Pierced, half sunken in stagnant rainwater, and covered in green algae is where Jeremy and I found our soccer ball one afternoon as we were leaving Morro dos Macacos (Monkey Hill). It's disappearance was our fault really. We loaned it to David and Darciso, who we know well and trust, while we conducted soccer practice one Tuesday, weeks before. The problem was that we failed to appoint one of them responsible for the ball. When we broke for water, David and Darciso left the ball where it lay, helpless. Of course, it disappeared. I never thought that we would see that ball again, but it's funny how things have a way of resurfacing.
The favela is like the sea. An object that sits too long on the shore will evenutally be grabbed by the thieving fingers of the waves. Once this happens, the object is consumed and digested by the relentless pounding. When the sea is finished with that object, she spits it out. That's what happened to our soccer ball. While David and Darciso were distracted, the ball was taken by thieving hands and subsequently consumed and digested by the monster that is the Morro (or "hill", as the favela is so affectionately called). Once the Morro had finished with our ball, it resurfaced.
The kids that we work with are not immune to this process. Any kid who lives in the Morro long enough knows the consequences. We have seen to often kids who disappear from our Bible study or soccer practice for weeks, months or years only to resurface, now mangled by the effects of sin. Some resurface after being sexually abused by mom's new boyfriend. Others resurface with a kid and still others with an addiction. Still, some don't make it out alive. The mortality rate among young men who live in the favelas is equal to war zones due to drug trafficking.
Despite all that we are up against, we have a hope that is stronger than the thieving forces that suck kids into lives of sin and we have a hope that can renew even those who have been digested. This is why we continue our efforts in the Morro. We hope that by the power of the gospel we may rescue some before they are overtaken and chewed up by the powers of sin and, that by this same power, we may bring healing to those that have. Join with us as we pray against the forces that confront our kids.