The suitcase falls open and little hands greedily grope for the bubbles and horns, which five seconds ago were still in there. Toy fever. Chaos. In the distance wooden planks and makeshift roofs, which we call housing for the children. Shantytown. Chaos.
Clothing, toys, sandwiches, cookies, lemonade, makeup, music, ourselves. Many happy faces, a lot of gratitude, but also lots of emptiness. Despite the filled bellies and full arms. Inner chaos.
Jesus creates order in our chaos. He turns dry places into oases. He is the change in our inner and outer chaos. Where do we find Him? In you and me, when we bear witness of Who He is. Yesterday we had the privilege of doling Him out, in full suitcases and loving attention. ‘Jesus te ama’ is the little Portuguese I speak but, believe it or not, that is the very thing these people need to hear.
I see a mountain, you see a miracle
I see a wasteland, you see a garden
I see dry bones, you see an army
I see impossible, you see everything
(Lyrics from You See by Jonathan David Helser).
This morning, after meditation and breakfast, we took to the road again with our bus with 200 ham and cheese sandwiches. And coffee.
Traffic was very busy, many people are relocating for carnival. We are happy with a good chauffeur like Hennie, who maneuvers us safely through the hustle and bustle and along the bumpy streets.
Cars are flying past left and right of us, not to mention the honking motorcyclists, who seem to show up from everywhere. We had a destination in mind, but God had other plans.
The congestion made it very hard to find the location and we drove through a street lined with a group of men. These people have been on the road for days because they expected to find a job here, or at least heard they were hiring. They had spent their last dimes on this. And then there is no job. No more money for the trip back home, no place to sleep. And then …
Then suddenly a bus full of people pulls up in your street, who bring Jesus in Word and deed. First there is a sandwich and a drink. Then the Word of God. Our team had hardly left the bus when a long line of people queued up behind the bus. Two by two they came. They came and were fed: 200 sandwiches gone in a second. One gentleman told that there was so much turmoil in the street. It was not safe. And the moment the love of our God was shared … boom … no more turmoil, changing faces. I was so touched. We had an opportunity to pray for many. We had a plan but God wanted us here.
Johan and Brenda are coming here again next week, and again and again … Because God is leading them here. Then we had lunch and spent some time together.
We had a service in the evening where Hennie shared a great word from the book of Numbers, where Moses sends the spies forth to explore the land of Canaan. Ten only saw the mountains and the giants. Two stood on God’s promise. How do you deal with mountains in your life? Are you gripped with fear, do you walk away, or do you give them to God? Trusting that no mountain is too high for Him, that He is the One Who will gain the victory. Always. You can take Him at His Word. Again prayed for people.
I’ve experienced that God uses each and every one of us. That you can speak words of encouragement that do not miss their mark. Not out of us. Everything is of Him. Roupen and Johan gave their testimony in another church and there too our God was at work. And then mighty things happen.
God is good!!! How great that it is possible to share His love together with One In Him Foundation.
Wishing you a blessed day!
This is our second day at the One project. We started with a meditation by Brenda and a grilled cheese sandwich by Johan. We are planning to visit a rehab center and then go to the shantytown. No idea what that will bring.
Being touched by the warm welcome we received, I realized how important it is to encourage and love one another with the love of Jesus. For the first time I stepped out and told about Jesus’ unconditional love. Mighty beautiful and so supported by our little group.
Then Quincy and Roupen ministered and Jaël sang a beautiful song and played the guitar. What stunners! We also prayed for all the boys and they were so touched.
It is awesome to be able to do this together. After a delicious meal we went to the slums. We were impacted by the innumerable impressions we got.
One thing tops everything: if we follow Jesus, go in His footsteps, there are signs and miracles and lives are forever changed. What a day!! What a blessing and privilege to be a part of this. Be blessed to be a blessing!! 🙏🏻
Today, after meditation and breakfast, we proceeded to prepare 600 sandwiches: tasty, fat white-bread sandwiches, each with a slice of ham and cheese, enough for 600 children to be invited to a children’s event in the new favela.
Johan and Brenda have gained entrance into a new favela. A gang leader opened up his heart to the Lord Jesus after a lengthy time in jail. He has developed gentle eyes and a warm heart, a heart for the community. He wants things to change for the better. He does not want delinquency and drugs, which are used to lend color to life and alleviate the pain. But if we want to bring about change and offer the necessary relief, the Holy Spirit’s help is needed, but also support and finances, which are sorely missing.
Johan and Brenda are going to do something about that, motivated by the love of Christ, Who Himself came to visit us in our darkest hour. Jesus wants them to get to know Him and develop a personal relationship with Him.
Then wrong habits, like addiction and violence, will come to an end. Because security and intimacy with Him provide so much self-esteem and joy, so drugs are no longer needed. Jesus offers hope!
I was again quite impressed when I saw the small plain housing built one upon the other in the shantytown. People have so little privacy. A family of 7 will sometimes share living quarters of a few square meters.
A girl who still goes to school also told us how hard it is to do homework in such conditions. I was taken aback when noticing that most youngsters hardly understand and speak a word of English. All those sandwiches were appreciated, as a gift. A ham and cheese sandwich is a delicacy, for young and old.
The money we brought with us, sponsored by a number of readers — thank you so much, dear people — has given the 300 children present a fun afternoon. The first event in ages!
There was another one of those on a piece of land, after it had been cleared of big, sharp rocks and tree trunks. People from the shantytown and team members braved the heat of the day, chopping with axes. Those men really worked up a sweat! The rough ground would have done the air cushions no good.
There were several of those and the children had the time of their lives playing on them with us joining in. We had ball pools, slides, and an air cushion shaped like a football field with water and soap, where the older children had a perfect time. There was also popcorn and cotton candy.
I am always taken in by the Brazilian expressive eyes and happy faces, and they were so grateful. We had a merry afternoon. We enjoyed the water fights tremendously. They cooled them off nicely.
When I look at the favelas I realize how spoilt we are in the Netherlands when it comes to living space. But those happy and friendly faces, despite so much misery, can teach us a lot.
Jesus, Who is moved with compassion, sees and knows all those people in the slums. He knows what they really need, genuine love, warm words, but also enough food and improved means of living.
Isn’t it wonderful that Johan and Brenda provide help with the support from the Netherlands and other places, and are preaching the Gospel, talking to people in their brokenness and poverty, comfort them and afford better prospects.
As a team we have delivered a little love and attention and some laughter by allowing children to have a wonderful time with games. That is the way it should be: children who can play carefree.
But when people learn Who Jesus is, the slums will turn into a safe neighborhood full of light and peace. The power of God, in Whom Johan and Brenda trust, will surely make a difference. Doesn’t that make you happy?
Let us keep them in our prayers and, out of our relative abundance, provide them with the means to dole out help where needed. 600 Sandwiches today, but even more in the future. Jesus will mention it and say: ‘You have fed Me and shown Me mercy’ (Matthew 25).