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I quit my life

A few days ago, someone got to this blog by searching these words in Google: “I quit my life”.

Trust Jesus

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto/fratdj

When I saw that, the first thing that came to my mind was to pray for that person, whoever he/she was.

And then I decided to write a few lines in case this person comes back. Or in case someone else searches for the same keywords and gets here.

If this is how you are feeling now, this is for you, whoever you are…

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Breaking the vicious circle of abuse

Last week I attended a class about reaching out for children and teenagers who live in social risk conditions. This class was taught by one of the most experienced missionaries at JEAME, the nonprofit organization with which I’ve been working.

Helping a child

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto/pilcas

This class is a preparation for the people who wants to work with them specially in the juvenile detention center, where they reach kids and try to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society.

I learned about the reality of the children and teenagers there. Almost all of them come from broken homes, very poor families, and soon they get involved with drugs. It doesn’t take long until they start thinking that the traffic of drugs is their only option in life.

But there is another fact about them that I had no idea: the majority of them were abused in their childhood or early teens, by someone close to them or after they entered the “system”. I’m not talking about only sexual abuse, but also psychological or physical.

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Changing the world one child at a time

Have you ever wanted to change the world? I think all of us dream of making a difference in other people’s lives. All of us need to be needed. But we usually have no idea where to begin…

child

Have you thought about helping a child in a far away country? Get her to learn about Jesus, study, learn a profession, and break the cycle of poverty?

I’ve always dreamt about that, but I had no idea how easy it actually is to do it.

Do you want to know how?

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All they need is love

In the last couple of Saturdays I attended a leadership class prepared by Suzanne Duppong, a missionary from JEAME, the non-profit organization I’ve been working with.

Poor boy

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto/gwflash

Suzy, as we call her, has worked for 31 years reaching for the needy and preaching the Word of God in slums, state shelters and in the streets, seeking for children and teenagers in need, usually those who are somehow involved with drug addiction.

Even though the class I’m attending is technical, in order to prepare us to be social project leaders, she also shares stories. Stories of amazing things that God has done in her life and also to reach those lost young ones.

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One year later…

Time flies. In a few days it will be one year since I quit my job at IBM.

calendar

Photo credit: Andreanna Moya Photography (Creative Commons)

Back then, I didn’t know exactly what God wanted me to do, but I was sure that it was related to social causes and getting involved with a non-profit organization.

Now I can see how He indeed guided me towards that direction.

I found out about integral missions, which is to provide for the person’s needs in all areas: physical, psychological and spiritual. Then I realized that this is an example of what the apostle James talked about when he wrote about faith and deeds (check James 2:14-26):

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. (James 2:18)

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Challenges and opportunities

Last Saturday, a few people from my church and I went to Francisco Morato, a city near São Paulo, to visit one of the facilities of a non-profit organization called JOCUM (short for “Jovens Com Uma Missão”) which is the local branch of YWAM (short for “Youth with a mission”).

Five loaves of bread and two fish

Photo credit: © Anyka – Fotolia.com

At this facility the missionaries work to help and provide for a very poor population (Francisco Morato is one of the poorest cities in Brazil). Their main focus is the children, for whom they provide several activities in order to keep them from drugs and criminality. They have soccer practice, English and Spanish classes, and they also teach them the Word of God.

The vast majority of these children comes from broken homes. In that region, unfortunately, it is common that the father flees and the mother is left behind to care for herself and the many children.

It is overwhelming to see such poverty so close to São Paulo, the richest city in Brazil. Yet, it is reassuring to see the sacrifices that those missionaries face every day in order to reach for those people. I am sure many other missionaries face similar difficulties all over the world at this very moment.

Looking at such poverty and overwhelming need, I kept thinking about how God works.

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Serving the persecuted – the testimony of David de Vinatea

About a month ago, we had a special visit in our church: David de Vinatea came to share his testimony with us. David is a former colonel of the Peruvian Army. A few years after accepting Jesus as His Savior, he was wrongfully accused of dealing drugs and sent to a maximum security prison because, due to his faith, he refused to play along with the corrupt Army officials and government, who received bribes from the drug lords.

Imprisoned

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto/hanhanpeggy

David was arrested in 1995. Two years after that, representants of Open Doors, a ministry that serves persecuted christians worldwide, learned about his situation, and after confirming that the accusations raised against him were indeed not true, they started a legal battle to get him out of prison.

During his imprisonment, David and his family received support from Open Doors and the local church for many of their needs. They received thousands of letters from people around the world, encouraging them. Several people also came, through Open Doors ministries, to visit them in person. That was true Christianity in action (see Matthew 25:35-40).

He went through many experiences in prison, including starting a church there that brought many inmates to Jesus. Then, in 2003, he was finally set free.

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Song of the nightingale

At the end of last year, a missionary and singer called Helen Berhane came to Brazil for a series of events where she would share her life story and testimony. I have never heard of her before, but I am sure I will never forget about her.

Helen Berhane

She came to Brazil through Portas Abertas, a local representative of Open Doors, a christian organization that serves persecuted christians worldwide.

I wasn’t able to attend any of the events, but I was able to watch an interview that she gave at a TV show. It was brief, but when I heard her saying that she was imprisoned for almost three years in a container (like those shipping containers) and was submitted to harsh beatings and torture for refusing to deny her christian faith, I had to look for more information about her. I wanted to know her story.

So I found about the biographical book that she had written entitled ”Song of the Nightingale“, and luckily it was available for Kindle, so I bought it and started reading it.

I couldn’t put it down…

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Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

One of my favorite songs about Christmas time (the holiday) was released in 1984 and it’s called “Do they know it’s Christmas?“. It was recorded by an ensemble of British and Irish artists, known as Band Aid, with the goal to raise funds to help fight famine in Africa.

Band Aid

Years went by, but unfortunately the problem is still the same. In 2011, the region known as the Horn of Africa suffered one of the worst draughts ever and famine claimed many lives.

And that is not the only region that registers alarming number of deaths related to poverty in Africa. That brings to mind the lyrics of that song…

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Adoption – have you ever considered it?

Today is the National Adoption Day in the USA. It is a moment to remember all the children who lost their parents and wait for someone to welcome them into their families.

Adoption

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/MissHibiscus

Through the Internet, I came to know some beautiful adoption stories. Like Megan Hyatt Miller and her family, who adopted twin boys from Africa.

It was such a blessing to be able to read about their story, post by post, tweet by tweet. It was a journey of faith indeed. You can read about their story here.

And most recently, Jason Stasyszen and his family decided to adopt a boy from Japan. And they’re counting on our help to raise the money to travel and bring the boy to his new home.

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