We are beginning this new ministry with two families: The Hall family (U.S.) and the Seelig family (Switzerland). The new organization we are opening is called "With Open Arms" (based on the father's response to the prodigal son in Luke 15). We are located in Camaragibe, Brazil which is a district outside of the city of Recife.
Our ministry serves the greater Recife area, and our mission is two-fold. First, RESTORATION: to restore the lives of abused, abandoned, and/or neglected children. Second, is PREVENTION: to prevent at risk youth in underprivileged communities from ever ending up on the streets in the first place.
Although we are just now starting up the organization, With Open Arms, we have already been developing these projects over the last 6 years under the organization YWAM Recife. As we desire to expand, it is clear that it is time to separate so that we can maintain our focus on these areas and not have our time divided with other YWAM activities.
Read more about the two families in the related menus.
The goal of our restoration ministry is to restore the lives of abused, abandoned, and/or neglected children. To do this, we first have to find the children in need of rescue and bring them into our restoration house. We do this in two ways: 1 - Search and Rescue - we go visit the city streets one night a week, building relationships with the street kids. 2 - by receiving referrals and working with the government's social cases. Once we bring the kids into the house, we have our second task: working with them in all of the the areas necessary to prepare them for life.
Getting children off the street in Brazil is very difficult work. Many of the children on the streets enjoy the freedom they have to live as they please, and the street offers a better life than many of the horrible slums (know as "favelas") that they come from. The "soup kitchens" of the surrounding churches and social projects offer them food to eat, and a warm house isn't really necessary so close to the equator where it is always warm. Begging (receiving alms) can also provide the children with drug money for glue and crack. They may also make additional money through theft and prostitution. For these reasons, it can be difficult to convince them of their need to leave the streets.
When we encounter these kids on the street, we begin to build relationships with them through conversing, playing dominoes, drawing pictures, or whatever creative avenue we find that allows us to build their trust. When their trust is built, and if they have a desire to leave, we then begin the legal process necessary to receive them into our restoration house.
Working alongside of the Government has been on the rise over the last few years. As the Government has become more and more involved, they have begun to standardize the requirements of a restoration house. Among these requirements are that siblings may not be separated, and that the restoration house work together with the families or relatives of the children to reintegrate the children with their families, when possible. For this reason, they really prefer to work with ministries in the same district. Camaragibe, where we live, has 144,000 people, and there are not ANY houses for girls or houses that can accommodate keeping siblings together.
If you would like to be involved with what we are doing here at With Open Arms, there are 3 primary things you can do: