When I was 6 year old my father died, He was the only kind and loving person I knew. My mother went to live with another man who did not like me or my two brothers. He was a mean man who often beat us. He told my mother that he could not live in the same house as us. We were sent to live with my uncle who was very poor and drank a lot. My aunt was made to care for us and she would beat us and yell at us. We could not look at her face when she spoke to us. She was drunk most of the time. She told us if we were disrespectful to her she would put us on the street to live. During those years I was always afraid I would have to live on the street. When my brother was 15, he stole from my aunt so he was kicked out of the house. When that happened I took all the anger from my aunt and uncle. They had no one else to beat, just me.
When I was 18 I started to work as a house servant so I could give money to my aunt for my room and board. I did not finish high school because I needed to work. She was always complaining that I cost her money for my food. I earned 20 reais a month. I gave her 15 and keep 5 to live on. After a year I lost this job and started to work for Ginelson as a carpenter. It was great for the first year then he lost his business but asked me to be his house servant, so I did. He was a nice man but could not pay me each week. He did pay me when he could do so.
One day I came home from work late and my aunt started yelling at me as she always did. This time she told my uncle it was me or her and that he needed to choose who would live in the house. She could not stand for me to live in her house. I left with my things crying and went to my boss. After talking to him he let me stay at his home and paid me with food, board and clean clothes.
His wife was a Christian and started a small Bible study group in her home. I was invited to be a part of that group. She knew I needed Jesus in my life so wanted me to hear about Him. One night Laercio came to speak and ask who wanted to ask Jesus into their heart. Mrs. Lia, my boss’s wife, poked me to raise my hand so I did to please her. But I was not saved that night. A week later Tele arrived back from the US and wanted to start a Church. This is the first time I meat Tele. He told Laercio that he wanted to start a church in Carpina so was invited to speak to out small group. Tele gave me a Bible and told me to read John. As I was reading John something started to change inside of me. Three months later Tele's father-in-law who was a missionary with the Salvation Army came to preach at the church. He preached on Matthew 11:28-30. Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. That night I went down to the front crying and laughing. For the first time since my father had died I felt free from all my struggles and hurts buried in my heart.
After that things began to happen fast in my life and the church in Carpina started to grow. I went to live with Tele’s family and started to train to be a pastor. Brookville Road Community Church sponsored me in my studies; I still have the letter Pastor Hubert sent me. I felt so important because it was the first letter I received in English. In 1996 after my first year in Bible study Heather, Tele’s wife and I started a youth program at Carpina Church. That was at a time the Church was growing. Some of the youth that were saved then are now pastors and leaders in the Community Churches in Brazil. In 1997 a second church was started at Paudalho.
One day in 1998 as I drove in a small poor community called Guadalajara I thought this would be a good place to start another church. So after talking with Heather who sent me to John Snow, an American missionary, we started to pray for the city. Because I was so desperate to start a church a week later I said let’s do it. So we started to visit with people and asking them about Jesus. We invited them to a meeting in the middle of the street. This is the only place we had to meet. The meeting place was under the only street light in the city. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not work. The first night 85 people came and we invited them to a musical the next Saturday night. The Work of Life band came to play and 115 people came to that meeting. After I preached some were saved and the church was started. I spent a year with the church, meeting in the middle of the road. In the summer of 1999 BRCC sent money to buy an old garage that we remodeled to have a place to worship. The church people met every morning at 5am. to pray for God’s blessings. This is when the church really started to grow. The Living Stones program and church planting came out of this prayer time.
In the next seven years this church started two new churches, one in Ameixas a town 2 hours away. I was going Friday night to the town and having services on Saturday night so I could get to Guadalajara on Sunday night. Youth from the church always came with me, but I could only take 5 of them at a time. Because of this the youth wanted to start a church closer to their home so all of them could be a part of a church plant. The youth started to go door to door in the town of Lagoa de Itaenga. They led people to Jesus and a new church was started. I have left the church in Guadalajara to a new pastor and the church to another pastor in Ameixas. I am now full time pastor at Lagoa de Itenga.
All the churches were started with three things in mind. First, to be missionary minded and support other missionaries. Second, to seek God’s direction in starting another church in one of the 440 city without an evangelical church. Three, for the church to become self supported, paying for the church expenses and pastor. By God’s grace we have seen many lives change and hope given to people just like me.
Today I have a family of my own. God has given a wonderful wife, Kattia, and a baby, Rebecca. God is so good, I have family here and in the US who love me and care for me. I am looking forward to the next step God has for me. So thank you all for the support you give me through your finances and love.
Ricardo da Silva