Dogs pranced eagerly about, and a sleepy old cat lay curled up on the roof of one of Cristolândia’s buildings. We arrived to a warm welcome and a moment of worship before being told about the mission of the program. Cristolândia, our hosts explained, was a project that very literally takes drug addicts from the streets of Cracklândia to provide them with an environment wherein they can be transformed by Christ. We were given a tour of the farm. There were pigs and piglets, various crops, and places where workshops were held to equip residents with skills that would allow them to excel for years to come. One of them split a jackfruit for us to try. We were then able to hear the stories of those whose lives had been so drastically transformed by the truth. The pictures they painted of a dark and hopeless life were harrowing, and yet it made the joy of their freedom all the more inspiring. One of the residents, a future barbershop owner, gave our leader a haircut.
We visited another of Cristolândia’s locations the following day. If the first welcome was warm, the jubilant choir of students that received us this day was truly special. After eating and worshipping with them, we had the privilege of helping in a small but impactful way by sanding and painting a couple of walls. We played soccer together in the scorching sun before we left on the bus for the very streets where so many of the residents had been rescued from not two years before. Here in Cracklândia, we participated in an active search, speaking with those who are enslaved to a world from which we know they have already been freed. There was an old man with a big smile, a sad looking woman, and a little kid on a bicycle with his big brother in pursuit down an alleyway at dusk. We had food for them and prayed over that place. The next day we attended a service at yet another of their locations and said goodbye to the folks at Cristolândia.
Our next project brought us to APAE, a facility aimed at training those affected by various disabilities to be valuable members of the workforce. Here our team was able to put in some good work. We got to repaint the interior of their technology lab and hallway, as well as clear out and clean the greenhouse. The work took us two days to complete, and though the sun was hot and the paint got everywhere, it was an absolute pleasure to give a little bit of effort in service to those who do the Lord’s work. And, the fresh lemonade they brought us in the middle of the day was the best I’ve ever tasted.
This week we were blessed with chance after chance to witness the incredible efforts of God’s people in a culture so distant from our own that mere weeks ago it might just as well have been a fantasy. It is not, though; here, just as at home and everywhere else on the planet, there is a deep and painful thirst. We have been trusted with the only water that can ever quench such a bitter longing, and this week we saw what it looks like to let that water flow liberally. What a beautiful sight it was.
Daniel Bosch & Garrison Keeton