Meet Carlos and Tabatha, and their son Jonathon:
They live in the apartment building next door to the church. It is actually built so that it shares the wall with the church, as many buildings in Brazilian cities are. They had been coming to church a few months back, but had "fallen by the wayside". They struggled with drinking and drugs and all that comes with it: depression, poverty, laziness, filth.
We went to visit them a few weeks ago, as we tried to do with all the neighbors. We took a cake and invited ourselves in. :) They received us warmly, even though I'll admit that I hesitated to even sit down because of the filth, accompanied by an awful stench: alcohol mixed with body smells and who knows what else. They couldn't find a single plate to serve the cake we brought on, or any forks either. I was relieved. I thought it would be more sanitary in this case to eat with our fingers!
We were able to speak with them quite openly from the Word of God and they received the Word and shared with us much from their hearts about their struggles, etc. We ended our visit with a powerful time of prayer.
After that day, they started coming back to church. They also said they had no food, so while we will not give money to people in such situations, we invited them to come eat with us at the church whenever they wanted to. Turns out, they wanted to every day the following week!
Which was great, as it fostered an opportunity to continue dealing with them in love and with the truth of the Word, counseling them and encouraging them to give their lives to the only One who can transform them.
However, we also did not want to encourage long-term laziness, as they were basically sleeping all day and just dragging themselves out of bed to come have lunch with us. So, after that first week, we offered them a "job" at the church, in exchange for discipleship and meals. This way, they could start to build discipline in thier lives, while being discipled by the Word of God and strengthened in the inner man.
So, we said they must show up at 8:00am sharp. They do. We start with breakfast, and then Bible study. After that, we find work for them to do. Carlos sometimes has been able to find side jobs, which we encourage, but if he doesnt have work, he comes to the church to work. And Tabatha has come faithfully every day for several weeks now (with Jonathon in tow), helping in the kitchen and with cleaning, etc. At noon we all have lunch together. Then back to work. At 4:30 is the Brazilian hour for "afternoon coffee", another Bible study, and then everyone is free to go home.
We are SO happy to see how they have changed in these few weeks. Their countenance is brighter, their lifestyle is radically different, and they have not fallen back into drugs. They are beginning to see the bigger picture of the riches of the life God has in store for them as they learn to walk in his ways.
Please pray they will continue to grow and be strengthened in the faith and prepared for every good work!