Nova Aliança Rehab Center – Murillo’s Story

Murillo asked to be locked in the church. Thirty days. A desperate crack addict, he knew he needed help and his mother’s priest said nothing could be done. But Pastor Solomon agreed to try.

“He said, ‘I know nothing about drugs, but I’ll help you. I can lock you up, and I’ll try to find out everything I can to help you,’” Murillo says, remembering. Knowing it was his best chance of getting clean, Murillo agreed. One month later, he was ready to leave, ready to pursue a new dream of opening a rehab center for men just as broken and bound by addictions.



During his stay at the church he heard God’s call on his life. “I was resistant to the Word at first. In the middle of treatment someone was preaching and it was love that they showed me. I felt this love and I felt like I had a bigger family by my side that was always worried about me. I thank God for the brothers and sisters who were there.”

He realized his testimony could be used to help others battling the same problems. “I was sweating and shaking and I started dreaming. I started to dream and write down my dreams and you’re sitting in my dream now,” he says, pointing at the walls of his office at the Nova Aliança Rehab Center.


Murillo’s new rehab center is down the road from his original location. He built up a beautiful facility on rented land, but when the man who owned the property decided he wanted Murillo off, the guys packed up what they could and started over in a new place.

The new spot is beautiful, an old farm with a sprawling view of green fields and cattle grazing behind what now serves as the main office building. “I looked for a place that would be comfortable and pleasant because you have to have something that replaces the drug,” Murillo says. Before opening his own, he visited different rehab centers, taking notes of things he saw, what worked, what he wanted to recreate. “I went to bible study, took Christian life courses and as many bible study courses as I could. This, what we have here,” he says speaking of Nova Alianca, “it’s a missionary project.”

In the eight years since he’s been running the rehab, over 4,000 men have come. Of those 4,000, one to two hundred are clean at max. “Only the ones that truly submit to the process succeed. The ones that last are the ones that truly got to know God.” Currently, there are about 70 guys in the program. They eat, sleep, work, and study the Word of God. They wake up at 5:45 and have devotional time until 6:30. From eight to eleven they do whatever work they have been assigned, taking care of animals, cooking, cleaning, laundry. They rest at eleven, followed by lunch at noon. After a midday nap, the 1:45 wake-up horn sounds and they have bible study from two to three or four.

“Many of the guys here are from Christian families,” Murillo says. “They grow up and are curious and they think they want to experience something…like the prodigal son. I remember him when I see these kids. They are at the point of eating pig’s food and they want to come back. Thank God He goes after them.” Murillo used drugs for fifteen years. He started with drinking and soon experimented with inhalants. “I had sniffed Lolo (a strong inhalant) and the next step was easy, so I tried it. I never thought it would trap me.” That thinking traps so many of these guys that find themselves at Nova Aliança. They cannot fix themselves. “I’m the proof of that,” Murillo says, “I had tried before.” Only 200 hundred of 4,000 are clean today. Murillo has seen them fall. “I suffered so much when I saw these guys go back. But I understand that what I’m called to do is to go and preach the gospel. Sometimes they confess, but God is the one who saves. We suffer because we believe in certain people but then it’s wasted, the world suffocates the Word. The bible says who is born of God overcomes the world.”

Murillo gives a tour of the center, points out the work being done on the kitchen, the fields they’ve rented to people who want to graze cattle, the new rubber floor mats that were donated for the outdoor gym. He talks about his plans to clean up the pond down the hill to raise fish to help feed the guys. They’re working on a place upstairs in the office building for a doctor. All of these projects, all of these drug addicts needing support, and yet Murillo knows he isn’t doing this alone. “God meets our needs. I never feel like I need to turn anyone away because of funds. Sometimes they arrive with only the clothes on their body. The just will live by faith. Without faith it’s impossible to please God, so we have to rest in Him. It makes Him happy.” The work here is never done. “It’s a constant battle with the enemy, Murillo says, we need spiritual courage. Pray that He saves and brings light and strength. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, how much more will the prayer of many. I have no doubt that I’m on my feet here because of so many people praying for this work.”

Outside the office the guys gather for bible study, taking their places on the donated blue airport benches. It’s warm and sunny, but they rub away grog from their naps and open their bibles. Murillo is off to run another errand, his phone ringing again as he waves goodbye. Nova Aliança, this rehab center Murillo dreamed and started, it’s a refuge. “It’s by grace,” Murillo says, “It doesn’t come from me. I don’t want to glory in it.” It’s a place for street kids, men broken and bound, it’s a place where God can come in to break the chains of their addictions and break the chains that bind them in sin. For by grace. One of the best ways to keep their mind off addictions is to keep these guys busy. That’s easy enough considering Murillo just moved to this new location and there’s plenty of work to do. One of the guys, Luciano, is an alcoholic. But before that he was a mason. Now, one of his primary jobs at the rehab is to renovate the kitchen. One half of it, the food prep area, is pretty well finished. In accordance with the Board of Health regulations, white ceramic tiles cover the floors and six feet up the walls. It’s spotless, washed clean after every meal. On the other side of the wall, the unfinished half of the kitchen still needs work. The floor, crushed up pieces of cement and broken tile, will need to be leveled, cement poured, and then tiled. By our next visit, less than a week later, the floor is already level and cemented.

Unlike most places in this part of Brazil, Murillo doesn’t waste time getting things accomplished. Things are organized, scheduled, and when something needs doing, it gets done. Outside the kitchen area, the guys show us their soap-making room. Bottles of green, purple, and white disinfectant soaps are stacked in neat rows, filling plastic crates ready for sale. They recycle two-liter soda bottles, scrubbing and washing them outside and then organizing them to be filled inside. There are two cement washing sinks filled with bottles caps ready for use. The guys are eager to show us their finished product. They smell fresh, clean, lavender, citrus. Ricardo is one of the guys who takes the soaps to sell in the city. The two-liter bottles sell for five reais (about $2.50). They go door to door in the mornings, and then sell at the street lights in the afternoons. The guys responsible for producing and selling the soap, like Ricardo, get a cut of the profits to save for when they are ready to leave the rehab. Jobs like these give them a sense of purpose. Saving money helps them prepare for the future. And as they work together to provide for the rehab, and to work to make it more functional, they take pride in their responsibilities.

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