Violence has spread in our state of S?o Paulo, the capital city of the same name, and even in our city of S?o Jos? dos Campos. The authorities were moving some mafia-type gang leaders to a prison upstate, away from the capital, hoping to isolate them from their gang. Through the gang’s widespread net, the leaders instructed their members to attack police stations, banks, buses, metro stations, and shopping centers as a concerted attempt to intimidate the authorities and the population.
Stores and schools closed in our city, buses are not running, and people are scared. A curfew was imposed today by the city government, beginning this afternoon.
The capital, S?o Paulo, has been hardest hit, but prison rebellions and police shootings are occuring across the state. From the latest reports online (we don’t, by choice, get TV channels), 77 people are dead, many of them police, a number of others are criminals. Some 41 buses have been torched in the capital.
Eight buses were torched here in our city yesterday and today, with one death. Today, there were reports of a mall being sacked and online news told of a bank machine-gunned. Criminals riddled two police stations with bullets.
Before the stores closed up in our neighborhood, my wife bought some staples to keep us supplied for a few days, in case the situation persists.
In 21 years of living in Brazil, we have never encountered such a situation. As far as I know, however, we are not in any immediate danger. Nor it is a moment to think of evacuation. But we are keeping our heads low.
Please pray with us that this situation may be controlled and order restored.
As we sort through options and emotions, several thoughts emerge.
First, our trust must always be in the Lord. As wonderful as any town, country, government, or situation may be — and we consider Brazil and S?o Jos? dos Campos among the most pleasant, agreeable, peaceful, and safe –, any place can quickly turn ugly.
That is why we must sing with the Psalmist: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Psalm 46.1-3, ESV).
Second, though no nation today represents God’s interests on the earth (that’s the church for you), when a nation’s leaders follow justice and righteousness and the principles of wisdom, its people will be blessed with peace, security, and prosperity.
It is still true that “[r]ighteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). “When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue” (Proverbs 28:2).
I do not say this as a criticism of my adopted country, but as a general observation applicable to all governments. Many would lead their nation astray through corruption, decadence, licentiousness, social experimentation, and economic irresponsibility. Christians pray for their secular leaders, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
The violence in our city and state should soon be contained. Those who have no faith in the Lord will continue to be disturbed by this outbreak of criminal activity. Those who trust in the Lord, however, find renewed reason for joy in eternal hope and peace in walking with God.
As violence frightens citizens of our city and state, Christians find renewed reason for joy in eternal hope and peace in walking with God.