You’re Being Watched

As we prepare to conclude ministry in Brazil, my husband, Len, and I have reflected on people whom we have influenced through our friendship. They, in turn, have affected our lives as well. One of these friends, Carol Silva, is now a volunteer staffer at our church in Lagoa Santa, which we helped to start five years ago.

Carol took notice of us when we were ordering business cards with our national colleagues, Fernando and Ester Pedro, shortly after we arrived in this city. An interior decorator and wedding planner, Carol had recently returned from America after living there for 11 years. She, too, was ordering business cards. After much success in the United States, she hoped to establish her company in Brazil.

As she sat in the office supply store watching us, Carol wondered what two gringos were doing with a Brazilian couple in Lagoa Santa. She assumed we were working on a lucrative business venture. We left the shop, not realizing that we had been observed—but Carol remembered our faces.

Leaving behind a marriage and two young daughters, Carol had moved to America in hopes of making a great deal of money. She succeeded, visiting her daughters in Brazil each year.

When her girls were around 13 years old, they asked Carol to return to care for them. Their father had remarried and had other children. Carol agreed and settled in Lagoa Santa.

Not a Bed of Roses

Life was not as easy as she had anticipated. Jobs were scarce. Her daughters had grown up without her and needed direction; they also had little respect for her. Carol bought a beautiful, spacious home in a gated community but soon realized she could not sustain the lifestyle she desired. Struggling with her role as a single mom and heading toward financial ruin, she fell into depression. All she had left were her daughters and her house.

A neighbor invited Carol to participate in the class “The Unique Woman,” which our church offered. During the course, she was confronted with the contrast between her lifestyle and the life that God wanted for her. But she didn’t want to accept His plan.

When I visited the group meeting in Carol’s home, I was surprised when she greeted me in English. She told me a little about her life—only the glamorous parts, of course! I was struck by her sweet manner and love for the United States. I was thankful she’d had such a good experience there.

Several months later, Carol visited our church. I learned that she came from a traditional Christian background but was no longer interested in Christianity. But she was eager to make friends. Len and I began visiting her and got to know her.

A Life Transformed

We learned that Carol’s life was not as it appeared. The beautiful home, the lovely daughters, the trappings of wealth—it was all a façade. She was a sad, desperate woman who had looked in all the wrong places for love, acceptance, and success. She was disappointed in people and in God.

As we prayed with and walked alongside Carol, she began to ask God to take control of her life. She also sought His help in raising her daughters.

In time, Carol started trusting God to help her and guide her. The change has been amazing.

She told us that she remembered us from three years earlier when she saw us in the office supply store and had wondered who we were. She never realized the impact we would have on her and her daughters—and the effect she would have on us.

Little by little, God has transformed Carol in every area of her life. Her daughters have accepted their mother and respect her. They also have given their lives to Jesus and are active with the young people in the church. Carol’s financial situation has been resolved, and she has learned how to handle her finances.

Carol has become a great example to the women in our congregation in being a single mother. This year, she joined our church staff as a volunteer secretary to the pastoral team.

It has been a joy to see how God has used “chance” meetings—even our American nationalities—to bring Carol into our lives. She is someone on whom God never gave up. He brought her back to Himself and has equipped her to influence other women.

Carol’s story reminds us that we should always be conscious that we are being observed. Often the only Christ that people will see will be us—not just at church, not just on the mission field, but every day we represent Him. What a privilege and a huge responsibility. We are thrilled that God was able to use a chance encounter for His honor and glory.

—Diane Warden, serving in Brazil


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