Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Acts 14:22
“When I was involved in crime, everything came easy to me and now that I decided to leave that life behind me, everything is hard.” Estello was smiling when he said this.
I was doing first aid on a wound that he sustained on his head while going through the trash for recycling materials. We met Estello and his wife living near Cracolândia in a small shack made out of recycling materials. He has been clean for a year or so. It is amazing that he is living in the midst of the drug culture and yet he was not tempted to return to the lifestyle. I asked him what brought about the change. Without any hesitation he said, “God.” When we told him that we were from the church as well, he smiled and said that he just learned that God is Love. This was the truth that captured his heart. It was his turning point. He attends a Pentecostal church close where he lives. He does not really consider himself a pentecostal or belonging to any denomination. He just wants to learn about this God who is Love. He recognizes that everyone that comes in Love to serve the poor and forgotten are sent by God.
It is quite common to hear people use religious jargon in the streets. Sometimes the worst drug dealer uses religious rhetoric but there was something different about Estello. You can literally see the joy in this man’s face when he shared about his newfound faith. He is really transformed by an genuine experience of God’s love. However, life has become tougher for him since he found his faith.
I would also like to follow up on another person’s story whose life got remarkable tougher after she decided to do the right thing. I shared the story of Suely in a previous posting. I wrote that her long-lost mother showed up pregnant and drugged out at her doorsteps. Suely is expecting a child soon and she and her husband are taking care of her two siblings and a young child. They work all day and are paid salaries barely sufficient to keep their heads above the water.
Suely’s mother went to the doctor for her pre-natal check up only to discover that she was not really pregnant. It was a cyst that was causing the symptoms of pregnancy. She had it removed and she decided that it was time for her to sober up. She asked for our help to find a drug rehabilitation program. This is good news but it does not mean that Suely’s life is going to get easy. Her mother is mentally unstable which makes it hard for her to keep a job. She needs help and she is willing to get help. Suely is the only one who could help at this moment. Suely wants to do the right thing. This means she is going to carry an extra burden. Her mother has nobody else except her daughter.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Looking for the easy road is what brought many of the adults and children to the streets. It is the easy path to self-destruction. Life is not easy and easy has never been associated with Good. Putting our faith in God does not open the pathway to an easy life. Our faith is not a solution to our problems. It is an answer to a burning question in our soul: the answer that we need to face the challenges of this world. It is the strength that comes from within to give us courage to face the harsh realities of life and know that they cannot overcome us. It is the wisdom that reveals to us that nothing can separate us from the Love of God.
Suely and Estello can smile despite their challenges because they have discovered this Faith that is the foundation of their joy.
Link to my original post about Suely: