As our children grow up and graduate from our program, we try to make the process of return into society as gradual and gentle as possible. One huge resource we have to aid in this process is our graduate church: New Hope Evangelical Community. Approximately 95% of the congregation of 80 are Hope graduates.
In September of last year, the lease at the graduate church ended and the staff and congregation were faced with the challenge of finding a new place that fit their vision, goals, and (perhaps most impossibly) budget. Pastor Derli dreamed of a place large enough to offer an indoor space for sports, along with locker rooms and, of course, a sanctuary. He envisioned a place where his youthful congregation could spend the day in fellowship, clean up, and attend service all in one location.
As the end of the lease was approaching, he commissioned the congregation to be praying for a new place. And he asked them a very important question: Why are we asking God for this new church building? What is our mission? As a church, they agreed that their mission would be to use the new building as an outreach, a tool to reach lost souls and change lives through the love of Christ.
Through a series of events, their prayer was answered and God provided exactly the place Pastor Derli had envisioned: a gymnasium that is used for volleyball, soccer, and basketball, space for locker rooms, a kitchen, and a sanctuary.
At their very last service in the old building, Pastor Derli reminded them of their mission: to real lost souls and change lives through the love of Christ.
This week, I received an email from Pastor Derli, a great testimony to God's faithfulness:
I am sending some pictures of Mr. Jose. He is the gentleman who was using drugs just on the other side of the wall at our church. On Friday, right before the inauguration of our newly renovated sanctuary, he came to the church saying he was ready to go to a rehabilitation house and that he wanted to change his lifestyle. I had tried before to take him, but he was never quite brave enough to go. So I had asked the church to pray over this, and God heard our prayers. Jose is very happy and thankful. He used to have long hair and a big beard. He left his family in Belem (northern Brazil) and came to try his luck in Sao Paulo, but when he arrived, with all the challenges and being alone, he gave in to the world of drugs. I agreed with him that if he is able to come out of the drugs and stay clean, we will help him return to his city and his family. May God help us and bless us in this project for his life.
In the few short months that the church has been in their new building, this gentleman is the second the church has reached, saving them from a life of drugs through the love of Christ.
Many of our children and graduates came from this exact region of Campinas. The life Jose was living is the life they were headed toward. But by the hope that Christ gives, these children have been saved and transformed. And God is faithful - He is now using them to transform lives as their light shines in the darkness they were once saved from.