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”

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Looking at children through God´s eyes

“Lord, what do you want us to do today?”

This was the question one of the four teams of our students, who are on outreach for two months, asked in prayer one morning. As they listened for God’s answer, they received some very different impressions: a cross, love, thankfulness, popsicles and a bus stop…. Well, what do you make of that-- especially the last two items?!?

They ended up deciding to go to a local bus stop to give out free popsicles, with the message that Jesus paid a high price on the cross for our salvation, and that we may receive his love for free, just like this ice cream is free.

How wonderful it is to live for God!
“It was unbelievable what happened then,” Aline told us. “God took away our timidity, gave us the right words and used us! The sentences we said really affected the people deeply; some started to cry when we told them: Jesus loves you! And right there at the bus stop we were able to pray for some and lead them to the Lord, while they were still waiting in the line for the next bus!”

One after the other, the students were able to testify: “It is wonderful to live for the Lord! He wants to use us!”

Johan and I are so happy and thankful for everything the Lord is doing in the students and in us! It is very special to see young people giving their lives radically to God and then witness what God starts doing in and through them.

Students on outreach

While the students have been on outreach during April and May, we’ve had some time to help with the organization of a national YWAM leadership meeting that took place last week. We were also quite busy with one of our international students who became so ill that he had to stay in a hospital for a couple of weeks and finally needed to be repatriated to his home country. But even in those struggles, we could see God´s loving care and provision: a very helpful doctor and great support from his parents and the consulate. It was, of course, very disappointing that he couldn´t finish the training, but we are praying for full restoration and that everything will work together for the good.

While the students and staff are still on outreach, we have the rest of this month of May to finish final preparations for the Children at Risk school in Rio we´ll run during the months of June, July and August.

Besides the lectures in the classroom, we’re also planning some practical classes, where our 40 students will have the opportunity to practice their skills three afternoons a week in 7 different outreach locations in slums and the red light district. Especially with the Olympic Games coming our way in August, it will be so important to have some teams that can work against sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Johan and I went to visit some of these locations to talk with the leaders. It is great to see how the Lord continues to lead us and opens the doors!

“Peace full” favelas or slums?

In Rio de Janeiro there are around 800 slum communities. Some of these are not yet “pacificado” (in peace). This means that the police cannot enter these communities and that the local drug bosses are in charge. Young boys stand guard with big assault rifles on street corners and entrance ways into the communities. Drugs are openly displayed on plastic tables for sale. That business is going well is made obvious by the big bundles of banknotes that lay right next to the drugs.

The word “pacificado” means literally, “where peace has been established.” In “peaceful” slums, the army has taken over the slum community, often with great force using tanks, weapons, and lots of soldiers, starting a war against the ruling drug gangs. When the slum is taken back from the drug dealers, various police posts are put up, with heavily armed police officers. But even in the so-called pacificado slum communities, there is still lots of crime. An example is the Borel community where YWAM for the past 20 years has run a medical clinic, day care center and music school.


Last month in Borel, the police and local drug dealers engaged in a shooting directly in front of the green door of the community center. Two of our students had just left the house to go to the bus stop when they found themselves in the middle of the shooting! They were able to run back inside, where they joined the rest of the staff who had thrown themselves on the floor for safety. Together they continued their prayer and worship time laying down, all the while hearing the shots that were fired. All had tears in their eyes, and not just from the tear gas that entered the room through the windows. When they finally opened the door after more than an hour, they found the lifeless body of a 17-year-old drug dealer on the doorstep.

Looking at children through God´s eyes

Please pray for safety for us, our students and our staff. But pray also for those families in the slums who often don´t know any other reality than the constant warfare between gangs, or between the police and the gangs. Pray for the boys and girls who grow up in such an environment, that they will know God’s plans, “Plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11), and that those plans will become a reality in their lives.

We hope and pray that in August, at the end of the eight-month training program in Rio, the students will have learned to look at children through God´s eyes, and that many of them will continue to reach out to those “children at risk” in the long term… that they will have received enough information and inspiration to trust God more deeply and follow His guidance. We pray they will be open to starting new projects to reach children who need lots of help to reach God’s goals and plans for their lives.

Towards China and Thailand

In October and November, we plan to be home in Belo Horizonte to teach in the Children at Risk (C@R) School there, as well as in Curitiba, a city in the south of Brazil.

In 2015 we gave a seminar in Thailand, teaching about reaching out to children at risk.

In 2017 we have been invited to give the C@R school for the first time in China and Thailand. Our goal is to train local workers, using the experience we have accumulated in the dozens of projects addressing the needs of children we have started and been involved in over the years.

In between: to Holland on a furlough!
But between the schools in Brazil and the ones in Asia in 2017, we plan to go to Holland for the months of December, January and February. We have 3 children and 3 grandchildren living there, as well as our big extended family of brothers and sisters. We will also be sharing with various churches and groups that are interested in missions.

We want to thank all of you who have been involved in our lives through your prayers, help and encouragement.

May the Lord bless you richly,


Johan and Jeannette Lukasse

Prayer points

  • Please pray for the students and staff that are still on their outreach. 
  • Thank the Lord for the children, young people and adults that have given their lives to the Lord over these last few weeks.
  • Pray for the C@R school in Rio de Janeiro, that God will use the lectures and practical outreaches for His glory in the lives of the students and the children they will reach out to. 
  • Thank God for this wonderful group of staff and students, not just in Rio, but also in Belo Horizonte and Curitiba and other places where a C@R school is given.
  • Pray for protection for us, students, staff and the kids and families in the slums. 
  • Thank God for the opportunity to be able to partner with churches and other organizations.
  • Pray for the plans for China and Thailand next year. 
  • Give thanks for the opportunity we have to spend some time in Holland with family, friend and churches.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Don´t switch off the light during Carnival in Rio!

“Over the last month I have seen how God takes care of me in the smallest details: when I ran out of toothpaste, I found a new toothpaste on my pillow, and yesterday when I needed 30 dollars for the evangelistic outreach during the carnival, someone put a banknote in my pocket”.

“I couldn´t sleep the other night, I felt so agitated. The lectures had been very profound for me. Suddenly someone put a hand on my shoulder. It was my roommate.

“Shall we pray?”, she whispered.

She also couldn´t sleep. But after we prayed and brought all our thoughts and anxieties before the Lord, we slept like angels!

A new YWAM family of 50 people

We hear testimonies like this one after another from the students. In the beginning of January, we started this training program with 31 students and 19 staff in the city of Rio de Janeiro. But it was preceded by a number of miracles. We had announced the program, believing that it was his plan, and that He would go before us. We created a website, and even had already accepted the first students, but we still didn´t have a place to run the program. We had been looking at some buildings to rent, but it was all much too expensive.

Big and small miracles

Suddenly a pastor offered the use of his almost-empty, big church building. It was perfect with several dorms, a dining hall that also functions as a class room and an industrial kitchen. It´s right in the center of Rio de Janeiro, very close to the Metro system and train system, and various bus lines serving the neighborhood. And that was just the beginning. The existing small YWAM bases in the city joined the effort, and recruited volunteers to help paint the place and remodel some of the bathrooms. Another person rented us her partly furnished apartment next to the church for the 10 months that we need to be here. Dozens of students from 7 different countries applied for the program, and staff came to help from different parts of Brazil.

DTS and C@R School

And so now we have a whole new “family” of 50 people in the heart of Rio de Janeiro who want to know God and His will in a deeper way and proclaim His love all around. It is very special and precious, and we are enjoying very much being with such a wonderful group of mostly young people that God has sent us.

The whole program consists of a DTS (Discipleship Training School) and C@R (Children at Risk) School. We have many opportunities for outreach in the slums, putting our classroom lectures into practice.

With Carnival, all restrains come off

Carnival here in Brazil is a feast of 4 days and nights with lots of drinking, partying and sex. The government even gave away 5 million free condoms, just during the days of Carnival… It´s a time when many people pass their limits and often regret it afterwards. Most churches warn their members not to participate or come close to the celebration. Often they organize retreats and Christian camps during this time.

Don´t switch off the light!

“But”, Johan explained to the students, “if we are the light, and then leave the city during Carnival to protect ourselves from the world, we are actually switching off the light. What is already dark becomes even darker. As Christians, we need to go to the streets during Carnival to the people who are looking for attention, love and fulfilment in the wrong places like alcohol and sex, and tell them where to find true love.”

Staying with friends in a poor community
During the four days of Carnival we were all able to stay at the site of a partner mission organization in the middle of a very poor community. Very thin mattresses next to each other on the floor, a bit of a challenge for many of us! But what a wonderful time we ended up having. During the day programs for children, another program for the mothers and for the male students, a ministry time in a rehab center for drug addicts.

Big plastic cups of beer

At 10PM we went all together to the main street, which was closed off for the festivities, and participated in different forms of evangelizing until 3 o´clock in the morning. Whole families walked down the main street in the strangest attires and costumes. We saw fathers and their teenage sons dressed up in provocative female clothing. Mothers with red, plastic devil’s horns that would light up every now and then on their heads, dragging around their toddlers and carrying their babies. It touched us to see how empty the celebration really is, and how many people are looking for a bit of happiness and a purpose in their lives, which they hope to find in big plastic cups of beer.

“Let´s go for it!”
The staff and students had put together a nice and varied program for street evangelism, with drama, dance, puppet theater, circus acts like spitting fire and a human pyramid. This caught the attention of a lot of people. After the presentation, someone gave a short testimony, then all our students went around talking to the people. Really great! Many people received prayer, and several gave their hearts to the Lord right there on the streets.

Even though everyone was very tired from the intense program and short hours of sleep, they became more excited to go to the streets and share the gospel with people. What a privilege to work with such a group of dedicated young people! It is very satisfying!

“Empty nest”

Now that we are living in Rio de Janeiro for ten months, for the first time we are living far away from where any of our five children and grandchildren live. Before, we always had some of them living right next door or relatively close. So we are really experiencing an “empty nest”, and we miss them all a lot. 

But in December we had a quality time with Johanneke, Jonathan, Michele, Romeu and their kids. We did lots of fun stuff, like eating wonderful, big meals together, talking for hours, baking cookies, camping in the garden, inline skating, etc. It was so good to be together, but of course, we missed the ones who live in Holland a lot as well!


We would like to thank all who have been helping us in any way over the last couple of months, be it through prayer, encouragement or finances. It is so special to know that there are people who believe in our ministry and support us in many ways. Without you, we would not be able to do all these things.

We wish you God´s richest blessings,

With lots of love,

Johan and Jeannette

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jesus, hope for the refugees!

Dear friends,

“I am a refugee and I received help, now I want to help the children that had to flee”. Malik talks with great enthusiastic gestures. He opens his arms wide to show how many children he would like to help. He was a student at the Technical University in Qaraqosh, a city in Iraq with a big Christian population, before he became a refugee. “God changed my life and gave it a new direction. My dream is now to start a school, here in the camp, where the truth of God can flow as a river, saving and healing…”

Internally displaced

Malik was one of the students in the seminar we gave last month. It was our third trip to Iraq this year. Just like all our other 24 students, Malik was an IDP (Internally Displaced Person)—someone who had to flee from his home, but stayed within the borders of his own country.

200,000 Christians had to flee

In Iraq there are now about 3 million internally displaced people, who had to escape from the shocking brutality of the Islamic State (ISIS), including more than 200,000 Christians. Most of these Christians lived in the province of Nineveh and escaped to the province of Kurdistan, the most northern part of Iraq, when Mosul, the capital of Nineveh and its surrounding towns and villages, were captured by ISIS. This is the same Nineveh where Jonah was sent in Biblical times to announce the word of the Lord.

Teaching about child development and trauma counseling

Our students were all currently living in Erbil, the capital of the province of Kurdistan, in four different camps. All of them had already started childcare and informal education programs for the kids in those camps. Most of them didn´t have a background in education, but had to interrupt their schooling in other areas like medicine, law, architecture or engineering. They were so happy and thankful for the lectures we gave them on child development, as well as how to help children deal with the trauma they had suffered. They participated with great dedication.

Inside a camp (adapted empty building) for Christians

Our lecture hall was on the fifth floor of a big unfinished apartment building. The local church had transformed the raw concrete structure, with financial help from abroad, into a space where 150 displaced Christian families could live. On the first to fourth floors, they had used plastic panels to create one living room / bedroom for each family. At the end of each hallway were sets of showers and toilets and a shared kitchen facility. They have already been living there for a year. Everything was kept spotless clean by the families themselves. And on the fifth floor was a big hall for all kinds of meetings, like church services, weddings, funerals, and now for our seminar. It was an ideal place, because after the week of lectures, the students were able to put what they had learned into practice by inviting all the kids between 6 and 12 years old living in the building (or camp as they call it). It was a fantastic morning as we divided over 80 kids into small groups for each student to lead.

We are all unique, and God loves us all!

"But for you, sunrise! The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings." wrote one of our students the promise from Malachi 4 in his book

“Jesus came!”

Hani, one of our students, told us with tears in his eyes how his small group had gone. The students were taking the children through a little booklet designed to help kids with their traumas. It was translated into Arabic. Hani had a group of four boys between the ages of 10-13 at his table. He saw that the boy next to him had written a name on the page where children are asked who they lost during the conflict. And then the boy started to cry quietly.

“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Hani, as he leaned over to the boy.

The boy nodded, “Yes… it was my father who was beheaded…” he whispered with a broken voice.

Hani felt shocked. His own brother also had been killed by ISIS when he had to flee from Mosul, and Hani still thought about it every day. He still had great difficulty dealing with that loss. How would he be able to help this young teenager deal with the loss of his father? But suddenly he remembered the lecture from class the week before. He didn´t have to be strong for the boy. Even when he was still in pain himself, the Lord Jesus could comfort both him and the boy in their weakness and pain!

“Shall we pray together?” asked Hani, grabbing the boy’s hand. He felt a bit insecure, as he had never done anything like that before. “Yes”, the boy nodded, he would really like that.

“And Jesus came!” Hani told us with shining eyes. “We felt very sad and surrounded by darkness, but suddenly the light broke through and it felt as if Jesus took our burdens literally on himself, and we experienced a very deep peace!”

Goose bumps

Wonderful! I felt goose bumps all over when I heard Hani tell this story. This is exactly the reason why we have made these dangerous trips. Seeing all the needs around me, I had felt so small. Lord what can I do to help these people? We are only here for such a short time.

But this was the answer! Yes, it was true—we could only stay for 2 short weeks. But God used the lectures to give the refugees hope. And hope was in short supply there.


Most Christians had to flee their homes over a year ago. For many it wasn´t even the first time they had to leave everything behind and start anew. But this time they felt so hopeless. They felt betrayed by the army that hadn´t protected them against ISIS, but had quietly withdrawn during the night, leaving them to cope for themselves. They would like to make a fresh start, but who can guarantee them protection here? No one! They don´t believe the promises of the government anymore and feel very vulnerable.

They all want to go to Europe

According to the leaders of the local Christian churches, all of the more than 200,000 internally displaced Christians would prefer to flee to Europe (these are only the Christians--there are also 2.5 million Muslim refugees in other camps). But they have not gone yet because they still have family members in areas occupied by ISIS, or they simply don´t have money to pay those who smuggle people. If they had any money or valuables when they fled from Nineveh, most was taken from them at ISIS checkpoints on the way out. Most who have made it to Europe were the richer refugees who had some sort of luck. Those remaining are still waiting for their chance.

Refugees in the West

Of course we follow the news about the refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who arrive in western countries. We think it is wonderful to hear about Christians in Holland and other countries who volunteer to help or even open their own homes. Isn´t that what Jesus meant in Matthew 25 when he said: “I was a stranger and you took me in… I assure you, if you did this for one of the least of my brothers, you did it unto me.”

Workbook for children

We have some great, practical materials available in English and Arabic for all who want to help children overcome their traumas. It is a workbook for children and a facilitator’s guide, written by some very experienced specialists in relief work. It is very easy to use and apply. Maybe you would like to use these at a centre for refugees or even in your church. You can send us a request by email:, and we´ll be happy to send it to you in PDF, so you can print them up yourselves.

Building faith

We are so thankful we could make these trips to help build the faith of the Christian refugees, who now in turn can start helping traumatized children. Thank you for your prayers and support during these trips.

At the end of the program, all the children received a beautiful Bible

Children in need in Rio de Janeiro, a whole different world

During the coming months we´ll be busy with preparations for the big training program focusing on Children at Risk in Rio de Janeiro. It is a whole different world, but when we see how 10-11 year-old children walk around armed, “employed” by the big drug gangs, or notice the young girls who sell their bodies on the beautiful beaches, we are so aware of the great need. Jesus wants to provide an answer for these children through his church. We are looking forward to training a big group of young people during the first 8 months of 2016. But that will be the subject of our next newsletter!

We wish you all many blessings in the coming holiday season, where God’s love will be central. And, of course, many blessings for the New Year too!

Prayer points
  • More than 50% of all the refugees are children. Pray that someone will listen to them and pray with them. Give thanks with us for the students we were able to train in the camps.
  • Pray for our brothers and sisters who, during their escape, often lost most of their possessions or worse—one or more of their family members. Thank God for the small local churches in Kurdistan that make such a big effort to house the 200,000 internally displaced Christians.
  • Pray for the refugees who decide to make the dangerous trip to Europe. Pray for the Christians in Europe and other rich countries—that they will not fear the refugees from whatever background, but will listen to and obey what God wants them to do for all these people in need. 
  • We are hearing more and more stories about people who search for the truth and find Jesus. The numbers are running into the millions. Pray that churches will be open to these new believers and Christians will be ready to embrace and disciple them.