Behind our Kerigma congregation stretches a sizable neighborhood called “Coroadinho”. It is known as a hotbed of crime and violence. Within this neighborhood–and within sight of our church–is a hill named after a colorful figure from Coroadinho’s past known as “Ze Bom Bom”. If Coroadinho is a hurricane of crime, Ze Bom Bom hill is it’s epicenter.
And at the foot of Ze Bom Bom hill is a house where I go every Monday morning for a small-group Bible study.
Last Monday, as I arrived, I noticed emergency vehicles and TV reporters leaving the area. Right behind me was a police unit, which stationed itself at the entrance to the road which leads up to Ze Bom Bom. Greeting me at the door, the young man who hosts the Bible study filled me in on what went down.
Up until recently the drug traffic on the hill was controlled by an ex police officer. At the beginning of the year, however, he was arrested and is currently in jail. Sensing an opportune moment, the leader of a rival gang decided to take over one of the points of sale (called a boca de fumo). This upstart–nicknamed Olhão, or “Big Eye”–packed his revolver and started up the hill.
Unfortunately for Big Eye, the gang in control was not nearly as disorganized as he thought. The ex police officer continues to run things from jail, and his two sons have things well in hand “on the ground”. Big Eye was met by an armed posse, and died on the street, a bullet through his chest.
When news of their leader’s demise reached them, members of Big Eye’s gang grabbed their own guns and went on a shooting rampage through the streets. One of their bullets hit a woman who owned a little store in the neighborhood, and she died. Onlookers identified her shooter and went on their own rampage, burning down his house.
For the past week the police have been intensifying their presence on the hill. Helicopters fly over constantly, and heavily armed patrols cover the area.
Police Officers Guard Ze Bom Bom
Police officers at a check-point on Ze Bom Bom hill. Image Source

All of this goes to illustrate the desperate need for the Gospel in this area. Of course things like poverty, poor living conditions, lack of police supervision, and corruption contribute to the violence. But what the neighborhood really needs in Christ.
Pray for our Bible study, which is currently being attended by four young men who would be logical targets for the drug dealers. They are but a drop in the bucket of the teeming mass of young people that is Coroadinho.
Pray also that the light of the Gospel will shine out from our little congregation into the darkness of Coroadinho and Zé Bom Bom.

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