Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a movement in the streets

We got back from Rio and it was incredible. Spending time with the families there who lost everything in the flood amazed me- but I will need to do a separate post on that.

Something is happening here in the streets of Itu that has me asking the question, 'God, what do I do with this?' We do a weekly lunch at our house for the homeless. Men and women come off the streets to eat, take a shower, get a change of clothes, and maybe a haircut. Beyond that, they come because we have become friends and they feel welcome in this home.

Every week I tell these friends that we do this for one reason: We are followers of Jesus, who teaches that there are two things of great importance, love God, and love those around you. I tell them that this is our way of loving them, and ask them to treat one another with the same kind of love while they are in our home. Beyond that we converse casually and one on one. They know that I work with a rehab program, and a support group, and that they are welcome to talk to me if they decide to pursue change.

Two of these guys in this group have been talking to me for about a month about going to rehab and starting a new life. One of them, Alermão (pictured here with Layla), followed through and We took him to rehab just before heading out to Rio. Thank God, the rehab program I work with accepted him free of charge, simply asking me to bring a mattress with me because they are out.

When I got home I heard that I had just missed another one of our friends who had hoped to jump in too. We didn't hear any more about this before heading out to Rio, but when we got back our 'son' Manu handed me a notebook with the names of three more of our friends and their document numbers, each wanting to get into rehab. Last night we drove by the bus station at about 11:30 and saw Edwardo (pictured here). He was sober, which was a shock, and he told us, "I need to get into rehab because I know that if I don't change now, I'm going to die." I have never seen Edwardo so serious and lucid. I asked him to come by the house today for us to talk more.

God is changing the homeless of Itu - I am well aware of how ridiculous that sounds. It was not our goal, we were simply trying to do what we thought Jesus might, and that was enough for us. But last night the reality of what God is doing hit me like a ton of bricks. It is bigger than me, and bigger than my resources. The rehab is pretty full, and there is a cost to taking in new people too.

Ali and I want to open a rehab program here in Itu. We have a lot of plans for it, but a wave of need is rising and we are not ready to receive it yet. We are talking to other rehab programs, looking for any opportunity we can pass on.

AGHH! Barbara (our daughter pictured below) just got off the phone with a rehab program in Belo Horizante, they will accept Edwardo free of charge!!!! God amazes me! He is changing lives that we would call lost, and opening doors we wouldn't have imagined! Pray for us that we can keep step! What a life!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Celebrate Recovery

In November when Ali and I were visiting Granbury we were introduced to an incredible ministry called, "Celebrate Recovery." After attending one of their meetings we visited with Daryl, Shannon, Billy & Maxine Martin to hear more about their ministry and to learn how to implement it here in Itu. We have been running with this ministry for 2 months now... I can't summarize the blessing this has been in words, but I thank God for it!

If you haven't heard of Celebrate Recovery, check it out (

CR is a Christian support group for individuals with various problems (addictions, co-dependency, emotional scars, bad habits, etc.) And it is a great way for the church to become a relevant source of help in the lives of the broken.

We have a great core group now. The testimonies shared are incredible. Members share of living with the of guilt having robbed from family to support drug habits, trouble in marriage caused by pornography and apathy, the damage done by being raised by a father addicted to cocaine and being told by family that the only future was in prostitution, and the struggles of being honest with loved ones about the lives they lived. Last night a member shared that since he first came to us, the week of Easter, he has stopped drinking and using drugs. He is now trying to call the friend he first came with to make the same life change.

The openness, honesty, and acceptance in these group meetings is life changing. And with the deeper issues in view, suddenly having a God who is interested in us and has the power to make a difference in our lives becomes... a great thing.

Pray for this group. It is touching lives that are hungry for change, and it's changing mine!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rio-Niteroi Campaign: i care.

about a month ago tragedy struck Rio de Janeiro.
the city was battered by hard rains, that eventually flooded the metropolis, caused landslides and killed a few hundred people.
Rio has the perfect structure for treacherous condition under lots of heavy rain - there are millions of citizens that have set up precarious houses on the hillside; what we call FAVELAS

when we heard about the chaos in rio, we wondered what we could do to help. . .
so we launched our " i care " campaign. we went around the neighborhoods that surround our church, and our youth did 2 weekends of door-to-door knocking asking for clothes and cleaning supplies for Cariocas (the nickname for people from Rio)
we also asked the church members to bring donations.

then we had the challenge of finding a way to transport all the good to Rio.
we prayed about it over lunch at the mall last tuesday, then as we were leaving i met up with an old friend who works as the distribution manager for Frito Lay in Brazil. bingo! we are now in the process of setting up a pick up day/time for them to take our 3 pallets of donations.

our team-family leaves on thursday - Mark & i, barbara, sarah, and carioca (yes, we have our own Rio citizen with us! tokenism?) .we are joining a group of Christian volunteers that have been working non-stop for 1 month. we will distribute the donations, help gather information for a census and participate in evangelistic activities.

your prayers will carry us there and back.
more to come!