Tim recently blogged about a night on the streets and Vila Mimosa, so I thought I would give you a glimpse into what happens in the prayer room. It won’t be as shocking, but it’s the results of all that the teams are doing on the streets at night.
The prayer room runs on the fifth floor of a six-story building and is open 24 hours during the whole of the World Cup (with plans to continue beyond). Specific groups or individuals take 2 hour shifts leading worship and prayer, each with their own approach and style. People from different churches regularly come and go, so the intercom at the gate is constantly buzzing to let people up. There are other businesses in the building running during the day and controlling the noise level can be difficult at times. Sometimes the room is full with passionate prayers while other times it is very quite and I secretly wonder if the others have fallen asleep. It is an incredible place to be in.
This particular Thursday I got the to prayer room at 11am and as usual, started telling God how awesome I think He is. I love praising God in a suburb where people praise a lot of other things. I lift up my love to Him. I proclaim that He is Lord and the King of Kings. I read my bible and journal what I’m thinking. Then, I worship Him some more.
Every Thursday at about 2pm we host a lunch for the women of Vila Mimosa and other red-light areas that the teams have been going to. This week there were about seven women and about nine kids. Needless to say it felt like there were a lot of kids in the small lunch space… all with nothing to do. Although I couldn’t do much, I asked God to use what I had and what I had was a few pieces of paper and some felt pens. I sat on the concrete floor surrounded by beautiful little faces and taught the younger ones how to make paper boxes and pinwheels while their mums had a break. While I played colouring, the other Liberdade team had an opportunity to talk with the women without distraction.
I made friends with (or more accurately was befriended by) an amazing ten-year-old named Erick. He loved being taught how to make the paper boxes and seemed to be everywhere I went. He made me a flower and I’m telling you now, I will keep it for the rest of my life.
Later, after playing 1-2-3-shoot, Erick and I sat on the floor talking until my Portuguese ran out. I went to get some more paper for us to draw on and grabbed my Brazilian friend Endrew (yes, with an ‘E’) to translate what he could. Erick told me about how his dog had just died, how he could draw a dragon, how he wanted to be a fireman or an astronaut and how he liked coming to the prayer room. He asked me if this place was a church. I said that we weren’t, but that we all loved Jesus. I showed him the prayer wall (I’m not sure what else to call it) and he said he wanted to write something. “What should I write?” he asked. I told him “Write whatever is in your heart”. He wrote Jesus is the best (Jesus e melhor) and you know what, Jesus really is.
After a while a few more Brazilians started connecting with Erick and my heart was so happy even though I was completely exhausted. Erick left around 6pm and I hope to see him again in the next week and a bit.
What an amazing opportunity to speak into this young boys life! In Vila Mimosa there is a sign that says “This place is dedicated to the demon of alcohol and the black demon”. There are lots of negative things spoken over this kid and his beautiful mum, but not this particular Thursday. Not when he was with me, not in the prayer room.
Imagine if Erick had people around him that believed he was smart and could become a fireman or an astronaut. Imagine if He believed that Jesus is the best for the rest of his life. Imagine if a whole generation of prostitutes’ kids experienced the love of God and had a heavenly perspective of their value. I know that the mums and other women were impacted and continue to be impacted by the relationships they are building, but God is also doing something with the kids as well.
(Journaling with a two-year old in tow)
If God asked Tim and I to quit our jobs and travel all the way to Brazil just so I could meet Erick and he could meet God… it would be worth it. I believe God is an extravagant God (just look at the stars) and he would ask us to spend a lot of money to reach one 10-year-old boy in the back streets of Rio. How much is one life worth to him? $10,000? $1,000,000? I know it is so much more. Obviously, I believe we are touching more than one life, but seriously, it is about each individual story and heart. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to see all the physical, emotional and spiritual needs, but I just have to stand back and watch which power overcomes. Some may call this fanciful, but I call it faith and hope.
I don’t go on the street outreach at night, because the travel home isn’t safe for me by myself, but I can pray. I can lift God’s name high. I can love a prostitute’s child and I will. The work the teams do at night and the deeper connections that happen during the day are a beautiful example of the church working together. We each have our part to play regardless of our skills, denomination or specific calling.
(The sign in sheets for the prayer room)
Realistically my time in the prayer room isn’t always easy. Sometimes I’m the only one there. Sometimes the music is so-so or I don’t know the songs or I’m hungry or I’m tired. But I truly do love it. The more time I spend with God, the more I love Him. And the more I love Him, the more I love others. That really is what it’s all about.
Love Jess xxoo