One visit, seven team members, and 4,000 miles of travel. What does that add up to? One life-changing trip for a group from Oakdale Church in Olney, Maryland, who had numerous opportunities to share the love of Jesus with Brazilians.
It was a dream that began in 2020 when Lana Vasquez, founder of Life Impact International, spoke at the church, sharing her passion and vision for rescuing children from trafficking and exploitation in Brazil.
The team, ranging in age from 17 to their mid-60s, planned the trip so they could help celebrate Launch Day at Life Impact International’s newest Prevention Center in Northeast Brazil. It was a special day filled with joy as over 400 people from the community came to experience all the new center has to offer. It’s a place of hope as children learn valuable vocational skills, enjoy a meal, hear about Jesus, and just get the chance to be kids.
“The Life Impact Team can now minister to more people since the old flip-flop factory, transformed into a prevention center, provides much more space than the two-story townhouse that previously housed the ministry center,” said team member Sam Smith.
Some on the Oakdale team had their own transformation, turning into “superheroes” to take to the streets with flyers inviting everyone in the community to the outreach event. They helped with face painting, games, and performed skits and songs for those who came to the party. Most importantly, they had the opportunity to share the gospel message with hundreds of kids and their parents.
The team’s youngest members also worked with a local pastor to share their testimonies and Bible passages at one of his church services. After Lana shared an impassioned message, the team says the church experienced “a heartfelt time of worship and prayer for God’s intervention.”
Three team members also visited a local school to share the Good News of Jesus with dozens of students.
Another highlight for the team was the day the group divided into two teams to visit homes and pray with families whose children participate in the projects.
“It was probably one of our favorite times of the trip being able to spend some time and get to know and pray for those families,” Smith said.
The Oakdale team also traveled to Rio de Janeiro, visiting Life Impact’s two prevention projects there.
“We were a bit anxious going into the favela for the first time,” said Smith. “But the love in the kids’ hearts and the genuine joy they had with our presence really made us feel welcomed.”
At one of the afterschool programs, the team presented a short gospel presentation to classes of older and younger students. Two team members worked with the older class to see who could build the tallest tower.
“It was a joy teaming up with those teens and preteens to work toward a similar goal,” said Smith. “Overcoming the language barrier to work together as a team was the best part of the challenge.”
Overall, it was a trip that added up to a blessing for both Brazil and the team.
“We hope that we were able to bless the Brazil staff and plant gospel seeds in the lives of the children and parents,” said Smith.
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