We took a trip to Rio during the week of Mardi Gras. Literally millions of people flood the streets every day. We performed on the streets and beach board walk and also made beautiful flags with Portuguese messages on them that we carried in the large crowds. The beaches were just crammed packed and we walked them with our flags talking to the people. Countless people would come up and want to talk and take the flyers we were giving out (we gave out 30,000 beautiful color flyers all together that said, “don’t give up, you are wanted” on the front). We also had many Bibles to give out and talked to people who had never read the New Testament. I couldn’t believe the hunger for our message and how grateful people were that we were there. Many told me that we made their carnaval.
There are certain churches here that are very corrupt and scam people into giving them money in the name of God. Plus the government is very corrupt and does nothing to really care about or help the citizens. So many are just at the point of giving up. To be able to bring them the hope of the Gospel and tell them that God really cares about them and remembers them was such a privilege. Many news papers reported on us and people were just shocked by the love and courage they saw in seeing American come to their dangerous city to help them.
On the main beach; Copacabana, which is usually full of upper-class snotty people, was now packed with 1.5 million poor people. Most of them were 18-30 range. I could not believe the attitude of these young people. They were so different. Humble, broken, eager to listen, making an effort to come up for tracks. One kid was just like “I know, I know, you’re right, what are you telling me about Jesus? What is this”. The look in his eyes was that he was about to cry. Here these kind of kids live in “Favelas” which are massive slums that go up a mountain, full of garbage, sewage, and crime. The majority were not “punky” but deeply wanted to hear and know our message. Two kids in camo shorts came up asking for a bunch of our flyers, I was skeptical, but gave them each a pinch. Then they walked up and down the beach and just passed them out saying “you need to read this, this is profound”. They were sincere. They gave them to all their friends and just wanted to be apart of it.
We stood outside the Sambadrome and talked to just floods of people going in late at night. I had always thought the whole Carnaval, Sambadrome thing was really something and would be like the ultimate party for all these people. But it was so nothing. Since the government is corrupt and takes all the funds, there was literally nothing for all the poor and the crowds to do. No beads, no games, no floats no decorations to see. The rich can go inside the Sambadrome (which is a huge 90,000 stadium) and see the floats, but the poor can only observe from a distance, sitting in bleachers separated by a river of sewage, no exaggeration. It was really sad.