When we started work in the Zambujal neighbourhood, our objective was just to create relationships, get to know the community and find out how we could serve.
Often (almost always!) the team would leave with no plans, just to pray in the streets and meet some of the residents. Without planning to do so, we started to meet in some houses. D. Paula (fictitious name) was one of the first to open the door of her house and invite us to return every week.
D. Paula's house is also one of the alcohol bars in the neighbourhood. Alcoholism has deep roots in the community and is one of the main weapons used to destroy lives and families.
But this bar has been our house of prayer for the past few months! It is there that we joyfully praise together, that we see their eyes shine when they hear the Word in their dialect, and that we share about the meaning of the cross of Christ. Many have joined, attracted from a distance by the sound of praise, curiosity or simply because they came to buy a drink and there is something more there...
It has been amazing to see how the presence of God fills that place, where the most unlikely, the forgotten and despised are; those who often, even drunk, ask us for help because they want to live a different life. Wasn't it like that when Jesus walked on this earth?! "Tax collectors and other sinners came to hear Jesus teach. The Pharisees and teachers of the law criticized him, saying, 'He meets with sinners and even eats with them!'" (Luke 15:1-2)
We have the immense privilege of doing what Jesus did, and of introducing them to the Savior, who is waiting with open arms and ready to transform their lives!