First off, I would like to thank all of you who have supported the Christiano Barbosa Memorial Foundation in any way. Year one was a huge success! We were able to raise almost 12,000.00, which enables us to award four deserving recipients with a 1,500 dollar scholarship! We were also able to attach a 500 dollar scholarship to a Volleyball Sportsmanship award that will now and forever be given in Christiano’s name. These things would never have been possible without your prayer, financial gifts and volunteer time! So, again, we thank you.
As you know, losing Christiano has been painfully life changing for our family. Living without his beautiful heart, contagious laughter, and unconditional love has been a daily challenge. The void in our home, family, and community can never be replaced. Christiano was like none other, and, although his spirit lives on, his tangible presence is gone from earth forever. This raw truth has brought many challenges along with it. With the loss of a loved one the hardest part is figuring out how to live without that person. But, the challenges do not stop there. Not even close. Grief is ugly and painful. It has more facets than there are words to describe. Physical loss, depression, post traumatic stress, financial strain, job struggles, relationship issues, family trauma, health problems – these are all common burdens that can come from grief. Interestingly, each one of these cause more grief. Grief can be a viscous cycle, and often it’s symptoms are beyond our control. After our loss, at least one of us experienced all of the above symptoms and more. We’ve literally been through the ringer, and we’re still walking through.
Thankfully, we are not without hope. We have a firm hope and foundation in CHRIST. He is our anchor – firm and secure, and we have clung to Him in this time, gaining an intimacy that is far beyond our human understanding. This past year we have found the end of ourselves and learned to lean on the Lord in everything – going from parents who wanted to cling closer to our remaining children after losing one, to parents with unclenched fists and surrendered arms stretched out to the only one who is capable of carrying us. And, through it all, He HAS carried us. In a time that we could have walked away to God, His very own grace drew us deeper into His presence. It was in His presence where He began to reveal His next step for our family. Faithfully, He showed us what do do and how to move forward, even when moving forward felt like betrayal to our son. Parts of us were screaming to stay right where we were – to go back if we could. But, that’s not what God wanted. He wanted us to walk forward and trust fully in His plan.
He began to show us how to go on without forgetting our son, and the CBMF was such an intricate part of that process. However, we started to see that He had an even bigger plan than that.
God started placing people in our hearts bigger than ever before. Our burden for people expanded, and, even though we were going through our own ‘stuff,’ God kept giving us opportunities to minister HIS love to broken people. Our hearts became broken for people who felt that they had no hope. There are so many who feel that way, so many who have given up. And, we understood. We understood why people wanted to quit. We were faced with that same option over and over again. And, if it were up to us – we WOULD have quit. But, God. He wouldn’t let us quit. So, as things kept getting worse and more and more ‘things’ were being stripped from us; God kept beckoning us back to Him. We could barely stand and felt like our life was in shambles. But, we KNEW that God was with us in the ruins; that He would rebuild His kingdom within us. When we find ourselves in the ruins, (which we all do at some point) we can trust God to rebuild what is of Him. It is only what is of Him that can never be destroyed. Everything else, we have to surrender to Him; we are not in control. But, from the ruins, we can come out whole and in some ways better than before the destruction that tore everything down. Our scars will be there, and we will never forget where we have been. Just as the scars remained in Jesus’ hands to cause us, his disciples, do remember that He was broken for us; our scars remain so we can remember that we were once broken, too. But, it is because of Calvary that we have been made new! Jesus didn’t just talk about helping people, he did it. He took loving us so far that He gave his very life.
In Matthew 25:35 Jesus said, ‘when I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you have me a drink, when I was a stranger you invited me in. That is where ‘From the Ruins’ comes in. We want to help you in a real and practical way. We want to come alongside you and lead you back to a place of hope and restoration. We want you to know that you aren’t alone in the ruins of this life.
“If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.”
Through much prayer and weeping we now know that it is time to say goodbye to the Christiano Barbosa Memorial Foundation and launch From the Ruins Ministry. We are still extremely passionate about keeping our son’s memory alive, but we are trusting God to do it in ways beyond our greatest expectations. We are still going to give at least one scholarship every year, as well. But, we believe that helping broken people is most effective when practical needs are being met. Grocery gift cards, paying utility bills, providing emotional support, connecting communities, adopt-a-family at Christmas… To start, these are just some of the ‘little/big’ things we want to do within this organization. We have big dreams, but we serve a BIG God. We are looking forward to loving others as He has loved us. He is leading us every step of the way, and I have no doubt that this ministry will bring God glory in all things.
Please pray for us as we embark on this adventure. I never want to be anything but honest with all of you, so let me just say, this is not the story we wanted, but we have vowed to give God our story – for Him to finish, no matter what the cost. And, to those of you who have listened to our hearts as we’ve allowed God to show us His plan and for bearing with us in prayer for His clarity and perfect will – we are eternally grateful. And, thank you to our son in heaven who has been cheering us on since his departure! We thank you, Christiano. Sometimes, I can literally hear you telling me to keep going! And, the biggest thanks of all – to God: our Father, our King, and our most faithful and constant friend. We know You are for us!
So, we say Hello, Goodbye!
Ready, Set, Let’s Go!!