January 25, 2020

20,000 Adventist Volunteers Choose Service Over Vacations in Brazil

Heron Santana, South American Division, and Adventist Review

More than 20,000 Adventist volunteers, most of them young, decided to spend part of their Southern Hemisphere summer vacation serving other people in two northeast Brazilian states.

Regional church leaders reported that 20,761 signed up as volunteers for Caleb Mission, an Adventist Church initiative that encourages young people to spend part of their vacation time for outreach and evangelistic projects. It is almost 10 percent of the total church membership, which, according to updated church statistics, stands at 214,467 in those two states.

“It means that the number of volunteers more than doubled in just one year,” reported Eduardo Batista, youth ministries director in the East Brazil Union Mission and coordinator of the initiative.

It is an impressive figure, leaders said, and not only because it means that almost one church member out of ten in that church region signed up to take part in the summer vacation project. It is something, they said, that draws attention to the importance of young people to support initiatives that improve the lives of various communities. Volunteers serving in about 950 service posts led multiple activities, including health fairs, cleaning drives, blood donation drives, and Bible study sessions.

Leaders reported that, for instance, in São Felipe, a town of 21,000 in Bahia, volunteers set up a tent in one of the communities. From January 8 to February 2, 2020, they were offering a daily health fair, which, besides giving general information on how to live healthy, offered talks and counseling by a psychologist, a family therapist, and a nutritionist, among others.

In addition to community outreach initiatives, Caleb Mission volunteers helped residents to understand the Bible. According to church leaders, many have shown interest in learning more, and several have already asked to be baptized. [Photo: South American Division News]

The presence of Adventist volunteers has not gone unnoticed by local officials. São Felipe health secretary Alvaro Neiva offered logistical support and made professionals available to assist the population.

Neiva celebrated the work accomplished by the Caleb Mission volunteers. “The [Adventist] Church has a focus on health and education. São Felipe is providing professionals to support and advance this cause,” he said.

Outreach and Spiritual Goals

Beyond community service, however, volunteers acknowledged that they are always ready to invite people to study the Bible. “Every service we provide has the goal of sharing God’s Word with the residents,” a young woman volunteer said.

Local Adventist leader Adilson Cruz added that local church members felt happy to welcome and support the volunteer guests and that they are thankful for the young people’s presence. “We thank every person who did his or her part to making Caleb Mission a reality in São Felipe, as they help others and share the message of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Leaders reported that in late January and early February 2020, community outreach will be combined with evangelistic drives in several cities and towns, where many interested people are already preparing for baptism.

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese news site.