RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (BP) -- It weighs on his heart: One day, he will go out to share the Gospel and not come back.
IMB missionary Eric Reese serves on one of the most dangerous mission fields in South America -- the gang-controlled favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I wrote a letter to my wife," Reese says. "I said, 'Honey, if I don't return, be strong. Let the girls know Dad's going to miss them. That God's got a plan for their lives, too.'"
To read other stories from Rio, click here and here.
Reese's passion is taking the Gospel to drug dealers, gang members and prostitutes.
"I want to love and show those people that they're not a forgotten people group," he says. "They're not an unimportant people to Christ. Everybody has the same value at the foot of the cross."
Reese and his wife Ramona have served in Brazil since 1999 and have raised their daughters Gloria, 13, and Alicia, 9, in Rio's megacity milieu. The Reeses are from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.
Ramona works with women in the favelas and other low-income women in Rio. In the past few years, God has shifted her outreach to include middle-class wives and mothers she meets at the gym and at her daughters' school and ballet practices.
Though Ramona rarely enters violent neighborhoods with her husband, his being there affects the whole family.
"I think I was really naïve and didn't really understand what was going on the first four years," she says. "But then you start seeing people die -- people that you know. And you understand what's really going on...."
That reality for Ramona hit home the night the police called Eric and asked him to serve as a mediator in a potential gunfight. He was the only person both sides trusted.
She didn't want Eric to go, but she didn't ask him to stay. She told her husband to follow God's leading.
"I was so afraid. You know how when you're just so afraid, you can't do anything but pray?" Ramona says.
Looking back, the Reeses realize how Eric's decision to go that night opened doors to share about Christ.
"I don't find that Jesus said, 'If you've got people with guns in front of you, don't share the Gospel,'" Reese says. "I'm not going to let men stop me from sharing the Gospel. No matter what the obstacles are, you see, the Gospel has got to get to these people." Read More