Rogerio transformed from a young boy looking for food to a grown man leading worship at his Compassion-assisted center.
"Sir, may I take care of your car?"
After saying "yes" to the shy, thin boy, the pastor expected him to ask for money. That's what so many other children did in the poor neighborhoods of Ceará State, in northeast Brazil.
But after little Rogerio washed the car, he didn't ask for anything. And when the boy returned day after day with the same question, Pastor Marcos realized that all Rogerio wanted was to be around the children at the Compassion center, to hear their laughter and watch them play.
Realizing the boy's strategy, Pastor Marcos one day said, "no" to Rogerio's request and instead sent him inside to eat with the children.
That event two decades ago set this poor, uneducated child on a new path. After losing his father when he was just 2, Rogerio faced extreme poverty and despair in a small clay house with no beds, electricity or plumbing. His mother remarried a man who drank away what little money they had, and Rogerio's job became to care for his siblings, cook and clean while his mother worked. At the age of 9, he had never even been to school.
A Hungry Child, a Passionate Pastor
But God had a special plan for Rogerio and began putting people in his life to bring it about. A woman in his neighborhood used to invite children to church. After several invitations, Rogerio decided to go with her because he heard there was food at the church, and he was tired of feeling hungry.
Rogerio didn't know that he would receive much more than food. "I will never forget that day," he says, "I ate a lot. There was biscuits and juice; for me that was a feast. What I didn't realize at the moment was that something over there caught my attention much more than food something I couldn't understand very well yet."
That's when the boy began showing up to wash the pastor's car. As Pastor Marcos got to know Rogerio and heard his story, he invited him to be part of the church's Compassion-assisted child development center. Though he was 9, past the age limit for registration, Pastor Marcos advocated for him and was able to fight for his registration.
Finally, and against all odds, Rogerio was sponsored and began learning about God.
In his first week at the center, he heard Pastor Marcos' wife explaining Proverbs 14:12 there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. God opened the boy's mind and heart through that verse.
"I will never forget those words. Something real changed inside me," Rogerio remembers.
Mind and Heart Awakened
He started to attend school, and the church center staff worked hard to help him make up for the years of education he had never received. He learned basic hygiene for the first time, and became much stronger through the meals he ate at the church center.
God then brought center coordinator Maria Aparecida Monteiro into Rogerio's life, who opened up another new world to him music. "I remember his smiling face," she says. "Every time he learned a note, he smiled."
Rogerio practiced and practiced the guitar and began accompanying Pastor Marcos to the public squares, where they proclaimed Jesus through teaching and music. It was during these experiences that Rogerio's dream was born: "One day I will do what my pastor does," he decided.
Today, Rogerio is a music producer, worship leader and the married father of a 10-year-old son. After attending seminary and serving as an auxiliary pastor at a local church, he is now preparing to lead a church of his own. In the meantime, he is serving as a chaplain to help men in jail and working to rescue children caught in prostitution. "I just can't see kids follow the wrong way," he says. "They need to (be) rescued by Jesus."
More Powerful Than Poverty
Though his days are busy, the young pastor still makes time to teach music at the center the same one he attended for many years. He shares with the kids how he used to be just like them and how God changed his life.
"I praise the Lord because one day he reached me and gave me much more than I even could think or imagine," Rogerio says. "I always praise Him because He used Compassion's ministry to help me, to show me Jesus, the only one powerful enough to release everyone from poverty and make us free for His glory!"
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