The Bethlehem Mission in Brazil is a spiritual community of laypeople who devote themselves to the care of anyone in crisis, including drug addicts and the homeless. Community members describe themselves as missionaries and share their lives with those they serve. They go so far as to sleep on the streets, in hopes of calling attention to the marginalized and making Christ’s teachings tangible for them.
Founded in Brazil in 2005, the Bethlehem Mission is still very young. But they already have 160 mission houses and seven intermediate centers in 70 different cities, some of which are in Haiti and Italy. They have 70 consecrated members and 200 full-time volunteers, currently caring for about 2,000 homeless people.
Slowly, their guests become accustomed to living in an orderly fashion, as part of a community. They are offered therapy when necessary and introduced to their own potential. Homeless children are encouraged to return home, or at least contact their families; when this is not possible, they are found loving homes with foster or adoptive parents. And adults have opportunities to learn employable skills and reenter the work force.
So far, the Bethlehem Mission has taken in and assisted 50,000 people. Half of them have been smoothly reintegrated into society; many have decided to join the Church. It is particularly moving to see adult men, who have overcome poverty and addiction, walk forward like children to receive their First Communion, or hold a baptismal candle. It is clear that their baptisms were, in fact, rebirths.
Plus, more than 1,400 people have taken the Mission’s evangelizing courses, which train students to reach people who live on the outskirts of society, far removed from the Church. ACN is happy to fund this initiative, and we have promised them $52,400 for teaching materials over the next four years.
Will you help the Bethlehem Mission bring new life to Brazil?
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