** KIDS, please ask your parents if you can read this entry.**
The day the team from Cleveland arrived, they shared with us that they had a sense from God that He wanted to use them on this trip in some way related to sexual abuse. A woman on the team had experienced the same and was willing to tell her story. Perhaps our Father sometimes prepare us for certain tasks.
When we arrived in Gurupa, which is a rough Amazon River town, we were told of a 14 y/o girl who was raped by her uncle and became pregnant eight months ago. The same man also raped this girl’s 8 and 5 y/o sisters. “Aline” has been so traumatized that she has hardly spoken since the rape. She is a beautiful girl who, when we visited her, made no eye contact and appeared totally disinterested. The woman on the team who has experienced similar trauma shared her story through Deanna. They empathized with Aline and prayed for her, sharing genuine concern and communicating hope in a God who can heal even the deepest wounds. Three of us men spent time in another room with Aline’s father. We listened to his story as he shared the challenges he has faced both as the father of these three kids and as the brother of the perpetrator. We prayed for him at length and communicated God’s desire to be his comfort and his wisdom. When we left, the women shared that the girl showed no response and they wondered if the visit was even helpful. Aline expressed no desire to know God, no desire to go to church, and no desire for help.
On our walk back to the boat, the local Vineyard pastor’s wife stopped by a store to invite a woman to the service that evening. The woman said she wouldn’t be able to make it to the service, so we offered to pray for her then. She consented and as we laid our hands on her and began praying, she immediately began crying, obviously touched by God and by our concern for her. It was a beautiful encounter and a nice example of God using us spontaneously. She shared with us openly about her battles and her lack of hope. As we left, she said her hope was renewed and she acknowledged God’s love for her. We were available, somewhat assertive, and God used us in a profound way.
We spent the afternoon walking the streets of Gurupa, inviting people to the evening service. A group of white people can draw quite a bit of attention and everyone seemed glad to talk with us. There were many delightful encounters with adults and many, many kids and we all experienced a real sense of God’s presence and His pleasure throughout.
We walked by the church building two hours before the service was to begin, and guess who was there? Aline. She sat for those two hours with “Karen”, the woman on the team who had shared with her and prayed for her that morning. They were able to speak little to each other but Aline seemed relaxed and they were able to connect through gestures and touch. By the end of the evening, Aline was smiling, making eye contact, and interacting. The change in this girl was dramatic. The power of love and of Jesus’ Spirit was impressive and demonstrated in this beautiful, suffering child.
Teams with this mission do not typically visit Gurupa. Teams typically do not come with a specific word about ministering to a particular issue. Teams do not usually come with someone sexually abused as a child. Translators on most teams are men, but this time our translator was Deanna. Could it be? Would God so cherish this girl? Would He so love one that He would arrange all this for her? Coincidences? Or extravagant love, in the midst of difficulty? Would He who spared not His Son to demonstrate His love for her not also do this? How often is He demonstrating His extravagant love for me, for you, for those around us, for our family, for our neighbors, and for those in the most remote areas of the Amazon basin? And perhaps He loves using people and their past wounds (2Cor 1:3-4) to communicate this love? Open our eyes, Lord!