December 7, 2009 – Jeremy and Katie Lusk

Hi everyone!
Did ya all think I was becoming a slacker?. Last night we dropped off a young couple at the airport, and we were all very sad to see them go. They had spent the last ten days with us, and we had a awesome time with them. We used the ten days to show them the work God had given us, and to Introduce them to the north of Brazil. I asked them both if they would be willing to write the weeks update before they left us. They were both very excited about being able to give the report. I thought it would be nice for you all to hear about the work from this couple’s perspective. I hope you all enjoy reading this, as I did, and that your able to see this work through the eyes of Jeremy and Katie, and experience the impression that God made on their heart.
I’ll be back next week, till than I’ll say good night.
Love in Christ Mark!
Oi amigos!
It’s Jeremy and Katie Lusk enjoying a quick visit with Mark and Lori. We came down for 10 days to see the work they are doing here in Brazil, and try to help out where we can. We’re almost to the end of our time here, and we feel Mark and Lori have shown us a great overview of their work. We went to Aningas a few times and visited some of the people door to door. We also went to the orphanage to see the work there and spend some time playing with the children. But the work with the street kids was where we were most useful. We helped with this twice and saw it grow from one week to the next. Because this ministry had the most impact on us, we’d like to give you a more detailed description of it.
Each week, Mark and Lori distribute sandwiches, juice and tracts to over 100 street kids all over Natal. They also spend time building a relationship with them and telling them about God and His love for them. Some have estimated that there are about 8 million of these orphaned or abandoned “disposable children” living on the streets in Brazilian cities. Most of them are teenagers, but some kids are as young as 6 or 7 years old. Some of the teenagers have children of their own living with them on the streets. These poor kids are totally destitute with virtually no possessions other than a pair of shorts, a tee shirt, and usually a pair of flip flops. I probably don’t need to mention that they are absolutely filthy. They sleep in cardboard boxes, under chairs, or just on the sidewalk and spend the day washing car windows, selling fruit or trinkets, begging, or stealing to try to eke out enough money to survive. Many of the kids are addicted to drugs or sniffing glue. They find that the high is necessary for the courage to survive in their violent environment. Mark and Lori have discovered that there is an informal network connecting all the street kids across the city. As they got to know some of the kids they learned of other intersections where even more kids live. This network of street kids has helped the ministry grow each week. We were happy to find out that the kids show the tracts to their friends that live on other intersections. One time we were stopped at a light and a street boy came up to the car window. Mark gave him 25 cents and a tract. He got very excited and said “You’re the guys that stop at Ponta Negra.” We weren’t giving out sandwiches so he must have recognized us by the tracts.
The work really started the day before with a delivery of 480 sandwich rolls from the local bakery. Next we made a trip to the supermarket to pick up about 22 pounds each of sliced mortadella and mozzarella for the sandwiches. We also picked up ice and juice mix–enough for about 15 gallons. Many of the kids are barefoot so we bought some sandals to distribute and of course made sure we were well stocked with tracts in Portuguese. As Mark and Lori get to know the kids they uncover other physical needs to meet. They noticed one young mother bathing her baby by dunking him in a bucket of dirty water that the kids were using to wash car windows. The next week we gave her a little baby bath tub. Mark and Lori often make trips to the pharmacy to get ointments for rashes and other ailments, and they always keep a little medical kit in the car just in case.
The next morning we rolled into production mode slicing the rolls, stuffing them with meat and cheese, counting and loading them into plastic tubs. We mixed up the juice and poured it into insulated containers with nozzles to dispense at each stop. Mark has rigged up a system of storing everything in his little Fiat so when we roll up to a stop we can pop open the hatchback and one back door and start serving.
We left the house by 11:30 and headed out to the first of 6 stops. The first stop is a large intersection near a tourist area called Ponta Negra. There are between 20 and 40 street kids working this intersection trying to get a coin or two for washing windows as the cars wait for a green light. There are also a few young mothers (one was pregnant), a couple of babies and some small children. These kids are often high from drugs or sniffing glue.
We drove both cars over the curb and onto the median and set up shop. We gave each kid two sandwiches, a cup of juice, and a tract to start with. Most of them came back for more sandwiches and juice. To the extent possible we didn’t limit their refills; the kids are virtually starving and almost never get enough food. Once everyone had eaten we gathered them all around while I spoke in the gospel briefly. I spoke about I Peter 5:7 and how God told us that He cares for us and also proved it by sending His Son to die for us. No one else cares for these kids so this verse seemed very poignant to me in this situation. I also explained that because they’re sinners, their sin has separated them from God and that their sin must be punished. I told them that God loves them and sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to suffer the punishment for their sins. Lori translated the message and helped explain things that the kids didn’t understand. The kids listened intently to the whole message. They were fascinated to hear English, but they are also very interested in hearing about God and the gospel. Many of the kids thanked us for speaking to them and quite a few had questions about the message. Its obvious that God has been working in their hearts because they are so open to the gospel and want to talk about Him. The potential in the work with these kids is amazing.
No one has refused a tract yet so we took advantage of the tremendous amount of foot and motor traffic at these intersections by handing out tracts to everyone we could. When the traffic lights turned red Mark would walk among the cars, motorcycles, and buses handing tracts to everyone he could reach. Many of the kids can’t read, but they’ll keep the tract and have someone else read it to them. They collect all the tracts we give them, and they’ll tell you if they already have the one you’re trying to give them.
Once everyone had eaten and we’d spent time talking to the kids we packed up the cars and drove on to the next stop. We made 6 stops in different areas of the city. By the time we got home it was close to 6 and already dark. We had given out 480 sandwiches, 15 gallons of juice, about half a dozen pairs of sandals, and several hundred tracts.
Mark and Lori spent much of the time at each stop finding out how the kids were doing and getting to know them better. We noticed how the kids’ faces light up as soon as they see Mark and Lori and how happy and grateful they are for the sandwiches and juice. But anyone can tell that it’s not just about the food; their physical needs do need to be met, but they are really aching to learn about God. The kids have told Mark and Lori several times that they see God when they see Mark and Lori. Through the love Mark and Lori show the kids, they are able to understand God’s love for them and the gospel. Because Mark and Lori know Portuguese and can answer the questions the kids have about God, it was most helpful for us to hand out sandwiches and fill juice cups, freeing Mark and Lori to talk with the kids.
You don’t need to know the language or the kids to hand out food and tracts, so this is a great work for any visitors. Not only are you are a part of the ministry and a good testimony, but you also get to witness God working. We’ll leave Brazil greatly encouraged by the hunger for God and growth potential in the street kids ministry. There’s still much to do and even more to pray about!!
Jeremy & Katie

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