absolutely terrified. Public speaking is not in my niche, no matter how informal the setting. Considering my crowd, I fully expected less of a Bible story to make its way through than the day before. Things had looked good in the first few sections. We got through our craft with everyone making their project and without our children taking all the supplies. The kids’ fiery passion still led to some extreme competition in the games, but overall they had fun. And when we sat down in a circle for story, team vermelho had its own little miracle for the day: relative silence.
The kids that had been bouncing off the walls the day before actually sat, and a number of them seemed to truly be paying attention. While listening to our wonderful translator relay the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden of Eden, I was captivated by the sight of so many beautiful little dark eyes looking back, interested. It was, in fact, only ten or so children. But to me I felt like Moses, watching a whole people pay attention as God gifted me a speaker to overcome my slowness of tongue. I can’t tell you anyone had a conversion experience, but I feel confident God planted some seeds today—and that it had absolutely nothing to do with me or any of us for that matter. It has everything to do with the fact that God cares about Brazil—about these children that I am afraid to care for, because to care for them is to hurt, seeing how they live with the traficantes patrolling the streets and the pigs living outside or on their doorstep.
But God is not afraid to hurt for them, and God will move.
Hello Family of God!
Monday was an amazing day of seeing God work in and through the team. After a busy Sunday of travel, sightseeing and worship, we got to start off the morning at a slower pace and hear from Jay Bauman, director of Restore Brazil, about the work that he is doing with the ministry, Acts 29, Redentor Church and Union Church.Read More
In just over a month, Karis Church will send 14 people to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, for 10 days. 2017 is Karis’s 8th year of partnership with an Acts29 organization in Rio called Restore Brazil.
One of Karis’s three guiding principles is community. God’s gospel community knows no bounds; it loves and learns past physical and cultural differences. It empowers Karis Church to partner within our city, with our missionaries and with Restore Brazil to further the name of Christ and the story of His sacrifice.Read More