During prep week at Impact we talked a lot about our fears about going to Brazil. It was then that I was able to identify and acknowledge my biggest fear about coming to Brazil…Cristolandia. Cristolandia is a ministry in Brasilia that evangelizes in what is known as “Crackland.” They go out and ask men on crack if they would like to come back to the shelter and have dinner and sleep for a night, and if they want to join a recovery program and live with the other men at Cristolandia in recovery. So, for a few weeks I was anticipating Cristolandia and super afraid and nervous about what was going to happen. For those of you that don’t know me well or much about my life, my biological mother was a drug addict and alcoholic throughout my entire life. Although I’m thankful that my mom has been clean for almost 2 years, I knew that going into Cristolandia would be very difficult for me.
The main 2 things that I feared were that one, these people would reject God, and two, that I would look at these people and see my mom. I had an overwhelming fear that the pain I once experienced from my mother would creep back in. Just as I had expected, both of these things happened.
My team consisted of four of us from Impact, four people from Cristolandia, and a translator. The first man we met on the streets didn’t have any shoes and was really dirty. He took the soup and water we offered but said he didn’t need Jesus or anything to do with Cristolandia. We met a girl who was hallucinating and seemed about my age. We saw two girls sitting on the street doing drugs and tried to hide it when we walked up. They were so out of it that they were doing the drugs while the police were on the same street as them. We saw a guy that put up cardboard boxes to sleep on the entrance of a restaurant and he was preparing to do the drugs. We also saw a few prostitutes. At the end of the night, three men ended up coming back to Cristolandia for the night, and one man said that he would smoke “one more time” and join Cristolandia.
It was extremely hard to look these people in the face and hear them reject God, and it was hard to be reminded of my mother when I was with them. BUT, God was so faithful. He prepared me in every way for what he knew I was going to experience that night, and I’m and so thankful for his faithfulness. That morning before I left I read this in my devotion:
“COME TO ME, and rest in My loving presence. You know that this day will bring difficulties, and you are trying to anticipate what is ahead of you, you forget that I am with you – now and always. Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way! Instead, come to Me, and relax in My peace. I will strengthen you and prepare you for this day, transforming your fear into confident trust.”
I also read Joshua 1:5-9 that morning, which says,
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”
God didn’t take away the trials I was to face that day, but He was with me, and that was enough. God is faithful, and he does what he promises.
– Chelsea Philips