Terapia do Abraҫo (Therapy of a Hug) and a New Partnership
We walked into a hilly area of urban Rio de Janeiro only to be met by heavily armed police and people with yellow shirts and warm faces. This past March a group from the Paradox took a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and on this day we visited an area that has a nickname that is roughly translated to “Crack Land”. Given the name, we already had a heightened awareness of our surroundings, then to be greeted by curious police wondering why the foreigners were in this area really got our attention.
We were taken to a small two story building by Pastor Jay, our host in Brazil, and those friendly looking people in yellow shirts. There we met Paulinho. Paulinho and all the other volunteers with him run Terapia do Abraҫo, a ministry that reaches out to the people of Crack Land. As we crowded into the tight little building where the ministry is run, we heard the story of the ministry, sang songs together in English and Portuguese, and even met a woman from Crack Land they had helped. So what do these yellow shirted people do and how can they help in an area called Crack Land?
First and foremost they present people with gospel of Jesus Christ. Paulinho and his people work with a few different groups in their area of Rio; those addicted to drugs, drug dealers, and children. Paulinho told us how they had nearly 100 children into their space for a children’s worship service.
On our walk we were warned and even pleaded with by Paulinho and his team to stay as close to each other and the people in yellow as possible. We turned a corner and saw a man with a walkie talkie in his hand and I thought, “Oh this must be a lookout for the drug dealers.” This thought was confirmed around that corner as we saw, in broad daylight, under a tent like they were selling brownies at a bake sale, men at a table selling crack. The group prayed, sang songs, and someone spoke to, or at, the drug dealers. Some of the dealers even sang along with us. When we were done praying we noticed a crowd around us, not necessarily interested in what we were doing, but waiting for us to finish so they could buy their crack.
As we moved along, business went back to normal for the dealers, and we followed some of those who had just made their purchases into the real Crack Land. To get there we had to go through a hole in a brick wall, down a hill, over railroad track, and up another hill. Crack Land is really just a string of poorly put together shanty houses where those addicted to and currently using crack or other drugs live. We walked in, in our tight little group, with eyes wide open. Paulinho and his people led us through Crack Land and along the way we gave people food and something to drink, prayed with people (through translators), sang songs, and shared the gospel with those who would listen. Terapia do Abraҫo does this on a regular basis with or without visiting teams. They also provide opportunities for people to get off drugs by taking them far out of the city to rehab facilities, one of which we got to visit the next day.
How does The Paradox fit in?
More than just a sight-seeing tour, this Spring Break trip was a way to see how our church could partner with Act 29’s work in Brazil through Jay’s ministry, Restore Brazil. We primarily worked in different areas of Rio throughout the trip, but with Paulinho and Terapia do Abraҫo we found a place where we as a church can meet a need with Restore Brazil. Jay and Restore Brazil would previously help Paulinho where they could but now, through a partnership with the Paradox, Paulinho will be paid a salary through Restore Brazil. Our hope is that Jesus would be made known and His light would shine in this very dark place.
The Paradox’s partnership with Restore Brazil and Terapia do Abraҫo will ensure that Paulinho and his team will be able to continue serving these people in deep darkness and continue to help these people move from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God. Our prayer is that through Restore Brazil there will be a church planted in Crack Land so that these afflicted people will have a place to go to hear of the amazing grace of God through Jesus Christ.
We as a church will not only give to Restore and Paulinho financially, we will also have trips like the one we did this past March, to introduce our people to the people in Rio de Janeiro and to serve alongside Restore Brazil. Our leaders have also committed to being a part of Restore Brazil’s pastor training program and will serve the overall church in Rio by helping to train up its leaders.
You can get involved
First and foremost, you can pray.
• Pray for Paulinho and Terapia do Abraҫo that they will continue to faithfully serve those in Crack Land spiritually and physically.
• Pray for those addicted to and selling drugs in Crack Land that Jesus would transform their hearts and lives.
• Pray for Restore Brazil as they work to build up the church in Rio de Janeiro.
• Pray that the Paradox’s partnership with Restore would be fruitful.
Second, you can go or help someone else go. There are already plans in the works for another trip to Rio de Janeiro next Spring Break, so be on the lookout for more information about that. Pray to see if God would have you go on the next trip or help send someone by giving financially.
This is an exciting start to a partnership that will hopefully extend not the reach of the Paradox Church, but the reach of the gospel to a city that is in desperate need for the hope that only comes from Jesus.