Heavy rains in early September caused death and devastation in more than 100 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost part of Brazil. Hundreds of thousands of people were impacted, almost 30000 were left homeless, and dozens have died with many people missing. Even though the worst of the rain was in September, flooding continues to be an issue across the southern part of the country as heavy rains kept coming off and on throughout October.
The Evangelical Free Church in Brazil is already responding to this crisis, raising 10,000 Brazilian reais and collecting material donations to help affected communities. ReachGlobal Crisis Response and ReachGlobal LAC are coming alongside our national partners to support their response efforts. Already local teams have made two trips to the region, meeting and praying with survivors, helping to distribute relief supplies and mucking out homes that were flooded.
The floods left behind tons of mud in homes and in streets; on the second trip 30 volunteers from a national church went with our ministry partner to help clean the mud out of five homes. One thing that was quickly apparently was that it would be easier to clean the mud out of the homes and streets than to clean the mud out of people’s hearts. Lucas G, our national partner, told us, “The deepest mud is in the hearts of these people.” Volunteers were told they shouldn’t be helping certain neighbors, and there were reports of donations being collected by people who didn’t need them. The mud of broken relationships, distrust and discord will require God’s grace to cleanse.
The pastor who came on the second trip to the region made it a point to say his volunteers should only go back if there is a way to follow up spiritually with the people. Our motto is people over projects, and even though distributions are helpful for making connections in the beginning, what people need most is the transformation that comes from knowing Jesus. It’s such a privilege for ReachGlobal to be able to work with partners who understand and embrace this model of ministry.
Two of the cities where our partners are focusing, Mucum and Roca Sales, are among the least evangelized cities in the country. It will take more than trips and distributions to reach these cities; it will take a sustained ministry presence. Pray for God to raise up church planters and ministry workers who will focus on these unreached areas to share the love of Christ. With so much damage to infrastructure, to homes and businesses, there is a lot of uncertainty about what the future will look like. But our partners on the ground recognize that in the midst of this tragedy, there is a great opportunity for transformation through evangelism and discipleship.
Please join us in praying for Brazil, for Lucas and our other partners with the Evangelical Free Church of Brazil, and thousands of people in flooded area who need real help and real hope to recover from this crisis. Pray that we would have wisdom to move forward strategically, encouraging and supporting the local response efforts as they move from short-term to long-term. You can also give here to support the long-term response in Southern Brazil.
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