Well, we don't have many pictures to show for it, but the thing we are the most excited about here, as far as ministry goes, is reaching out on the streets to the people who need Jesus SO badly! It is not hard to find a corner where prostitutes hang out waiting to get picked up, so we have been trying to stop by and talk to them. Some are nice, some seem genuinely appreciative that we stopped, some ask for prayer, some act annoyed at us, some walk away and many seem indifferent. Even the ones that are nice don't typically open up very much, and we know that this type of ministry is one that doesn't typically see results every night, but only after a relationship of trust is built. We gotta start somewhere, right?
Well tonight, after feeling somewhat discouraged and wondering about the best strategy to actually be able to reach these people, we had a divine appointment that was very encouraging. We saw a girl by herself on the street, and she backed into the shadows as we approached. Israel was ready with a tract and had practiced saying "Jesus te ama" (Jesus loves you) when handing it to people, so we approached her in the shadows and Israel gave her the tract and an invitation to church. It turns out that she has been on the streets only two months, and she was very open with us. We talked for a long time and she said she definitely wanted to come to church and visit us! Her name is Fabiana. She said she got nervous as we approached because most people "like us" just call her names or say rude things to her, so she thought we would do that too. Instead, I put my arm around her, we prayed with her, and she got tears in her eyes as we told her God had a better life for her and she didn't have to settle for this. Pray for her, that Jesus' love would set her free!
I asked if she lived alone, and she said that no, she lived with her sister. Well, she said, she is kind of a sister. "She" is actually a transvestite.... and was "working" down the street.
And that is what we find even sadder than the women prostitutes - is seems about half of the prostitutes here in Camboriú are transvestites.... This is a picture Fabio took the other night from our veranda of the street corner where this prostitute is negotiating and about to be picked up. Those sexy legs you see belong to a man!
There are about five or so of them living right next door to us. We tried to visit them today. We bought a cake to take there, as we had done with several of the other neighbors last Saturday. But, one of them just came to the window and said that they couldn't open the door when their "mom" wasn't there. They could not even accept the cake without their "mom's" permission... It seemed to be a dead-end. How can we reach out? Their "mom" is the one who collects the money they make on the streets, in return for paying for their silicone and hair treatments, etc....
Sigh. Sometimes it seems so hopeless! And yet, I know it is NOT hopeless! They are sinners just like every one of us, and the power of Jesus can transform them just as it can transform any of us! I have been reading the first several chapters of Romans over and over this week, and it has filled me with faith in the power of the Cross and the transforming work of Jesus in the life of ALL who believe.
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes...." Romans 1:16
"But now the righteousness of God is revealed... even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely through his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus..." Romans 3:22-24
And there are many more verses like it. Thank you, Jesus, for your Word that strengthens us and teaches us and guides us! PLEASE keep praying for us! This type of ministry is very spiritually and physically taxing and we need much prayer for wisdom of words, power of the Spirit, more infilling of the LOVE of Jesus to be able to reach out to these people, that we would be able to be channels of God's power to set them free from bondage to sin.
The kids get so excited about going out to share Jesus' love with the lost. If we tell them we are going to walk to the mall, they get whiney and say they'd rather just stay home, etc... but if we tell them we are going out to seek and save the lost, they get fired up and fill their pockets with tracts and run to the door to wait for us like horses chomping at the bit! Praise Jesus! Here is our ministry team and ministry vehicle:
Today Fabio and Vamilson went out too, to talk to people on the streets. The nice thing is that all the down-and-outers know Vamilson! hehe. The police even stopped today to see what kind of trouble he was into! They have been so used to picking him up for the past twenty years that they stop him when they just SEE him now! Fabio talked to the cop for a bit, saying that Vamilson was now a new creature! He looked skeptical, but told him to keep on the straight and narrow.
Here is a picture Vamilson took of Fabio talking with a guy they met:
Fabio wrote a few posts ago about a drunk that came in a couple weeks ago. His name is Gilberto, and he was just SO broken! After ministering to him for several hours, we took him to a recovery home and Fabio has kept up with him. Fabio preached there on Monday too. He came to the church yesterday, and has been sober for 13 days. He looks much better now! Here he is with Vamilson and Fabio:
This church (MANG) planted a church in Curitiba about five months ago. The pastor here, Facundo, travels there every Saturday to minister there, and comes back here Sunday afternoon to be here in time for church. (Church here is on Sunday night.) Anyway, Fabio went with him to minister in Curitiba a couple weekends ago, and here are a few pictures of their time there:
Here are some pictures from my English classes in the favela, the PETI school. I have taken Joshua, Dominique and Israel. Sometimes all, sometimes one, and it has been a great experience for them. We talk to them a lot about the vision for ministry. That we are not just wanting the children to learn English, and I dont just take them there to play and have fun, but we are striving to really impart in them a passion for reaching out, for praying for others, for showing Jesus' love and shining His light in the darkest places.