This morning a missionary couple to Brazil whom our church supports paid the congregation a visit. At the luncheon after the service, someone asked them about the street children in the big cities of that country. They said several things.
Two laws create part of the street-children problem, they said. One is a child-welfare law that prohibits employment of persons under the age of 14. What this means is that children are either unable to help their families or they are often employed by criminal enterprises, especially illegal drug gangs. The children are attractive to the drug lords because of the other law: children cannot be prosecuted criminally under age 14. They said that when a child reaches age 14, the child is often murdered by the drug gang, because he is no longer immune from prosecution and knows too much.
Another problem, they said, is that the Roman Catholic Church prohibits birth control and is still a very great influence. Thus there are poor families with 10 or more children, and the parents are unable to support them. Often these children are better off on the street than in the family, because there they can stand at street corners and beg enough to feed themselves, or sell small items.
They think that the money that Brazil is spending on the Olympics would be better spent on the street children problem. They are disappointed that Brazil won. They also commented on how dangerous Rio de Janeiro is, where the Olympics will be held. The live in Anapolis, and said they never go to Rio nor ever would, because of the danger there. (See here, for example.)
The husband was a year behind me at Hialeah High, and an FSU grad. Hehas been a missionary in Brazil since 1970. Early in his ministry he met his wife, a native Brazilian, and they have been missionaries together continuously since then. Despite their description of the street children problem and the Olympics concerns, their overall remarks indicated that they are quite proud of their county,
They conduct a camp and conference center ministry. It sounds like their work is very effective. Their mission field is populated with nominally Roman Catholic people who will not enter a Protestant church. But these people will attend a Christian camp or conference, because it is held on "neutral ground." There, the missionaries said, the Gospel has plenty of room to do its good work.