There have been several occasions over the last few weeks where I have felt particularly proud and excited to be working for Novō. My respect for Novō’s vision and leadership continues to grow, as does my awareness of God’s leading and abundant provision so far. This gives me great faith and confidence that He will continue to provide and will be deeply at work in the lives of those who enter the programme. It is such a privilege to be here!
The first thing to mention is a retreat day we had a month ago, where the team took a step back to look at the bigger vision of Novō (eventually replicating the programme in different locations in the developing world) as well as share with each other our hopes and dreams for the ministry. Each of us left that day with a renewed sense of excitement about being part of this work and a renewed sense of awe at the ways in which God is providing for us. I love Novō’s values and characteristics of generosity and abundance, empowerment and integrity (to name just a few). Not merely helping people stop using drugs and alcohol, but providing the opportunity to experience the transforming power of God’s grace in a loving community and to live life fully and abundantly as God intended:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” – John 10:10.
Here are a few examples of when God’s hand has particularly been at work:
- José was praying with some young homeless men specifically for a rehabilitation centre for adults unknowingly on the same day that Andy Partington was visiting Santa Cruz on an initial visit to explore the idea of starting up Novō. This was the first day they met. And now José is our Programme Coordinator, having spent 14 years working with people on the streets of Santa Cruz.
- When considering a location for the project, I don’t think the team dared to imagine obtaining a building and grounds anywhere near as beautiful as Yeldall Manor (the rehab in the UK where I worked). However, through a contact of one of the team, we stumbled upon Quinta Totaices – a beautiful, big, ideally located property with an unusually large amount of green space. The owner was keen that it would be inhabited by a community and, following the death of his alcoholic father, he was particularly supportive of renting (with a view to selling) the property to Novō. Definitely in keeping with God’s character – providing in abundance, and not just ‘making do’.
- More recently, we were looking for a doctor we could partner with to oversee the detox of new residents. Meanwhile, a Bolivian qualified doctor had been praying about where God might be calling him to volunteer his time for half a day a week. He heard about Novō and was interested in finding out more. We met with him, a lovely humble Christian man, and he committed to volunteer for us. Not only will he oversee the detox, but we’ll also be able to offer every resident a full health check on arrival and carry out basic medical appointments on site – what a blessing!!
Last week, I was encouraged by a visit from Church Mission Society’s Henry Scriven (Director for South America) and Philip Mountstephen (CEO), who were passing through and visiting CMS partners in some Latin American countries. It was great to be able to show them the Quinta, share about the ministry and for them to see it first-hand. They took a real interest, and it was clear that Novō’s values and aims overlap with and complement those of CMS.
The biggest event and highlight over the last month was Novō’s Launch Night (4th November). This was a significant night, marking the fact that we are ready to receive our first residents. It was an honour to be able to invite friends, supporters and church leaders to celebrate with us and pray for and commission the team for the work ahead. We received between 150-200 people on the night, representing a number of different local churches, which hugely encouraged us. I’ll let the photos below speak for themselves, but I only wanted to point out that the picture of the display table/board are the things that I’ve especially been working on!
The need for Novō is becoming more and more apparent to me. I was always aware of the huge number of people living on the streets, many addicted to alcohol and other drugs (in particular, sniffing glue). But the epidemic of addiction reaches far beyond the streets, and it seems that most people here know at least someone affected by addiction. I spoke at a friend’s church recently about what I’m doing here as a missionary and about Novō. Immediately following the service, a man approached me saying they’d been praying about what to do with his alcoholic brother, and asked how he could get him onto the programme. And yesterday at church, I got chatting to a lady I’d not met before. When she heard about Novō, she promptly asked for details, as the husband of her cleaner is an alcoholic and desperately needs help. As I said in the first paragraph, it really is a privilege to be here playing a small part in this important work – thank you for supporting me in this.
I’ll end with these verses, a passage in which God spoke to us in the initial stages of getting Novō off the ground, reminding us of our calling and anointing:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendour – Isaiah 61:1-3
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Praise God for all of the above!
- Please pray for our first residents (realistically, probably the end of November) – that they would be motivated individuals and that they, together with the staff team, would lay the foundations from the start for a secure and stable community, establishing a positive ‘culture’ in which transformation and recovery can take place.
I won’t apologise for this being a long one – I had too many good things to write about!
Blessings and love to you all,