A few years ago, I was suffering from depression and seeing a therapist who helped me realize that something was missing in my life. During this time, I was invited to a Church retreat of a Brazilian Church in Dallas. There I had an amazing, life transforming encounter with God and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was instantly healed from depression. What was missing in my life was Jesus. I started praying “God what can I do for you?” “I want to be your hands and feet.” “Let your light shine through me.”
My pastor at the time, Doak Taylor, was challenging the congregation to think about what kind of life we want to live. Do we want to live a life that is all about us or do we want to serve the community? My heart leaped and said “I want to serve the community.” I had lived in McKinney for 7 years and had no idea that there was a homeless shelter in my hometown.
At a life group, we were discussing ways that we can serve the community as a group and one of the ladies shared an idea she had of doing a party in a bag and take it to the shelter to throw a party for a birthday child staying there. When she said birthday party, a flashback of memories came flooding through my mind reminding me of my birthday parties in my childhood back in Brazil. My parents got divorced when I was 5 and my mom, sister and I moved 6 hours away from my dad. My mom in order to provide for us traveled the world selling semi-precious stones 6 months out of the year. However, she always came back in town for our birthdays and organized these amazing elaborate parties and my dad would drive 6 hours and stay in our apartment with us.
You see, on my birthday my family was united, I felt loved, special, important, protected, celebrated. At this time, God said to me “that’s how I want these children to feel on their birthday.” God used my past to birth in me a passion and desire to celebrate the uncelebrated and share with them the love of Jesus.