18 Oct Day 8: João Pedro

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

João Pedro

Getting a call in the middle of the night is never good. But when the call is from thousands of miles away, it’s even worse. I was in the United States, and João Pedro was on the line from Brazil,  moaning in agony, and begging for help.
He’s a recent graduate, 18, and he lives alone. By the time I was able to wake up a house parent to rush to his apartment, he had already gone out to the street and flagged down a police officer who drove him to the hospital. It turned out he had a kidney stone. What a horrible feeling, to be all alone, writhing in pain and not sure who to call.
But I remember getting an equally disturbing communication from him just a month ago. João Pedro had posted a picture of himself with a bottle of pills, preparing to commit suicide.

During his time with us, João Pedro was a great kid. He worked hard, read the Bible, and was such a proficient baker that he actually taught our course while our professor was on an extended sick leave. He loved to try new recipes. When he graduated, he got a job at one of Vitória’s best known bakeries, where he makes cakes for high society. He has a wonderful Christian girlfriend.

So why try to kill yourself? After our pastoral team had intervened and counseled him, I later asked him why he had thought about this, when everything seemed to be going so well. “Those memories from my childhood keep coming back to haunt me, Auntie.” He wouldn’t share the details, but in the still of the night the old wounds would open, and he was a little boy again—unwanted and abandoned.
João Pedro’s cry for help took us by surprise. His life seemed to be going well. He didn’t seem to be depressed. Although the statistics vary from country to country, suicide is on the rise everywhere. I think of our young graduates who don’t have families or support systems outside of Hope, and I worry.
João Pedro seems to be doing well now, and he is even volunteering at a nearby homeless shelter. But it was a wake-up call to the need for us to really be a family and stand beside these kids after they leave.
Today, as you pray for João Pedro and the rest of our graduates, also pray for the many families in Brazil and in the U.S. who are touched by depression and suicide.

Lord, we lift up all of our kids who feel alone and abandoned. Help them to feel your presence. Give us the wisdom and strength to be the family they need.