This story comes to us from our ministry partner in Brazil, where the church is growing in rapid and amazing ways! The Evangelical Mission for Assistance to Fishermen (EMAF) works to show Christ’s love to fishermen and their families along the Brazilian coastline and in the Amazon river where they have reached over 1600 villages. EMAF operates various ministries including medical and dental teams, soccer and judo programs, children’s centers and church planting. Their work brings about amazing holistic transformation in the region and by sharing the love of Christ, EMAF made a special impact in the life of one Brazilian teenager named Ronilson.
Ronilson was an aggressive and dangerous adolescent, involved in trafficking drugs in a big city in Brazil. Ten of his twelve friends had been killed. This troubled the heart of his mother day and night. Terrified with the way her son was going, she decided to leave the city, retiring to Boipeba. Though Ronilson left his troubled surroundings, he brought the same things to Boipeba. He was always drinking, fighting and getting into trouble. The community soon gave him the nickname “Trob” (Trouble), because wherever he was, there was always trouble. Sometimes he hit, at other times he was hit. He was always very humiliated when he lost.
The young man was always ready for a fight. He was a specialist in trouble.
He was invited by friends to join indoor football practices at our ministry partner, the Evangelical Mission for Assistance to Fishermen’s (EMAF), sports gymnasium. He would feel uncomfortable during the Bible studies and prayers, but it was worth it to be able to play football. He caused trouble occasionally, swearing and trying to start a fight, but during each of these moments an EMAF national worker disciplined him according to the rules. These rules were clearly written on a banner hung on the wall of the gym. He would become nervous and disappear for a few days, but then would return, surprised to find that he was loved and respected.
As time went by, the young man decided to take part in a judo class at the EMAF gym. He fought with the master (the same national worker that had always disciplined him in football) and something exciting began to happen. Even though he was a good fighter, the master overcame him with ease, but also showed a respect that Ronilson had never experienced during a fight. It was new for Ronilson, who had always been humiliated when beaten. This moment created the opportunity for the love of God to enter his life.
The Word of God slowly began to make sense to Ronilson, who eventually accepted an invitation to go to church. That night, the hymns touched his heart and the Bible spoke “only to him”. He found himself in tears, on his knees, before hundreds of Christians in prayer. Fighting his last battle with the enemy of the Cross, he surrendered his life to Christ. Soon after that day the young man, together with other EMAF judo students of that little fishing village, travelled to Salvador to take part in the State judo championship, and the result was surprising! The new Ronilson, saved in Jesus Christ became the State judo champion!! The EMAF judo team of Boipeba, won 26 medals in the State championships – five gold, six silver and 15 bronze.
The death that once circled Ronilson’s life was transformed into life by the grace of God. He heard the Gospel because an EMAF national worker decided to share with Ronilson what they had with someone who had nothing. The results of this are incredible.