One of the missionaries we support through our church is Ron Neptune and his family. Ron and Jennifer, along with their kids Stephen, Marisa, Jeison, help run a ministry for homeless, drug abusing children, on the streets of Medillin, Columbia. They work with a great organization called Latin America Mission. I thought about doing their summer program when I was in college, which involved living with a family in Mexico City and taking language lessons.
The Neptunes are going to be moving to Brazil soon to work with ministries and street kids there. As Ron was speaking, my mind flashed back to the movie City of God (Cidade de Deus). The City of God is a real place near Rio de Janeiro. The movie itself was made in Brazil, is in Portuguese, and is based on the novel City of God, which is based on a true story. It was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards, which is well deserved.
The story is brutal at times, as we watch gangs of children with guns killing those who get in their way as they build their drug empires. The gangs become families, and they look out for each other, and those under their protection. There are police, but they can only do so much, and are sometimes just as desperate. So, I ponder what it means to minister to street children in Brazil, and it melts me.
While on Pandora (the music service) this week, I came across their GlobalGiving Philanthrop Projects, one of which is to teach music to children in Rio de Janeiro, where “about 6,000 youth work for armed drug dealers in favelas. The project offers productive alternatives that promote self esteem and dignity.” Music, it stirs the imagination, something needed in places where there is little hope.