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It is with great joy and satisfaction that we present Cidade Viva (Living City), the result of hard work and admirable dedication of hundreds of volunteers that love the mission and vision of this institution. We are happy to say that Cidade Viva was born for the glory of God and for the good of the people.
To talk about Cidade Viva is to talk about dreams, strength, courage, creativity, change of paradigms, love to God and to your neighbor; plus plenty of faith, sweat and tears, which showered and continue to water the soil of the perfect plans of the Lord for us.
We exist to serve and to carry out all that we were determined to do. We are happy about it!
We thank God for your precious life. Receive our embrace and affection from all who are part of our beloved Cidade Viva.
God bless you and your family!
In 2002, with the blessing of the First Baptist Church of João Pessoa, chaired by Reverend Estevam Fernandes de Oliveira, the First Baptist Church of Bessamar was founded in the city of João Pessoa, capital of Paraíba, one of the poorest states in Brazil.
On December 5th of 2002, in a small wooden chapel, on the sea shore of Bessa beach, Pastor Inaldo Camelo Vieira Filho began leading the story of another agency of the Kingdom of God on Earth.
Soon after that, in July 2004, I, Sérgio Queiroz, was invited to lead that young small church. So, along with my wife Samara Queiroz and with our children, Sergio Augusto, Esther and Deborah, we began a new stage in our lives. We began to live an intense new call, a new challenge. None of us in our community could imagine what was about to happen.
João Pessoa is a beautiful city, one of the world’s most wooded, full of natural beauty and inspiring buildings. Hospitable people of land and one of the most promising destinations for those who want to live in a quiet and peaceful town without giving up the comforts of a large urban center. However, like any other city in Brazil is marked by crime, poverty, violence, the destruction of family and the high consumption of drugs.
What does the church have to do with this?
AN UNEXPECTED PROBLEM
During one of the first cases I attended in the “wooden chapel”, I was awakened to the greatest evils of our times: Drugs. In an emotional and hopeless story, a widow shared the pain of seeing her son dying slowly due to the death stone: crack!
When this happened ten years ago there were very few treatment options available in the State of Paraíba and was a disquieting reality. We needed to do something to help those suffering from chemical dependency but we didn’t exactly know what to do.
We were moved by a deep desire to do something so we decided to build a Rehabilitation Center for the Chemical Dependent but we needed a piece of land for this.
Frankly speaking our intention was to find somewhere of about one or two hectares, something around ten to twenty Thousand square meters, and this would be more than sufficient for the plan in our hearts to bless people who are chained to their vices.
One day, on my way out of João Pessoa driving along the BR-101 I saw an area for sale on the edge of the highway. Could that be the place? From what I could see I was not able to determine the full size.
We quickly arranged a meeting with the real estate broker at the property and we were surprised with two challenging bits of information: the total area measured approximately 150 hectares and the price was absolutely beyond our reality.
But something spoke louder in our hearts: a conviction from God that the gigantic piece of land would be ours. But, how? And, if we manged to buy it what would we do with almost one and a half million square meters? Why would God be giving us such a large area?
CIDADE VIVA´S PROJECT
In frequent meetings with the church leadership we reached the conclusion that the Lord of History desired that we should do something beyond our strength, beyond our dreams and capabilities, beyond our resources and experiences, beyond what a church normally does, something that would only be possible if our God would go before us.
The initial plan was to build a city in that place. Yes, indeed, a city. A place of refuge, of hope, of restoration, of fellowship and inclusion. A city with no racial or social barriers, a special place where ex-prisoners could be trained and restored to sciety, where needy children could receive good quality education, where the elderly were received with love and respect, where the chemically dependente could find the way to restoration.
Also, there will be areas dedicated to sports, arts, cultural activities, rest and relaxation, technology, higher education and the development of solutions for the ills of mankind. A Project for holistic missions beyond theories. A place for parks and nature trails, for forests and hills, for rest and work, for study and rest and relaxation. A place for inspiration and life, a beautiful property that is crossed by the Gramame, a river whose water supplies a large part of João Pessoa. Therefore, in 2004 we launched the Cidade Viva Project.
First phase: 2004 to 2007 (The Pilgrimage)
After the official launching of the Project, the few members, and those who congregated at the church, embraced the challenging vision given by God and with a lot of effort and generosity we raised the first amount needed for the payment of that immense property. Those were challenging and difficult times but Jesus’ powerful hand was with us. In a space of about four years the Cidade Viva was completely paid for. A true miracle!
The community grew tremendously from when we first started the Project. The idea of living a holistic christianity, focusing on restoration in all of the áreas pertaining to human existence, because of our love for God and for our neighbour became a springboard towards our involvement with the city and our fellow human beings.
During this period various ministries aimed at social transformation were started and hundreds of people started to surrender to the call from Jesus. Due to this, during the last few months of 2004 we changed our sunday celebrations to the sports court of a large school in our city. It was there we started our pilgrimage to our Promised Land.
Between 2004 and 2007 we met in various different places: Clubs, party rooms, sports courts and even in a shopping center. This helped us understand that we are the temple of the Living God, and not the buildings where we meet.
In parallel to this, and even though we did not have a fixed place for our meetings and activities we started the work at the Cidade Viva. So, with serious financial limitations we started building the first things: A modern Rehabilitation Center for those who were chemically dependent and the restoration of an old large house that started being used as our Center for Ministry Training.
The Second phase: 2008 to 2012 (The Consolidation)
As we spent our limited resources on building the first social outreach locations at Cidade Viva, we still did not have a fixed place for our activities in João Pessoa. But, God was preparing a new surprise for us.
A businessman from the State of Paraíba, having heard of the social action work we were developing and trusting the good repute of our Project, decided to build an enormous building that we could rent. A wonderful place, close to the sea and to our old wooden chapel. A space that could be used as the headquarters for our Project until we built bit by bit our dear Cidade Viva.
So, in December 2007 we inaugurated the Cidade Viva Convention Center. This building has an auditorium for up to 1.500 people, apart from various other spaces destined to be used for the development of our activities. In this location we started to consolidate our actions throughout the city.
In order to better develop our mission, we instituted, in 2008, the Cidade Viva Foundation, the social arm of the Cidade Viva Project. This work is in prisons, hospitals, homes for children and teenagers, public schools, streets, poor communities and so many other places where human dignity needs to be affirmed or restored. During this period we have sealed various institutional partnerships and seen dozens of other ministerial developments and actions.
The Cidade Viva Foundation has received recognition as an organization of Municipal, State and Federal utility and acts in seven separate areas: 1) Support to the Family, 2) Creation of Jobs and Income, 3) Ethics, Rights and Citizenship, 4) Education, Sports and Culture, 5) Health, 6) Environment and 7) Promotion of Christian Values.
In 2010, we started the International Cidade Viva School, an arm of the Cidade Viva Foundation that is geared towards promoting a high level of education with the mission of educating leaders who will transform the world. Based on the threefold Bilingualism, full time education and christian ethics the International Cidade Viva School has already become a national reference and is partnered with the Texas Tech University to provide as an option an american High School education; and also with Cambridge University who provide certification in the english language.
Apart from this, the School possesses an award-winning nutritional project that has already been used as a model for various other institutions. Apart from this, about thirty percent of the monthly income from the school has been converted into fulltime or partial scholarships.
In between 2008 and 2012, the Cidade Viva Project became stronger and gained notoriety. Furthermore, apart from the Aeroclub Campus, where we have the Convention Center and the International School, we founded the Campina Grande Campus, the Zona Sul Campus, the Fulltime Assistance Nucleus in the Conde municipality and our first rural campus in the city of Sapé.
But not everything was going well! What was wrong?
Third phase: 2013 (The year for Transition)
Towards the end of 2012 we reached the conclusion that the Foundation was draining our strength and the church was not receiving enough attention. We had spent so much time looking at the city and its problems and had become in some ways merely social activists. We needed to return to our first love. We should not forget that our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters needed to be the strong foundation in all of our actions.
Because of this, we started a systematic process aiming to get back to our strategic objectives of the Cidade Viva Project and in order to do this we pursued the spiritual strengthening of the church. So, we decided that 2013 would be The year of Transition.
In this year, we delivered a series of messages and the results had started to be perceived in the community.
We started investing more intensely in the fellowship of our members through our weekly fellowship groups and in the beginning of 2013 we taped, in the Cidade Viva Convention Center our second worship album. A new melody began to envelop us.
But 2013 was also a year of great struggles and trials, perhaps the most difficult in our history. In certain moments I even thought of giving up on everything!
Fourth Phase: 2014 (The Great Upturn)
God does not give up on his plans. After all the turbulence in 2013, we viewed 2014 with renewed hope, and in a planning meeting, held within the first few days of the new year, we clearly perceived that we were being negligent with the land, with the place from where we had taken our name. What had we been doing with those thousands of square meters?
Having been impelled by God, we took up our initial objectives for the Project and, at the beginning of 2014 we started to invest again in the building of the Cidade Viva, the great property that we started to call Metropolitan Campus and also in the spiritual well being of our members and congregation.
We started a sunday celebration and work commenced on the land. As part of this first phase we rebuilt the fences around the property, built the main entrance and took up the work to finalize all the wings in the Recovery Center which then started being called Potter’s House, because it would not just receive Drug addicts but also, as of 2015, would also be a place for the restoration of many tired and overburdened souls.
The Old House is being renovated once more and an industrial kitchen will be added, along with ample bathroom space to better serve those who will be there.
In the next months we will have a beautiful chapel, a bandstand that will be the stage for various cultural expressions, a central square where we can walk peacefully and a large area for rest, relaxation and sports.
Very soon we will start the second phase: building of the Metropolitan Center for Social Development with various areas that will be used for the promotion of our institutional objectives and will bless thousands of people, especially those who are the most excluded.
We will also have a large food court which will serve all of the Metropolitan campus and will be a place for people to meet and have good conversations.
After an average time period we will start the third phase which will consist in the building of an educational complex with a school and university, apart from the accomodations and guest house that will receive those who wish to spend a few days at Cidade Viva.
The fourth phase will envisage the building of the Cidade Viva International Convention Center, which will hold 10.000 people.
e know that building all these projects will not be an easy accomplishment, but we rest in the Sovereign hands of our Eternal Father, the owner of the Cidade Viva.
We ask for His grace so that we should never give up on our mission that consists in “leading people to an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they may live with dignity and be fruitful in the world”.
Our dream is that the Metropolitan Campus of the Cidade Viva would become a place to inspire people from all over the world. A place of convergences, new experiences, a storehouse of possibilities, a laboratory for projects that will transform the world, where Faith, Arts, Culture, Science, Philosophy and Technology will not be viewed as conflicting realities and where the human being will be understood as an undividable whole in need of being restored by Christ.
After all, according to Abraham Kuyper, the founder of the Free University in Amsterdam and the former Prime Minister of Holland, whose work has greatly influenced the Cidade Viva, there is not one square centimeter, in all of the domain of our existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, cannot proclaim: ‘It is mine’!
Thereby, we envisage being a community capable of influencing João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil and the world to live out a biblical christianity in a relevant manner, within each of their social and cultural contexts, for the glory of God and for the joy of mankind.
This motivates us to keep on walking forward, knowing that the obstacles are immense, but never larger than the Great Dream Giver.
May the next decade come quickly since we have only just begun!
Soli Deo Gloria!