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).