This week I am writing from the city of Belém in North Brazil. I am visiting missionary friends who work in Belém amongst the hundreds of children and teenagers who live on the streets. It is heart-breaking to see these children, some as young as 5 years old, sleeping in doorways and in empty buildings with no family to care for them and no hope for the future. Each morning my friends visit the street children to give them something to eat and drink. They sit with them and listen to them. They offer practical help and tell them about God’s love for them in Jesus.
Why have these young people left comfortable lives in Britain, Canada and Germany to undertake a difficult, and sometimes dangerous, ministry amongst the street children of Brazil? The answer is that they have experienced God’s love in Jesus and their lives have been transformed. They want to tell the street children about Jesus and also to show his love in practical ways.
Shirley, who is from the north of England, and her husband Rogerio, who is from Brazil, are wonderful examples of this love in action. They have been married for one year and work in a small church outside Belém. From the moment they were married they have opened their home to a 15 year old girl, Aline. Her own family was not able to care for her and so Aline ended up on the streets, where life is very hard. Many of the young people on the streets die before they are 25 through violence or diseases they pick up on the streets. Aline now lives in a loving home and has real hope for the future.
Recently Shirley and Rogerio also opened their home to 18 year Ana and her 14 month old little girl, Adriele. Ana lived on the streets as a very young child until she went to live in a home for street girls. When she was 17 she left the home and started a relationship with a boy through whom she conceived Adriele. The relationship ended and Ana and Adriele had nowhere to go until Shirley and Rogerio invited them to live with them. Ana now has a secure base from which to provide the kind of loving home for Adriele she herself never experienced. Through Shirley and Rogerio’s love, both Aline and Ana are experiencing the wonderful love of Jesus for them.