25 January 2021
Reflections from Brazil: Shade and Fresh Water
In the third of her blogs on her trip to Brazil in early 2020, Carolyn Lawrence reflects on her visit to a church that runs a project that helps prevent young people from falling into drug abuse:
As more and more families from rural communities migrated to the cities, the social problems of millions of families in Brazil have increased. As many parents work long hours to support their families, children are often left alone at home and can become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and be led into lives of crime, drugs and prostitution. In the face of this huge social crisis, the Methodist Church in Brazil created the ‘Shade and Fresh Water’ project to develop activities for children as an alternative to hanging about in the streets. In churches across the nation, supervised activities are provided for children and young people helping them to become healthy citizens in the context of Christian values. The project offers young people a safe place where they can develop socially, physically, emotionally and spiritually as they hear about how much Jesus loves them.
The name ‘Shade and Fresh Water’ arose from a desire to provide true signs of God’s love and is based on a popular Brazilian expression. Shade represents finding a place of protection and fresh water quenches our thirst. In Biblical terms this is easily understood by communities as showing the protection and care of God and the image of fresh water as God’s cleansing, transformation and renewal.
I met Pastor Fatima who arrived as leader at the Multirao Church only two weeks before we arrived. Her church is set within a community which struggle economically and where they face challenges such as drug abuse, family breakdown and teenage pregnancies. The church are seeking to address some of these issues through their local ‘Shade and Fresh Water’ project. Michelle, the leader of the project, explained that the project helps to bring children out of difficult home situations and to rescue them from sexual exploitation.
Working with children up to 17 years old three times a week, they use music and art but also give the young people advice about drugs and health issues and teach them about the love of Jesus. Here they have about 20 young teens and about 30 children registered but sometimes there can be up to 70 or 80 young people turning up to the sessions.
Michelle told me the story of a child who came to the project four years ago under the influence of drugs and through the project stopped taking drugs and brought along his three brothers. None of the children could read so the project also helped them to learn.
I also met Sara, 14 and Leo 10 who help at the project using their musical instruments. The children are taught to play instruments as part of the sessions and then they gradually become a part of the worship band in the church services.
Across the country, Methodist volunteers are reaching thousands of children who would otherwise be left on their own. It is a remarkable initiative, showing the love of God in practical ways to children in need.
Read Carolyn's other blogs on her trip to Brazil: