As many of you know, we have been asking for super-natural learning of Portuguese so that we can get a good grasp of the language and move to where we feel God has called us to minister- the Amazon. Therefore our focus has been living in Sao Paulo to learn the language as soon as possible– study, study, study. About a month before we moved, God really moved me one night to not “waste” this year. That although we are focused on language learning, there are still opportunities to minister wherever you are and whatever you are doing– even when what you are doing is an avenue to a different (and you may think) even a greater purpose than where you are at currently
In Sao Paulo, there are favelas (or slums) where millions of people live in desperate situations– many would say, hopelessness. These favelas are known as being among the worst conditions in the world. A few years ago, police went into one and began shooting the young adults and children because they were disrupting the rest of society by begging and stealing to survive. Shot them like we would shoot a wild animal that was a nuisance. God really laid it on my heart that night that this would an opportunity to visit and minister in an area of the world where very few ever get the chance.
Once we got here, I did a google search for “US christian organizations ministering in the favelas of Campinas (where we live)”. I found several, but happened to pick “Hope Unlimited” and contacted them via email. Their representative here in Brazil, Dayane, emailed me and invited me to visit. Well, we don’t have a car and it is far from our house, we started language study, the kids started school and…..correspondence stopped.
Meanwhile, about the same time, in another part of the city, Paul (a missionary pilot also here studying portuguese) took his daughter to the park to play. There, God orchestrated Fernando (a Brazilian Christian) to hear Paul speak English and stuck up a conversation with him. Fernando, very unusually, offered a complete stranger his contact information and told him to call him if he ever needed anything. Well, Paul did need something. About 2 weeks later, him and I needed a ride to the police station to get our CPF numbers (similar to SS number in the states). We were going to take a cab, but he decided to call Fernando to check if he was willing to give us a ride. So that is how, 2 weeks ago I met Fernando.
He has been a huge blessing. Taking me to the store numerous times, helped me get a cell phone, and took my family to the Federal Police to register (the next step in the visa process). He has also picked us up and taken us to church the last few Sundays, invited Luke over to play soccer and offered to take Luke to the hospital when he twisted his ankle. Monday morning he called and asked if I would be interested in going with some people from church to visit a home that takes care of kids off the street. Uhhhh… YEA, of course. I asked him what the name of the organization was. He didn’t know because he wasn’t familiar with it and nobody from his church had been there yet. They had been wanting to partner with a mission like this and so tonight was the first step in the process to see how everything fit.
I went with him and we had a great worship service with the young adults. By the end of the night, I saw many repentant heart– tears flowing freely as God moved to offer healing and forgiveness to these kids that had so much hurt (Fernando told me one girl there had been raped more than 10 times). They introduced me to a young lady who spoke very good english and she offered to translate the message for me while the pastor preached. I declined because I need to learn myself! After the service she came up and asked if she could meet my family sometime (they were not with me). I said “definitely, I will bring them back sometime to visit”. She said, “Well, I don’t actually work at this facility, I am usually at another site with an organization called Hope Unlimited”. I said, “Wow, no kidding, I traded emails with someone from that organization about a month ago, but did not work out any details”. She said, “What is your name again?”, I said “Matt Steidinger”. She said “I’m Dayane, the person who emailed you!”.
Of a million people in Campinas that Paul could have met at the park, God placed Fernando there.
Of all the people Paul could have called to take us to the police station, God picked Fernando.
Of all the people we could have met to invite us and take us to church, God placed Fernando there.
Of all the churches here where we could worship, God picked Fernando’s church.
Of all the ministries that his church could work with, God picked “Hope Unlimited”
Of all the nights the church could have begun their partnership with Hope Unlimited, God waited until Fernando could invite me.
Of all the people I could have been in contact with at “Hope Unlimited”, God picked Dayane.
Of all the places Dayane could have been last night, God placed her at that service.
Of all the people in the whole world that have ever lived and ever will live, Jesus died….