“It was such a beautiful moment,” Gabi recalls. “We were all together; my father was playing the guitar and I started singing from my heart to God. We knew the darkness was over and that everything would be okay.”
This was the moment Gabi remembers getting her voice back. A brain stroke in March 2018, at only 19 years old, left Gabi unable to speak, see, or move one side of her body. “Recovery was crazy,” she says, remembering how hard it had been in those initial months when even the smallest of tasks were mountains to conquer. With her family rallied around her she was able to cope, but she remembers the feelings of guilt at what they were sacrificing for her, and the fear, frustration and uselessness of not being able to do things for herself.
“But God,” she exhaled, “God’s peace was so with me.”
Having experienced a lot of upheaval as a child, moving from her beloved homeland of Brazil to Portugal, and having to navigate her unsettling teenage years in a foreign land, Gabi comments that she was always questioning God; “why are you doing this God? Where are you?” But while lying in a hospital bed unable to see, speak or move, at a time when some may have doubted God, Gabi clung to Him.
“I felt God in a different way,” she said, “for the first time in my life I was at peace.” When sharing her story, Gabi speaks of the depression and challenge of recovery and the unmissable presence and peace of God, almost in the same breath. For Gabi, it hasn’t been easy but she is confident that God has been, and is, at work in her.
A year on and Gabi is on the main stage at TeenStreet (TS), microphone in hand, singing with gusto and passion as part of the TS band. Still struggling at times with her sight and general processing, Gabi is leaning on God in her weakness and discovering his strength. In the crowd of teenagers before the stage is Bella (16) from the UK. As she worships God along with the band she says she can feel her emotions rise; a hybrid of the difficulties she carries, and a joy-inducing love for God.
From stage Gabi looks down at the teenager’s face, catching her eyes. “She’s praising God, and I’m praising God,” Gabi states. “There is a connection. We’re doing the same thing.” In each there is the same, yet unique, journey of restoration through Jesus.