Phil and Jen Snell are a British/Canadian couple who, with their two children, moved to Brazil in 2012 to join Xingu Mission as full-time missionaries.
Their first assignment was in Marabá, Pará in the north of the country where they learned the language, the culture and fell in love with Brazil and Brazilians.
After their second year in Marabá, they began to jointly feel a stirring that perhaps their time in there was limited but they had no idea where or when God would send them on.
'A New Thing'
In a time of prayer and reflection, Jen felt she heard God saying, ‘If you’ll trust me, I want to use you to do a new thing’. Jen had no idea what this ‘new thing’ was but trusted that God would reveal it.
In their search for the next step, they were approached by
the national leadership of the Vineyard, Association of churches Brazil, to consider moving to João Pessoa. A group had formed of Vineyard church members from other states who were looking to begin a church plant.
After visiting several other places and João Pessoa, both Jen and Phil felt a clear calling to that city, on the Northeast coast of Brazil.
A Fork in the Road
After saying their good-byes to friends in Marabá, they drove over 2,500 km in a Volkswagen bus (Kombi) to João Pessoa to start a new life. On the entire journey, there was a feeling in that this church plant would look different. Within two months of their arrival, the group they were to church plant with had left the state to return to their home state.
Both Phil and Jen still felt confident that God had called them to João Pessoa, they now needed to discover why.
Someone’s Baby Girl
One evening when returning home, they noticed women on a street corner. Another time they saw several groups of women lining the streets, and it was clear these women were working in prostitution. The thought that ran through their heads was, ‘these are someone’s daughters, someone’s baby girl’. Soon they realized both their hearts were being tugged on.
Where to start?
Realizing that God was calling them towards these women but not having a clue where or how to begin, they began to pray for wisdom, guidance and to prepare themselves and the women spiritually.
In their research to see if there was anyone already doing something in João Pessoa, they came across Shores of Grace, founded and directed by Nic and Rachel Billman in Recife, who were already doing what Phil and Jen felt God calling them to do in João Pessoa, reaching out to women and men trapped in prostitution to show them the love of the Father.
They spoke with Nic about what they were feeling and he invited them to visit them in Recife.
After walking Avenida in Recife and praying for the women and men in prostitution both Phil and Jen felt it was the clarity they needed, they just needed to start.
On June 12, 2017, they went early to the street where the women work during the day, placing the Father’s Love Letter (there will be a link here) and balloons at various corners where they knew they stood. Through prayer, they felt they were supposed to leave something for the women to find before they arrived for the first time.
A few hours later Jen and Phil arrived to find the women reading the letters some crying. They explained who they were and that they simply wanted to offer prayer and the Father’s love.
Since then the relationship with these women has grown, and whenever possible and invited they visit them away from the street, building deeper relationships that extend to the whole family and one day the community.
"...Christ in you, the hope of glory."
We strive to offer a way out of a life of sexual exploitation offering emotional, practical and spiritual support in order to see women and men liberated from the chains of poverty and exploitation, empowered to transform their lives.
Working towards long term change by offering women refuge and transformation away from a life of sexual exploitation, changing the misunderstandings about prostitution and sexual exploitation through training and partnering with other like-minded organization, creating an environment where the sexual exploitation of humans can no longer exist.
We want to see women and men freed from the trap of prostitution their lives fully transformed. It isn’t as simple as finding them a new job. There is a reason they ended up where they are, and getting to the route of that so it can be healed is crucial. Before someone is willing to open up their heart, they first need to trust, feel loved, known, accepted and unjudged. The following are the ways we seek to know them, to show them unconditional love and to invite them into a journey of healing.