Story by Karen Campbell, UBA Guest Editor
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Assessing cultural needs and determining the best channels for communication are key tools for the missionary.

UBA consultant Rickie Bradshaw has born witness to this fact from Russia to Japan, Africa and Brazil. So when he saw an opportunity to disciple Christian teens and reach out to troubled youth in Sao Paulo, he knew God had someone else in mind to do it.

"We brought an Urban Hip Hop team to Sao Paulo Brazil because Sao Paulo has a large population of people - 4 million -- who embrace Hip Hop from America. Since gangster rap originated from the United States, we thought it would be best to recruit Hip Hop missionaries who came out of the gangster rap culture in Houston to be a part of our team," said Bradshaw of the recent mission trip that included 17 people divided into three teams - one of which had the Hip Hop emphasis.

/files/Photos/PagesStorageBin/Amanda_BubbleWrap.jpgWhile the Hip Hop team focused on youth and a section of the city known as "Crackolongia" or "Crack Town," where hundreds of addicts gathered and children are bartered for drugs every evening, the other teams spoke to leaders. One group conducted leadership development and transformation conferences working with the Sao Paulo Baptist and National Baptist Convention to train 25,000 individuals in transformation principles. The other provided a Leaders Edge experience for 100 pastors.

"We were very successful in two ways, the missionaries were blessed in bringing the gospel in their heart language and many people were delivered by the power of the gospel in their heart language. After all, it's about the Gospel," said Bradshaw.

/files/Photos/PagesStorageBin/Hip_Hop_Hope_Team.jpgThose who participated in the three week experience included: Tre 9 (Bobby Herring), Amanda Herring, John Ogletree, Evelyn Ogletree, Shawn Scoggins, Dreka Bradshaw, Deanna Bradshaw, Rickie Bradshaw III, Rickie Bradshaw, Aaron Simpson, Von Won, Gifted (Terrance Veal), Sarah Edwards, Luretta Walker, Phil Roman, Adrian Martinez, and Wilma Whitaker.
 
Tre9, a local Houston Hip Hop missionary, shares his Brazilian experiences from his recruitment to planning for the next experience at his website at www.alleyesonmeinc.com. There he reports that his small team prayed with over 500 people, led the sinner's prayer with over 100, discipled and encouraged over 100 youth, and proposed some strategic plans to increase the outreach in Crackolongia to various church leaders in Sao Paulo.

Here's an excerpt from his account:

When Mr. Bradshaw said that Sao Paulo, Brazil was calling for a hip hop missions team and he wanted me to go, I initially ignored it. I am so overwhelmed with missions here in Houston that this was a bit too much to add to my plate. However, after hearing Rickie tell me about a place called "Crackolongia" or "Crack Town," my heart began to feel compassion for the children who were being exploited for crack in Brazil. It was then that I told God if He wanted me to go to Brazil, He'd have to provide the finances for me to get there. Not only did God provide for me, but He provided for my wife Amanda, Von Won and Gifted to take the trip. We were also joined by an assigned team leader, Coach Scoggins.

Our First Impression of Sao Paulo
When we arrived, we were amazed at all the people, graffiti, and concrete homes there. This city has over 23 million people, slightly more than the state of Texas. Graffiti is all over buildings, homes, freeways, businesses, and even in places that the average person couldn't reach. All the homes seemed to be concrete, with no grass or landscape like we have here in America; it was all concrete and stone. Sao Paulo has the largest slum population in South America.

/files/Photos/PagesStorageBin/Gifted.jpgThe Mission Begins
We ministered and performed at two local parks in the slums. Drug dealers were openly doing and selling their supply around kids. At each park, Gifted approached the drug dealers to ask them to take their drugs away from the kids and to consider changing their own lives. We saw extreme poverty and communities over run by drugs and gangs. But through it all, God allowed us to lead people to Christ by simply busting a few rhymes and sharing our stories of how He saved us.

/files/Photos/PagesStorageBin/Amanda_Kids_Trash_Heap_1.jpgExperiencing Crackalongia
Our first description of Sao Paulo was a place where kids were smoking crack, drug dealers sold crack, and hundreds of addicts got their fix in the open. We were sure this was an exaggeration. But on our second day after walking the streets of downtown Sao Paulo during broad daylight, we witnessed it for ourselves. We knew that we wanted to come back in the evening when Crackalongia was at its worst, to pray for these poor souls.

About midway into our trip, we hooked up with Pastor Nildes, who regularly walks these streets to rescue whoever the Holy Spirit draws. Pastor Nildes's ministry is very unique.  They've seen a few turn from the streets and begin serving Jesus, which keeps their hope alive. However, when missionaries have visited her ministry in the past, none of them wanted to go hands on into Crackalongia to reach out, which was discouraging for both her and her family. We didn't know the Lord was going to use us to not only lead some to Christ, pray for the sick, and simply love on people there, but also to give Pastor Nildes's family encouragement towards missionaries.

The wRAP Up
Since we left, we've been told that one of the churches we preached at went down to Crackolongia to serve food. This was encouraging for us, because our heart goes out to Crackolongia. We intend on pressing forward with our mission to see Christians serving food and love seven days a week to these lost souls in this drug ridden area. We are currently planning for our return in January 2011, Lord willing.

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Brazil Mission Takes on Hip Hop Beat