Deborah and Levi Santana Link Letter no.13 December 2020

The last one, for now…

What a year! 2020 will be remembered as the year we lost grip on our agendas and were reminded of both the fragility of life and the insignificance of strategies and plans when faced with tragedy. We are aware, more than ever, that there are indeed seasons for all things under heaven.

Settling back into UK life: Levi and Olivia.

In such times, the people of God look to the Scriptures. Although we often talk about paradigms shifting, in reality they only shuffle. Sadly, it is often only in times of trial that we accept that we are not in control.

The prophet Jeremiah lived through a time of shifts and changes. A time when the nation of Israel was in political disarray, the poor being punished for the liberties of the powerful and no common sense in the religious community to help guide them through. We read:

I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the Lord.
“Their kings will come and set up their thrones
in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem;
they will come against all her surrounding walls
and against all the towns of Judah.” (Jeremiah 1:15)

Family time: Nicolas and Levi with Levi’s sister.

A siege! I, for one, have felt surrounded by clouds of doubt and fear. God, in this passage, announces that he is allowing a siege. There will be pain, and his message to Jeremiah is: get ready! Later the message is: be strong, be ready, but remember, I will make you strong.

We need to journey ever closer to our Lord. From him we draw the strength required to sail through this storm. And God will not leave us here; in Jeremiah 29:11 he promises that he has a good, prosperous and hopeful plan.

Brazil

In June we finished our time in Brazil, returned to the UK and started preparing to end our service with CMS at the end of January.

In our nearly three years in Brazil a lot was done. We arrived with a blank canvas, and a load of sketches and ideas. Slowly we formed a team, established initiatives and got to work on our dream: to serve the most marginalised living on the streets of the city of Goiania. This led to the establishment of a charity, which saw around 150 people referred to rehabilitation, hundreds more fed, clothed and reached with the message of hope. Debora provided hundreds of haircuts and, although we will never know if we were fruitful this side of heaven, we have learned so much about people and the Person who took us there.

Our work in Brazil has come to an end, but God’s mission there has not. The charity was handed over to new local leaders. We planted something that will now grow without us. This, in our understanding, is the way cross-cultural mission should work.

Exploring the UK streets: Levi, Nicolas and Olivia.

This Christmas the charity will be busy on the streets of Goiania, giving out food, clothes packs and toiletry hampers. I (Levi) have stayed on as an advisor, and will continue to meet via Zoom with the new leadership. They are doing a great job! Mariana, the new director, is only 24 and burns with a love for those living on the streets. Please pray for her, that she may like Jeremiah be strong and courageous. That she may be clothed with strength and courage from the Father.

We are thankful to all of you who prayed, gave financially and supported us in so many ways over the last three years. We will never be able to pay back. However, we will pay it forward and seek to live lives, beyond Brazil, that bless, equip and support others.

UK

We have been back in the UK a few months and although it has been challenging, not least due to COVID-19-related complications, we are doing well.

Nicolas has returned to his old school and loves being back. In truth, his heart never left. We love the way he has developed and grown, and for the way his obedience to our call as a family has been honoured.

Levi outside the Institute of Education, where he is training to be an RE teacher.

Olivia has started nursery and is growing and developing well. She is sweet and shy, and in some ways has struggled more with the transition than her brother, returning to an unknown world. Please pray for her as she settles in and deals with not having her grandparents around, and a change in the amount of sunlight she gets!

Debora is doing well. She is looking for ways to build her client base as a hairdresser, to invest in friendships (old and new) and looking forward to connecting with the local church. She will also look for a job after the COVID-19 storm passes.

As for me (Levi), I am training as a religious education teacher at UCL in London. It has been a time of growth and challenge. I’m not sure what God has for me in terms of future ministry, but I hope whatever happens that he will continue to shape my life and my desire is to be available to God. Having said that, it is nice to take this season to rethink and appraise the journey thus far.

Thank you for coming with us on this journey. A massive thank you to the CMS people, who worked in the background as enablers, allowing us to do our job – from editing newsletters to reminding us of our limitations. Thank you to each and every one of you. And for more information on other CMS people in mission who are also on that journey and looking for people to support them, please contact churchrelations@churchmissionsociety.org

Please pray:

  • For new jobs and clarity about the future
  • For our children as they settle back
  • For Mariana, the new director in Brazil. For God’s strength and courage
  • For God to show us his will and for us to be obedient

Much love,

Debora, Levi, Nicolas and Olivia

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