Friday, February 25, 2011

Tension in the Air

Last weekend I wrote about various events that took place here in the slum where we live and work.

Two innocent males were killed by the police (one being a 17 year old teenager).  Shortly after their deaths, many protests and fights broke out between the police and the people living in the community. People claimed to be angry at the police for killing innocent people and frustrated with the abuse of authority by the police. This was mainly happening in another area of the slum, about a 10 minute walk from the Lighthouse.

This week there has been a strong presence of police in the various regions of the slum.
Below is a photo of some people doing a demonstration against the police.  The banner that they are carrying says, "The police come up the hill to kill innocent people, not to protect the population."
 
During the various demonstrations there have actually been fights, verbally and physically, between the people and the police.  I saw a news report where people were throwing rocks at the police and the police responded by shooting rubber bullets. Needless to say, there has been much tension here this week.

Several demonstrations have happened where people also burned down city buses.  Three city buses were burned down total...

Felipe took this photo from our window of a bus burning in the slum.  This happened about 10:30 last Sunday night.

Because of the attack on the buses, the buses that usually take people through the slum and into the city stopped running for most of the week, effecting everyone in the community who depends on the public transportation system.  Suddenly many people were with out a way to get to work, school, ect.  The bus routes were stopped due to the fear that more buses would be set on fire.  Just today the buses resumed the normal routes through the slum.  

Thankfully, at the moment, things seem to be settling down a bit.  The demonstrations have stopped and helicopters are not circling around the slum as much as they were.  There is still a strong presence of police men in the streets carrying large guns and standing at the bus stops.  This gives the community an overall sense of fear and tension, yet the government says they are doing this to protect the people.

The latest shocking news happened today.  One of the police men, who was involved in the killing of the two innocent citizens, committed suicide early this morning.  This police man was actually in prison (for his crime) and the suicide occurred there in his jail cell...

Please continue to pray with us that God would bring His PEACE into this situation and into the slum. Many of the events that have taken place during the last week are extremely complicated.  There are so many factors which contribute to the mess that has been going on here in the slum, yet our God is greater!

During the week, we have been praying a lot for the community.  Just this morning we had a time of worship outside in the Lighthouse park looking out over the slum.   As we sang about God's never failing love, amazing grace, and victory, we were declaring it over the people in the slum and those in need of Him.

  We welcome God into this community and pray for His Kingdom to Come and for Him to Reign...  My God is mighty to save and nothing is impossible with Him!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Police in the Slum

Last night was an eventful night here in our slum.  Police helicopters were flying all around,  in search of people.  This began around 3 am and continued on and off all morning long until about lunch time. 
Earlier this morning we were not sure of what was going on exactly.   For us seeing police helicopters flying over the slum is a very "normal" thing.  This is the reality we live in... 

I figured that the police must have been searching for some drug traffickers.  They often use helicopters to search for people and patrol because it is easier to spot people in the narrow and windy streets of the slum.
 Just after we ate breakfast this morning we also saw a big black cloud of smoke rising up over the other side of the slum.  We thought that there must be a fire or someone burning something big, but later we found out what was actually happening in the slum...

A bus was being burned.  No one was inside the bus, but it was set on fire by people from the slum. They did this as a demonstration to show their frustration and anger towards the police.  It seems that two innocent people were killed by the police (one being a minor). 
Our Response
I must admit... When I think about all these things happening in the community where we live, it puts a certain level of fear in my heart.  

I know that "things" go on here, but to really see it and to be reminded of the reality of life here, well, this can be overwhelming at times.  Especially since now it is not just us. We have Sophia to think about and to protect.

But through it all, we know God has called us here.  I often think about the following phrase... 
"The safest place you can be in the world, is in the will of God." 
This is so true!  It is His will that we are here in Brazil, living and working in a slum. He has called us here to work with children at risk, to be a blessing and to bring His message of healing and hope.  There is much need of this here in the slum of Cafezal.  People need to hear the message of His great love!

Please pray with us that God would work in the lives of those involved in this unfortunate situation.  Also pray for peace among the people of the slum.  God reigns and rules, even in the midst of a storm... 


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Here is a portion of a news article that I translated into English if you want to read more about what happened:
A bus (from line 4107) was torched on Saturday (Feb. 19), in the Serra district, South-Central Region of Belo Horizonte. According to the Military Police (MP), the vehicle was destroyed by fire after two residents were killed in an exchange of gunfire with police overnight. No one was injured in the incident with the bus, according to the MP.
In an exchange of fire, two men were killed (one being a minor). One officer was also reported as injured. A resident of the neighborhood, who prefers to remain anonymous, claims that police killed two innocent people. "They were not criminals. They were workers," said the resident. According to him, the police, instead of protecting the people of the Serra neighborhood, do the opposite. "They [the police] are terrorizing the community. They act brutally. They come and put their guns to the heads of the residents, without asking for identification."  He also said that in the early hours of Saturday (19th), with the death of two men, the population was scared. "People were running all night in fear. Nobody could sleep. We heard gunfire and helicopters all the time. " He added: "The atmosphere is one of revolt and fear because the police are not doing their jobs." 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Heroes

"The world was not worthy of them." Hebrews 11:38

A post to honor all the YWAM workers who served the Lord during the year of 2010, bringing transformation to the hearts of many through the power of Jesus. They are among the heroes of faith in our nation.


























Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Water Tanks

 This week Felipe has been cleaning some water tanks (wells) that we have around the Lighthouse Community Center.  We have about 8 water tanks total.  Each tank helps in supplying water to the many people living here (at the moment we have about 30 people living here) and most of the tanks are located on top of the buildings.

We are on a mission to clean each and every water tank here at the Lighthouse.  It has been several years since these tanks have had a good cleaning,  so it is due time. 


Here is a photo of one of the tanks that was cleaned.  Some of the tanks are in tricky locations.  This tank was in a small attic-type space.
  Here is Isaac (a staff worker from Kentucky, USA) who was working alongside Felipe all Monday afternoon. Together they were able to empty 2 water tanks and clean them out. These boys worked hard in this hot attic space.  All the men (and some ladies too) will be taking turns to help clean the tanks over the course of the next few weeks.
 Isaac really getting down in the tank and cleaning it good!
 Great job Isaac!
 Two water tanks have now been cleaned. Now 6 more to go!

Just a note: I want to send a special thanks to Gideon Ward for taking these photos. Awesome job!

Take My Life...

The song in my heart at the moment...


Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as You choose.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for Thee.

Take my will and make it Thine
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own
it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord I pour
at Your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for Thee.
Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for Thee.



A Worship song by Chris Tomlin inspired by the hymn, Take my Life and Let is Be by Frances R. Havergal, written in 1874.  If you want to hear this song go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEzbwcMG9Gc.  I hope you are blessed by it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Donations

I just want to give glory to God for the recent donations we have received here at the Lighthouse Community Center!

Drew (a volunteer from Iowa, USA) just arrived here at the Lighthouse last week with a bag full of items to bless the children who participate here in our programs.

We want to say thanks SO much to Drew's home church, Grace Evangelical Free Church of Mason City, Iowa.  We appreciate your offering of soccer balls, basketballs, volley balls, American footballs, frisbees, sidewalk chalk, UNO, jump ropes, bubbles, and first aid supplies. The kids in from the slum will LOVE playing with these things and now our first aid kit is in much better shape!  Thanks!

All the workers here were excited about this donation.  We were in much need of these good quality items, especially soccer and volley balls.  Everyone was having fun testing out the balls and blowing bubbles. Here is my daughter Sophia enjoying the bubbles from a giant bubble wand!

I also want to praise the Lord for a recent donation we are received from a Brazilian couple.  They are Christian business owners and wanted to bless our missions ministry.  They asked us what needs we had, and they were given the idea to donate cleaning products. This couple plans to give an offering of cleaning products to us each month.  This is a huge blessing to us financially because instead of spending money on cleaning products, we can invest our money into other areas. 

God is showing Himself faithful to the Lighthouse.  In the past year we have passed through financial difficulties as a ministry. We are always trying to evaluate how we can best use money and be good stewards of the offerings God has given the Lighthouse.  We are thankful for these recent offerings and pray God will continue to open doors for other businesses and churches to support our missions work here in the slum of Cafezal.

Just wanted to share and praise God for His provision here at the Lighthouse Community Center!