It all began in 2004, when people prayed and in one week the money came in to buy a farm an hour away from the city of Belo Horizonte. After a year of preparing the place and the team, we started running weekend Adventure Camps for children and teenagers living in the big city, either on the streets, in favelas or in residential children’s homes. For six years we continued to run these camps until in 2011 we felt God stirring us to expand the vision and start regular clubs during the week too, for the children and young people living in a slum just 4 km from the farm. We called this new branch of the ND tree, ‘TRANSFORMERS’ (TF).
For the first two years of TF CLUBS, we had around 50 children coming each week, but in 2014 the local council built 10 big blocks of flats on the edge of ‘our’ slum, to re-house 160 of the poorest families from the local town of Itabirito, who were previously homeless or living in sub-human conditions. So we now have approx. 90 to 95 TF children coming to the farm every week, divided into eight groups and the number is rising!
The children come to the farm once a week (4 hours), in their allocated group. We are currently running eight groups a week. There are lots of activities, e.g Arts and crafts, football, swimming, baking, games, volleyball, dancing etc. They have meals, a shower and hear about how much God loves them. For those who come in the morning, we drop them off at their schools after lunch. (In Brazil, the children study either in the morning, afternoon or at night.)
The Adventure Camps are scattered throughout the year at weekends and in holidays. Some of the activities offered: zip wire, canoeing, BMX track, team adventure challenges in the forest, raft building, a variety of wide games, swimming, volley ball, football, table tennis, snooker etc. But the main objective of the camps is to show the children how much God loves them, to show them their potential, to encourage them to stay away from drugs and all the negative influences around them, and to give them an experience of love and acceptance that will stay with them for ever and change their perspective on life.
This year we continue to run our two main projects on the farm, Transformers Clubs, Mondays to Fridays, and regular weekend Adventure Camps.
We also visit the families and help youngsters who are addicted to drugs and involved in crime, to get clean. This process involves seeing them through rehab in another city, then helping them with the transition to a drug free life at home afterwards. There are many ups-and-downs but we never give up on them. Two of our boys are in prison right now so we are in the process of getting registered locally to start weekly prison ministry with another local pastor, which will enable us to see our boys more often as well as giving us an opportunity to reach out to all the men in the prison.
We run church services every Sunday night on the farm and every Thursday night in the slum. Up to now these have been attended mainly by children, teenagers and a couple of mums with toddlers. But we now have other parents asking for a service just for the adults so in response to that we are in the middle of our first ALPHA course (see www.Alpha.org) for the adults.
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