“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14, ESV)
Lane and Misse are lifelong friends who grew up in Guadalajara, a poor suburb in Brazil. They watched as children there fell prey to the influence of violence and drugs since Guadalajara is located near several large cities.
The extreme poverty takes a toll on everything in Guadalajara, including leaving schools severely under resourced. In fact, they often close due to lack of funds. Misse and Lane knew that without school and without extracurricular activities, children would be even more susceptible to the negative influences around them.
So,the two decided to do something about it. At the age of 21, they weren’t much older than the kids they wanted to help — still they believed they could make a difference.
They revived an after-school program called Living Stones and created a safe place for kids to receive food, tutoring, and more. They use music and sports to provide children with a safe and healthy outlet plus tutoring to help kids stay on track.
Many children in Guadalajara are forced to grow up too soon, but Living Stones is a place where children can simply be children.
It is a place where they don’t have to worry about their next meal or whether or not they can attend classes. It is a place where their futures are restored. But most importantly, it is a place where children can learn to put their trust in God.
Jackson skillfully dribbles the ball as he makes his way down the basketball court. He’s competitive and quick, but that doesn’t stop him from laughing and messing around with his friends.
Most days he’s actually pretty shy and quiet, but when you get him on the court at Living Stones, the solemn12-year-old comes alive. The same is true in his science classes. When Jackson is in class, he can focus on learning about how the world works … a welcome break from worrying about things at home.
It is no surprise that Jackson often withdraws from those around him. When he was 5 months old, his parents began to struggle financially. His mother felt they did not have the means to support their children — particularly the new baby boy she held in her arms. She made the difficult choice to leave Jackson at her own mother’s house. There, he would at least be taken care of.
Jackson’s grandmother loves him very much, but she worries, too. She worries about how quiet he is, worries about how reserved he is in school. But mostly she worries about whether or not she will be able to feed Jackson or meet his basic needs.
Jackson’s grandmother is getting old, and she finds it difficult to earn a living. If it weren’t for the after-school program, she’s not sure that Jackson would have a future at all.
Ana Maria has been responsible for the care of her younger siblings since she was 6 years old. Her mother works hard to support her children, so she is often absent — leaving young Ana Maria to tend to the home. Ana Maria often misses school, but that hasn’t stopped her from dreaming of becoming a doctor.
Lane and Misse are actually Ana Maria’s neighbors. When they heard about the young girl’s struggles, they stepped in. Their family began to think of the kids as their own family and offered to help with child care so Ana Maria can go to school.
During the afternoons, Ana Maria attends the after-school program where she plays basketball or soccer and spends time with friends her age. For the first time since she was 6, Ana Maria is able to be a child again.
The tutoring program is helping her catch up with her schooling, and the kids in the program have become another source of family for Ana Maria. But most importantly, she is starting to learn that she is loved — by God and by His people. She is learning she is not alone.
They need your help
Living Stones provides academic tutoring, music classes, Bible lessons, and nutritious meals for children like Ana Maria and Jackson. The after-school program helps keep kids off the streets by giving them another alternative.
But the kids at Living Stone need your help. Jackson and Ana Maria are just a few of the children who need sponsors — people who are willing to stand up on their behalf and invest in their futures.
For just $35 a month, you can be the hands and feet of Jesus to one of these children. You can give him or her the tools needed to do well in school and to remain healthy and strong.
Like Lane and Misse, you can help a child chase his or her dreams.
Ana Maria wants to be a doctor. Jackson wants to continue studying science. Everton, another boy in the program, wants to be a firefighter. And his friend Luiz wants to play professional basketball.
Will you help one of these kids chase his or her dreams?