“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”- Matthew (Mateus) 25:40
Wednesday, Lugar de Criancas (LDC) (Kid’s Place) was magical! I had imagined that such a joyous place only existed in fairy tales. As I stepped foot into Kid’s Place I was captured by the utter joy of the children. The criancas filled the gymnasium to the brim with their joy and excitement for Jesus. Led by the multi-talented guitarist, Vinny, we sang songs in loving harmony. The children danced and sang a song illustrating how the words of Jesus are like seeds which allow us to grow high. It was inspiring to witness the children sing these songs from the memory of their coração. Ensuing praise and worship were animated Bible classes led by the Volunteers for Christ (VFC) from Ft. Worth, Texas. The excited students sat and earnestly listened to the story of Jesus told with the use of an “evange-cube.” This evangelical tool served to bring Christ’s story to life for children by offering them a hands on activity.
Following classes we met in the gym once again for some good old fashioned shenanigans. Everton “Energizer Bunny” Ferreira led a game where everyone hopped around flapping their arms in all manners shouting “pindo-lindo” (no meaning :)). Suddenly Everton would shout a number such as “tres!” and everybody would dash and squeeze on to one another to form a trio. With no inherent meaning other than to have fun, these games were played by crianca and adult alike. There was no distinction between kid or grown up. We all reverted to children; the children who Jesus teaches us to love more than anyone.
Following a jovial and raucous lunch together, we all headed to a nearby overpass at an impoverished neighborhood known as the favelas (slums). The VFC team spread the word to the resident children to invite all! Once a hundred or so children and teens were gathered, Vinny displayed yet another of his many talents. He hilariously entertained the children as a clown to break the ice for the afternoon activities. Following Vinny, two members from LDC performed a skit as mimes. The theme was sin and how we can easily become ensnared if we are not careful.
We broke up into groups for the remainder of the warm, glowing, Christ-filled afternoon. The youth could choose from a range of activities from soccer to slack-lining.
The VFC team along with the rest of us seized the opportunity to share the wonderful news of Jesus to these precious children. I witnessed several members of the VFC team courageously and gently share their testimony to the members of the community. Some community members were thirsty for spiritual water and received the word like water to parched land. Others were curious of Jesus’ story, but were unwilling to accept him into their hearts. I witnessed Joe (VFC) passionately share the story of Jesus to a young mother and her son. Joe asked her if she had accepted Jesus into her heart and she quickly deflected by expressing that she was not ready. What Joe did next inspired me. He was not at all discouraged by her response. Rather than give up on her, he gently asked her if we could all pray for her. Together, we prayed that Jesus would watch over her and her son and that someday she will accept Christ into her heart. Joe’s action epitomizes what Jesus would have us do. We are not to give up when we encounter hearts that are encrusted by the plaque of sin. Rather, let us be a guiding light as Joe. Your efforts are applauded here and in heaven, brother. I pray that we finish strong and wrap up the week at Lugar da Criancas with songs from the children that reach up to the heavens!