We Got It!!!

This piece of paper is what we’ve been waiting on for so long.

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After months of our lawyers and accountants, who are amazingly strong warriors for the kingdom, turning paperwork in to the government, turning in more paperwork and then turning in second and third copies of the same paperwork, we have finally been approved by the government with a business social security number for the very first Hope House in Brazil.

When this number was delivered it had a note attached to it from our accountant along with an encouraging bookmark with scripture on the back.

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Her note says, “Congratulations and Success! May God richly bless you all!” I love how God has put the perfect people to partner with us in every aspect of this ministry.

We praise God for each of you for your faithful prayers through the months and years that it’s taken to get to this point.

We are now working with our brother Gean at our bank to open up a bank account in the name of Hope House. He’s a pretty awesome brother in Christ who is excited to help in this new ministry.

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Once the account is open we will be able to transfer the money from the states, that has been raised so far, to Porto Alegre and purchase the house. Please pray for this part. Here it is not as easy as just opening and transferring the funds. While we were with Gean yesterday he began writing a lengthy defense that he will present to the bank board on why the bank would want to do this, and why it should be done quickly. Why? Because there has been so much money laundering in this country and much of it has been done in the name of Jesus and churches and ministries. Great right? Gean told us yesterday of a pastor who was in partnership with a drug dealer and was using his church to launder drug money.

If this process goes its normal course, just opening an account and transferring funds from the states can take weeks or months. Gean has asked us to pray and fast about this so that it can be opened in the next week. He’s going to fight for us and Hope House. I love his giant faith. Feel free to pray and fast with us.

God put this dream in our hearts years ago. The spiritual is finally becoming physical. We praise God for His faithfulness.

Our family

This is Fernando (Dodo), Raquel and their son Leoni.

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We can’t even begin to tell you how much they bless our church family. Our church has a school that Giovanni attends and Dodo is a bus driver for many kids who attend there. He also drives the guys from the rehab farm to and from church every Sunday. A drive that can take from one and a half to two hours or even more depending on traffic on the freeway. He is also such an important part of the Compassion Ministry. He’s incredible.

Raquel is the secretary for the church and school. She seems like she’s everywhere, knows everyone and everything and does almost everything. She’s amazing.

Leoni is just awesome. Always seems to be smiling and happy. He and Giovanni love playing together.

Dodo’s parents work with a mission far away in the Amazon. Last June Dodo told me that he felt God was calling his family to go work with his parents as missionaries. He asked me to pray. He felt the call in 2016 when he went to visit his parents alone. Raquel had not yet felt the call and their entire family was going to visit in July of this year. Dodo just asked for peace from the Lord and unity if He was calling them to go.

They came back and during that trip God had put it on Raquel’s heart as well. They decided to move there in March.

We will be sad to see them go, but so happy that they are obeying God’s call.

Here’s what I love about their faith and our church:

Last Sunday we had a surprise celebration at our church for our pastor. To celebrate 10 years of being the pastor of our church family. His name is Olavo. He and his wife, Antonella, are some of the wisest and most humble people we’ve ever met. They love all God’s kids and we love them deeply.

Olavo had no idea we were having the celebration. He got up to say thank you for the blessing from his church family. He then called Dodo, Raquel and Leoni up to the front to officially announce them as our missionaries and to pray a blessing over them. As he spoke of this family he began to cry. As he cried, I cried. Benay cried. The next thing I know he’s talking about Benay and me and how crazy God’s kingdom is. That He would send Americans here as missionaries and now we are sending others out as missionaries. The next thing I knew he was asking us to come up front and to bless this family with him. We were humbled.

As we loved on them, Olavo cried as he prayed blessings over them. We all cried.

Dodo, Raquel and Leoni with Olavo

As Olavo prayed the entire church raised holy hands to pray blessings over this awesome family and their new ministry. It’s a moment we won’t ever forget.

Praying over Dodo and Raquel in culto-Dec. 9, 2018

Here is the next really, really cool part. Olavo then said that the best present he could receive was to send this family off in March,with all the support they needed. He asked his family, about ten of them, to come up with sheets of paper and pens. He looked at the church family and said, “I’d love to see Dodo and Raquel leave today knowing that they are fully funded to go. For those that feel led to help, come up right now and tell my family how much you are willing to bless this family with on a monthly basis.”

Fifteen minutes later Olavo announced that this family was now fully supported by our church family. I have never seen anything like that in my whole life. It was amazing and exactly what I think God’s family should look like.

Please don’t think we are talking about a small amount. It was a big amount and the challenge was met in fifteen minutes.

Please don’t think this is a one time thing. Our church already supports other missionaries and more hope to be heading soon to other parts of the world.

Please don’t think our church is wealthy. It is not.

What our church is, is generous. Every third Sunday of every month all of the offering, all of it, goes to missionaries. We’ve seen our church members, on any given Sunday, bless someone with a car after they were involved in a wreck with no insurance. We’ve seen big, expensive, electronic things break in the church and an immediate challenge was given to raise funds to fix it or buy a new one and in one worship service all the funds were raised. All of it. We’ve seen people give things away and sell things to bless others. We are blessed to be a part of a church that does not worship money but is generous with all that God gives them.

Later Antonella got up and blessed Olavo with a cake.

Olavo 10 year celebration

She also asked all the pastors and their wives, from the six satellite churches, to come up. She asked ministry leaders to come up. She asked others to come up to bless Olavo just like he blesses so many. As she spoke of what this church family meant to her she began to cry. Tears of joy and happiness for being part of such a special family.

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We could not agree with her more.

“You will be abundantly enriched in every way as you give generously on every occasion, for when we take your gifts to those in need, it causes many to give thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11

Compaixão

Compaixão is the Portuguese word for compassion. It’s also the name of the ministry that the pastor of our church asked us to take the lead on about a year ago. It’s main focus so far has been on the rehab farm that our church supports.

Benay and I were talking yesterday. Just in the last two weeks we have dealt with eight different situations where men needed to go to Desafio Jovem (the name of the farm). Here is the entrance to Desafio.

Desafio entrance

I wanted to share about these eight to give you an idea of our ministry, share the incredible need for Christian rehab and for Hope House in our city and to ask you to pray for this terrible spiritual battle that is raging in our city. Here are their stories.

One man was eating trash, that our church had put on the street for pick up, on the night of our mid week service. As people started to arrive, four brothers noticed the man and began to minister to him. One of these brothers called me before we arrived to make sure we were coming. We got there and I was thrilled and so proud to see these younger/older men just loving on this man. The man said he was done living on the street and eating trash and he wanted help. One of our brothers and Compaixão ministry members, Eduardo, was basically sitting down in the trash with the man having a conversation with him. Just being Jesus. We asked the man if he wanted to go to the farm. He said yes, so another brother, Gean, and I made the hour and a half/two hour round trip that night to take Claudio, the man on the street, to get help. He is twenty one years old. He is still at the farm. Pray for Claudio.

Five days later a man, Junior, came to our worship service Sunday morning. He was living on the streets. He actually had come to ask for help a couple of months earlier. At that time, someone from the compassion ministry, Felipe, took him to the farm. He stayed two days and then left. He came back and asked for help again. He said he was tired of living on the streets. Tired of being an addict. Tired of not being with his family. I asked him if this time he was serious about his commitment to stay. Serious about his desire to be free of drugs. Would he stay longer than a couple of days? Would he stay longer than to just fill his belly with food and get some new clothes and a good nights sleep? Would he be serious about allowing Jesus to begin transforming his life? He promised this time would be different. He wanted a new start. He wanted Jesus to help him. He was tired of the way he was living. Our brother Gean again made the long drive to the farm after our worship service. Junior stayed two days and left again. Our job is not to judge, and that is hard sometimes, but to do what God would do and our God is a God of many chances. Praise God for Gean and his willingness to leave everything at a moment’s notice to take Junior to the farm. Please pray for Junior and another chance.

Two days later a woman, from one of our satellite churches, called Benay wanting to know if there was space for her brother at the farm. Even when they have no space at the farm they always make space. Right now men are sleeping on the floor because they don’t have enough beds, They also don’t have enough food for everyone. They can’t even pay their light bill. But they never turn anyone down. Never. They walk by faith every day. Praise God for Desafio Jovem and pray for this family.

Last Friday night we got a call from a young man, Mika, and his father, Cilas. They both are members of our church. Mika is nineteen and just opened up his own barber shop. Before it opened he talked to me about wanting to use this business as a mission field. He wants to train guys from the rehab farm to cut hair so that they could have experience in that area and find a job when they leave the farm. He told us of a young man named Marcos who they had befriended a couple of weeks earlier. Marcos is thirty two, addicted to alcohol and lives on the streets. He said he wanted help. He wanted to go to the farm. We were able to get him a ride that Friday night but when it was time to leave Marcos didn’t show up. He showed up to the barber shop again on Saturday saying he was really ready this time. Mika gave Marcos a haircut and shave and got him ready. Benay and I then took him to the farm. He’s still there but is already struggling with wanting to leave. Pray for Marcos.

We found out that Eduardo took two guys to the farm on his own. Praise God for Eduardo and pray for these two men.

A sister from the church called me on Tuesday to ask what they should do with a man that she and others are ministering to who lives on the street. Pray for this brother and for this group trying take care of him.

Yesterday we received a call from a sister who works at our church. There was a woman from the neighborhood who had heard about our ministry, came to the church and wanted to talk to Benay and me. When we got to church this older woman, named Ivone, began to tell us about her thirty five year old son who just left a rehab clinic where, as she said, he was just fed, drank tea and was given medicine to not be addicted to drugs. Her son, Rafael, had been on the streets since he left the clinic and would call Ivone, and ask her to come to a bakery to buy him something. He doesn’t want her to make food for him as he is fearful she will put medicine from the clinic in his food. According to Ivone, Rafael is bi-polar, addicted to crack cocaine and doesn’t want to go back to the clinic or to his mom’s house. Ivone got in our car and we went to the last place Rafael was seen. We drove up and down streets but didn’t find him. It crushed my heart to watch Ivone as she looked at every person on every street we passed to see if one might be her son. We did not find Rafael but we will keep looking. Pray for him and for Ivone.

As the leaders of this ministry, Benay and I have been the contact people and it’s been pretty overwhelming to see how much need there has been just from our seven congregations but it’s been so encouraging to see everyone wanting to support this ministry. Our pastor has given us his complete support. God has provided excellent people to be a part of the Compaixão ministry. We have been blessed to see this ministry become the passion for lots of people. We have been blessed to see our church embrace this ministry and these brothers from the farm that we love dearly.

When Olavo, our pastor, asked us to be the leaders we had no idea it would be as big and awesome as it has become and it’s only the beginning.

Being patient while we wait for the governmental red tape to be removed so that we can open the first Hope House has been tough. God gave us this dream a few years ago and it seems like we’ve been waiting a lifetime to see the spiritual become physical. But we thank Him for His wisdom in how He has provided a ministry for us at our new church that goes hand in hand with Hope House. It’s a perfect fit and we see how important this is to the Hope House ministry. We thank God for a church leadership, both here and in the states, who is completely behind this. We thank God for their ability to see with their faith eyes. God planted the Hope House on our hearts. He blessed us with Lyndsay and in His graciousness He blessed us with the gift of the Compaixão ministry.

My Bible study today reminded me that God’s word tells us it’s not enough to just listen to His teaching. We must put it into action. We are so blessed to be surrounded by people who speak with love, serve the poor, are wholly devoted to God and put their faith in action.

We ask you to pray for this ministry, these men, the people from our church and for our city. We are working as a team to do our part in bringing God’s kingdom to earth.

Kevin

 

 

Vera

One of the greatest blessings God has given us here in Brazil, (and I don’t say that lightly, literally one of THE biggest blessings we have received), has been our relationship with our Brazilian mom, Vera.

When we first moved to Porto Alegre in 2002, we had 4 young kids and were trying to figure out life – how to speak Portuguese, how to cook with different ingredients, how to help our kids with their Portuguese homework, how to drive around a city which has many one way streets and hardly any left turns allowed, etc…. You get the picture.  We, as a family, were getting overwhelmed and needed some help.  Another American missionary we met told me about a lady who came to help her in her house 2 days a week.  She asked if I would like to hire her to come and help me as well.  That is how we met our Vera in 2002. 

She has been with our family since that time, helping me in the house, but more importantly, loving and caring for our family.  There were times over the years that she would come twice a week, times when she came 4 times a week, times when she didn’t come for several months, and times when she stayed at my house solid for a week or more.  When Anderson and Giovanni were born, she lived at my house and took care of everything.  In her words, “What would your mother do for you if she were here?  Well, she’s not here, so I will do what she would do.”

Our kids love her deeply. They love her like a grandmother because she has been a grandmother to them. She has cooked for them for over 16 years and played with them and loved on them and cared for them. This is Vera with all our kids, except Bronwyn, the last time we were all together in Brazil in December of 2015.

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To say that we love Vera dearly would not be enough words to describe what she means to us.  She is seriously one of the most Christ-like people that I know, even though she can’t read or write much and has probably never been able to read the Bible.  She has a servant heart.  Never complains.  Always thanks us when we help her out in any way. She is patient, kind, and gentle.  I have never in 16 years heard her talk roughly or get mad.  She is gracious to everyone.  She fears God and is an active member of the Catholic church in her neighborhood.

Vera’s neighborhood is far outside of Porto Alegre.  She travels between 60 to 90 minutes by bus to get to our house.  Her neighborhood has many young people who are into drugs and crime.  Vera has 4 children, who are adults now, and not one of them has had ANY problem with those things.  They are outstanding people.

One more thing about Vera – she has an incurable eye disease, Stargardt’s disease which began when she was young.  She was from a very poor family and she didn’t even realize that she had a vision problem until we took her to get some glasses several years ago.  Unfortunately, glasses won’t help Vera’s vision problem.  Because she is legally blind, sometimes she puts up dishes that are dirty and her cleaning skills may not be the greatest.  We don’t even care.  We all love having her in our home, and look forward to the day that she is with us and we hear her cheerful whistling while she goes about her work.

Why am I telling you all about Vera today?  Because Monday, Vera’s husband of 43 years, Paulo, passed away.  He had been struggling for several years with physical and emotional problems.  Finally, his problems intensified and he passed away after a brief stay in the hospital.

Just a month ago Vera and her family celebrated Paulo’s 71st birthday.

Vera and family-October 2018

Please pray for Vera.  We love her very much and are hurting along with her and her family. 

We thank God for her.  She is a treasure.

Benay

God is moving!

Dear Family and Friends,

We recently told you about our contracting the services of a lawyer firm to help us get our Hope House ministry legalized with the Brazilian government. We shared how these men are strong Christians and have been such a blessing to us. How they, like us, are going into new territory as our city has no registered Christian halfway houses. It’s exciting to work with these Godly men as we become pioneers for Jesus in our city doing something that has never been done before.

The lawyers have made amazing progress and on Monday we received the government approved paperwork that now allows us to apply for our business social security number. It’s a big deal and a really cool first step, of many to come, in dealing with all the bureaucratic red tape of our city and country. 

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Once we have the social security number we can open up a Brazilian bank account in the name of Hope House, transfer the funds raised so far in the United States, and buy the first ever Hope House.

On Wednesday we met with an engineer about what needs to be done after we buy the house and before we can begin repairs/upgrades. And on Thursday of last week we had a meeting at the house we want to buy. We met with that same engineer, a construction guy, our realtor and the owner of the house.

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We all met together to share our ideas for the plans for the house as we try to get more specific about the costs of the repairs that need to be done as well as other costs such as accounting, engineering, etc.

We’ve shared before but here is a reminder of what the house looks like.

Hope House front view-October 2018

It really is an amazing house for us. It’s in a good neighborhood and it’s very close to our house and our church. It’s only about a block away from one of the major streets in our city. 

Assis Brasil view from Hope House

And it has a great park right in front of the house.

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Notice the shoes tied over the power lines.

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We’ve been told, by ex addicts, that those are thrown over lines to let people know you can buy drugs in that area, and you will see them all over the city. God has already given us a mission field to share Jesus in this neighborhood and in Jesus’ strong name very soon those shoes will not be seen around that park.

We left the meeting encouraged by the fact that things are moving forward but a little shaken at everything that needs to be done and the expense of the repairs to get us ready to open. We immediately left that meeting and went to our church building as we had a meeting with our pastor and his wife. Their names are Olavo and Antonella. I can’t tell you how much we love these guys. They are a blessing to us, our church and this city.

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Our meeting was about the Compassion ministry. It’s the ministry to a rehab center that our church ministers to and one that Olavo asked us to be the leaders of last year. So we meet with them regularly to talk about things specific to that ministry. Last Thursday we went into that meeting excited from our Hope House meeting while thinking of everything that needed to be done.

After meeting about things related to the Compassion ministry Olavo and Antonella wanted to know how things are going with the Hope House. They are part of the  leadership group for Hope House and they are very excited about the ministry. We shared with them about the amount of work that needs to be done to get the house fixed, updated and ready for men to live there. That’s when God used Olavo to give us a shot of encouragement. He began to tell us that there are many men in our church who are in construction. Many men who have big hearts for all things Jesus. Olavo invited us to share with all the church family about Hope House after the purchase of the house is completed. Olavo feels we will have many people who will want to donate labor and material to help with the remodeling and updating that needs to be done. We definitely left more encouraged about what is ahead than when we entered.

I love how involved Olavo is in this ministry. Last year he was getting into his father’s truck which was parked in front of their house.  Some young guys came by with a gun and kidnapped Olavo in order to steal the truck.  God was watching over him, and the criminals let Olavo out and he was able to run home, but his father’s nice truck was never recovered. Not long after this happened they invited us to their house for a lunch. As we talked about what happened to him I told him that that is why Hope House is so important because it’s the men we work with that do the violent crimes in our city. Once we reach them with the love of Christ our city will become a much safer place to live in. I barely remember that conversation with Olavo but, praise God, those words impacted him. He said he never really saw the connection between the crime and our ministry and how our city will be blessed by it until we talked. Now he is fully committed to see this ministry not only start, but thrive. We are blessed to walk with this couple and our church is blessed to have them as spiritual leaders.

God put this dream of Hope House on our hearts years ago. We had no money, no help and no idea of what this might look like. We are no experts in doing something like this but when God calls you to do something He will provide and you have to do it. So off we went and look what He has done. He has provided us with a good bit of money through various, amazing ways to buy the house. He’s blessed us with Lyndsay, a new sponsoring/home church in the states that is excited about this ministry and are helping greatly. He has also blessed us with a new home church here in Porto Alegre that is fully committed to walking and working with us in our lives and ministry.

I won’t lie, there have been plenty of times when we felt like we were stuck in “stand by” mode and it still feels like things are going much slower than we would like but at least we are finally moving forward and we can see things beginning to happen. And we are learning to be okay with God’s pace. Like Olavo told us the other day, God has given us this “stand by” time to receive these new things, these blessings from God, and to be able to vision cast and seed plant for this new ministry as well as see how perfectly the Compassion ministry and our church fit into the Hope House plan. It’s happening and we praise God.

Pray for us, for Lyndsay, for our church, for this ministry and for the men who will be blessed and will bless us.

We could not be here doing what the Holy Spirit has put on our hearts if it weren’t for you. We thank God for you and pray for you often.

Peace in Jesus,

Kevin, Benay and all the Blumes