Old Testament heroes have grabbed the children’s imagination: Joseph being bullied by his brothers, but vindicated in the end. David the little shepherd boy felling mighty Goliath. Ruth sticking with her mother-in-law and being looked after by Boaz: “Your people will be my people, your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16).
When Caio first came along, his father had recently been imprisoned. His mother was absent, her life absorbed in drugs and gangsters. His grandmother told us he had started to suffer strange fits. We prayed with him, and these stopped, and his countenance has gradually transformed as he has grown into a steady and joyful young lad. God hasn’t asked us to do more than is within our power to do. He has provided all the resources. He just calls us to ‘go’.
We’re not waving an Anglican flag, we’re not looking to compete with other churches. We’re not looking to pull people out of their own neighbourhood, but going to them, using their skills. We’re not going after the tithing adults, but investing in children. And we’re not dumping our sewage in the canal. Nor are we picketing local politicians, though perhaps we should. Part of our aim is not to rely on foreign funding, to go slowly, to go together, to go in a way, we dare to hope, that other churches can follow. Because in Brazil, no organisation has a better reach to heal the disunity, the division and the degradation.
Read more about working with children in our Footsteps magazine dedicated to Child Participation
Mark Simpson is chaplain of Christ Church, Rio de Janeiro, an international English-speaking church in the city centre. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org