Adult Sunday School Class

Adult Sunday School Class meeting for the Easter Sunday lesson.

A Joyful Noise!

Last Sunday, we told the kids that we were putting together a new song book for them. The girls and I spent a few hours last week gathering songs and pictures and formatting them into a PDF. After three visits to the print shop in the city, Casa Da Cópia, we had the 60 books in hand.




Today was the big reveal. The thin, spiral-bound book contains 38 songs, some of which they already know. The rest will be a challenge to teach – not all the kids here are star singers (and by “not all,” I mean to say barely any)! A handful of the songs are ones we sing at home – Jesus loves me, who made the twinkling stars, read your Bible/pray everyday, His banner over me is love, stop & let me tell you, and others). I told the kids that these books are for them, and it’s their responsibility to take good care of them, because it was more than pocket change to get them printed. They all smiled and agreed, anxious to see what songs were inside.




As soon as the books were handed out, the kids were flipping through the pages, looking for their favorites. A group of kids in the front row starting singing “Opa Jesus me ama” on their own, while Mark, Lori & William tried to get the speaker system up and running (without accompanying music played off of Lori’s phone, it’s difficult to stay on tune). 🙂

After 5 min of fiddling with the speaker, we determined it was going to be an A cappella morning – everybody fasten your seat belts! We sang three songs that I had picked out, thinking we’d ease the kids back into singing and learning the tunes. Nope! As soon as we finished the three, kids were raising their hands and calling out numbers – so we kept singing, another 3 or 4 songs. It seemed like the book was a big hit, and the kids were thrilled to be “making a joyful noise.”




Here are two short clips of the kids singing:






Enjoying their snack – cookies and drinkable yogurt.



After the kids recite their memory verse to Geovane, they can pick up a prize from Joab.



Big group for the adult class today – studying the purpose of the local assembly.


Waiting to Bless

Sunday night Lica came into the Galpão before the Sunday School started, and told us about her 10 year old niece. The little girl had lost vision in one eye and was losing her sight in the other eye. Lica asked us to take her to Natal to the doctor’s.
The local doctor had told them that it was a bacteria, causing the loss of vision, and she needed an exam and medicine. We remembered taking Leandro, seven years ago, with this same thing. He was given medicine to take for two months, and soon was seeing perfectly again.
So yesterday I went to talk to Dr. Ramilson in Natal, at the Hospital dos Olhos. He promised to go early if I would bring the child at 7:00 a.m. He would see her before his other patients.

This morning, I arrived in Aningas at 6:00 a.m. Lica was waiting for me.
“She’s not here. Her mom has her, she’s not in Aningas, and I’ve been trying to call her, but she won’t answer the phone.”
I imagined this little girl scared and needing help, unable to see. The medicine she needs works very quickly. But no one would bring her to get help. I felt sad, frustrated, and I felt I couldn’t relate to this situation. Until Mark said, “I guess it’s a small picture of how God feels. He did everything. All we do is say yes.” And we don’t. Gulp. Suddenly, every unkind, judgmental thought that I had been thinking seemed horribly hypocritical, because I know there are times when God wants to help me, and I don’t let Him because I have other plans.

The good news is God never gives up. He knows how each of us will respond to Him. He knows, even before we do, when we’re going to refuse His help, yet He never stops offering His salvation, His grace, His love. He never stops going after us, to rescue us from ourselves. No matter how far we stray from doing right or being the person He wants us to be, He sees what He wants for us and keeps on offering that to us.
If I want to be like Him, I need to keep going after anyone who needs my help, doing what I can with love and kindness and understanding. Just like He does.

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! 
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬ ‭AMP‬‬


Airton is 15 years old. He’s lived at the Lar Bom Jesus for four years. He has four brothers and sisters that live there, too.

His mother, Paula, found a new boyfriend and the new boyfriend didn’t want her kids, so she abandoned them. The minors’ judge sent them to Cleide.

This morning when we went to bring the monthly groceries to the Lar, we found Cleide crying. Airton had gone to the hospital with stomach pain and they had admitted him. His sister Romeika, is at the hospital with him, and she had just called. The doctors took some tests because they suspect he has leukemia.

We stood together and prayed for this boy. We prayed for the Father of the fatherless to draw near to him and be with him, as He has promised.

Please pray for Airton, his brothers and sisters and Cleide.


Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. (Psalm 27:10 AMP)

Here I Am

God whispered in my ear.Three times actually. No, I’m not hearing voices, but His Word kept coming to my mind, and the whole experience turned out to be the best heaven-hug I ever got.

It started yesterday morning on the street. Adriano came running as soon as he saw us and said that he really needed the rehab.

“Come tomorrow,” he said, “and Jefferson wants to go, too.”

So I said to God, “Lord, I was crying this week, and asking You where the victories were, and here You are, sending me two of my favorite kids to go to the rehab. I love You, Lord.”

He whispered, “Here I am.”

So, today we arrived to pick up the two boys, but three boys were there!

“Ah, Lord,” I said. “Beyond what I ask or think, right?”

He whispered, “Here I am.”

We got to the rehab and the boys got signed in and told about the rules. After that, Mark and I signed for each of them, accepting the responsibility for their care, health and needs during their stay. Then, we gave Goiás the money for food that we always give when we bring kids to the rehab.



Goiás said to me and Mark, “Come here, I want to show you something.”
He took us to the kitchen and opened the freezers and the pantry and a food storage cabinet. They had been promised a food donation, but it didn’t arrive. So, they prayed. And we arrived.

We stood in that kitchen and bowed our heads and told God that we love it when He’s so near that our hearts feel like they’re bursting with the joy of it. We love when He proves His love to us and lets us know that we’re not alone.

I blew Him a kiss and He whispered in my ear again. You know what He said.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.”
And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday.
(Isaiah 58:9,10 AMP)

The Long Journey

One of our favorite things about visiting the rehab is seeing the guys we’ve brought that are doing well. Ricardo and Mario are already here, and on our way to visit, we pick up two more guys who have asked to come. We stop by the police check point near Mosquito to pick up Rafael. He promised to meet us here at 10:00 am and we see him, waiting, ready to go. He gets in the car with nothing, no bags, no clothes, nothing. Just the clothes he’s wearing, dirty and worn. He’s twenty-four years old.

He’s asked to come before, but never followed through. “It was in my mind a long time,” he tells us, “I gave up. My heart is filled with the desire to change. I know God has something different, something better. If God frees me from this maybe I can help other people.” He’s quiet unless we ask questions, staring out the window as we drive down the road, headed to where Francisco is waiting to be picked up. We ask him how long, when he first tried drugs. “I was seventeen-years-old the first time I tried crack,” he says. “I started with cigarettes, then marijuana with friends. I was living with an aunt who took care of me for a while. My mother died and I never met my father.” The air outside is hot. The air conditioning is cranked in the Tracker, a cool and bumpy ride to meet Francisco.

Rafael keeps talking, telling us his story. “I tried it once. Then two or three years later I became really hooked on it. I started going out with friends after being in the army for a year. I was also drinking with my friends and the drugs make you want to drink to slow you down a bit.” Rafael looks out the window, still thinking but not saying anything. His fears. What scares him about rehab? “I have no one. I have no one there for me. My biggest fear is that I’ll go and there will be no one there to visit me, no one on my side. I want to get back to a normal life. It’s been fifteen days since I’ve used. I was already thinking, thinking thinking, and praying. I was praying when you came to Mosquito [with the sandwiches and juice] that day. I was there by coincidence. I don’t live there. I’d been living down by the river.” He thinks about “coincidence” and God’s timing and Clessio.



He was good friends with Clessio. Clessio who got off the streets, was saved and radically changed for God. Clessio who got out of rehab, dug deep into the Word and shared the gospel with his street friends. Clessio who found a job, kept preaching and sharing Christ with his family until he was shot and killed by desperate addicts in search of drugs. Rafael thinks about Clessio. We pick Francisco up near Ponta Negra. He’s twenty-six and this is his fourth time going to rehab. Why is this time different? “I have a five-year-old son,” he tells us, “and my mom is getting older now. This time I need to think more about the future and really search for God. I need to be there for my mom and my son. I want to be a seen as a dignified person. So much time has gone by.” Francisco is chattier. He’s done this before. It’s a tough transition from the streets to the rehab center. “You have a lot of freedom on the street,” he says. “That’s why nobody can count on us. You can’t trust us because we’re too busy with what we’re doing.

When we go to the rehab we really do want to be there, but then we start to feel boxed in.” He’s been doing drugs since he was twelve. “I started using crack when I was fourteen. I was smoking marijuana for two years before that, but then my uncle gave me crack.” We’re on our way to the rehab now. We’ll make one more stop for some supplies for the guys. We’re still asking Francisco questions. When did he realize he was an addict? “You only realize it at the end. You feel like you’re the one who can control it and stop. You think, ‘whenever I want, I can stop. This is not in control of me. I smoke when I want.’ I was thinking I’m in charge of myself and they [my friends that left me] just let it take over them.” During a prison sentence that Francisco served for robbery, he cleaned up a bit and was doing alright. He never stopped smoking marijuana, but he was able to stop using crack for two months. “So many kids really, really, honestly want to stop, but they can’t. Friends and family and everyone stays away from you and you still can’t.”


We pull up at a mercandino (little market) near the rehab center. We grab a few baskets to fill with stuff the guys will need: soap, deodorant, cookies, bags of sugar, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bars of laundry soap, crackers, shampoo, shaving supplies, and chips. Lots of munchies and sweets to help curb their cravings. Rafael stands watching while we sort the items into seven separate bags: Rafael, Francisco, Mario, Ricardo, Luciano, and two extra just in case. He’s standing in the middle of the store, a bit lost, hand on his mouth, smiling when we catch his eye. He fidgets, smiles, shifts his feet. No one there for me. No one to visit. This is his family, right here, in the store, buying supplies to hold him over for the first two weeks until they can next visit. This is the family that tells him, “If you don’t fix your eyes on Jesus Christ and stay at the foot of the cross you don’t have a chance. Seek Him with all the force of your will and don’t let Him go. Fix your eyes on the future. The road is narrow.”


Today we went to pick up two street kids and take them to the rehab. One of them was nowhere to be found. The other, Gutenberg, didn’t want to look at us, as we drove up. “Not today,” he said.

There was a group of about 15-20 kids standing around the car. Each of them was recommending another, who needed the rehab the most.

“Look how bad João is; he’s not even washing his face.” To which João replied, “Yes, but I’m not as thin as you. You need to go more than I do.”

They all desperately want out, but they can’t; the pull of crack is just too strong, and they are no match for its power. Today I feel the struggle, and I realize how few there are that respond to God calling them.

I’m learning that I need to rely on God to prepare the heart. The Bible calls it “good soil.” I pray for that good soil and I pray for God to go ahead of us and lead us right to a soul. Just one soul. I long for a soul to be rescued. I’ve seen Him rescue and transform a life and I want to see more of that amazing, saving power of His.

Today wasn’t the day. We fed them sandwiches and cold Coke, and we prayed with them. Without Him we can do nothing.


“Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” (Luke 8:8 NASB)



A Hunger for the Word of God


There are boxes of bibles in the bed of the truck and this is what people are grabbing. They take a sandwich and plop down, backs resting against blue concrete walls. A man with wrinkled brown skin sticks his hand out between the bars of a wrought-iron window. He motions toward the boxes and cups his hands for a bible. He takes it and pulls his arm back.


They want the gospel. They ask for it. “Palavra de Deus?” they say, holding out eager hands. We’re happy to give it to them. This is the whole point of coming. They sit in the dirt in front of a house and swallow down their lunch. Mark walks up the stone street between the two rows of houses handing out bibles. In one home, an old woman takes the Word and raises hand and eyes to thank God for visiting this place. The boxes of bibles are empty. Spread out, filling hands that have never heard.


From the Streets to the Favelas


Visiting the favelas is the primary work with the street kids now. Many who we used to stop and see throughout the city have abandoned their posts on street corners. We aren’t sure why, but they seem to have moved on. The street work was our door in. Now instead of eight or nine street stops, we visit the favelas. It started with Cambuim and Kilometer Six. One of the kids invited us, asked us to bring sandwiches and juice. From there we met other kids, other families. We’ve been invited to new favelas, slums that these men and women and children call home.


The food, that is secondary. That helped us to build trust. That led us to this place now where we can come into slums that most people don’t know exist, don’t care to know. And perhaps we would never have imagined coming into these places, but His ways are not our ways and we thank Him for that.

Cícero Sees Again


Cícero’s eyes were clouded with glaucoma. Unable to get to a doctor, or to even know where to find the right doctor for his eyes, this older man was resigned to living with blindness. But a trip to the eye doctor and he was diagnosed, treated, and now he can see again. Cícero’s wife is next in line for eye surgery. Her eyes are just as clouded with glaucoma. But, Lord willing, she’ll be treated soon too.