I have just checked in for a 2 hour early morning flight from Belém, a city on the mouth of the Amazon, to Manaus, in the heart of Amazonas. Brazil is a very large country with a population of 190 million people. It has one of the fasting growing economies in the world and also one of the best football teams. In 2014 the World Cup will be held in Brazil, and already there is great excitement at the prospect. The Amazon, the greatest river in the world, contains 20% of all the fresh water in the world. Brazilian people are warm and friendly and for many there is a great optimism about the future.
I have been visiting missionaries from the UK who are working in Brazil. Some of them work with street children. It is estimated that there may be as many as 12 million children living on the streets of Brazil. Life on the streets is very hard. Violence, drug and solvent abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and the lack of access to medical care mean that many of the children will die before they reach the age of 20. Problems in the family, especially in the favelas where people live in simple wooden houses with no amenities, cause many children to run away to the streets. The scale of the problem is overwhelming.
Teams of missionaries and Brazilian Christians work on the streets of Belém to try to help the children. There is a drop-in centre which is open each day and also homes where boys and girls can begin to build a new life. The children need long term help if they are to find real stability for the future. Like us all, they also need to experience God’s love in Jesus Christ.
Last Saturday I attended the wedding of a lady missionary from the UK to a Brazilian pastor. One of the bridesmaids was Aline, a teenager they have adopted. She is a slim, gentle girl who lived on the streets. Her family were not able to care for her and she was alone. Now she belongs to this new family and is surrounded by love. Aline also knows that God is her heavenly Father, because to all who receive Jesus as their Saviour God gives the right to become his children. Now she has a sure hope for the future both in this world and the next.