The Mystery of Prayer

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.- John 14:12-14

We walked around the square looking for the children today but no one was around. We know some of the places where they beg for money and went looking for them there instead. We found Breno and Filipe. They were sitting outside a bakery which sells artisanal bread. Breno’s face lit up when he saw us. He jokingly asked me for one dollar. I pretended to give him some change and then he pulled his hand back. He really thought that I was going to give him some money and he did not want any of it. He did not want that kind of relationship with us. He smiled when he realized that I was just joking. Filipe asked us to wait for them at the Cathedral steps. This has been our meeting place for the past month. We have been doing all our activities there.

We sat and waited for them at the steps and it didn’t take long before other children and teens started appearing. They asked to play a game of Uno. This has been our common practice the past few weeks. However, today, we did not bring Uno with us. This was deliberate. It was time for something new. Today, we wanted to just sit and talk with them and maybe do some art. At first, they were disappointed. Nevertheless, they remained at the steps with us. Initially they did not want to anything else. We took out a coloring book and started coloring instead by ourselves. Their curiosity perked and eventually one by one they started asking if they could join us in coloring. However, Dreyson did not want to color but he wanted to talk instead. He started asking questions about Mary’s childhood and Maine where she grew up. We have known Dreyson for almost two years. He ran away to the streets when he was 13. He hardly speaks to us, mainly because he is always high on paint thinner. We were surprised when he started asking things about us. He was also curious about our relationship and how long we have been married. He shared some about his experiences and the places he visited with his father once upon a time. Something happened between his father and him which caused him to run away. We know that his father was a crack addict. We asked him if he was angry with his father and he nodded his head. He did not want to say anything much about it. We did not push him for more information. It is his story and he will tell us at the right time.

Ruan was sitting beside us during this whole time pretending to be coloring but was really eavesdropping . He is used to be terror in the streets. Despite being only 13, he is really big for his age and he used his size to bully others. He stole our deck of Uno cards before and started yelling profanities at us when we asked him to return them. Today, he has changed in the way he interacts with us. He has become more tender with us. He even obeys us whenever we insist that he try not use any profanity in our presence. He apologizes to Mary whenever a swear word slips out. This is a big change for him. He was sitting next to us listening to our conversation with Dreyson and it was obvious that he was beginning to get a little jealous. He wanted some attention from us as well but he was willing to wait for his turn. This is itself is a miracle.

Gabriel appeared out of nowhere and asked for a game of Uno. He has been our constant companion in the streets for the past few weeks. He is about fourteen and we have known him for a little over a year. We told that there was no Uno for today. He did not seem disappointed. He asked what we can do together. We suggested just talking and he smiled. We spoke about a variety of topics. Soon everyone was just talking like a family. The topics ranged from Christmas to things we liked and disliked. They shared about their homes and family members. They shared about some good experiences they had with their families and the homeless shelters where they stayed. They asked about the things we liked and wanted to know how we celebrated Christmas. One of them even asked if we had spent anytime in prison. Everyone they knew has been to prison so for them this wasn’t a strange question. This was the first time in two years where we just talked with children and teens without any activities. We wanted them to know that we just wanted to spend time with them and they blessed us by doing this exactly. When it was time to go, they complained that we were leaving too early. We had been there for almost three hours.

There has been a change in our ministry. Our relationships with the children and teens have grown stronger. They have taken the trouble to learn our first names. They call us, “Uncle Estive” and “Auntie Merie”. Both our names are difficult for Portuguese speakers to pronounce. The children and teens whom we once considered to be tough and closed have changed their demeanor towards us. We set strict limits when they are with us. They cannot use any chemical substances or use profane language when they do anything with us. They struggle with it and yet they don’t mind when we insist that they follow the rules. The positive change is obvious. Perhaps it is just the time we have spent in the streets. One could say that our relationships have evolved through time. In reality, time is neutral. It does not make things better or worse. There are people who have worked in the streets for many years and still do not have good relationships with the children. I think the changes are a result of prayer.

In one of my newsletters to the churches, I suggested that people adopt some of these children and pray for them. The concept of adoption wasn’t so much in the sense of financially sponsoring the children and teens. We did not want any finance involved in this process. We wanted people who felt called to pray and correspond with these children. Some people and churches responded to this challenge. Some wrote to me personally and asked for the names of specific children. I always gave the names of the toughest children and teens. It was interesting to see the effect taking place in some of these children. I am not saying that everything is wonderful and these children are now our best friends. I am saying that there is a change in their hearts. Some might say that it is coincidence. William Temple had the perfect answer for such people; “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t pray, they don’t.”

Jesus said that He will do whatever we ask in His Name. This verse has been abused and distorted ever since it was spoken. This is not a license to get what we want. His words are to meant to comfort our souls. Those who think such way have forgotten the preceding verses. Prayer is a gift to us to do greater things than Jesus did while He walked in this world. It sounds impossible because it is impossible. Only prayer can make this possible. Jesus never was able to touch the hearts of people thousands of miles away from Him when He walked this earth. Today, the church is able to do this through prayer. It is God’s way of helping us participate in something that seems impossible for us to do. It seems impossible to make a difference in the lives of people thousands of miles away. Those who have been praying for these little ones can be comforted to know that their concerns and compassion voiced to our Father are being honored. Anything done in the hopes of spreading the knowledge of God’s love is never in vain.

Ruan used to be a bully and disrespectful, but now he wants to spend time with us and is sometimes even willing to throw his paint thinner away to play games with us. Alan used to ignore us. Now he wants to spend time with us and asks about our lives. I could go on and on about the changes that have occurred. The most logical reason for these is prayer. This has been the major change in our approach since we started this ministry. More Christians are engaged with us in the streets through prayer. It is not magic. It is just the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to see His active presence in action. We are becoming more impressed with what God is doing. Prayer is opening our hearts and minds to God’s actions.


Money in Ministry

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”-Matthew 6:24

Aline is 18 years old. She has been in the streets since she was ten. Before this, she and her sister were taken away from her family and placed in a State-sponsored orphanage. She always said good things about the place but at the same time, she knew that it would never be her home. The orphanages can only accommodate children and teens until they are eighteen. Nothing in the system provides shelter for them after this age. Some are sent back home and some end up in the streets. Aline has spent most of her teenage life looking for a permanent home. As strange as it sounds, Aline ran away to the streets in search for a home. She tried staying with her mother for a while but she did not feel that she had a permanent place there. She never told us her reasons. She just said that it wasn’t her place. Aline is looking for something and she doesn’t have an idea what it is. She never had anyone to guide or help her to navigate through life. In many ways, she is not much different from any teenager who has just turned eighteen. The only difference is that she is living in the streets but now she is tired of it. She wants a place to call home.

It is possible for someone like Aline to rent a place in the center. It would not be ideal in any sense of the word. It is usually a small room with shared bathroom in an house and usually they will ask for an exorbitant rent for what they offer but it will still be affordable for her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a permanent job. She has been doing errands for people and managed to get by with the little they give her. In the beginning of this year, she made up her mind to free herself from any substance abuse. We are proud to say that she has managed this. I have known Aline for almost two years. She has become quite special to us. On her birthday, Mary baked a cake for her and she came to our apartment to celebrate the occasion. We didn’t not realize that this simple gesture initiated a new phase in our relationship. She began to open up to us. Recently, she invited us to watch a movie with her and then quickly stressed that we each should pay for our own way. This was her way of saying that she wanted to spend time with us and not take advantage of our finances. Now, Aline needs some money to rent a room. She has never asked for money from us. She has been sleeping in the streets for the past few days. She left her bag of clothes in our apartment. They were her only possessions and she was afraid that they might stolen while she is asleep at night. She sleeps with the other boys we know in the tunnel. They look up to her as an older sister. This is something temporary. She is looking for a small room to rent. As I already I mentioned before she had limited income. We have the money to help her. However, there is a problem because money is always problematic.

We feel comfortable buying a meal for someone. We would give money to buy clothes for someone. We give to charitable organizations without any hesitation. However, we find it difficult to hand money directly to someone who needs it. We feel uncomfortable and annoyed when someone asks for money. We prefer to look the other way or avoid any eye contact when we see someone begging at the traffic light. In our mind, we have tons of reasons for not giving money to someone directly. Most of them are valid reasons. We don’t want them to use the money unwisely. However, we never question ourselves if we use our money wisely. If we make an inventory of the things we spent our money, can we say honestly say that we spent our money wisely? Well, most of us, including myself, think that our money is our business. No one has the right to tell us how we should spend it. It is our money and we earned it. In reality, we need to question the truth of this mindset. Maybe if we are atheists, then we can believe this way. However, if we are people who take our faith seriously, then we need to ask ourselves who is the owner of our money? It is a question we need to ask on our knees. It is not a political or idealogical question. It is a spiritual one that only God can answer in our hearts. However, we need to be willing to listen to Him. The danger is that we might not like the answer He will give us.

In Jesus’ time, the Jewish people were exposed to all kinds of idolatry. However, Jesus never once said anything about these foreign gods. He only addressed one deity that has an universal appeal to all peoples. He called this deity, mammon. There is no indication that among the Jewish tradition that money had been personified in such a way. What He said radicalized his society. In the Old Testament, money was considered a visible sign of God’s blessings. Abraham, Job and Solomon were considered blessed and material wealth was one of the signs. In the gospel, Jesus, as usual, scandalizes everyone by revealing that money is a destructive god trying to compete with God. It has the potential to dominate anyone who tries to have the best of both worlds. It is impossible to serve both God and Mammon.

Idolatry is about power. It is usurping power from God. Money has the capability of giving us power. Those who have much wealth have less reasons to depend on God. It is not uncommon for people in an affluent society to think that everything can be resolved with money. It is not just the rich that think this way. Both rich and poor can be seduced by this false god. Warnings about the dangers of mammon are not limited to a certain class of people but to everyone who thinks that money is the answer to their problems. However, we live in this world and we need to use money to function in this world. We need to be careful how we use it. We need to have the right relationship with money.

“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”-Job 1:21

The was the attitude of Job in the Bible. It sums up the attitude of the righteous rich in the Old Testament. They were fully aware that their wealth did not belong to them. When it was taken from them, they did not put up a fuss and claim that it was their hard work and good business sense that helped them acquire their wealth. As Christians, we need to recognize that everything including opportunities to make and earn money comes to us through the grace of God. It has nothing to do with our personal merit but only the grace of God. Our money does not belong to us. It has been given to us to participate in God’s work. Even then, we cannot be foolish to think that money is a neutral force. Jesus did not think it was and this is why He identified it as a false god.

We hesitate to give money to the person begging because he might use the money for drugs or alcohol. This is a valid concern. However, it also good to consider the spiritual danger we are putting ourselves in if we refuse to give money away. If we keep the money for our purpose, we are exposing ourselves to greater spiritual danger. There is a spiritual force behind money that makes us depend solely on it. It has the tendency to make us think that we need money to have a secure and peaceful life. The more money we have the more we desire it. Eventually we will find ourselves pushing God in the corner of our lives where we go to Him whenever our money can’t do the job. This is the temptation money brings in our lives. Giving it away is God’s way of providing us a way out of this temptation.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.-1 Cor. 10:13

God might be putting someone in our lives (apart from our families and friends) to share our money so that we can be saved from the power of money. As Christians, we are citizens of another Kingdom that functions radically different than this world. This world uses money to buy favors and assert influences. The Kingdom of God works against this principle. One of the ways we can use money according to the values of the gospel is to give it away.

I am not suggesting that you should give your money to the church or even this ministry or any missionary endeavor. Jesus never mentions any of this as an alternative. Also we should not hand out thousands of dollars to the person on the street. This still remains a unwise thing to do. However, we can follow the words of Jesus; “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”(Luke 16:9) The basis of our giving should be to enhance our relationships. However, this does not mean that relationships should be based on money. It shouldn’t be a paternalistic relationship where the giver assumes a superior position over the recipient. Mammon is very sneaky and can use altruistic means to dominate our soul. The only way to defeat this false god is allowing our hearts to be guided by the true and living God. We need to pray that Holy Spirit will open the door for a relationship with the person begging at the side of the street. It means treating the person like a human being. Our giving can open to the door for us to say a kind word. We can give in way to show that we desire more than monetary relationship with them. However, none of this would be possible without prayer. Our giving can only transmit God’s love if we open ourselves to be used by God in this way.

We want Aline to know us as people who love and care for her. This takes time. We don’t want to use mammon to accelerate this process. It does not have the power to do this. Only God can help us develop this relationship. The hold of mammon is dangerous for us and we don’t want it to contaminate our relationship with her. We will use money in our relationship with her. We will pray for wisdom and guidance. We desire our relationship to be based on love and nothing else. We don’t want to give mammon any room to determine the direction this friendship.


A Shift in Focus

At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” – Mark 12:23-27

This was supposed to be a trap. They wanted Jesus to admit the absurdity of the resurrection. The people who questioned Jesus did not believe in it. They did not believe in the life after death. For them, there exists only one reality which can be perceived by the senses. They came to this conclusion by a literal reading of scripture. They were the fundamentalists of Jesus’ time. These people still exist today. They are not the fundamentalist Christians. Today they call themselves different names. They are rationalists, secularists, and materialists. Each age has a different name for them. Their thoughts and ideas are not new. Nevertheless they still prevalent and influential. Many hold their views without even knowing it. In Jesus’ time, these opinions were held by the Sadducees. They only believed in the first five books of the Bible and since most of the Old Testament does not explicitly mention anything about life after death, they refused to acknowledge any possibility of such a notion.

The Sadducees brought a problem to Jesus and wanted him to give a solution. They thought that any solution that Jesus would propose would be unsatisfactory. They wanted to show how the concept of resurrection was incompatible with this reality. To their surprise, Jesus agreed with them. Resurrection cannot be comprehended with the values and principles of this existence. It ushers in something new. It presents a new way of looking at our reality.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! “(2 Corinthians 5:17)

I was recently listening to a British comedian, Eddie Izzard, and in one of his routines he talked about Moses. Izzard, being an atheist, pointed out the absurdity of someone doing something because a bush told him to do. He is right. If someone wrote to me and said that she wanted to work in our ministry because her stove told her do so, I would recommend that she seek some help. I would not make her my leader like in the case of Moses. However, Moses did not speak to a bush. The bush pointed him to a new reality. The bush was a symbol that drew Moses to something greater than itself or even himself. Jesus used this as argument for the resurrection. He addressed Himself as the God of the deeper and more profound reality that moved Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to see beyond what was presented to them by their senses. They walked against the so-called common sense of their generation. This new reality put them at odds with their families and society. It radically changed the way they interacted in this world.

The early church members sold everything and lived in common. They were not communist or socialist, such notions did not even exist. These were not celibates or monks. They were regular people with families. They had regular jobs and some even had great properties. According to the standards of this world, they would be considered irresponsible. According to the New Creation, they were acting like the people of the resurrected Christ. They did not do this to make a social statement. They did this because their notion of life had changed radically. The resurrected Christ changed everything. He changed the nature of family. Complete strangers now became family to them. They no longer pursued wealth and power. They dedicated themselves to the service of God. Eventually some serious conflicts arose from this attempt. It was inevitable. The new creation has to function within the old. The old values came to haunt the early church and consequently caused much tension and distress. Much of the writings of the New Testament record the struggle of the community of the Resurrected Christ trying to live out the new creation in the materialistic world. If we find their struggles strange, maybe it is because we don’t have the same understanding they had of the resurrection. Maybe they can teach us something valuable that we have lost.

When Jesus told the sadducees that the physical resurrection is going to change the nature of our relationship with the opposite sex, it was a truly radical concept then and now. Jesus said that we would be like angels. Unfortunately, this has been trivialized by infantile imaginings of the dead growing wings and playing harps in the clouds, not to mention the sentimental hollywood pseudo-theology that has contaminated our thinking. Jesus is, in fact, saying that the resurrection changes our basic concept of relationships in this world.

The male-female relationship is a basic relationship. Even current times with dialogues and openness about alternative lifestyles cannot alter the reality of this basic relationship model. All relationships stem out from this foundational relationship. In our reality, this relationship has only been sexualized. Our cultural and societal values evolved based on a sexualized concept of this foundational relationship. Jesus has shaken this foundation with the Resurrection. It is no longer based on sexual or reproductive roles but on the new creation that Jesus ushers into our reality. One of the implications of this radical shift is reflected in the concept of the family in the New Testament. It was no longer limited to blood-family ties. Paul was the forerunner of this concept.

“Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:15

Paul tried to live out the radical implication of the Resurrection. It doesn’t mean that he did it perfectly. If we are only looking for someone perfect, then Paul would not be the right person. We won’t find anyone perfect except for Jesus in the Bible. However, if we want to find someone who struggled to understand the broadness and depth of the Resurrection, then Paul is a good role model. He was limited by his cultural and social upbringing and yet he was an apostle and a father to the people whom he was taught from infancy to despise. He became the spiritual father to the Gentiles. This was a radical shift that only the reality of the resurrection could bring.

When God calls us to serve, whether it is in Brazil or in our local neighborhood, God is calling us to discover the reality of the resurrection. I have to point out that we would miss a great opportunity of knowing the power and wonder of the New Creation if we reduce Christian ministry to social work or just doing some charitable work. Christian ministry is a ministry that introduces the values of the resurrected reality into this world. It breaks the boundaries between us and them. We go into the world to receive and embrace strangers as family members. It is not something that will happen automatically. We are still living in the old creation. The values of the old creation are dominant here. It is hard for people to see something beyond the reality before them.

We have been here a little over two years. After two years of talking and spending time with the children and teens, they are beginning to see beyond our games and the art work we do with them. Recently, Gabriel, a fourteen year old, complained that we were not passing by during the weekend. The others joined in and said that they wanted us to spend more time with them. In reality, we have been spending more time with them than before. Some older teens have taken us aside and talked about their relationship problems with us: the kind of stuff one would talk about with one’s parent. They are figuring out that we are more than social workers. We realize that we want to become a family to the children and teens. However, it is a new kind of family. It is the family of the New Creation. There are no manuals or books written about this kind of family. The instructions on how to become this family are being written on a daily basis in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

We cannot prove the Resurrection is true with persuasive arguments but we can live its reality and invite others to join us in this new reality.


Being a Participant in the Real World

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.-Isaiah 6:5-8

An older Italian woman came to visit the work in the streets for the first time. She was volunteering with a Catholic organization that used to work alongside with us in the streets. I can clearly remember her first reaction even though it was fifteen years ago. She was visibly overwhelmed by what she saw; little children as young as eight years old had their mouths and noses in plastic bags filled with shoe glue. They were so drugged out that it was impossible to have a coherent conversation with them. The clothes they wore were filthy and tattered. Some slept on the sidewalks and used smelly and stained blankets to keep themselves warm. Some acted and behaved like wild children and tried to pickpocket any anyone who was passing by. They were in the middle of a busy square where thousands of adults walked pass them daily. Most of them avoided any eye contact with the children. They considered the children a nuisance. She was visibly disturbed by what she saw and it didn’t take long before she broke down and cried. Our friend had to stop working with the children to console her. We understood how she felt. We have been there as well. Then she asked us how we dealt with the situation on a daily basis. It wasn’t the first time we have been asked this question and most probably, it won’t be the last. Maybe it is the question in the minds of many sensitive people. “How could we work in such an environment every single day?” I could not give a straight answer back then. It is a difficult question and the answer demands careful consideration. This is my attempt after fifteen years.

We don’t see the same things as this woman or any first-time visitor sees. When we go to the streets, the same children with their plastic bottle of glue or paint thinner come to greet us. They wear the same dirty clothes that should have been thrown away yesterday. They still sleep in tunnels under the highway which are riddled with bugs and disease. All these things are still present, but these are not the things that we see when we meet the children on a daily basis. This does not mean that we are accustomed to all the disturbing things that she witnessed. They will always be disturbing to us as well. We don’t want to be accustomed to any of these things. However, they don’t make us feel paralyzed anymore. They don’t make us feel helpless and useless. We don’t see a hopeless situation. Something has changed within us that makes us see something altogether different from your average visitor. This change comes from our transition from being a spectator to becoming a participant.

We live in the world where we are constantly encouraged to be spectators. We are constantly exposed to images of pain and suffering. We turn our TV on and we see people getting murdered and tortured in distant lands. We see images of children dying unnecessarily. We see images of wars and mayhem. They conjure up all kinds of emotions in us and then they don’t inform us on how to live our lives or make a difference. They just make us feel insecure and helpless. After being inundated with all these images and the emotional aftermath that comes with them, we tend to resign to the fact of being a mere spectator. We might even think that this is the best we can ever do. We might feel that just witnessing something visually is sufficient in itself. This is perhaps why some people think that after they watch a documentary about a tragic situation in some distant country, they think that they are enlightened and have done something significant when in reality, they have just been a spectator. Over the years, we have seen many people who come and see the children and teens living in desperate situations and then just go home and return to life as usual. Being a spectator has become a way of life of many. I don’t believe that any of us want to be a spectator for the rest of our lives. We want to make a difference. We want to be something other than a mere spectator. Thanks be to God, there is another way. The gospel shows a better way to live.

The gospel frees us from the bondage of being mere a spectator. It opens the door for us to be a participant. Being a participant opens our eyes to see a different reality working in us. Now, I am not saying that a participant is someone who acts. A spectator can act and still remain an outsider. Many people have gone to work in relief work in many parts of the world and yet they still remain outsiders. Being a participant is not about doing something. It is choosing not to be an outsider. This leads us to the next question; is it possible for us to become a participant in an situation and environment that is so foreign our own personal reality? Can a person who has grown in a middle-class environment become a participant among homeless people in the third world country? Well, in order to do this, we need to see a reality that exists beyond the superficial; the eternal reality that unites all humanity.

The text above tells about the calling of the prophet Isaiah. The verses that precede it are perhaps some of the most frequently cited verses. Orthodox, Anglican, and Catholic Churches, perhaps even some Lutheran churches, use it their Liturgy every Sunday.

Isaiah saw and heard the angels proclaiming;

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

It was this holiness that overwhelmed Isaiah. He witnessed an amazing spectacle. He saw God in His glory. Like any spectator, the scene left him paralyzed. He became aware of his own finitude and insignificance. He acknowledges this by confessing that he is a sinful man. He qualified his statement by stating that he belonged to a culture and society that was sinful. It was a strange thing to say because the vision did not mention any sinful acts or a particular societal act or omission. It just simply revealed God’s glory. Perhaps, this alone was enough. It was enough for Isaiah to realize that his vision of God was a God restricted by his own cultural and societal prejudices. The vision he saw revealed the true nature of God who was much bigger than his limited idea of divinity or divine action. We are also like him. Whether we like it or not, it is hard for us to imagine God being able to do something beyond our cultural and social background. When we are confronted with abject poverty or a terrible situation, we are so impressed with situation that we fail to see the God who is bigger than any situation or circumstances. It is easy for anyone to come to this conclusion because we construct our world view based what is immediately present before our eyes. However, there is a God who exists beyond our immediate visual reality. When Isaiah became aware of this reality, he confessed his own limited understanding of God. Before this, he felt helpless and lost. He felt small and insignificant. Perhaps feeling helpless and insignificant are not bad in themselves. They can be opportunities for us to make the transition from being a spectator to being a participant.

Isaiah’s admission of his own weakness and limitation opened the door for healing. This healing opened his eyes to the true reality. This made him ready to go and speak for God. Isaiah’s circumstances did not change but only his perception of reality. He was a spectator but now he became a participant in the Work of the Eternal and Glorious God.

I used to only see the disturbing and tragic situation in the streets. I used to be a little afraid when I first started working with the children and teens in the streets. Now, I see Ruan, Gabriel, Gustavo and Mayara. I see children whom our Father loves. I see hope when I get to know these children more each day. I am happy when I see them sitting on the benches because I can be with them. I cannot explain this transition from being a spectator to participant in details. However, I can say that it begin with discovering that God is my Father and from then the reality around me begin to change. Only God can bring about this transition in us. Going to serve the poorest of the poor is not going to make us a participant automatically. Only a true encounter with God can open our eyes to see the reality than is superior to the images presented to us by this world.