Pedro's eyes widened in amazement as he found himself immersed in an enchanting world. An ordinary classroom in New Philadelphia, deep in Brazil's Amazon region, had been transformed into a stage for a lively and colourful puppet show.
The character known as the "Thief of Joy" was wreaking havoc on the makeshift stage, snatching the cherished toys of the other puppets. Pedro and the other kids frantically tried to warn the other puppets, but their cries of caution fell on deaf ears.
In the midst of the chaos, Pedro's eyes were opened to something remarkable: the puppets that had lost their toys had a genuine and unshakable joy. It was not dependent on material possessions but rooted in the presence of Jesus in their hearts–a source of joy the Thief could never steal.
This realization filled Pedro with a sense of awe. He wanted to invite Jesus into his heart and experience that unyielding joy for himself.
The puppet show wasn't just an entertaining spectacle; it carried a powerful message. The puppeteers were participants on a Gospel Outreach (GO) Trip to the Amazon in March. They had drawn inspiration from the Faísca (Spark) magazine to highlight a fundamental truth: Jesus is the key to a joy that cannot be stolen or shaken by the trials of life.
The GO Trip participants used various methods to share the love of Christ, with Pedro’s mom also giving her heart to Jesus during the outreach. It was a decision that brought immense joy to her son.
Brazilians leading the charge
Since the first GO Trip to the Amazon region in 2022, ministry work there has expanded at an exponential pace. And in 2023, more lives have been reached and transformed across this vast nation. This ongoing transformation builds on a nine-year journey of impactful ministry that began in Brazil in 2014.
All across the vast nation, believers are being trained and equipped to share their faith. It’s inspiring Brazilians to be at the forefront of sharing the hope of the gospel to their communities. In fact, most of the 14 participants on a recent trip were Brazilians who were eager to bring the transformative message of the gospel to their compatriots.
Afterwards, they returned to their home church with a burning passion for evangelism. And their enthusiasm inspired fellow congregants to step out of their comfort zones to proclaim the love of Christ in their communities.
Revival around the campfire
In July, a group of young Canadians embarked on another GO Trip to Brazil, this time to the city of Curitiba in the West. The enthusiastic team members were from Woodland Christian High School in Ontario, following in the footsteps of their school's previous visit in 2022. Their focus? Young people just like them!
The young people seamlessly facilitated the day camps, conducted in small groups, where the Good News reached 400 students from public primary schools. The facilitators used their personal experiences to connect with their new friends. They spoke from the heart, sharing the challenges they had faced, and the hope they found in Christ.
Capping off this remarkable trip was an English camp, offering yet another enriching experience. Over 100 teenagers from private schools were immersed in the joy of worship and fellowship, joining hands with their Canadian peers.
And what's a camp without the cherished tradition of a bonfire?
As the sun dipped below the horizon, the bonfire came to life, illuminating the evening sky with crackling flames. The fire provided the perfect backdrop for deep reflection and sharing of personal testimonies.
This interaction was not a one-sided affair, as Daniel, a Canadian participant, emphasized: “God uses you when you put others first. This camp encouraged me and my friends to serve with love. We made the kids feel loved and welcomed and this opened the door for us to share the message of salvation with them.
“I will never forget what God did through me at English camp when I prayed for a girl who wanted to have Christian friends and a deeper relationship with God. And the kids were not the only ones impacted; it was an unforgettable experience for every single one of us.”
During one of the bonfire services, 15-year-old Giovanna rededicated her life to Christ. She had grown up in a Christian home but had lost her way.
“My parents are Christians,” she said. “They taught me the way and the truth. But today I understood that it's not about them. It's about me! Jesus expects more from me!”
Giovanna is one of the many souls transformed because of these GO Trips. As the flames of these spiritual bonfires illuminate the darkness, lives are being touched and communities forever changed across the vast nation by the hope of the gospel—a hope that not even the Thief of Joy can steal.