Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The neighborhood that doesn't exist

The Condominio Maranante neighborhood in Porto Alegre does not exist. That is not to say that thousands of people don't live there amid the dirt roads and open sewers. It is also not to say that crushing social problems aren't present or that the neighborhood is not rife with gunfire, violence, poverty and witchcraft.

However, the neighborhood isn't there - according to the government. You see, the neighborhood is an "invasion area," which means that the people moved in on a piece of open land and built houses, until a neighborood was formed. This neighborhood borders two other neighborhoods which have water, sewer, electricity, and medical services. When the people from Condominio Maranante try to go to the medical clinic in the next neighborhood (which is supposedly free for all), they are refused service. The community school only goes up to 5th grade - very few people study past this level. When residents call the police, they are told that the neighborhood doesn't exist, so while the police would "like to help," they can't. The inequities between the neighborhoods have been such a point of tension that it has led to gunfights during community meetings.

The government may not acknowledge that Condominio Maranante is there, but GOD does. He sent Felipe and Ana, a couple of church planters to this neighborhood with the message of God's care for the very real people living there. Please pray that God would firmly establish HIS church in this neighborhood in a way that it can be a blessing not only there, but to all of Porto Alegre.