As I sit down to write this Christmas letter, I still have the faces etched in my mind of those I met this morning on our coffee walk. Many have arrived in Goiania from other places in the country and, without money or family here, have ended up on the streets. They are displaced, harassed and beaten up by the scorching sun. Our hearts break for them and yet we have no answer to their plight. We can’t send them home nor house them – all we can do is to stand with them in their displacement and offer a few things to help alleviate their discomfort. As you can imagine, we carry a feeling of powerlessness when faced with the sheer vastness of the issues we come across on the streets of Goiania.
I wonder how Joseph felt. When at every inn, doors were closed and there was no room. I imagine his desperation as Mary’s contractions got closer and closer together. I imagine his sense of powerlessness! The Bible does not tell us they had no money to pay for a room, although we know they were poor. The Bible simply tells us that there was no room for them on the eve of the very first Christmas.
There are many people in Brazilian society for whom there is no room. These people are often relegated to the streets, their marginalisation deepened by their context. Like relentless waves that crash onto the sand over and over again, these people are unable to stand, sometimes drowning in their addiction and destitution.
The good news is that Jesus came for them. And not only for them but as one of them. He was born displaced and marginalised. His incarnation was not just about being man but about being a man who shares in their state – a marginalised man. This should fill us all with hope because the Cross, to which Christmas points, speaks a better word over the effects of marginalisation. It saves us from sin and speaks hope into hopelessness and life into death.
Because of the Cross, this Christmas we will once again celebrate on the streets of Goiania. We expect around 200 people to join us and while we will not be able to fix their problems once and for all, we hope to offer people a place of solace and a break from their struggles on the streets, a stable in which they can rest.
Igreja Seu Paredes (Church Without Walls)
When we look at the task at hand, we are reminded of the disciples’ reaction when Jesus asked them to feed the multitudes. How can we, Lord? However, God used the little they had to meet such needs. We hope that he will do the same in our ministry, taking the few resources we have and multiplying them for his glory. So, as we continue to work at establishing our ministry in Goiania, we walk the streets getting to know people and hosting the drop-in centre once a month. In 2020, we hope to move to a more regular rhythm, hosting the drop-in centre twice a month in our current venue and getting more churches involved.
Our hope is to have at least one drop-in every weekend of the month. However, for this to happen, we need a shift and so we are praying that God will open doors for us – bringing about the right people to journey with us, as well as church leaders willing to open their church doors to become drop-in venues. We know we have a huge task ahead of us but we also know our God is greater! So we trust that he will do something with the little we bring in this place.
Our time in Brazil has so far been a real adventure for us and our kids. It has been hard at times but to see how Nicolas and Olivia have grown is amazing! Nicolas will be moving to the penultimate year in primary school in the new year and Olivia will be starting reception! We are excited for them and pray that they will thrive in this season.
With Olivia starting school, Debora will have more time to give directly to the project. Please pray for wisdom as she makes the decision about where to invest more of her time. She is looking forward to doing a barbering course to start with and will take it from there. Levi hopes to work on expanding the drop-in across the city and to involve other churches.
For now, we would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a new year full of God’s grace and love. Without you and your support and prayers, we would not be able to stand. So thank you!
Please pray for:
• Our health.
• Our plans to expand our drop-ins, for more churches to get involved and for an increase in volunteers and donations of goods for the social bank.
• The kids as they start in a new school and for Olivia as she starts in reception.
• Wisdom for us as Debora discerns how she will invest her time in this new season.