“Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after
orphans and widows in their distress . . .” James 1: 27 (NIV)
Claudia will never forget the oppressively hot afternoon in Northern Brazil when she went down the street to play. When she arrived home her mother was hanging lifeless from a tree. Wracked with guilt, she believed it was her fault because she hadn’t stayed home and kept an eye on her mother.
With no parents to care for her, Claudia went to live with Christian missionaries. Deeply traumatized, she isolated herself, speaking to no one until a counselor, utilizing the SGM Lifewords Pavement Project process, began to counsel her. Bit by bit Claudia told her story. No analogy could depict how she felt. She compared herself to a “nothing” and cried for forty minutes.
When Claudia stopped crying, the counselor, using the “Picture Me” resources in the Pavement Project green bag, shared the Bible story of the widow’s son who was raised from the dead. Remarkably, Claudia encountered Christ through the telling of the story. Healing and salvation ensued.
The counselor thought that Claudia would need long term therapy. It wasn’t necessary. God had worked a miracle. Claudia moved on with life. By the tender age of eleven she was telling everyone about the Saviour who heals, saves and restores the broken-hearted. By thirteen she’d set her mind on being a career missionary, in part because, as she said, “I don’t want what happened to my family to happen to others.”
In 2007 Claudia read about Xavier Dos Santos, a well known Baptist pastor in Rio de Janeiro who was dying of cancer. Deeply touched by Xavier’s story, Claudia wrote a letter to him saying; “Pastor, my name is Claudia. It must be hard for you to cope with such a pain. But know that I’m praying for you. If it will depend on me, I’ll do everything possible for you and your family to be happy. I know what it’s like to feel pain. Just for you to have an idea, I lost my mother when I was nearly 10. That was the worst thing that ever happened to me. But Christ blessed me, Pastor. Know that all that is happening now has a purpose for God. Even if your father or mother abandons you, God will welcome you. Pastor, never forget God. Kisses from your prayer friend. Claudia.”
One who was healed, touching one who needed healing. There’s a subscript to this story: Xavier died on February 23, 2008. The wife of Xavier, unknown to Claudia, is Clenir Dos Santos, the Pavement Project Coordinator in Brazil, the psychologist who trained the counsellor who counselled Claudia. There are just six degrees of separation between any of us. Claudia’s letter is in the Pavement Project office in Rio de Janeiro, a precious keepsake in Clenir’s desk drawer . . .