A friend of mine, Kelly van den Brink, recently wrote a blog post that I loved and so I decided to translate it into English and share it here on my blog. To see Kelly's blog and the original post in Portuguese click here.
Kelly is a Brazilian missionary serving here at the Lighthouse Community Center with us. She and her husband are the leaders of the Foundations of Community Development School (which I am doing at the moment). Kelly is also an amazing photographer, so enjoy her beautiful photos and thoughts expressed in this special guest post!
Wherever you are at, it’s worth it to open your eyes!
For those who work here in the slum or for those who spend just a little bit of time here, it is really easy to point out what is wrong. Even when we meet to pray, we often only think about the bad things going on. I am not saying that it is wrong to pray for the problems going on here in the community, the opposite actually, I think it is really important. Many times we forget to thank God for the beautiful things, the good things here in the slum.
Just a few days ago I was talking with my friend Joyce, and she told me something that really impacted me and made me think. Joyce worked for many years in a Community Center ministering to people living in a slum, in the south of Brazil. At the Community Center they offered a course to people and she would do a little exercise with the students in this course. The group of students would go out for a walk in the slum and search for aspects of the Kingdom of God in the community. For many of them it was extremely difficult to identify aspects of the Kingdom of God in a place like a slum.
I thought this was really interesting because I have this same difficulty, even though I have already lived here in the slum for 5 years. The tendency is always to focus on the things that are bad and the things that are wrong, isn't it?
After I had this conversation with my friend Joyce, I tried really hard to look at things differently. I started to search for aspects of the Kingdom of God here in the slum. I am going to tell you something… It is liberating when we do this! Of course we cannot close our eyes to the things that need to be changed, but I began to see that there is so much of God in the streets that my heart was filled with HOPE!
Many people question God when it comes to suffering. If someone were to ask me, “Where is God in the midst of all the suffering going on in here in this slum?” I would respond, “Well, God is right here!” He is in the streets and alleyways, in the homes and on the corners. God is right here! Pieces of His Kingdom can be seen here. It is worth it to open your eyes!
I encourage you to do this too. Search for aspects of the Kingdom and beauty wherever you are and see that this changes your perspective. To show this more clearly, I decided to use a few of my photos to express what I have seen here in the slum.
Flowers in Windows
Freshly Washed Clothes
People Who Care
Gifts from God