When the rain finally falls in Babacal city in northeastern Brazil, all the children go into the street to enjoy the water that comes from the sky. All but Josiele. She watches her friends play from a distance, but her health doesn’t allow her to participate in such games. Since she was born, Josiele has had several health problems, such as asthma, osteoporosis and low immunity. Despite not being able to do the same things as other kids, Josiele started participating in the Compassion project when she was 7 years old, and her life changed completely. In the project she has been able to play and experience activities appropriate to her conditions, which have helped develop her personal skills. But above all, the most important thing that Josiele experienced was fellowship with truly Christian people who taught her about Christ.
“At the Compassion project, I met Jesus and gave my life to Him when I was only 7 years old. What made me make this decision was the testimony of everyone who was part of the project. The way they lived and behaved made me see Jesus through their lives – because when a person believes in Jesus, everything changes completely,” says Josiele. As Josiele grew up, her mother and Compassion teachers noticed that her body didn’t grow according to her age and that her spine was becoming crooked. Josiele had pain in her back, uneven shoulders, and one of her hips appeared higher. With Compassion’s medical care support, Josiele was able to receive medical checkups, and when she was 11 years old she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Doctors recommended that she wear a back brace to correct her spine until she turns 18 years old.
“When I wore the back brace for the first time I cried a lot. It was stifling and people thought it was weird. I have to use it 24 hours a day, every day of the week, until I am 18 years old. Now I’m used to it and I can see some changes in my body,” says Josiele. Josiele has been wearing the back brace for three years now, which has resulted in significant changes in her body. It is helping her spine grow straight, and her pain is less disturbing. Joselia, Josiele’s mother, weeps when she describes the pain her daughter has had since childhood. Still, she recognizes that God has control over everything and that He intends to make their faith stronger and stronger.
“It was really hard to know that my daughter has such fragile health, but I have cared for her with all the love I have,” says Joselia. “I am thankful for the Compassion project. If not for the medical checkups, I don’t know how Josiele’s body would be right now; I just can’t imagine.” According to Joselia, the Compassion project wasn’t just a blessing for her daughter but for her entire family’s life, because through the Compassion project she also heard about Christ. Joselia says, “Even as a little child, my daughter constantly preached the Word of God to me and taught me what she learned in the project. I didn’t believe in Jesus at that time, but her words struck me. When my heart despaired to see her suffering in some crisis, she always calmed me by saying that God was taking care of her.”
On a beautiful Wednesday, a day that Josiele will never forgot, her mother surrendered to Christ during one of the monthly house meetings organized by the church. “It was one of the happiest days of my life,” says Josiele with joy. “I used to pray every night for my mother’s salvation, so now to know that she also loves Jesus fills my heart with joy.” Josiele’s mother acknowledges that her daughter’s testimony and prayer were absolutely important for her to understand what it’d be to become a Christian. “I used to hear my daughter praying for me. Her faith impressed me and helped to spawn faith in my heart,” concludes Joselia.
Joselia’s faith didn’t result in a sudden change in her family, but in the realization that God reigns even when things don’t look good in our eyes. Joselia says, “As we know God more, we see that sometimes He make us confront some problems in order to get us closer to Him.” With their hearts restored by Christ, Josiele and her mother find comfort and security in Jesus even in the face of all the trouble they have to deal with daily.
Josiele says, “Although I need to wear this vest, I feel grateful to God because I know that many people can’t even walk. I know that maybe if I didn’t have the limitations I have, I’d be a completely different person.” Although she can’t play in the rain like the other kids, Josiele is very grateful for God’s love she receives through Compassion, her family and her sponsor from the other side of the world.
“I love receiving and writing letters to my sponsor, telling her about my life and knowing about her life. I pray for her and I know she prays for me. We don’t speak the same language, but I’ve been trying to learn English words. I regularly write the ones I already know, like ‘I love you’ and ‘friend’,” says Josiele.
Josiele’s mother adds, “One of my daughter’s biggest dreams is to meet her sponsor. She is so happy when she receives a letter. I’m really grateful for my daughter’s sponsor’s life and for the love she feels for her in each letter.”
Now Josiele has hope, and when she grows up she wants to become a pediatrician. She says, “I want to become a pediatrician. It may seem like a big dream with my limitations, but I know that God is the One who guides my ways and that He can make all things possible.” For Josiele, neither the vest she carries with her everyday nor her body’s weakness can be compared to the gratitude she feels for the Compassion project.
Josiele says, “It was through the Compassion project that I got to know the Bible and Jesus. And Jesus is all I have in the world. I’m free even if my body is limited.”