Thursday, April 26, 2007

Walking the Favelas

Walking into a Brazilian Favelas (slum town) is an all together different kind of experience. The level of poverty is just like nothing I have ever seen. Having travel throughout Brazil I felt I knew what to expect. I have "driven by" many times. I thought that I would know what to expect.

But reality was very different. First off, we had to try two different "entrances" into the Favelas. There had been heavy rain in the Favelas the previous two days, so many of the "streets" were flooded. The water was dark, cold and filled with trash.

Once we made our way in, I could not help but notice all the destruction. Because of the heavy rains, and consequently the flooding, many of the plywood homes had been destroyed. From talking to some of the people who minister in the Favelas, this is very common experience. Any time it rains, the people of the slum cities stand a good chance of losing their home.

So a midst all this destruction, I would expect to find depressed, worn out, and disillusion people. While that is quite prominent, we also found many believers, people with the joy of Christ in their life. We found people willing to talk with us and share their burdens. They readily accepted our offers of pray and which in many ways, was all we could offer them.

Walking into a Favela is a test of our belief in the power of prayer. For the most part, we were tourists in the Favelas. We handed out stickers to children and offered prayers to the parents. Our time there was probably less than 3 hours. Walking out, I could not shack the nagging question, “Did I do any good today? Are any of those people better off?”

Granted, our time visiting this slum was in part to scout out future ministry opportunities. But the reality is the same. The fact is, apart from prayer, we can do very little to “change” the physical and spiritual lives of a person living in abject poverty. But how mighty are our prayers! Our prayers are powerful, not because of whom we are, but because of Whom we pray to. Our prayers are able to do mighty things because the God we pray to is able to do mighty things. In fact, it is sort of His specialty.

Do I truly believe that? I’m not sure. I caught myself thinking that my prayers were insignificant and petty. I caught myself thinking that nothing would change. But that is more a statement of me faith and not on God.

I wonder what other things are in our lives that seem so big and insurmountable. I wonder if sometimes I am afraid to pray for those “biggies” because I am not sure that God really will do anything about it. I also wonder what would happen in my life if “in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving” I took my request to God.


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