We are very grateful and relieved to be fully mobile now as we now have our own car! We heard of a Christian friend of a friend who was selling her car and snapped it up at the weekend. It is a big help for getting around more easily. Anyone with kids here says that air conditioning is a necessity in the car so it’s something we really needed, especially having seen Antonio turning into a cooked tomato in other cars! Daniel’s brother José is a mechanic and has been giving the car a full service for us. Daniel is learning some tips of the trade along the way.
Groundwork on the Project
Daniel has started morning bible study with José and José’s son, Pablo. José will be helping to train the men from the recovery houses with whom we will be working. His son, Pablo, recommitted his life to Christ at church a few weeks ago and Daniel is very keen to encourage him in his Christian walk. Pablo is also a mechanic and has his own business which is the location for the 7.30am bible study! Daniel has enjoyed getting alongside these men and the openness which exists here in Brazil to hear from the bible. Every day there are customers or random folk who hang around to see what’s going on. Those of you who pray, please remember Pablo and José and their families and all those who are hearing the gospel being preached at the garage.
We have continued to meet with various people who can give us advice and support about setting the project up here, including how to ensure we meet all the legal requirements. We want to try and get this stuff right from the beginning to avoid stress in the future and ensure we will be able to qualify for any potential support and partnerships with the council and so on. Yesterday we had a helpful meeting with a couple who help at Sao Luis’ only recovery house for women, Ágape. They are from one of the city’s biggest and wealthiest churches, with over 10 000 members, and it was insightful to hear their accounts of the challenges of working in this type of ministry. The challenge in working with those seeking to leave a life of addiction is huge and it’s tough if someone has only ever known life on the streets to want to leave the “security” of gangs and street culture.
And yet, what struck us most during the conversation was the lack of support for this type of work, particularly among Christians. This lady told us that when some people in her church found out she was involved in the recovery house, they started to avoid her. Trying to get folk to help out and be interested in the house is an ongoing battle (and that’s with 10 000 people to choose from!). As in many societies, people who struggle with substance abuse are marginalized; investing in them is often seen as a waste of time. There are aren’t many Christians here trying to meet these people where they are, especially when that means getting your hands dirty, sacrificing your time and going out of your way to help. The Ágape recovery house appears to be well-organised and true to the bible (we hope to visit one day) but it’s only 1 house for a maximum of 8 women. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of women addicted to drugs and alcohol in the city.
Another hard truth is that there are several Christian recovery houses which are effectively profit-making and exploit the vulnerable. Most houses require payment because the outlays are so high, which is legitimate, but the gentleman yesterday was saddened by the fact that he can be offered 100 reais if he brings in a new resident to a house, as if it was a bonus for bringing in a new income stream. The complexity of driving forces here almost always seems to come back to money. The love of money really is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim 6:10). We are also aware of a recovery house where the set up is decidedly “military” and corporal punishment is used. All this re-enforces the need for our task at hand and makes us very grateful for our home church and friends who have embraced our vision to provide a safe place for people to learn practical skills and how to live out the Christian life. We hope we can encourage others to take up the challenge with us.
Speaking at a Young People’s Meeting
Last Friday, we had the privilege of sharing with some children and teenagers at a discipleship meeting with their leader, Fernando. Daniel has known Fernando (Fernando is second from the left above) for many years. He is a full-time missionary and has been training these young Christians in how to share their faith with others. Fernando has been doing great work in setting up the likes of a homework club, English classes and football clubs for children in needy areas of the city. We enjoyed telling the kids a bit about Scotland and what’s different about being a Christian there as well as encouraging them to take up the challenge of living to please God and not man. Fernando’s example is encouraging as he is a hard worker for the gospel and is helping to make a difference in the lives of many.
A Few Other Things…
Antonio and I (Linsey) now have our Brazilian CPFs which is similar to a national insurance number. It only took 2 trips to the post office and then into town to a government office. This was actually a fairly straightforward process and relatively quick to complete! A CPF is needed for lots of things so it’s great to have that sorted.