Monday, June 19, 2017

Young people in the Far East reach out to children at risk

After a wonderful and busy furlough in Holland, we started our next big trip: seven months travelling in various Asian countries. We then plan to be back in Holland by the end of September to start preparing for the special Children at Risk School that we will offer in January 2018 at YWAM Heidebeek in Holland. The focus will be refugee children. 
  

Far East
But for now, we will spend a few months in the Far East. Children are at risk all over the world. We are happy to find there are young people here who want to help those children and are willing to learn the best ways to do it.

We are staying in a big city and are impressed with the thousands of high rises under construction. Beautifully landscaped neighborhoods are constantly being added.  Spacious 8-lane roads cross the city where cars, electric scooters, bicycles, buses and pedestrians mingle, seemingly without any problems.

   


Catching goldfish

In the city center is a beautiful pond which is home to thousands of goldfish.  On Sunday afternoon, we saw lots of parents and grandparents sitting around it, with their small children holding little fishing rods and buckets. They were fishing for goldfish to take home and put into their aquariums! Too cute! The people smiled and were friendly to us when we took their photos. They are so proud of their city and their country, and they want us to enjoy it too, with typical local hospitality.

Left behind
But there are also many deep needs here. Millions of children living in smaller villages are left in the care of grandparents or other family members, so the parents can get a job in a distant city, where they can earn more money. Some do this because they are extremely poor and really want to provide a better living for their family. Others do this simply because they want to have more money, better houses, nicer cars, more luxury, etc.

Since only the parents move into cities without their families, this society has been able to avoid the formation of slum communities in the big cities. But this comes at a high cost to families and to family relationships; what a terrible dilemma to face!

As we have talked with these children, many have expressed the deep pain they’ve experienced—feelings of being abandoned, neglected and rejected. Often they are pushed from one family member to another, which forces them to change schools and lose their friends. They frequently don’t feel very welcomed by the families that have taken them in and may see their own parents only once a year during a very short vacation.


Many of the young people we’ve talked with have had the same experiences and can identify well with the realities these children face.
  

But there are also many children who don´t have an extended family and are placed into some sort of orphanage/boarding school. Of course, they are not really orphans, because their parents are alive, living far away in a big city to make money. It is even harder on these children as they grow up without any family relationships. Not only are their childhoods and teenage years more difficult, they will have many more psychological and social problems throughout the rest of their lives.


Abortion
We also hear how the interruption of pregnancies through abortion is considered a most normal practice. It is also very inexpensive. It is so normal  that the first question a doctor will ask a new female patient is:

“How many abortions have you had?”


We know quite well that abortion doesn´t just kill a baby, but that the woman who has an abortion will deal with increased risk of physical and psychosomatic problems in the future.


Young people make themselves available.
It is wonderful to see that there are so many young people here who are ready to help children, teenagers and families. We have spoken to young people who have plans to start shelters for pregnant girls, and there are those who want to start organizations to promote adoption. Families are being trained about family values and child rearing, either through weekend camps or websites with good articles. There are also regular holiday camps for children, community centers with afterschool programs, and counseling clinics for treating childhood trauma in chose have been abandoned by their parents. It is wonderful to hear of all these plans and how steps are being taken towards these goals.


Eye infection
Both of us have enjoyed getting to know this beautiful region and its wonderful people. But we had not expected to also become familiar with local medical services through a hospital admission!


Johan has suffered from a rheumatic illness called Ankylosing Spondylitis since he was a teenager. One of the symptoms is nasty eye infections. Whenever we travel, we carry medicine prescribed for these infections. Usually these prednisone eyedrops work quite well, but this time his eye didn´t respond to them, and we had to rush to the hospital.
  


Admitted to the hospital
Close to where we are staying is a beautiful, brand new 20-story hospital, and that is where we went for help. It is always a challenge in a country where you cannot speak the local language. But we didn´t need to worry, because the doctors were so nice and did everything they could to help us.

Thankfully, with the help of many prayers from people around the world, as well as intravenous antibiotics, injections of corticosteroids around the eye and lots of eyedrops, the infection slowly began to diminish. Please thank God with us for this healing and pray for our health for the remainder of this trip.

We are so thankful for each of you, loving and faithful friends, who surround us with prayer, finances and all kinds of support. It is such a comforting feeling to know that many of you carry us in these times of change and insecurity, and pray for us, our family, and our work on behalf of children at risk. We pray that many of these children will be reached with the love of the Father. And we also pray God’s richest blessings on all of you!

Much love from


Johan en Jeannette 


Prayer points
Please pray for the “left behind” children who feel neither wanted nor loved. Pray that these families will see their children as a precious gift.

Give thanks for those young people who are preparing themselves to help children with love and counseling.

Pray for the women who have had abortions, or who are at the point of deciding to have an abortion.

Thank God for those young people who are preparing to help these women and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion.

Please continue to pray for our health during the rest of this trip.

Give thanks for the different Children at Risk Schools in Brazil and around the world.

Pray that many young people will be trained and prepared to obey God and offer their lives in serving children at risk.

Pray for preparations for the Children at Risk School that will be given (in English) in Holland, starting January 2018:  http://ywamheidebeek.org/car/


Monday, February 27, 2017

Wading right in and helping out...

Time for a new layout for our news, thanks to our son-in-law Jonathan!
We hope this makes it even clearer that since 2013, our newsletters are our personal letters, and different from the YWAM Belo Horizonte newsletters.

Teaching Worldwide
We pioneered and led the YWAM base in Belo Horizonte from 1986-2013. That gave us a lot of experience in working with Children at Risk. In 2013 we handed over leadership of the base to very capable Brazilian leaders.

Since then, God has led us to devote all our time to training workers for ministries with Children at Risk, through schools and seminars in Brazil and worldwide, using all our experience, and passing it on to the next generations. In our teachings, we answer questions like: “How do you work with Children at Risk? How do you start an effective ministry? What are some of the pitfalls to avoid? What does the word of God teach about vulnerable children?”


Teaching

Of course, we had been teaching similar classes for many years to the staff in Belo Horizonte and in many other YWAM locations. But because we no longer have the heavy responsibility as base leaders, it is a lot easier for us to say yes to invitations from other YWAM bases around the world to come and teach. So we are now travelling a lot more.

To avoid confusion between the YWAM Belo Horizonte base newsletter and our personal newsletter, we have decided to use a new layout. And through this personal newsletter, we´ll keep you updated on news from our personal lives and our family, as well as our work worldwide in training people for ministry among Children at Risk. Our blog now has the same new look! http://jlukasse-english.blogspot.nl/

Home
“Where do you live now?” is a question we often hear. One of our grandsons is convinced that we live in an airplane J. Not totally correct, but you get the logic behind it. Officially we still live in Belo Horizonte--that is where our house is--but we are not home all that often because of our frequent travels. But what actually defines being “home?” Johan often says: “Home is where we are together!” That may sound a bit cliché, but it is actually the most correct answer, and as such, we are “home” most of the time.

"Home"

Our Fourth Journey to Iraq
Right now we are enjoying a furlough in Holland. We originally planned to be here from the beginning of December, but in the fall of 2016, we were asked to visit Iraq again in December, to give another seminar about how to help refugee children with trauma. This would be our fourth trip to Iraq in two years. After three eventful trips into that country, we had believed it would not be necessary to go again, and honestly, we felt relieved.

Our students listen with attention to the stories of the children

The idea of going again was a bit of an adjustment. When we prayed about it, I felt God speaking to me from Romans 15:1-4 from the Message:

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us.


Well, that made it very clear! How often am I trying to make it easier for myself by ignoring the problems of the other? But here it says that Jesus did exactly the opposite. He went towards the hurting people, sought out the problems and went to help.

With that understanding, we did go to the north of Iraq again last December, this time to give classes to 22 Christian school teachers, all refugees or IDP´s themselves, and eager to help the refugee children. It ended up being a wonderful trip and a seminar with an amazing group of ladies! Although the weather was very cold--I slept with extra sweaters and even with gloves onJ-- the atmosphere among the teachers was very warm. We were able to encourage them in various ways, and of course were able to give them the special program on how to help children deal with their trauma and loss.


We have the booklets we use for this training in a PDF file, so if you are interested in using this material, please send us a request. We´ll be happy to send it to you free of charge!

Refugees in the Snow in Serbia
This month, during a conference in Budapest, Hungary, we were able to give a short seminar about the use of the trauma booklet for children and refugees. It was a conference where 150 people, representing many Christian organizations that help refugees in Europe, had come together for prayer, planning and strategizing.

Refugees in the snow

During that week, we had an opportunity to cross the border into Serbia and visit some refugees. Our church in Holland had collected over 100 pounds of warm clothing and some mobile phones to distribute. We had some heavy suitcases! Unbelievably, in Serbia there are at least 5,000 refugees who have no access to official help or to refugee camps. Some of them stay in old cold abandoned buildings with no water or electricity, while some live outdoors in the forest. They all want to continue their trip into Western Europe, but Hungary has closed its borders and only lets 10 people through each day. Some have been stuck in Serbia for more than 6 months.


We visited an improvised camp where Christians daily bring food and warm clothing for about 200 refugees from 14 to 25 years old.

The refugees were very grateful for all the help they got. But surprisingly they asked for something else: “We are thankful for what you came to do and give us, but can you pray for us that a miracle will happen so we will be able to travel, and can you also pray for protection?” As far as we know, all of them were Muslims, but they wanted us Christians to pray for them!

During the conference in Budapest we heard many stories from all over Europe about hundreds of Muslims coming to Christ. They are so open right now! Please pray for the refugees and for the people helping them. You can ask God how you can help, too!

Please Help Us Spread the Word
Would you like to be trained to work with refugee children? Or do you know someone who is looking for training? We plan to offer a Children at Risk School in January 2018 in Holland with a special focus on working with refugee children. For further information, please write us: johan@jocum.org.br

If you would like to help us cover the extra costs we are incurring with our travels to help refugee children and organizing Children at Risk Schools, there are different ways to donate. Please have a look at this page of our blog.

Grandpa Johan reading to his youngest granddaughter
We would like to thank all of you who are standing with us in prayer, encouragement and financial support. May the Lord bless you richly.

Prayer Points
  • Thank the Lord for the various Children at Risk Schools in Brazil and around the world.
  • Pray that many young people will be trained to obey God and offer their lives to work with needy children.
  • Pray for the refugees and internally displaced in Northern Iraq--300,000 Christians and 2 million Muslims.
  • Give thanks for the different churches and organizations that help them in word and deed.
  • Pray for the 65 million refugees worldwide, and for the 34,000 new refugees who flee from their homes each day.
  • Pray that churches and organizations will show Christian hospitality as encouraged in the Bible. The Greek word for this is philoxenia: to treat the stranger, sojourner or alien as a friend. (The opposite would be xenophobia: fear of strangers.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Christmas!


We just came back from Northern Iraq where gave training to 22 teachers on how to deal with trauma in Children. It was a great time. We were impressed with the resilience in these women, and the way they look with hope to God for new strength every day.

With all these recent experiences still very alive, we got goose bumps listening to Christmas carols about peace on earth! Oh, how we yearn for peace for Mosul and Iraq, peace for Aleppo and Syria!

Although it sometimes seems so far away, if we look more closely, we can see the Kingdom of God manifest in the most unlikely places, and that He is Emanuel, God with us in the most difficult situations, to comfort, save, heal and to be Lord over all. 

 
 "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Monday, November 21, 2016

Inspiring millenials how to work with children at risk

We have thoroughly enjoyed the time we have been able to spend during this year of 2016 with a big group of young people in Rio de Janeiro—teaching them, showing them examples, giving them experiences of working with Children at Risk, and growing together in faith.


The crucial moment, of course, was at the end of the school: What will they do? Will they apply all they learned? Or was it just a lot of “good experiences” and a “great time”?

Great majority in fulltime missions

We were happy to see that the classes were not just interesting information; no, the students got more and more deeply involved with different groups of Children at Risk in Rio, like kids living in poor communities where drug trafficking has elevated crime to incredible levels, or teenagers and young people entrapped in sexual exploitation. 



By end of the school they knew God had called them to reach out to at-risk kids. Most of them joined Youth with a Mission (YWAM) or other missionary organizations. They have great plans to reach children and young people with the love of God, and I believe we will hear wonderful things from them in the future!

Millennials and YouTube

The current generation of youth are often called `Millennials´ and they can find almost all the information they need for their studies on the internet. From cooking recipes to building your own car, you always can find some do-it-yourself instructions on YouTube. You might ask why we still travel to other cities and countries to teach the Children at Risk School. Couldn´t we just put all our classes on YouTube and stay comfortably at home? Yes, I guess we could, but would that be as effective?



No, we don’t believe it would be. This new generation needs people to help them interpret the classes and information, to be an example for them, and to inspire them through our lifestyle and experiences.

What our students commented

Here are some of the things that our students wrote us:

“Your classes turned my life upside down…”

“Thank you for sharing your experiences and lessons from life, your lifestyle has inspired me…”

“I learned so much from your classes, it touched me deeply, and some deep wounds were healed….”

“Very inspiring, spiritually and practically, it will help me for the rest of my life….”


We are very grateful. Grateful to God who called us to work for the past year in Rio de Janeiro and provided all that we needed. Grateful to the staff who invested their gifts and talents to make the school a success. And also very grateful to the students who came with open hearts to learn, and put it all into practice.

Going, everywhere the Lord leads us

All this has giving us new impetus to continue. Since we handed over the leadership of the base in Belo Horizonte in 2013, we have been free to go where the Lord leads us to start new Children at Risk schools, and teach wherever needed in churches, seminars, and YWAM bases about how to work with Children at Risk.


During the final months of this year, we are doing just that: teaching in churches and Children at Risk schools in different Brazilian cities. And next year we hope to do the same in various countries in Asia, but more about that in our next newsletterJ.

Helping children in refugee camps

We’ll save details about our upcoming time in Asia for the next newsletter because, before then, we´re planning to make our fourth trip to the Middle East, to help the refugee children. Children who escape from the violence of war with their parents, or sometimes without them, are another category of Children at Risk.

This time we are planning to give a seminar to teachers in the Middle East, who work in schools with children from different refugee camps. We´ll focus on how to help children handle the traumas they’ve experienced through war.

Would you please pray for us? Such trips are challenging--physically, emotionally and financially. But we are thankful that we can help spread the love of God to these children and young people who have often passed through the most horrible situations.


Furlough in Holland

We hope to be in Holland for Christmas, so we can celebrate those days together with our ´Dutch` children and grandchildren. In January and February, we are planning to share in different churches and groups about the ministry with Children at Risk.



“Children at Risk” Seminar

From February 13-17, YWAM Heidebeek will organize a “Children at Risk” seminar with a special focus on refugee children. We will be sharing the first two days. Costs E175 - all included. For more information, please contact: jokevanheuven@gmail.com


Christmas, God with us, us together with God

“Watch for this – a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; they will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for ‘God is with us’).” Matthew 1:23 (The Message).

The Lord Jesus was born as a small baby. He came from heaven to earth to be with us, in order that whoever believes in Him will live together with God, and be saved.

“God with us!” That´s what I wish for all the kids in the refugee camps, for teenagers trapped in sexual exploitation, for families that must raise their children in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Together with God, everything changes—the burden lifts, the light shines, and everything gets renewed and touched by God´s goodness!

We wish you all God´s richest blessings!


Prayer points
  • Give thanks to the Lord for the wonderful students we were able to train in Rio de Janeiro and who are now stepping out into their missionary careers.
  • Pray that they will reach many children in need with the love of God.
  • Thank God for the opportunity to go and minister, equip and encourage teachers in refugee camps in the Middle East. 
  • Please pray for the safety of the refugees and all who are trying to help them. 
  • Give thanks for those churches that are trying with all their might to reach out to the refugees.
  • Pray for peace to come.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Rio: Olimpic Games in 5 slums and a streetparty at night in the prostitution area



“Organize five Mini-Olympic Games in five different slum communities!” was the assignment that Johan gave the students of the Children at Risk School in Rio de Janeiro, to accomplish during the Olympic Games. And wow, they really went for it! After months of lectures about children at risk, based on biblical principles, they were ready!



An average of 80 children had signed up in each community. And I don´t know who enjoyed themselves more, the kids or the students and staff! Every day was a new celebration!





The kids just loved it. They were divided in ten different teams representing ten nations. Each child participated in 10 games. In between the activities, our students had time to ask them how they liked it and what had been a challenge. The students listened to them and prayed for them.



At the end they all received a “golden” medal, and for the three countries that had accumulated the most points, there was a trophy! It was so heartwarming to see that the kids whose teams came in last were just as happy as the ones who came in first. Wonderful!




“Is this really from you, God?”

We had asked this question various times last year while praying and planning for the eight months’ school during the Olympic year in Rio de Janeiro.


Yes, it was His plan! How often we have been surprised by the Lord during this time: He sent us a wonderful group of eager students, great staff, and provided an apartment that we could rent, very close to the large church building we were allowed to use for the school--at no cost. It has been a time of big and small miracles!

Blessed by loads of experienced teachers

Every week we had one or more teachers who came to share lessons from their profound experiences. Like Carla who started the House of Refuge almost 30 years ago in Belo Horizonte for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Or Alexandre, who is now leader of the base in Belo Horizonte, but was previously coordinator of the Restoration House for street children. He also brought Anderson, an ex-street child who is now leader of the Rescue House in Belo Horizonte, working with kids on the streets and in juvenile detention centers.



Dozens of experienced teachers blessed us, and the students even received classes from Michele and Romeu, our daughter and son-in-law, about how to work with children through adventure camps. Also Johanneke and Jonathan and their kids had a chance to visit Rio de Janeiro. For us it was wonderful to see all of them and our grandchildren!

Church growth from an old abandoned factory

The church where we are running the school, and where the students are living, also experienced growth. There was a nice Sunday School room in the church building, but there normally were no kids attending on Sunday mornings. But that has changed! Every Sunday morning a big group from our 32 students would go to the old abandoned factory, just around the corner, where dozens of families have “invaded” and claimed some square meters of space to build a little home. Lots of kids were invited and came with our students to the Sunday School.



After a couple of weeks, some of their mothers started attending the church, and later the whole families came. The church works with cell groups, and in the last 2 months, two new home groups were started. We are thankful to already be able to see our school bearing fruit in the neighborhood!

A street party for prostitutes

Several evenings during the Olympics we went with the whole school to a local park, where many young women and men are waiting for clients to pick them up, near one of the oldest prostitution areas of the city: Vila Mimosa. Since the World Cup in 2014, there has been a prayer room in that neighborhood with prayer and worship for 12 hours every day--a light in the darkness.

Flowers and cards made by the students, to hand out to the girls on the streets. The card says: "I continue to love you, just like on the day you were born!" 

An international organization combating sexual exploitation, with whom we had partnered during the World Cup, invited us and our students to come help with a street party for the prostitutes in the middle of this red light district. In an open space between two lanes of traffic we hung bright blue, red and yellow lights and put out heart-shaped cookies and small presents on folding tables. One group sang praise music and others went to invite the prostitutes, armed with roses in glittering cellophane. Curiously they came to see what this was all about and were enthusiastically welcomed by our students. There was a corner to have their nails done, they were offered food and drinks, and because of the personal attention they received, they soon felt at home.


“This is the best evening of my life!” said Ana Carolina. “I wish I wouldn´t have to do this work, but I have 4 small children. I work as a nurse’s aide during the week, but my salary is too small to survive, so I work here also for them.”

A young girl of only 17 confessed it was the first night she had come to work on the streets. Her friends had talked her into it, but now she had serious doubts…

A girl walked up to one of our students, and her first words were: “Please, can you pray for me?”

Another girl told us that this was the first night she had seen real love, love that gives and doesn’t ask anything in return…

Everywhere around us we saw our students praying with the women and men, hugging them and then praying some more. We saw hope spring up in tearful eyes, hope that maybe there was another way, hope that God had not rejected them and still loved them in spite of everything, hope for a new life.


Final week of the Children at Risk School

At the end of this week there will be a graduation party for our 32 students. This “ending” will also mark the beginning for most of them as fulltime missionaries with Youth With A Mission and other organizations, here in Rio de Janeiro and in other cities and countries. We are very proud of our students!

Will you pray with us for them, as they take the next steps in their adventure with God?

We are so grateful to God, that we here in Rio, together with so many of you who carried us in prayer and supported us with finances, could teach the students and help them on their way in their missions careers. That we could reach children in the slums with God’s love. And that we could give hope to the young women and men who work in prostitution. Hope for a different life. Hope from God who sees them, who loves them and who reaches out to them. We give all glory to the Lord!

A big hug and thanks to everyone.

We wish you all God´s richest blessings,

Johan and Jeannette Lukasse



Prayer points:

  • Thank the Lord with us for the wonderful school we were privileged to lead here in Rio
  • Pray for the students, as most of them are starting their missions careers among at-risk children.
  • Thank God for His protection during this time in Rio.
  • Pray for the children and prostitutes who have been touched by His love. 
You can watch a photo album from our time in Rio on our Facebook page, “Johan Jeannette Lukasse”