Jacob has a book about a boy that wants to grow sunflowers in his father’s garden. The boy chooses the seeds, prepares the dirt, plants the seeds, and cheers on the rain. His part is done. All he can do is wait. At this point in the book the reader can only guess what the outcome will be. It may be a happy ending where the boy’s efforts yield many, enormous plants. Or, the book might be a tragedy where nothing comes out of the ground. God only knows. The boy did his part and he did it well. The outcome is out of his hands.
Cezario is a 14-year-old boy who lives in Morro dos Macacos. He has been with us since we began there in 2007 in our English and soccer classes and in our Bible studies. He has always been a marginal character. Generally I would describe his behavior as poor… that is up until two months ago.
In 2007, Jeremy and I quickly noticed that the kids at Morro dos Macacos show little to no gratitude. Ultimately we believe that their lack of gratitude for what they have here on this earth limits their ability to appreciate God. He is, after all, the giver of all good things. So, we set out to help them appreciate others by creating a few simple rules. The first two of our three rules are: “If you want something ask, ‘please’. If you receive something say, ‘thank you.’” We have been insisting on those couple of rules for almost 4 years. Last year we upped the bar. We began talking about Christian leadership and challenged the kids that participate in our Wednesday soccer ministry to practice habits common to Christianity and leaders. Specifically, we challenged them to encourage one another, not to complain and to serve. At the end of every game Jeremy and I awarded the best player, the best goalie and the best attitude (defined as encourager, positive and servant) with public recognition and sometimes a piece of candy. Cezerio has won best attitude by us countless times and was elected by his peers to win best attitude at last Wednesday’s game. His behavior is phenomenal. I have never seen such a drastic change in behavior in any other kid I have worked with in the past 11 years of ministry.
Jeremy and I are like the little boy in Jacob's book (we are like little boys in more ways than one). We planted seeds by making a plan to change behavior. We prepared the soil by sticking to our plan through difficult times for 4 years now. We have cheered on the rain by praying weekly for these boys. All we can do is wait. What will the outcome be? God only knows. Cezario does not profess to be a Christian, but we receive his change of behavior as a sign that God is at work in his life and of greater things to come.
Thank you all for your prayers and support of this work here.
Sombra Road Staff