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.

Tears

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,

Love,

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!


MANY THANKS TO ALL!!!

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.

Hopeless

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: jlukasse@gmail.com, 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.

Monday, August 10, 2015

How to invest most efficiently, in helping the children in need in Rio?

Dear friends,

Almost every day we receive e-mails or messages on Facebook asking for more information about the eight-month training program: a Discipleship Training School (DTS) and a Children at Risk School (C@R) that we are planning for 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
 

2016 sounds like a long way off, but in reality it will be upon us in just a few more months. We are offering this training program together with the local YWAM bases. It is for (young) people who want to dedicate their lives to God and who desire to know His heart for the lost and for children at risk. The whole program will be presented in two languages (Portuguese and English).

Investing in Rio de Janeiro

For us the program is an investment in the city of Rio and we hope that through our students, many children at risk from the streets, slums and the red light district will be reached with the love of God and practical assistance.
 

At the end of October we plan to go there for a couple of weeks for some staff training. From our house in Belo Horizonte, it’s “only” a seven-hour drive. During this visit, we also hope to be able to rent an apartment for us, close to the church in the center of Rio where the students will be staying. I am already searching the internet, but haven’t found anything yet… In the beginning of January we hope to move there for eight months. We are very excited about this!

Preparations for the Olympic Games

The upcoming Olympics are getting more and more attention in Brazilian newspapers, like: “The Olympic village is far from ready; the main bay for water sports is still very polluted; many slums are still unsafe, etc.” But there is also good news: many churches in Rio and around the country are preparing themselves for outreach during the Olympics. During the 2014 World Cup, lots of churches and young people really enjoyed the intense weeks of evangelism and outreach. Individuals and groups are already contacting us, wanting to be part of this exciting event.
 

Many practical opportunities in the “Marvelous City”

We are very happy with the church building that was offered to us for the eight-month training program. We only need to adapt some toilets and showers. The rooms normally used for Sunday school classes will be transformed into student dorms. The nice thing about living in the center of Rio is that the teachings from morning classes can be put into practice in the afternoons—doing outreach in the slums, working with children and teenagers, going to the red light district to have times of intercession and to reach out to those trapped in sexual exploitation. And of course, during the Olympics, the students will spend even more time in all kinds of strategic activities, in what the people themselves call the “Cidade Maravilhoso”: The Marvelous City.

Johan and I really think that Rio is the most beautiful city in the world, but that is based only on the cities we have visited to date. So it’s a little bit subjective. :)
 

What is our goal in all of this?

We hope that our students will learn how to the hear the voice of the Lord, to know His will for their lives, and to share His love with the people around them and especially with children in need--children who would never be able to achieve the purpose God has for their lives without the help of God’s loving people.

Some young people who apply for the eight-month program will come for a gap year, while others plan to stay on staff for a longer period in Rio, at another YWAM base in Brazil or somewhere else in the world. There are more than 12,000 YWAM bases around the world, so there are plenty of choices and opportunities!
 

Hurry with your application

We still have room available, so if you want to apply or know some young people who would love to come, it is still possible. However, time is getting short, as the visa process itself can take several months to finalize. Please take a look at the website: http://jlukasse.wix.com/ywam-rio-2016 or email Johan: johan@jocum.org.br

Belém

From now until our move to Rio, we will stay busy teaching and giving seminars about children at risk in some other cities. A church in Belém, a city in northern Brazil in the Amazon region, invited us to speak at a missions conference. This is surprising, because we don´t know anybody there. Some people from that church had read our book “A Cry from the Streets” and decided we should be the speakers at their next missions conference. Isn’t that wonderful?

Phuket -Thailand
After that conference we will be going to Phuket in Thailand, where a Dutch-Brazilian family, ex-staff from our base in Belo Horizonte, is starting a ministry for children and adolescents in need. It is a city where many young girls are being forced into sexual exploitation. We are going to give a seminar for people in the local churches and also hope to explore the possibility of running a full three-month C@R school there in the near future to train more workers.

Kurdistan

On the way back to Brazil, we plan to stop in Kurdistan where we have been invited to give another seminar for refugees from Iraq. Just like last time, we plan to train a group of Christian refugees, in partnership with local churches. We aim to give them tools to help their own traumatized children as well as to reach out to the many children in the “child safe areas” run by UNICEF and Christian NGOs in and near refugee camps.

Considering all the conflicts and fighting in that region, we would like to ask you to pray for peace and protection there. Many of the refugees have been uprooted more than once. They had to leave everything behind and don’t know if they will ever be able to go back. They need to rebuild their lives from scratch. During the day, they are afraid for the safety of their families, sad about the possessions they lost during their escape, and even worse, terrified about the situation of friends and family they lost contact with. During the night, they have recurring nightmares. They need peace, love and hope. Would you please join us in praying for them?

Our own offspring

Our kids are doing fine. Davi is totally used to his Uri stoma, and his kidney function continues stable at about 50%. Dilma loves her beautiful new little apartment. We see Pieter, Melissa and their kids almost every day on WhatsApp J. In July we went to stay for a week with our daughter Johanneke. She and Jonathan and their three little girls are really enjoying their work at the YWAM base in the small city of Pira in the south of Brazil, about 11 hours’ drive from Belo Horizonte. It´s wonderful to see how they enjoy their new ministries, but also a bit difficult for us, since they are no longer our neighbors as they were before… Also Michele, Romeu and their two kids, who normally live in our downstairs apartment, aren´t at home right now. They are in Indonesia, on outreach for their DTS. So it is very quiet here at home! Luckily they are coming back at the end of August. We are very eager to hear all their stories.

Getting old? Who? Us? Of course not!

Funny fact: For quite some time now, when we are teaching, we look at the students and think, “Hmm, they are the ages of our own kids!” When they ask us how long we have been in Brazil (since 1984), this is usually longer than they have been alive--most of our staff and students were born in the nineties! J

But currently we see that most students are even younger than our kids. Does that mean we are getting old? Not yet! One of the students for the eight-month program in Rio next year is the grandchild of my sister. In Dutch she would call us old-uncle and -auntie. In Portuguese, she would call us grand-uncle and –auntie; in English it would be great-uncle and –aunt. The Portuguese and English sound a little better somehow! J
 

Thankful

We are so thankful for our good health and the ability to do many different things. God is so good to us! We are also grateful for our friends and family who stand with us and support us in many different ways. Together we are able to continue this work, so that many children in need are being reached by the love of our Heavenly Father.

We wish you all God’s richest blessings!

Johan and Jeannette Lukasse


Prayer points:
  • Pray for the students who are preparing to participate in the program in Rio de Janeiro--especially for the foreign students to get their visas in time. Praise God for the church building that we are allowed to use for this program.
  • Pray for the seminars we are planning for Belém, Phuket and Kurdistan. For safe travels and for the local people who will receive the training, that they´ll be a great blessing as they reach out to the children in need. Thank the Lord for all the faithful workers in those places.
  • Pray for the refugees from Syria and Iraq--that they will experience God’s love for them. Thank God for the many local churches that are hosting hundreds of families. 



Friday, July 10, 2015

Help needed to find the right students for YWAM Rio 2016!

In 2016, the year of the Olympic games, when the eyes of the whole world will be directed towards Rio, we are planning together with the different YWAM bases in Rio, to offer an 8 month training program, consisting of a DTS (Discipleship Training School) and a Children at Risk (C@R) school (both in English and Portuguese).

We need help
The first applications are already coming in, but we need help with the promotion of this very special opportunity. We would like to see 80 to 100 students come to participate in this training program.
Do you know any young people who would love to come to Rio for 8 months and do a DTS and C@R school? Maybe you have someone in your family or church who would love to take a gap year, and come to Rio de Janeiro?



We have a website with all the information and application forms: http://jlukasse.wix.com/ywam-rio-2016, but you can also tell them to contact us through our Facebook – Johan Jeannette Lukasse, or email - johan@jocum.org.br Please could you help us to find the right participants?
Miracle: Free housing for 80 people in Rio de Janeiro.
The planning for this program started already two years ago, but we were struggling to find an adequate location for the training. We wanted a place close to the city center, close to the favela Borel (where YWAM runs a big successful community center), and still reasonably close to the beach! But, where could we find such a place during the Olympic year?

Last month one of the missionaries from YWAM reported a miracle: A big church offered the use of an empty building next to the church. It has a big auditorium, a kitchen, and various rooms that can serve as dorms. It is exactly what we were looking for, and only 20 minutes by metro train to the beach. All we have to pay for is the cost of water and electricity. This will help immensely to keep the costs of the program low. Isn´t this great?

The price of "YWAM Rio 2016, eight months that will change your life", is now in Brazilian Reais (R$) :
• R$ 200.00 Registration Fee. (About US$65.00)
• R$ 6,000.00 Costs of both lecture phases of DTS and CER school, including room and board. (About US$1,920.00)
• R$ 1,000.00 basic expenses of food and transportation during the two months of evangelistic outreach. (About US$320.00)
Total R$ 7,200.00 (About US$2,300.00)
That means the total for the 8 months YWAM Rio 2016 program will cost only US$2.300,00
(Price calculated on 03-07-2015 with currency rate of RS1= US$0,32 The price may vary according to the currency rate.)


A visa application for Brazil can take a couple of months, so young people outside of Brazil need to quickly get in contact with us. (johan@jocum.org.br)

Please help us with the promotion of this great opportunity in Rio in 2016!

Monday, June 8, 2015

What do the Amazon rain forest, Iraq and Rio de Janeiro have in common? A Children at Risk School!

Today we woke up to the sound of screaming monkeys! This is because we are currently in the Amazon rain forest where we are teaching in a Children at Risk school. We are at the YWAM base in Porto Velho, capital of the state of Rondonia in Brazil. The YWAM property is a beautiful piece of land, located on the bank of a major river called Madeira and surrounded by a jungle. Almost everyone lives in wooden houses built on high poles. Various brightly colored birds live in the trees, and every day we eat delicious exotic fruits. The monkeys however, are not as well behaved as those in our local zoo. Yesterday they used the clothesline as a public toilet. Unfortunately, many clean clothes had just been hung out to dry there….

During our stay some Indians were baptized in a small lake close by. 
The YWAM base’s main ministry focus is to help the different Indian tribes and the many small communities located along the riverbanks in the region. Now there is also the Children at Risk School to train missionaries to reach out to the many children in these communities who are often at risk because of abuse, neglect, and the lack of education. Upon finishing the school, the graduates will have more understanding and resources on how to help the children to know their heavenly Father, trust Him, obey Him, and receive His healing touch.

Lots of trips
Since we arrived back in Brazil at the end of April, we have already been teaching in several different schools working to train more YWAM staff. In the coming months we have a whole string of trips scheduled to teach in different schools, seminars, and conferences inside Brazil. Normally when I arrive at home, I put away our old well-used red travel toiletry bag, and I organize all our soaps and shampoos on the shelves in the bathroom. However, in the coming months, we´ll be on the road so much that I have not even bothered to empty it. There it hangs in the bathroom ready for the next trip, which is coming up shortly.


The “Children at Risk Seminar” in North Iraq
Let me tell you about the month of April, when we were still in Holland and Iraq. Ever since we visited the province of Kurdistan in North Iraq in February of this year, many doors opened. We went to Kurdistan to see if we could be of any help by giving training to Christian refugees, so that they would be able to help their own children and the kids in their community deal with the traumas they suffered from having to escape conflict and war. This was quite new for us, because although we had done similar things in Brazil, India, Haiti, and several countries of Africa, we had never really worked in the Middle East.


Together with a local team, we decided to go back in April and run a Children at Risk seminar for two weeks. The local team members did all the preparations through the interested local churches. Those local churches are hosting hundreds of refugee families on church premises and in unfinished buildings.

Johan teaching in Kudustan.
When Johan went back to Kurdistan in April, they had recruited a group of 22 students who enthusiastically participated in the seminar. Lectures started early each day and went until late afternoon. During these two weeks, the students also had four periods of practically applying what they had learned with a group of refugee children. This was done in a Unicef tent beside a local church, which functioned as a safe place for the children to play and learn. Some very able translators helped to translate the lectures and had beforehand prepared all the handouts and booklets in Arabic. The material looked great, and all the children received a little workbook explaining how to have hope for themselves and their country. Our students helped them to work through the workbook and to talk about some of the traumatic things they had experienced. It ended up being a very successful time.

Student working with the children from the refugees.

With games and maps of Iraq, the kids tell about the travels they made, fleeing with their families from terror.
“Please, would you come back for another seminar?”

“Can you give the same seminar in other locations, so more people can be trained?”

“Could you also teach in the evenings, so another group of people could participate?”

It was good to receive such positive feedback, but it´s also difficult to see how big the need really is.

A teenager made this drawing of what she had seen: girls being captured and taken away to become sex slaves...


“Lord have mercy”
As Johan, the local team, and myself prayed about it, we felt we should plan to go again to Kurdistan at the end of this year. Of course, such a decision needs to be continuously evaluated and lifted up in prayer in order to see if it will really be possible. Every day we read about more fighting and conflict in the region. Just last week another 100,000 people had to flee because of the war. Things can change so fast, but at the same time, there are so many opportunities. People hunger to know a God of love who can truly be a source of comfort to them.

And what better thing could you give to these refugees than the opportunity to know God better, have a personal relationship with Him, and to help them teach their children to deal with much pain and trauma? There is nothing better really!

Please, would you pray for safety and stability for the refugees, their children, the local Christians, and for us as we travel there again?


Moving to Rio de Janeiro
In the midst of all these travels, we are also busy preparing to move to Rio de Janeiro for eight months in 2016. Yes Rio, with its breathtaking nature, white sandy beaches, and coastline dotted with tropical islands. Rio truly has idyllic scenery for postcards and paintings.

However, Rio is also a city with over 800 slum communities, the so-called “favelas.” In some of the favelas, the old drug gangs have been removed and a police force is present there to keep the peace. While in other communities, the drug gangs remain in charge. In both types of favelas there are still many problems with crime. Drug related killings account for 50% of the deaths among teenagers, with boys running 12 times higher at-risk of being killed than girls.


Youth with a Mission has been working in some of these communities for over 30 years, and has seen remarkable results.

In 2016, the year of the Olympic games, when the eyes of the whole world will be directed towards Rio, we are planning together with the different YWAM bases in Rio, to offer an 8 month training program, consisting of a DTS (Discipleship Training School) and a Children at Risk (C@R) school (both in English and Portuguese).


Miracle: Free housing for 80 people in Rio de Janeiro.
The planning for this program started already two years ago, but we were struggling to find an adequate location for the training. We wanted a place close to the city center, close to the favela Borel (where YWAM runs a big successful community center), and still reasonably close to the beach! But, where could we find such a place during the Olympic year?

Last month one of the missionaries from YWAM reported a miracle: A big church offered the use of an empty building next to the church. It has a big auditorium, a kitchen, and various rooms that can serve as dorms. It is exactly what we were looking for, and only 20 minutes by metro train to the beach. All we have to pay for is the cost of water and electricity. This will help immensely to keep the costs of the program low. Isn´t this great?


The first applications are already coming in, but we need help with the promotion of this very special opportunity. We would like to see 80 to 100 students come to participate in this training program.

Do you know any young people who would love to come to Rio for 8 months and do a DTS and C@R school? We have a website with all the information and application forms: http://jlukasse.wix.com/ywam-rio-2016, but you can also tell them to contact us through our blog, facebook, or email. Please could you help us to find the right participants?

Various newsletters
For a few years now, we have written only a personal newsletter. Other missionaries at YWAM Belo Horizonte now write the base newsletter, which has news about the houses and projects. Some of you only receive our personal news, while others receive both newsletters. If you would like to change this and receive less or more news, please write me at jlukasse@gmail.com. I will make changes according to your indication.

Prayer Points
Pray for the refugees from Syria and Iraq, for protection in the new place where they now live, and that they may know God deeply and personally: His love, comfort, forgiveness and grace. We thank God for the doors opening to teach them, so that the children in the refugee camps will receive help.

Pray for protection for Christians in the Middle East, the local churches and local teams, and also for us as we make long trips. We praise and thank God for the great things He is doing in these countries.

Pray for the training program in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, that God will send us the right students. We thank God for the wonderful building we will be using during the training.

Thank you very much for your prayers for us, for your faithful financial gifts, and encouraging emails. We are grateful for the friends we have in you!

God's richest blessings to you!