More than 11 million people in Brazil live in the favelas, or slums, being bullied by gangs, threatened by drug wars, and scrambling just to make a living. American missionaries Eric and Ramona Reese live here and reach out to drug dealers, gang members, and prostitutes on a daily basis. By doing so, they’re bringing light to one of darkest slums of Rio de Janeiro. Reese and his family came to Brazil 13 years ago – he is fully aware that he might go out one day and not come back.
His greatest challenge after coming to the country was gaining the confidence of a top favela gang leader, ‘The Godfather’. The Godfather originally wanted to kill Reese, but now speaks well of the missionary. “Eric was a person who came to the community and helped the community, which has many needs” he said. Shortly after the interview, a rival gang assassinated The Godfather – but not before he put his faith in Jesus Christ.
“We can’t stand here and just let these people shoot and kill each other without the Gospel being preached,” Rees says.
“Communicating the Gospel with these folks cannot wait until tomorrow,” he says. He now finds help from Peter, a Brazilian pastor with a favela background. He was shot by police while
trying to steal a car. He was hit by one of the shots. Peter recalls.
“My mother had always told me that even if it were the last minute of my life, if I repented, God would forgive me of my sins. And that time had come. The grace of God has brought me from near deaths and shootings to, now, a beautiful family, a lovely wife, awesome kids.” The transformation in people’s lives is what keeps the Reese’s going. “When the Holy Spirit does His work, and a person receives Christ… that’s the greatest reward.” Children are especially important to Reese. “If you can reach those kids,” he says, “you can change that neighbourhood.”
Source: Eric & Ramona Reese – Joel News International
BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
PRAISE: God for missionaries prepared to sacrifice their lives for the call of God. Pray for Christ’s new life to inundate this Rio de Janeiro slum.