Friday, February 22, 2013

A Compassion Success Story - Rogerio

The following story is from the Spring 2009 Compassion Brazil Magazine.

"Rogerio's story starts out like many other ones. he was just 2-years-old when his father, Jose Milton da Silva, died in a work accident. His life was turned upside down.

"Rogerio was born in Ceara State, in the northeast area of Brazil, a place surrounded by the many faces of poverty, violence, unemployment, drugs, etc. The unpaved streets were covered by dust in the summer and mud in the winter. The area was plagued with fleas. There was no hope of improvement to a better future, just pain and suffering.

"The boy grew up watching his mother, Raimunda de Souza, working hard as a daily cleaner to make a little money in order to support her kids living in a very small house, almost a hut, made of clay, and covered with asbestos' tiles. Inside it, there was no furniture, just a stove made of clay, without electricity. The family slept in hammocks, not having any beds. The house had a dirt floor, and a very small hole in the ground worked as bathroom. In other words, there was no basic sanitation.

"Rogerios's family faced many needs, a complete lack of everything. One year after the death of his father, his mother started to live with a man that became his stepfather. Antonio, the stepfather, used to drink and spend all the money Raimunda had earned to support the family. It was a hard time for the whole family - Rogerio, his mother and his three siblings.

"Up to the age of 9, he had never attended school - his responsibility was to stay home, take care of his siblings, clean the little house, wash dishes, and do the laundry - the few clothes the family had. He was just 'the boy who took care of his little brothers', so he had no dreams.

"He could never imagine he would become an excellent musician, a pastor and Delegate of Human Rights. However, God had a special plan for Rogerio and put special people into his life to accomplish it. In that hopeless neighborhood there was a woman who used to invite children of the community to go to church with her. After some invitations, Rogerio decided to accept and go with her because he had heard that there was food in that church, and he was so tired of feeling hungry. On that Sunday service, she had taken 40 children and Rogerio was among them.

"Rogerio didn't know that he was receiving much more than food, that God was working in his life: 'I will never forget that day, I ate a lot. There were biscuits and juice, for me that was a feast. What I didn't realize at the moment was that something over there caught my attention, much more than food, something I couldn't understand very well yet', he said.

"God began to surround the boy with special people. Pastor Marcos was one of them. One day, when he was going for another day of work at the Project, he saw a curious, thin, and smart boy approaching him. Shyly, that boy asked: 'Sir, may I take care of your car?' The pastor said 'yes', but he didn't realize what was behind that simple question.

"The sound of children playing together, happy, having classes and having tasty meals was all Rogerio wanted. Asking to take care of the pastor's car was a part of his plan to approach the Project, the children and the meals. He could not realize, at that moment, that everything was part of God's plan for his life, God had control of that situation.

"In that afternoon, Pastor Marcos returned and offered some money to Rogerio, but, to his surprise, Rogerio rejected it and left, happily. The pastor was a little bit astonished because, in Brazil, millions of children 'take care of cars' just to get some money for food. But that wasn't Rogerio's case - he was hungry, of course, but he had his own 'strategy' to be part of the Project. Pastor Marcos invited him to enter and have lunch with the other children. Rogerio was so thankful and happy! Finally, he would have a nice and warm meal.

"The next day, when the pastor came to another day of work at the Project, he found the same boy there, anxiously waiting for him. 'Sir, may I wash your car?'

"For some days, he took care or washed the pastor's car, rejecting the money, and having lunch with the kids. Pastor Marcos was just observing that boy - his attitude of rejecting money was odd.

"Day after day, Rogerio repeated his strategy. But one specific day, when he made the usual question, the answer was a big NO. Rogerio was surprised. So, the pastor said, you are forbidden to take care or wash my car. Just enter, go play a game with the other boys.

"Rogerio smiled, his dream had come true! The pastor invited him to participate in the Project. Now, that thin and clever boy was part of the Project! His dreams did not stop there. He had another objective: to be sponsored. But he had a problem: he was 9-years-old, the age limit at that time in Brazil for it. Pastor Marcos never forgets the image of the boy in front of the Project. 'He was persistent', says the pastor. Due to his persistence and because God had a plan for that courageous boy, Pastor Marcos was determined to fight for it and get Compassion's registration for Rogerio. Finally and against all odds, he was sponsored.

"Rogerio got a sponsor. It was another dream that came true, however his sponsor never wrote a line to him and some of the children used to mock him saying that his sponsor didn't exist because he never received a letter. Rogerio felt hurt, but he knew that his sponsor was real.

"The impact of the Word of God touched so deeply into his soul. In the first week attending the Project, when he hard Edileuza, Pastor Marcos's wife explaining about Proverbs 14:12 (There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death), God opened his mind and heart: 'I will never forget those words, something real changed inside me', remember him. Two years later, Rogerio was baptized at the Baptist Church in Edson Queiroz.

"The boy started to attend school and receive all the support at the project to overcome his difficulties, in order to learn how to read and write very fast, because he needed to make up for lost time. It was also at the Project he met the instrument that would change his professional life: the guitar. The first chords were taught by Maria Aparecida Monterio, Project's coordinator.

"'I taught him the first steps, the basics', she says. But for Rogerio, it didn't matter if she was a specialist in guitar or just knew the basics. He just wanted to play. 'I remember his smiling face. Every time he learned a note, he smiled, excited. Because of his enthusiasm, many children can learn guitar at the Project', she said.

"This was a long time ago. Today, Rogerio is a musical producer - he studied vocal and guitar techniques in a conservatory - and he's also a gospel minster, a worship leader. His ministry is called 'Ministerio Chamar de Louvor e Adoracao' (Calling Ministry of Praise and Worship) and he has already recorded an album. Rogerio composes gospel songs and edifies the life of millions of people through his own story. the inspiration for his art comes from God. 'I can't compose anything if my heart isn't connected with God'.

"Rogerio got married to Ana Aldenira when he was 19. The couple has a handsome 10-year-old boy that dreams to be an engineer. The family has a stable life - different from his childhood - because he was set free from poverty in all of its forms. He is a fulfilled Christian adult. In spite of being an adult, his dreamer boy still lives inside: 'my dream is to be an influence to my generation, always'. The gratitude in his eyes and heart is visible: 'People didn't believe that one day I could become a musician. But my first guitar teacher, Maria Aparecida, always dreamed my dreams and I dedicate my victories to her, to pastor Marcos and to my sweet and hard working mother!'

"Pastor Rogerio is a man of God, a real servant leader. He teaches music at the Project and shares with the kids how God changed his life. He declares humbly and happily that his life was transformed by God: 'I praise the Lord because one day he reached me and gave me much more than I even could think or imagine. I always praise him because He used Compassion's Ministry to help me in my holistic life, and showed me Jesus, the might God the only One powerful to release everyone from poverty and makes us free for his glory.'"

There are currently four nine-year-old boys in Brazil that are waiting for sponsors. You can change their story today. Who knows - maybe he grow up to be like Rogerio! You can be that person in a child's life today!

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