Mercy triumphs over judgment

One of the privileges of living here is that we have been able to start understanding the complex web of relationships that influence daily life for these people. As a result, we are seeing God begin to transform entire families through demonstrated love and the Word of God. Two sisters, Rita (nicknamed Nona) and Juliana have dramatically given their lives to Jesus as the first fruits in a family with desperate needs.
We first came into contact with this family last year, as Juliana’s two year-old daughter Ingrid would literally cling to team members, begging for attention. We also established some contact with their brother, Né, who was part of the favella rap group that performed for us last year on several occasions. We had some interaction with Nona and Juliana last year as well, which laid a foundation of trust that allowed them to receive words of truth this year.
Before they gave their lives to Jesus this week, Nona and Juliana were broken-hearted prostitutes and involved in the drug traffic of the area. Juliana and her five children live in some of the worst poverty we’ve seen in the area, in a small dirty room infested with rats. However, God’s love has broken into their situation and given them new life! On Friday, Pastors Bill and Mary Pat were able to tell these women of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and His plan for their lives. Nona had been suffering from back pain, and as they prayed she was entirely healed! With this evidence of God’s personal interest in her, she surrendered her life to the Lord. Juliana also separately gave her life to the Lord that afternoon! Their eyes tell the story of God’s transformation. There is now hope and happiness where once was misery and bitterness.
We have been able to spend quite a bit of time ministering to these women and encouraging them to come in to the presence of God. The first breakthrough came that very evening, as they both came to our discipling time at the church. For those involved in drug trafficking, there is much fear involved in leaving that scene and becoming established in a church. It was a big step for them to come and be seen walking in the church by the others still involved in the drug world. While there they heard teaching about the woman caught in adultery and God’s overwhelming love, mercy, grace, and protection toward her. This is a reflection of God’s heart for them. Another day, they came to the church while the team was worshipping and experienced heavenly worship. While singing, “Wrap Me in Your Arms”, several team members saw pictures of Jesus being lifted up over Heliopolis and gold being poured out from Heaven on the favella. Another breakthrough came when they both came to Casa de Jesus, Pastor Dirceu’s Sao Paulo church on Sunday morning with several others from Heliopolis. Here they received more freedom and acceptance. On Wednesday night, Nona came to the outdoor worship session we had for her section of the favella. There she told several people that when she left Casa de Jesus on Sunday she had decided to get out of her old life! Jesus is more than able to transform lives! We are all encouraging them and praying with them at every opportunity- please join us as God leads them step-by-step in His perfect plan!