“He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. […] He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Job 9:8, 10
It is scary to think that we have been in Brazil for one whole year. Looking back, we see how much has happened in that time, how much we have learned and how much we have done. We have seen the beautiful and the ugly, felt good things and bad. But in everything we are thankful for what God has done in and through us.
At the end of July we went to Southern Brazil to visit fellow CMS mission partners Jimmy and Katia (Rocks) and their lovely children, and to get to know that region. It was a lovely break. On our first day in Florianopolis we went for a stroll on the beach. And though it was cold on that day, the sheer beauty of the place refreshed us. Nicolas ran towards the sea across the sandy beach and, as any parent would, Levi followed close behind. When Levi caught up with him, he realised that Nicolas was not going into the water but instead began shouting at the sea! He was shouting: “Oh waves, oh wind, oh sea… take me away, take me away!”
While Nicolas is a child that lives life to the full and can have both the best and worst days of his life within a single day, his words struck a chord. The boy had no real understanding of what he was requesting. All he knew was that he needed more. All he knew was that he somehow wanted to go beyond the sand. His heart, probably full of awe and wonder, just cried out for the unknown. He did not take into account that the sea is a dangerous thing. He did not take into account that the wind can take you places you wish it hadn’t. He did not understand that waves can get out of control. He just wanted more.
That moment, which we managed to register with the camera, was profound. It struck a chord with us because sometimes we don’t know what we are asking for; we just know that we cry out to the sea, waves and wind. Take us! At the heart of mission there is this impulse, a cry to be taken where Jesus is. A cry to be swept away beyond the shores where we find ourselves, sometimes in total ignorance of what that will actually mean.
Ignorance in this case is not a bad thing. The truth is that we will always be ignorant when it comes to God, as in the Job passage: “He stretches out the heavens and treads the waves of the sea.” He is great and mighty and yet he chooses to reveal himself and performs miracles and wonders, doing these for both his glory and our benefit. So ignorance in this context is okay, because we are in the hands of a good God. And this has been our journey over the past 18 months.
If you are crying out, asking God to take you anywhere he wishes, it is a silly thing to do but also the most wonderful one too. For God will take you beyond your shores to where you were born to be, for such a time as this. We need to be ignorant more often; like a child asking the sea, waves and wind to take him, we need to be courageous to cry out to God in the same way. It will change everything. For our God is good. All the time.
We continue to visit the streets on a weekly basis. We are known as “the coffee people”. We take coffee and use it as a way to start conversations. We often pray and sing on the streets as well. It has been great to develop relationships with so many. We have also formed a team of people that are committed to this work, and beyond the camp visits we continue to offer people the opportunity to go into rehab.
It can take a whole day with one single person to get them into rehab, sometimes two. It is draining work. Since December we have taken 12 men to rehab, and only one is still in treatment, and we are told that this is good. The rate of success in rehabilitation stands at less than 3 per cent apparently (although we haven’t confirmed these stats). We are arranging meeting with the relevant agencies again to check whether what we are doing is aligned with widespread good practice here.
Meanwhile, we have continued to organise larger events, the last one on 22 June. We served food, provided showers in partnership with a local hotel, prayed for people and offered haircuts. It was great to help over 60 people on that night, one of whom is now in rehab and doing well. We have formed a steering group of around 10 individuals who will be involved in setting up a charity for our work. It is a little scary but we feel that this is the next step in making things become more established. We do not want this ministry to be dependent on Debora and Levi; we want it to be sustainable way beyond our being here and setting up a charity in Brazil seems to be part of achieving this sustainability.
Debora has successfully completed her hairdressing course. She loved the course and had a great time but is happy to spend more time with the kids during the day now the course is finished. She has already done some haircuts on the streets, but in the coming months we will be exploring how she can do that more regularly, in a safe and constructive way.
Healing conference – New Wine
Through our relationship with Jimmy and Katia Rocks, we had the opportunity to have the New Wine International team with us to run a healing conference at IV Baptist Church. We had 207 people attending over two evenings from various churches, learning more about being naturally supernatural and seeking after the gifts of the spirit. It was the first New Wine conference in Goiania and many healings were reported, one of them quite incredible. A young man had torn a knee ligament and could not move it, but during the conference it was completely restored and he is back to his normal activities. An amazing testimony of what our God does, and what he can also do on the streets.
Through the conference, a strong relationship formed with the leaders of a large network of churches including Comunidade Boas Novas (the Good News Community Church) and in 2019 a training weekend will be organised. This will be to equip the leaders better in desiring, encouraging and fostering the ministry of the Holy Spirit within their own settings.
Partnership with the local school and CREDEQ
We have another bit of good news. The school that is located within our target geographical area has finally opened up to us. The principal called Levi in to say that only God can change the school, and in the coming weeks we will run workshops there and Debora will be working with vulnerable girls through her beauty ministry. This is a huge answer to prayer.
We continue in conversation with CREDEQ (Centro Estadual de Referência e Excelência em Dependência Química), a rehabilitation hospital set up for the treatment of addictions. They are looking to run the Alpha Course and establish a chaplaincy there and Levi has been invited to be part of the group that will make sure it happens.
Nicolas and Olivia
Our children continue to struggle with health here and there, but on the whole they have been doing fantastically well. Nicolas received an amazing report from school with very good grades. He continues to be inquisitive and extremely quick to understand things that should really be beyond him. Olivia is running everywhere and keeping us on our toes; she is normally the centre of attention wherever we go, and we think she knows it.
Needing to move…
Our place, while wonderful, is a tiny apartment with only two bedrooms. For those who know us well, you will know that we love hospitality and that has been a huge missing ministry for us. We would love to have more space and also be close to school etc. Please pray that we will find a solution to this.
Thank you all so much for your partnership in this ministry; we could not do this without your prayers and friendship.
Debora and Levi, Nicolas and Olivia