It all began when I was 13 years old. Each day, as I walked toward my after-school job, I passed a building where street people and beggars often sheltered themselves on the sidewalk under the overhanging marquee. I was aghast as I saw how these people existed. One morning, I approached one of those men, Sr. Joao, and spoke briefly with him. After that day, I always took him some bread and coffee; and gradually we began a tentative friendship. Then one morning, as I approached him at the usual hour, I was shocked when he did not respond to my greeting. All alone on that cold sidewalk during the night, Sr. Joao had died.
Some years later, I accepted Jesus as my Savior; and God began to work in my heart, bringing me to understand that people like Sr. Joao, despite being marginalized by society, were deeply loved by God. The situation of the street people really made me uncomfortable. One night, on my way to church, I saw two men fallen on a sidewalk; and in that moment I prayed a heartfelt prayer that God took very seriously: “Father, if You truly love these people so much, why don’t You use me to help them and to bring them to salvation?”
Days later, I began going out on the streets to tell these people about God’s love. All seemed to be going well until one man stopped me in my tracks with this question: “If God loves me so much, why doesn’t He prove it? Here I am, cold and hungry…what I really need is some way to get out of this life on the streets.” Those words impressed me. I asked God to show me some way to demonstrate His love in a practical way. I did more than just talk about God’s love; I began to distribute food, blankets, and bus tickets so the men could return to their families. To my great joy, the first two men with whom I had prayed became the first two to give their hearts and lives to Jesus.
From this simple beginning was born Life Mission (Missao Vida) a philanthropic institution well-known throughout Brazil and in many parts of the rest of the world. I couldn’t have imagined it: but it was God’s plan from His heart.
I helped those men as much as I could, but still the thought of their life on the streets made me very uncomfortable. First, I tried to find some ministry or institution in Brazil to accept them, but I could not find even one that would help them through a process of rehabilitation and total reintegration in society. My concern earned me some odd titles: “Prince of the Paupers” or “That Crazy Man from Anapolis”. But God was making me the first ‘‘Beggars’ Evangelist’’ of Brazil. Despite the struggles and adversities, there I was, 20 years old, beginning a new project that, by God’s mercy, is still a success today.
I began renting rooms for the men to sleep. From my own funds, I provided eight rooms and meals for men who agreed to come in off the streets. It wasn’t easy. God supplied a solution through the simple suggestion of one of the men: “Why don’t you find a house where we could all live together? You’d save money and you’d have all of us there to talk to us about Jesus.”
We prayed a lot. God’s answer came when someone donated a small parcel of land. We prayed some more. We did not have financial resources to build even a simple structure. Then the answer came: As I prayed, God told me that indeed I did have some resources. He reminded me that I’d been setting aside a small amount each pay-day so that I could buy a new car. I contracted some bricklayers and the street people offered to serve as helpers. In that way, we built Brazil’s first Center for Rehabilitation of Street People. God continued to open doors and, over the next months and years, He sent us volunteers, employees, and others who were willing to help in the work.
Now, as I write these words, my mind is filled with questions. Why does the all-powerful Lord do so little in this world? Where is the God of Elisha, of Abraham, the God of great miracles? Then the question changes: where is the Elisha of God? Where are all the other men of God? I can only answer that when I obeyed Him, this is what He did through my obedience.
Today, Life Mission’s ministry is spread throughout Brazil and into the world. We have 15 triage, rehabilitation, and reintegration centers in the 5 regions of Brazil, in 10 states and 15 cities: Anapolis and Cocalzinho, state of Goias; Brasilia in the Federal District; Uberlandia and Governador Valadares in Minas Gerais; Camacari and Luiz Eduardo Magalhaes in Bahia; Duque de Caxias in Rio de Janeiro; Londrina and Rolandia in Parana; Manaus in Amazonas; Princesa Isabel in Paraíba; Sao Jose do Rio Preto and Guapiacu in Sao Paulo; and Caruaru in Pernambuco. We have grown in in grace before God and He has blessed us with other ministries, such as the Life Educational Centers in Anapolis, Goias state; Joao Pessoa in Pernambuco state; and Madagascar in Africa. In these centers, hundreds of children who live in situations of risk, each day receive psychological and spiritual help while being tutored in school subjects as well as English, computer skills, and music. Underprivileged adults receiving training in technical and professional skills. At the Life Seminary, we train those who feel called to urban missions; at Life Clinic, we supply medical, dental, psychological, and social assistance to those who are in the rehab program as well as to members of the local underprivileged population. Our Villa for Retired Pastors provides for retired pastors, giving them a life of dignity and continued useful activity. We also have a Reintegration Center, a Prayer Center, the Faith Memorial, the Friends’ Forest, the New Land Event Center, Life Camp, and Life Hotel. These last three are where we manage public events or fund-raising events for the mission and train former street people in the skills needed to allow them to find employment in hotels and hospitality.
Currently, the total number of spaces we offer in our triage, rehabilitation, and reintegration centers enable us to directly influence the lives of approximately 1500 people. God has been faithful in this work which He has entrusted to us. What formerly was a simple shelter for 12 people has been transformed into Brazil’s largest Rehabilitation Center for Street People.
There have been many outstanding experiences during the past three decades (and more) of this ministry. I thank all of those who have given wholehearted support in this task: they are fellow soldiers we fight together for those on the streets. Most of all, I thank God, my faithful friend and Lord. To Him be all honor, glory, and praise!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE A PART IN THE MINISTRY OF LIFE MISSION?
Five meal per day; clean clothing, bed and blankets in a homey atmosphere; training for employment; medical and dental care; healing for physical and emotional wounds; shared friendships for listening and counseling; support and encouragement to start again. Is there a price that one could put on all of this? For the street people who come to us, it’s priceless. But to enable us to do this ministry, we need your help. You can have a part in this distribution of love and multiplication of solidarity. It’s easy to do what’s right:
- Donate new and used clothing and shoes
- Donate medications
- Donate food, cleaning and hygiene products
- Volunteer regularly
- Contribute financially through check, credit card, or bank deposits
- Give towards special projects
- Pray for those coming off the streets, for the Centers, for the staff, pastors, and missionaries
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT LIFE MISSION
Headquarters: Missao Vida, Av. Carlos Elias n.º 50, B. São Carlos, Anápolis/GO, CEP: 75084-100
Telephone: 55 62 3318 1985 / 55 62 3318 2085.
Associação Missionária Evangélica Vida / Missão Vida
Banco Bradesco: Ag.: 0240-2/ C.C. 55578-9 (For on-line transfers use the Alphanumeric option DP05)
Banco do Brasil: Ag.: 3206-9/ C.C. 27381-3
LIFE MISSION / PRAYER REQUESTS for APRIL / 2020
1 – Rehab Residents and Children at Risk (Brazil and Madagascar/Africa)
Despite the pandemic, our centers continue to function for street people in all stages of triage, rehabilitation, and reintegration. Our Educational Centers are prohibited from gathering the children in groups; but we continue to supply meals and to offer individual social services. Please join us in praying that our people will be protected from the Covid-19 virus and that God will use this situation to bring new life to many.
2 – Finances
Our mission’s financial situation reflects that of the Brazilian people. Our financial supporters are facing loss of employment, financial crises, and dwindling resources. Let us pray that our supporters, and the Mission, will be able to honor their commitments during these difficult days.
3 – Missionary Impact Teams
Our outreach teams are unable to visit Brazil’s churches, as the churches have been closed due to the pandemic. Pray that we will develop new outreach strategies for this time, and that in the year’s second semester the entire situation will be reversed through impactful presentations.
4 – Events
The 15th Congress of Pastors and Leaders of the Mid-West is still scheduled for October 28-31, 2020. At the same time, we will hold the Conference for Missionaries in the Mid-West. The Couples’ Conference has been re-scheduled for December 11-13, 2020. Please pray that we will be able to hold these planned events and that they will bring blessing to those who will attend.
5 – Presidency
Let us pray earnestly for Life Mission’s president, Rev. Wildo, for his wife Rosane, and their children Luíza, Henrique, Déborah and Gabriela. Pray for protection, health, spiritual renewal, unity, and faith.
6 – Mission Family
We are a large group at Life Mission! Behind each leader, missionary, intercessor, pastor, student, or staff member, stands his or her family. Pray for each parent, each spouse, each child.
7 – Global Needs
Pray for our world, for the countries that are affected by the pandemic, for the people who are fighting the disease, for the families who have lost loved ones, for the groups at great risk, for medical teams as they work with those who are ill, for the political issues and the conflicts that are raised due to the chaos of the pandemic. Pray for prudence on the part of governments as they make decisions affecting health and the economy.