Clessio: A Prisoner Set Free

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” John 8:36 ESV

My first interaction with Clessio was at Christmas time, in 2009. We rolled up the rehab center excited to meet the the two young men who Mark & Lori had brought there. Bruno came out first, and what I saw was troubled and combative young man, unable to keep eye contact, who seemed to be really struggling with self. Then we met Clessio. What a difference. Clessio’s appearance and demeanor radiated one thing – peace. Complete and absolute peace. He walked toward us, his dog-eared bible in his hands, and and embraced Mark & Lori. He was quick to rattle off the newest scripture he had memorized, and as he showed us around, he talked genuinely about his struggles and sobriety. We wandered through the kitchen and the bunk room, and ambled over to workout area with its brake-drum free weights and antique exercise bike. We stopped in at the garden, and checked out the recycling center, all the while Clessio bubbled on about what he was discovering in God’s word.

Clessio and his Bible in the Garden with Mark

My time with Clessio was short. It was time spent observing more with my eyes than with my ears, as we spoke brokenly, only through translators. I had this one overarching thought however, that summed up this genuine young man – this is a man who has found Christ.
What else could explain it? How else could the prisoner be set so free? Surely not by the rehab – it was full of other men who were still consumed by sin and addiction. Still prisoners. Still captive. No, this boy had found Christ, and in him, not only life, but life more abundantly.


Meeting Clessio

I met Clessio only once. It was during a visit to the rehab center where he had been an example to the other recovering addicts. He was sitting in the office with Murillo upon our arrival, waiting for Lori to arrive and take him to the dentist. He shook my hand with a smile on his face. There was no hiding the joy that was in this young man’s soul. That was the extent of our meeting. Before he climbed into Lori’s car, he spoke with Mark. With Lori translating he told him of something he had enjoyed in his reading of scripture.

After hearing about his homecall yesterday, I sat in disbelief. I thanked God that he had found Christ, his Savior. I also thanked God for the incredible testimony he was for the Gospel, and the amazing example he had been to others struggling with the battle of drug addiction. I wondered why God would allow the life of one to be taken, one who had tremendous zeal. Then there is me, one who should be more zealous, one who should have more fire for the Kingdom of God. I’m still here. Clessio is not. Though I met him only once, his life, his recovery, his zeal, and his desire to live for Christ continue to speak to me, especially now that he has gone home to Heaven. It is my prayer, and it is an expectant one, that Clessio’s death will bring eternal life to the many that knew him who are still lost in their sins. Clessio will be missed, but not forgotten, and it is only a matter of time before our next meeting. This one will not be a brief few minutes, such as the one over a year ago at the rehab, but it will be an eternal meeting with Christ in our midst when we finally get home to Heaven.



Home Call of Clessio

Clessio giving a tour of the rehabilitation center

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

Enio opened the door of the truck for me, as soon as the truck stopped today, in Igapó. “Clessio was killed,” he said.
“He came home from work, took off his hat and started to sit down when three kids broke into the house carrying huge guns. They told my wife to take the children out and said they had come for Clessio. Clessio did not recognize them, but told them that they did not want to do this. He said, ‘I am saved; I have Jesus in my heart. You need to be saved. He will change your life.’ They started to shoot and they kept shooting until he fell to the ground. He was dead.”

Clessio was saved in October 2009. He came off the streets, got saved and spent one year in rehab. He memorized scripture continually while there. The rehab director, Murillo, once told me, “That boy of yours, Clessio, he is something special.”

Clessio by his bunk

Clessio was burdened about his friends still on the streets. The last thing he said to me was, “Mae, (he called me mom) when I go to see them, I think of where I was and I feel so sad for them that they’re still there.”

A large group gathered around us tonight. No one can figure out why this happened. Clessio was working full time, his life was changed, and he was trying to help others. Enio said it best: “Clessio was ready to die and he died telling his killers about Jesus.”

So, we asked the group, “If this had been you that died, where would you be?”

Clessio telling us about his Savior

Pray for Clessio’s friends that are still on the streets. Pray for Clessio’s mom who is not saved, his two unsaved brothers-Cleberton and Clayton-and for his grandmother who is saved. Lord Willing, we will visit them on Saturday or Monday in João Camara, about two hours from Natal.

Clessio is Home with our Savior. And we are left feeling so very Homesick.

A smile and at peace

Feeding the Hungry


Beads of condensation roll off the plastic cling wrap as it’s peeled away from the white Styrofoam trays. Stacked high with 10 kg of mozzarella and 21 kg of mortadella, the four trays are ready to be sliced. This makes about 750 sandwiches, so some of it is refrigerated for the next day. With a firm hand, Inacia halves the mortadella rounds and quarters the mozzarella rectangles. She separates the pieces of meat and cheese into two silver bowls. Here the assembly line begins.

Inacia sets the two bowls at the head of the wooden picnic table on the back patio. Lori and Mark sit across from one another, each with a red plastic tray in front of them. Reaching for the bowls, they take one piece of mortadella and a slice of mozzarella to match. They pair them, cheese on top of meat, forming neat rows on the tray.

The girls sit next in line at the table, each with a giant green Tupperware bin to one side. They are filled with 500 fresh rolls sliced earlier that morning. Caroline grabs a roll in her left hand, and in her right, a pair of meat and cheese from off the red tray. She stuffs the roll and slides the sandwich down the table. Across from her, Katie does the same. When the sandwiches start to accumulate, I stack them into rows at the head of the table and begin to form a pyramid. We work efficiently, enjoying the morning breeze and the heat of the warm sun on our faces, while singing along to the music playing from Caroline’s iPod.



When Katie and Caroline have gone through half the rolls in their buckets, we combine what remains into a single Tupperware. I dismantle the pyramid on the table, taking sandwiches by twos and threes to form tight rows in the empty bin. At the base, only ten sandwiches fit across. As the bin widens, twelve or thirteen can fit without flattening them beyond recognition. The green bin holds six levels with four rows in each. Each level has extra space on one side for an additional nine sandwiches packed perpendicular to the four rows. Approximately 300 sandwiches fit into each green bin.

Once the bin has been completely loaded, we put the lid on, securing it with a bungee. While I package the last bin with the sandwiches, the others begin cleaning up. Mark and Lori bring the silver bowls and red trays to the kitchen while Katie sweeps the patio free of breadcrumbs and chunks of fallen mortadella. Caroline degreases the table, scrubbing vigorously with a yellow dishcloth.



We load the sandwich bins into the truck and fit the pickup bed with the juice apparatus. Each of three 20-liter water jugs is filled with 20 packets of powdered Tang mixed with fresh water. We’ll stop to buy ice at Pedro’s corner store on the way out to make sure the juice is cool and refreshing. Before leaving, we bow our heads by the truck and thank the Lord for the opportunity he has given us to prepare these simple sandwiches. We ask that He will bless the day and that the people will accept the food to fill their stomachs and more importantly, the Savior to fill their souls.

At each of the stops the people come running, their faces lighting up when they see the truck. Adults and children stand waiting for the food to fill their empty stomachs. At the back of the truck, Katie and Lori keep busy passing out juice and refilling the carafes. They hand out paperback booklets of the gospel of John to the older kids and adults. One young man tucks it into the back pocket of his shorts as he holds out his plastic cup for more juice. This will satisfy his thirst temporarily, but we pray he will reach for the word to quench the real thirst in his soul.

Caroline wraps two sandwiches in a gospel tract and places them into Isaque’s outstretched hand. His fingernails are caked with dirt and his feet infested with bichos de pé. But more than these physical ailments, in his eyes is an emptiness that only the Savior can fill. The gospel tract, titled Perdão Completo (Complete Pardon) will tell him of the Savior who loves him. It will tell him the Lord will never leave or forsake him and a peace he can have in Christ. The Lord Jesus gave his life on the cross to pay for his sins. He can be free from his life of guilt and misery if only he will accept God’s gift of salvation. We watch as he walks away and sits on the curb to eat his sandwiches. As he begins to read the tract, we silently pray that the truth will set him free.


Clessio, one of the young men Mark and Lori brought to the Nova Aliança rehab center, is a testimony to the awesome power of God’s saving grace. Back in June when we first met him, he showed us around the rehab center and told us some of his story. He was addicted to crack when Mark and Lori met him on the streets. They paid the 400 reais to bring him there and continued to sponsor him during his stay. He accepted Christ shortly after arriving and became a truly shining example of a transformed life.

Nine months later he moved out of the rehab and he is now working as a mason’s apprentice near Igapó (the last street stop on Thursdays). He also has his working papers and insurance. But more than that he’s had the chance to go and witness to friends that he grew up with who are still living on the streets. Rafael asked about him one day when we gave him a ride. Lori was able to tell him how well Clessio is doing because of what the Lord Jesus has done for him. Luiz is another young guy Clessio grew up with on the streets. He’s hiding out somewhere because of a drug debt. If they find him, they’ll kill him. All for 230 reais.

Clessio has so much potential to lead more men and women to Christ. He was into drugs just as deep as many of these people on the streets still are. Now he can’t get enough of his Bible and he’s thrilled at the opportunity to tell others of his Savior. Even if he were the only life changed by this little testimony in Brazil it would be so worth it. What an awesome God we serve!

Real Reality TV!

The day we were followed by the TV crew at Kilometer Six

Without God I wouldn’t be here today

“I was using crack daily when Mark and Lori brought me to the Nova Aliança rehab center. Without God I wouldn’t be here today,” said Clessio.

Saturday afternoon after all the Gospels of John and tracts were passed out and the market had closed we headed to the Nova Aliança rehab center to meet with Clessio. He spoke of the love of Christ and the need to meditate daily on the cross and the love that was displayed there. How that love sets free and liberates from the bondage of sin. We talked of how the Lord Jesus holds us secure and will never leave us or take away His love. Clessio is a bright light in the rehab center and a joy to speak to. When you hear him talk of the old life and the wreckage of sin and then the glorious transformation you stand amazed at the marvelous grace of God.

There are 70 people there at the center. It costs R$400.00 (200.00 dollars) to bring someone there. If you do not have the money they will not turn you away. Once in the center it costs R$300.00 (150.00) a month to keep them there. Clessio’s family is hours away and cannot help so he has come to depend on Mark and Lori to provide for him. The rehab center provides them with a busy daily schedule that includes work- gardening, cleaning, kitchen duties, caring for the animals, or chores- and bible study, gospel messages and a new state run funded program to educate them to the 11th grade level.

He gave us a tour of the center and stood proudly beside his bed. I thought of all the “beds” I had seen by the roadsides, nothing more than a piece of cardboard or a threadbare blanket in a median along the road, but here he was in a simple center with a bunk bed yet in his right mind and praising God… what a miracle salvation truly is. I know he will appreciate your prayers for him.

BELOW: Clessio in the chicken coop…..

BELOW: Kitchen of the center
BELOW: Clessio beside his bunk

Living in Fear

It is hard to image living every day in so much fear. And hard to stand in front of young ones as they are shaking and crying out for help. They point to bruises and scars from nights before. Young ones are being beaten or shot by both drug dealers and civil police. Every stop (we make 10 stops every day to pass out tracts, food and juice) is spent praying for the Lord to protect these young lives and to make them aware there is a God who loves, cares and watches over them and longs to save them. You leave these stops whispering to God to preserve and protect and knowing that some of these young ones will never be seen again. It is heartbreaking to me.

The last stop yesterday found 2 very young- eight year olds- whose parents had told them they did not want them any more. They are living under the cardboard boxes on the corner where we pass out bibles and tracts. One of the vendors told us that the drug dealers would soon give them “Free” drugs to get them started on a path there is little chance of return. I asked Lori is there no-one we can have help these two little ones and she said no. I wept as I watched them. Lori said that is why we are here, because there truly is no one to help them. The local drug dealers have reduced the price of their drugs to $2.00 R / $1.00 US per package. They are hoping to get more people hooked before raising it again.

The young children on the streets are everywhere. And the need is so far beyond what WE can ever meet. It makes you realize again and again that this is God’s work- and HIS alone.

TOP PHOTO: Praying for their safety and salvation…

BOTTOM PHOTO: Andrew, William and Stephanie passing out tracts

Pictures and More!

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Dad praying with the street kids.

Dad with city workers, we feed them also

Dad giving the street kids a Gospel message

Our mobile canteen

Some of the circus kids

To-To lives on this skate board, begging on the street

John should be dead, however God spared him.
Drug dealers guns misfired, allowing him enough time to run.

Up to 550 sandwiches every Thursday.

Lori treating some of their wounds

Street kid washing a trucks windshield

Two young boys who live on the street

This boy can’t read, so Lori’s reading the gospel paper to him

Adriano road his bike fifteen miles to find us and tell us about his salvation,

This picture was taken on thursday – by sunday frank had been shot and killed.
(franks the middle kid)

The circus people’s trailers

The trucks that God provided us

The road to Aningas

William working on the Galpao

Paulo, one of my guys

Mateus, one of my guys

Leandro, one of my guys

Loved having my brother, was a great help

William with an Aningas creature

The finished sewing room in Galpao

Building completed

Luiz and his family were to be killed on Monday, because of a debt to drug dealers.
At the last minute, he was able to borrow $75.00 and his life for the moment was spared.
He has wife and two children.

Lori praying for his salvation and preservation


Aningas property owners, land for orphanage, outside town hall, father and son

Praying before going in to make land purchase

Inside town hall buying the land

Official documentation for proof of ownership, thank God another answered prayer

Moving one of the christians

Kids having fun on the beach, not all about work

The Street Children of Brazil | A Research Paper by Andrew Rockey, 2010

When Andrew contacted me and told me he was writing a research paper on the street kids of Brazil, I was thankful. There is so much injustice, here on the streets of Brazil. There are so many children crying for help. There is so much need, hunger, sickness and death that these kids face daily. Their voices echo in my ears and in my heart throughout my days and long into my nights.

My heart cries out to the Father of the fatherless, to the God of Justice, to the One Who sees everything. My heart has one cry: “Lord save them!” I can’t help the appeal that would have me begging God’s people, “Pray!” Please pray. Pray as if they were your children. Pray for their precious souls. And do not stop.

What Andrew has written will help us all to pray more intelligently. We will understand better the plight of these children and the obstacles that they face. We will realize that the only answer for these children lies with God.

I pray that God touches your heart and renews within you a love for Him, a love for others, and an appreciation for all we have in Him.