Our absence from the blog for a week made for a perfect time to present this guest post from our fellow missionary, Josh Block (missionary here from Seattle). He recently recalled this story of life change for a summary paper we were writing about the church-plant in Sitio - City of God. This story is one of many, and we´re happy to share it with you thanks to Josh. He and his Brasilian wife Ana (pictured below) have been working faithfully in Sitio for some time now, and we are privileged to get to know them better.
Lucylene lives like any normal person in Sitio de Amizade. Everyday, she needs to descend the muddy, garbage-filled pathway down to the only water source for the entire community at the bottom of the hill. There she´ll wait in line for a while, and when it´s finally her turn she´ll be busy washing clothes, washing dishes, and filling empty 2 liters full of water for use in her house. About the size of a large bathroom and made out of wood scraps you would normally find in a trash heap, this "barraco" (shack) is too small for two, but Lucylene shares it with her husband and five children. Inside, you´ll find just enough walking space between an old refrigerator, a functional oven, a queen size bed, and an out of place "25 television set.
Unlike most women in her community, all five of her children come from her husband. She´s proud of her family and can be overheard bragging about her five kids to anyone who´ll listen. But like most people who are struggling just to survive in Sitio, her family has been devastated by addiction. Often times, she´ll come home and notice certain valuables missing from their home. She knows where it went, but what can she do? Her husband is addicted. She knows he´s tried just about everything to change. They´ve had their fights, she´s spoken her peace. Deep down though, she knows what it´s like. She´s been addicted before too.
Lucylene came to our church with a disappointing marriage, without a job, and fighting daily to provide for her children. The years of struggle, disappointment, and fear expressed themselves in her face more clearly than her words could describe. One day in our service, as Pastor Sérgio was preaching he posed the question to the small group of women gathered that Saturday, "If you could ask God for anything today, what would that be?" Seemingly picking Lucylene out of the crowd, he asked for her response. It was a dangerous question, as a woman in this state could ask for any number of things. Her response surprised even Pastor Sérgio. "Eu quiero que Deus renova a minha vida." Literally, she was asking God to renovate her life, but it goes deeper than that. She wasn´t asking for anything material. She also wasn´t just asking for a new life in general. She was asking for renewal in her relationship to Jesus. Of all the things this woman needed, she realized that Jesus was one the one thing she needed most.
God´s response, with almost a shade of Solomon, was not only to answer her prayer and renew their relationship, but to provide for her a job also. Her house is still in bad shape, and her marriage not much better, but that face of hers is speaking a whole new language. She knows that despite her circumstances, she´s been found by Christ. She´s currently one of our loudest singers and is taking it upon herself to participate in the goings on of the church. She´s experienced true renovation.