Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Letter from Embrace Brasil

A Letter from Embrace Brasil

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What joy!! My heart was dancing to a different beat on Easter!! The thought of Jesus and his suffering for us weighs heavy, but oh the power of His resurrection!! It's too much to contain! I love Easter and the hope that springs forth... 

 This was my first Easter celebration in Brazil during the Fall season; not that it appeared to be Fall, still pretty much summer weather!  Lilia's school celebrated Easter! We attended a service offered in honor of Easter! Each grade presented a song or play celebrating Jesus' death and resurrection! It was a great message for all the parents and families of the students. We are grateful for the school she is attending!

We were with the kids in Lamarão Thursday morning through Sunday evening. We had a wonderful time!

Below is a summary of events throughout the weekend.

Thursday we watched the Passion of Christ (Mel Gibson) and discussed the truths of the crucifixion of Jesus and the superstitions and lies the world adds to the story.

On Friday Vitor taught them how to make wooden crosses. We discussed how the world uses the cross as a beautiful symbol, jewelry and so forth, but that it is a symbol of death and suffering. We discussed several verses we have studied that apply to the truths of the cross of Jesus and that it is to remind us of the suffering he bore on our behalf. We encouraged the kids to put the cross in a place they would see and that it remind them each day to choose to leave their sins at the cross and STAND FIRM and live for Jesus. They enjoyed their crosses, turning them into swords and guns... boys will be boys ;) 

 We enacted a small part of the Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples. We studied the intense love and forgiveness of Jesus as he washed the feet
of his followers knowing that within hours they would turn and run, they would betray him in his most difficult moment. We applied that to how we argue and fight over the least insignificant
issues. We blame each other and point fingers and Jesus simply loves and forgives, innocent and sinless! As I knelt to wash their feet some just leaned back, smiled, and lifted their feet waiting for their turn, others watched in wonder as the message began to sink in... "why would Jesus kneel?" The idea of serving others is completely foreign
to them. They live to survive and in their minds they have to be first, get the best, the most, no one else matters... we pray Jesus' example begins to sink in...

Saturday morning Vitor used some of the kids to build a large cross and set in the ground. Our verse of the week was 1 John 1:9. As he taught them how to use a chisel... what better opportunity to teach them how God chisels away the sin in our lives to make us in the image of Christ. Once the cross was ready we gathered the kids and we prayed about our specific sins. We gave the kids the opportunity to nail their sins to the cross. We discussed that Jesus died for all, he bore all our sin, but we must choose to leave them with Him and accept His forgiveness. All day Saturday, 3 or 4 of the girls that have been involved with us... sat at the entrance gate to a house across the street and played loud music, screamed and danced at the people, bicycles, and cars that drove by. It was sad to see how they spend their days searching for attention, crying out for all the wrong places. As we tried to pray, study, talk... the kids were easily distracted by their chanting and silly screaming. Satan must afraid of what God has in store for Lamarão !!!!!!!!!!

Saturday evening was a special time. We had a bonfire with some praise songs. The past 4 weeks we have been preparing the kids for the bonfire. We have been studying and discussing actively choosing to allow God to rid us of sin in our lives. (We believe that most of the kids are not believers, but we pray that all these activities will lead them toward repentance and faith in Jesus as Savior) We have been encouraging the kids to pray and ask God which sin He wants to get rid of... and they could bring whatever causes them to commit that sin and throw it in the fire. We made it clear that their was no special power from the fire or act of sacrificing anything in the fire. This was nothing more than an opportunity to get rid of (music CD, magazine, toys...) whatever caused them to sin and they felt God wanted them to let go of. If the sin was not tangible, we gave each kid a block of wood they could write their sin on to throw in the fire. We allowed each one to stand before their peers and voice what they wanted to get rid of and why, then how they planned to do it. They threw their sins in the fire and then we prayed for each one. One boy brought a CD and threw it in the fire. They all had the courage to stand up and share and throw their "sin" (the wooden block) in the fire. Most repeated what  the others had said... except Italo. He had written his speech Friday night and Saturday morning. He was sincere. We are so thankful for what God is doing in Italo's heart. As he read his speech God filled him so that he began to cry. He voiced his desire to leave the life of sin and everything he knows that doesn't please God and how he just wants to live for Jesus. It was such an overwhelming moment!! Vitor and I felt disappointed several times throughout the weekend as people that committed to help didn't come through and the congregation from Lamarão said they would attend the bonfire, no one showed up to support the kids... but GOD SHOWED UP!!! It was such a blessing! Of course, I couldn't hold back the tears either... I just wanted to grab Italo and hug him, but I was patient and calm and I screamed praises to God within me!!!! We are grateful that GOD SHOWS UP!! The bonfire was a special moment! We thank God and we pray that it will have a lasting impact on their lives.

As we drove home Saturday evening... we were reminded of how utterly dark Lamarão is... less than 1/2 mile from our gate, at the house of one our of students, we saw a party in the street, close to where the murder took place a few weeks ago. The student's mom was flaunting and dancing with several men around her... at their home. These kids live in darkness! Their best influences transmit the darkness without ever knowing any difference. Pray with us for the light to reach them!!!!!!! Sunday morning we drove to Lamarão to pick up some of the kids and take to the service at Pituba church. We went back and spent the day with the kids and enjoyed the evening service with them.

Lots of time together-relationships growing - bonds forming - change happening!!

 We thank you for your prayers! God is working in their hearts! Pray we hear God's voice and follow Him. Pray for wisdom to know His plan in the large decisions and the smallest details!

We praise God for the promises that Easter brings !!!