Here in the United States, we recently celebrated Thanksgiving. Turkeys were roasted, plates were shared, and homes were full of fellowship.
Whether celebrating with family or reconnecting with friends, sharing a meal together provides a unique opportunity. While gathered around a table, conversation happens. People feel welcomed, like they belong. This often leads to a more open posture towards sharing one's stories and thoughts. It's part of what makes Thanksgiving so important to us. For those who know Jesus, sharing a meal together can be one of the most effective and sincere ways to invite people in who do not yet know Him.
In Brazil, one of IDES' partner missions takes this opportunity seriously in spreading the love of Christ in their local community.
In their particular community, recent flooding and a general lack of resources keeps many families within the grips of poverty. There are very few jobs available, and often families with children must ration out how much food each family member can have per day. Hunger and malnutrition are a significant threat.
IDES' partner mission has a simple but effective model: provide nutritious food and share the Gospel. Thanks to your generosity, they were recently resupplied with foodstuffs to continue their outreach to the families and children in need.
"We present the Gospel and the love of Jesus while at the same time nurturing their need of food, giving out 100 Food Baskets to 100 families, giving hot meals on a temporary basis to individuals in need for 30 days and soup for the homeless and families once a week in partnership with the Christian church and other churches," our partner reported. "We [also] helped the Kids Place by providing food products to feed 120 children who stay at Kids Place during the day, to be helped with school work, activities and where they learn about Jesus and have worship services."
Instead of just stopping with what could be seen as a "hand-out" of food, IDES' partner intentionally invests in the potential for building relationships. Sharing a meal together leads to conversations that open the door to discuss what further needs each family has, both physical and spiritual.
"These families are visited one-by-one to see their needs not only for food but also help with other needs they might have such as helping them find employment, getting documents, getting scholarships for special courses, etc." our partner said. "In the personal visits we have the opportunity to talk directly to family members about the Lord, praying with them and giving them hope for a better future."
Throughout the meals shared, each family was impacted with the love of God. Two individuals who received meal assistance were gracious enough to share their stories with us.
"Cilas used to live in a shack, but it [burnt down], so he has been getting hot meals. Recently we were able to purchase a plane ticket for him to go back to his home state, Rio de Janeiro, where he has family. There, his family will give him lodging and meals and will help him find a job. He had been having drinking problems, but now going home he hopes to start over. He is very happy and greatly thankful that God has blessed him in this way."
"Aldeci had been receiving food baskets from our ministry since last year, on and off, because her family (husband and two children), were going through hardships: no jobs, and trying to pay rent on a small shack. A month ago they were evicted from their shack. The Lord provided a place for them to live: a local church that has a small apartment. [Aldeci's husband] was asked to care for the church area. So now they have a home and her husband has the job as caretaker of the church area. They are grateful for having a place to live and means of support. Praise the Lord!"
By sharing a meal with Cilas, Aldeci and her family, and with countless other families in this Brazilian community, conversations were had that led to help and hope in Jesus' name.
Your support made these conversations possible. As we enter into the Christmas season, we ask that you would consider making more meals like this possible for people in need around the world. One of the easiest ways to do this is through our online Gift Catalog. Within the catalog, under the "Hunger Relief" tab, you will find several items that you or your family can provide to those in need like these families in Brazil. Just click the link below to get started!