We had just finished a long day of traveling – bolting from one corner of northeast Brazil to the other. Roads that seemed to go on for hours. “Just one or two more hours,” our host would tell us. It was a response that became laughable and our running joke – our journey detoured by government protests and broken bridges and traffic jams.
When Compassion says we work in the hard-to-reach places, this was a great example, and an example that no one is too far away to experience the love of a sponsor and transformative hope of the Gospel.
Every moment of time in that van was worth it when we stiffly pulled ourselves off of the seats to meet the smiling faces of the children who were there to greet us. Children who heard we were coming to hear their story. Children who knew we were going to share their stories with our friends back home.
We were in the community of Santa Rita to hear the story of the Assis brothers and how their faithful prayers and the local church’s involvement in their lives helped transform their father. His life was changed from one ravaged by alcohol and violence to a prayerful and loving one, to a respected father and husband. It was evident that God has redeemed their story. You can see it in the love that the boys have for the their parents, in the love their parents have for each other. A true, genuine restoration story of hope and promise.
After our time with the Assis family and getting a scoop or two at their family’s ice cream shop, we returned to the church to be greeted by music flowing from its doors.
The children of the Compassion Program were anxiously awaiting our return because some of the girls wanted to show us a dance they had been practicing in their classes. So, we came into a room filled with pink lace and girls ready to perform. As a father with daughters, it was a familiar sight to me.
The girls began their twirls and spins, but for me, it wasn’t the dance as much as the song. Although the words were in Portuguese, I recognized the tune from home, and I quickly thought of the lyrics in English.
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You’re the God of this city
You’re the Lord of this nation
You’re the King of its people
Greater things are yet to come
Greater things are still to be done in this city
As I thought about the words they were dancing to, my eyes and my heart began to overflow with emotion. They danced these words because they believed them. They’ve seen brokenness, and they’ve seen hope. They’ve seen sickness and death, and they’ve seen birth and healing. They believed these words they were dancing. They knew them to be true. They’ve seen the transformation of the Assis family and other families in their community.
They believed them more than I believed them for them. Or even for myself.
This year, Brazil is the home of the 2016 Olympic Games but you don’t have to look far to see the brokenness of the country. In the northeastern area of the country where Compassion partners with local churches, the economic opportunities and risks against the welfare of children are vastly different than the culturally popular south.
In northeastern Brazil:
- Over half live on less that $2 a day
- Nearly half the teenagers do not have the ability to attend school
- Where children are highly vulnerable to trafficking.
Thankfully the story doesn’t have to end there – there is hope. I saw it in the Assis family, I saw it in the tutus. And through the new Act for Compassion platform that we are launching today, we can all be a part of changing the story for the children and communities in Brazil.
Act for Compassion is a new online peer-to-peer platform where supporters can make their own online fundraisers to creatively raise funds that will help change the lives of the children we serve.
Act for Compassion will first focus on the needs of Brazil. These funds will go to meeting the greatest needs of our work in this region. Child sponsorship tends to the full development of the children we serve – mind, body, heart and soul – but there are needs that go above and beyond that.
Money raised through Act for Compassion will go to everything from educational resources to critical medical support to ensuring unsponsored children’s needs are met. These funds will extend the work of the church to reach their communities in the way that is most essential to them.
So how will you act? I invite you to join me in believing that greater things are yet to be done in Brazil. By signing up for Act for Compassion and by sharing your fundraiser online with your friends and family, together, we can serve the needs of this region and see how our act spurs the actions of countless others, seen and unseen.
When we are love in action, we truly are living out what compassion really is. It only takes one act.
So, act for the Assis brothers.