About five years ago God put Alexandre “Xandi” in our lives. We met him at the rehab farm we ministered to. He is the dictionary picture of a big teddy bear. One of the purest hearts you’ll ever meet. He has had, like 99% of the men we’re blessed to walk with, an extremely hard upbringing which led to him needing drug rehab.
Xandi left the rehab farm in 2015. He was strong. However, not long after he left he started using drugs again. He called and asked us to pick him up. He was in bad shape. He stayed at the farm for a while and left again. He’s been clean and doing good ever since.
He told me in 2016 that he was dating someone. She was not a believer. I gave him counsel to be careful. Most people think that when these men fall after rehab it’s because of the temptation of alcohol or crack or marijuana. It usually isn’t that. Most of the time the men begin to return to their addictions after living in sexual sin and they don’t make that connection. I was worried that Alexandre might be headed that way. He thanked me for the concern but continued with the relationship.
He and this new girlfriend, Juliana, began living together. In 2017 they found out they were pregnant.
We started to get to know Juliana. Beautiful smile. Very happy to be with Alexandre but didn’t want anything to do with any church. Alexandre would always ask her to go to worship with him, she would always promise to go and then “change her mind” when Sunday morning rolled around. She told us later that she never ever intended to go with Alexandre but she always pretended she would until it was actually time to go. She had been raised to believe in a strange mix of African religion mixed with Catholicism, and had no interest in following Jesus.
And then one Sunday she woke up ready to, once again, say she had changed her mind but found herself saying “ok” to Alexandre. She told us she had no idea why she said yes but she did. She went to our church that day. As she and Alexandre got close to the building she told him she was only going once and that he needed to know she was never going back.
Our worship time always starts with music and it’s amazing. About 10 minutes into the praise time Juliana looked at Alexandre and told him, “We are definitely coming back next Sunday!!” and they have never looked back.
Last March, after studying the Bible with Benay, Juliana accepted Jesus in our home. It was an awesome night.
In May their little baby, Alexandre (we all call him Netinho, which is like a nickname for “grandson”), was born. He is always smiling and is a blessing to everyone. Whenever we are around them Alexandre and Juliana call us Netinho’s grandparents. We’re humbled and blessed by that.
Xandi sent me this picture of Netinho yesterday. Still always smiling.
Juliana and Alexandre wanted to get married and Juliana wanted to get baptized. Our church has 4 baptism Sundays per year. In the almost 3 years we’ve been a part of this church family there have been over 300 baptisms. Baptism Sundays are my favorite Sundays of the year. They are amazing. Before those days our church has a 4 week study on baptism. Everyone who will be baptized must do them and, if you are a couple, you must be married before you can be baptized.
So Alexandre and Juliana needed to get married before the last baptism Sunday of last year which was on December 2.
Our church helped them buy rings and helped with the cost of the civil ceremony. The earliest they could get a date to get married was Friday, November 30. The last Friday before baptism Sunday. Two days before. How cool is God?
So on that Friday we had a wedding. The place closed at 5:00 and the bride and groom arrived at 5:10 as they were closing the building. I was kind of freaking out. It was a close one. The wedding was awesome and the official was perfect. He was funny and serious. He could have rushed through it as if it were a number. He didn’t. He made the brief ceremony special.
We came back to our house for a brief wedding party.
That night Benay was invited by Juliana to a special dinner, sponsored by our church, for all those getting baptized. Those people were to invite one person who helped lead them to Jesus. It was a very special honor for Benay.
Sunday was just awesome. Juliana was so happy. We all were. It was a true celebration.
You can click here to see a video of that day. You’ll see Juliana throughout and you’ll get to see why those special days are so amazing. You may need to activate the sound on the bottom right hand corner of the video.
In a very short time Juliana has become such a strong, strong warrior for Jesus. Her kids are now being raised in the truth of Jesus and it’s so awesome to see. The other day Alexandre sent me a picture of their older daughter, Ketelyn, in her room. Ketelyn is a child from a previous relationship Juliana had but Ketelyn considers Alexandre her dad and he calls her his daughter. Their love for each other is amazing. In the picture she was reading her Bible in her room. He talked of how much of a blessing that was. His exact words were, “What a huge blessing in my life that my DAUGHTER (emphasis Alexandre) is studying the word of God!” Here is that picture.
Praise God for Juliana’s life and praise God for the way He used Alexandre and Benay to share Jesus with her in a way that helped her see the true light. We will be in heaven together forever with Juliana because of those 2 people.
We are blessed to be here doing what God has called us to do. We are blessed to partner with Him in our city. We are blessed to be able to do life with Alexandre and Juliana. Pray for them.