Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Lord Determines our Steps

Recently I shared a post called "A Humble Beginning," where I wrote about our first official day of ministry in a slum here in São Paulo.  A generous, small church offered for us to use their facility to run a program reaching out to the kids living in the area.

Through working in this church and conducting some door-to-door research in the area (with the help of a missions team visiting us), we discovered some very positive things about this specific slum area: 

1. The church is doing a great job reaching out to the kids and families living in this area. It is my prayer that more slums would have churches like this one reaching out and loving people in their community.

2.  There is a government sponsored social project located extremely close to the church, and around 120 kids living in the area attend programs offered there. 

3.  There is clear organization and structure on this side of the slum, both physically and in the daily lives of the people living there.

Through running a program in the church, conducting research, and getting to know the needs of the area, we have come to the conclusion that this side of the slum does not have a desperate need for the kind of ministry we want to bring. There are already great things in place, both socially and spiritually, and this is wonderful news!

As I reflect on this, I am reminded of the following verse:

We can make our plans, 
but the Lord determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NLT

We had a plan - to attempt to reach out to one side of the slum through offering programs for children and teens.  We were willing, and ready to work and invest in this area, but we discovered the needs in the area are not so extreme.

Yet, through this whole process, God has been teaching us many things. We are thankful for the experience of working in the small church in the slum, but also see that it is best that we stop working in this specific area and instead invest our time and energy in a different place with more severe needs.

So what now?  

About a short 15 to 20 minute walk away from the church (where we were working), is an extremely needy slum area desperate for help.

We are now praying and exploring ideas in how to reach out to the kids and families living in this area.

This slum is actually fairly new.  In Portuguese it is called an "invasion" area, and the people living there have named it  "Matinha" which means "little grassy area."  The people living in this slum have literally invaded a green, grassy area, taking pieces of land and then building their own homes out of various materials. As you can see in the photos, the living conditions here are quite shocking!

When the missions team was visiting us, we held a Saturday kid's program (see photos here) and conducted research in this poverty stricken area.

When comparing "Matinha" with the other slum area where we were reaching out, it is like night and day.  The needs in this new area are extreme and seem endless! Yet our God of endless love offers great peace and hope in the midst of the struggles and challenges of life.

Please pray for us as we continue to minister to kids and families living in the slums of São Paulo, but now focusing on a more needy and poor area.

We desire for the Lord to determine every one of our steps, in all that we do as we serve Him.  We are joyful, expectant, and hopeful of how the Lord will develop our ministry and use it to bring many to the knowledge of relationship and abundant life in Him.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps...all for His glory and name's sake!

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