It was early morning when I last flew into Vitoria, Brazil.
Making my way immediately to Hope Mountain, the northern campus of Hope Unlimited for Children, I was met by lots of activity, learning, beauty . . .
. . . and lots of color.
There’s no way I’d go there today.
Five days ago—last Saturday—police in Vitoria went on strike. Anarchy erupted. You may have read about it in the newspaper.
I knew nothing about the situation until late Monday night when Hope’s CEO-founder/missionary-on-the-ground, Philip Smith, called to ask for prayers.
There was gunfire on our 100-acre campus.
By morning I learned more:
- Bandits are taking control of neighborhoods—and crowded shopping malls.
- Everything is closed, including schools, city hall—even gas stations that don’t even close on Christmas.
- Buses have stopped running; some were set on fire.
- Bandits openly brandish semi-automatics in the streets, shooting at random.
- Gang warfare is rampant.
- The medical examiner’s office closed due to an overwhelming number of dead bodies.
- Bodies are left in the streets, shutting down traffic in a city of millions.
- There are rumors that bandits will storm the youth prison—the one in the above picture. It’s just up the hill from our campus . . . on our only exit road.
I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t.
Often when there’s a difficult situation on one of our campuses in Brazil, it’s virtually over by the time I learn of it.
Not this time.
Our employees (including the night security guard) who live in town are sheltering at home. House parents on campus remain there with about 40 boys. Two days ago, food on campus was running out. Thankfully, a donation truck somehow (against public warnings) made its usual rounds. Food is restocked—for the moment.
As of tonight, the military police are still on strike. There have been over 100 murders. Citizens are restricted to their homes, except for emergencies. Emergencies?
Soldiers were brought in to maintain peace, but they are not trained for policing and are only stationed in some cities. None are in Cariacica, the greater-Vitoria municipality where our campus is located. Other municipal peace-keeping authorities like the Municipal Guard and the Civil Police have ceased operations because it’s too dangerous for them to be out.
There is no end in sight.
It’s doubtful anyone would think it lucrative to raid an orphanage, and yet there are reasons we have valid concerns. I can’t share them here. It’s too dangerous for our boys. Suffice it to say that our boys wouldn’t be with us but for their own storied pasts.
If you believe in the power of prayer, please stop right now and pray. Thank you!
This is a very volatile and fluid situation, and we must ask God’s protection for the innocent.
To read more about the faces and ministry at Hope Mountain:
Beauty from Ashes (written on my last trip)