Our branch leader Sergio says, “Jews for Jesus has been ministering during Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro since 2003, when practically no other missions or churches were doing evangelism for this event. Over the years more believers have been reaching out to different areas of the city during Carnaval, and God has been working in amazing and mysterious ways. I’d like to share with you an incredible experience from this year’s Carnaval, so that you can rejoice with me.
“Lapa is the center of wild nightlife in Rio, where young and not-so-young boozers meet. Tourists from all around the world come looking for some ‘fun.’ It’s an area where we still rarely see other groups out evangelizing.
“We had just arrived at Lapa, prayed and our teams were just heading out to evangelize, when a man, sitting at the curb weeping, called out to me. ‘I need help, please help me!’ As I approached, he explained to me that he is a drug addict who could no longer stand his life. He wanted help to break his addiction. He lamented that he had been trying for a week to find the vans that travel through the area bringing people to public rehab centers. Somehow he never seemed able to locate them. I knew that the vans usually came to the plaza, right about where we were, but I didn’t see any.
“I told him the best thing I had to offer was the gospel. I explained it to him, and added that if he was serious about changing his life, Jesus was the only One who could really help him. Then I asked if he wanted to pray with me to receive Him as his Lord and Savior. He said he was serious, and wanted to pray. Then an intense spiritual struggle began. He said he was seeing a demon next to us, trying to prevent him from praying. He was frightened, but knew that he deeply needed help. I once again confronted him, saying that only Jesus could change him, and if he was serious about wanting change, we should pray. He said, ‘Let’s pray.’ We prayed, and he repeated every word I spoke.
“After we finished praying, he was weeping again, but this time with tears of happiness. He hugged me, saying that an immense burden had just been lifted from him. At EXACTLY the same time, one of the vans, which he’d been trying to find for a whole week, STOPPED right next to us. He could not believe his eyes, and started saying, ‘God exists, and He loves me!’ He could not have been happier, nor could I. By the way, his name is Sergio, same as mine.
“Please pray that God will conquer Sergio’s drug addiction and transform him, and that Sergio will be able to glorify God with his new life.”
Carnaval is a difficult place to be, but it’s an opportunity to meet many people whose desperation stands in strong contrast to the colorful party atmosphere.
For example, Flávia says, “Sergio and I were evangelizing when two young guys came by and took a tract. As we started to talk, Miguel,* who was dressed as a woman, and was with his boyfriend, told me a bit about his life. He believes in Jesus, but has strayed from his faith. During our conversation, he threw away his (alcoholic) drink, and spoke of the sadness and guilt he feels for being away from God’s presence and for surrendering to sexual immorality. He then told me that he was going home. For him Carnaval was over, because God had spoken to him.
“However, Miguel challenged me. He asked me to pray for him, concerning his homosexuality in particular. He wants healing and change in his life. Please join me in prayer for Miguel, that God will work in his life as he has requested.”
*not his real name