The Brazilian family is in crisis. Millions of the parents leave home early in the morning and struggle to earn money for food and shelter for their family, and they have little time for their children. The children are left alone while their parents are working. The children have to make their own food, go to school on their own, care for their younger siblings, and take responsibility of the cleaning, laundry and health needs without adult supervision. Children often to go to the streets to play or to get food, and many times they run into people who introduce them to a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution.
THE BRAZILIAN METHODIST CHURCH RESPONDS TO CHILDREN’S NEEDS.
The Methodist church affirms its Christian responsibility for the holistic well being of all people as an inherent part of its fidelity to the word of God as expressed in the New and Old Testament scripture, Social creed of the Brazilian Methodist church.
For the nearly a century, the Brazilian Methodist church has maintained projects that respond to the needs of children and teenagers starting in the 1940’s and peaking during the military dictatorship (1964-82) when tens of millions of rural people migrated to the cities in search of a better life. This “rural exodus” undermined Brazil’s social fabric and family structure and have had a profound negative impact on children. Slums in all major cities were built without adequate sanitation, health treatment facilities, or schools. With a burgeoning social crisis and the return to democracy in the 1990’s and 1990’s the Methodist church began many new projects responding to the social problems caused by the rapid process of urbanization.
Churches, social organizations, and political leaders created a broad movement seeking legal protection for children. Today Brazil has an advanced legal code protecting the rights of children and teenagers. The well being of children and youth, however, is not something that can be done by legal decree; a healthy society is built by the collective effort of families, voluntary organizations, businesses, churches, and the government.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT “SHADE AND FRESH WATER”?
In the place of a mammoth-sized social crisis, the Brazilian Methodist church made children its “number one priority” and created the Shade and Fresh Water Project as a national network to assist local Methodist churches to develop activities for children as on alternative to the streets. The goal is to provide supervised activities that help young people become healthy citizens and gain an exposure to Christian values. Every local church is challenged to organize an after school program for the children and teenagers between six and 14 years of age that follow national guidelines promoting healthy physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social development.
WHY THE NAME “SHADE AND FRESH WATER”?
This Methodist program seeks to provide true signs of God’s love for children and youth by responding to their needs and giving them a chance to know the Christian way. The church adopted a popular Brazilian expression that transmits a desire to find a place that provides protection from life’s harsh realities. Shade is a place to rest our bodies from life’s bitter heat, and water quenches our thirst. It is a place of protection that allows people the opportunity to grow. This clearly understood phrase has profound biblical illusion. Shade represents the protection and care the church offers to children. Fresh water carries the biblical image of God’s cleansing transformation and renewal.
HOW DOES THE PROJECT WORK?
Participatory planning is an essential part of the process of community building where the church and community identify their problem and become partners in building a healthier society. Each local church meets with children and their families to identify priorities for an educational program. Together they develop activities in the area of Christian education, academic support, sport and recreation, culture and artistic expression, health, citizenship or computer education. To be part of the Shade and Fresh Water network, the program must offer regular recreation, academic support, and Christian education activities.
Local projects are integrated into a regional and national network that allow them to share their needs and successes, and educators meet with educators from the projects to share experiences and gain program resources.
Today Methodist volunteers are reaching thousands of children that otherwise would be left on their own. Shade and Fresh Water is the Brazilian Methodist church’s response to sharing God’s love to children in need.
HOW CAN YOU HELP THE BRAZILIAN CHURCH RESPOND TO THE NEED OF CHILDREN?
· You can be part of this ministry. You can pray for the Brazilian children and for the Methodist volunteers that are involve in Shade and Fresh Water.
· You can come as volunteers! Come and share your love talents with us. God touches people despite language barriers. Each year the Shade and Fresh Water Project receives many individual volunteer and works teams. Love is universal language; it touches and transforms our heart. Communication through words helps, but the power of presence transforms by giving and receiving.
· You can contribute to the Shade and Fresh Water Project advance special number 11580-A. The Brazilian church does not have the financial resources to meet this great challenge. Your donation can help us reach children with Christ’s love
You can also support my mission through prayers and financial support to my missionary Advance number 3022192.
Thank you in advance and God bless you.
Source of information: Shade and Fresh Water booklet, Gordon Greathouse
GMF International Track, Class of 2016-2018
Shade and Fresh Water Project