God called me to Brazil already in 2008 but after two shorter trips to Recife (from my home in Findland), I was finally able to join the Shores team in September 2015. First, all I had was a calling, a burning desire to come to Brazil, to minister on the streets, to sit with the poor. I had no idea God wasn’t just sending me to people but also sending these people to me. This time here has been a tour to a deeper love than I knew before. It has been a deep process of learning, but a sweet one.
One of the most meaningful moments for me was on the streets one night. I sat with a little girl, she was all dirty and she had come to spend the night on the streets with her mom. I was doing her nails – this is what we do a lot, it’s a good way to build a relationship and have some time to talk – and all of the sudden she leans towards me and asks: “Would you be my mother if you could?” There I was, speechless and just nodded and said, “of course I would”. Then my Father stepped in and asked: “Which would you choose, Henna, a life of ministering on big platforms, singing, preaching and dancing in front of thousands of believers having your name and face on pamphlets…or a life of sitting with the poor in the dark, hidden, painting nails, holding children, and them trusting you with questions like this girl just did?”
I was undone but the answer was easy. I choose this: a life in Brazil, a life of loving the least of these where I only have the audience of One.
I have had moments of seeing Jesus’ eyes, washing His feet, hearing His stories, holding His hand, crying with Him when I’ve gone to the communities, streets, and our safe houses. He has challenged me to go deeper and I have loved this journey, every bit of it. I have been happier than ever when I have sat next to a homeless woman on a park bench, in her home where her living room has been that park, day and night. Or playing with kids in the community, with no mutual language, just laughter and hand motions. Or washing the feet of a transvestite, not caring where he came from, but blessing the steps he is about to take, believing for freedom with him. I have worked with women who are coming out of prostitution and seen the hope Jesus has given them and even though the way to freedom is sometimes very long, the hope in their eyes says, they can do it.
Missions is not just giving yourself to preach the gospel. It is loving through the good, bad and ugly. It is learning and yielding whether it is a language barrier or a cultural difference. It is kneeling before your Father when you have no idea what to do but you something needs to be done. It is growing in identity, knowing that at the end of the day all that matters is knowing the Father and letting him define you. It is a journey to His heart to find Him more, to know who we are in Him and to model and share that sonship everywhere you go, in very simple yet profound ways. That’s when you see sons and daughters around you, that’s when you see Jesus eye to eye. That’s when all the struggles and hardships pay off and you wouldn’t change it for the world.