In this year of 2020, interpersonal relationships have thrived at a distance, and millions who found it impossible to meet in person resorted to video calling applications for work conferences, meetings, and family and friend chats.
Márcia Ribeiro, from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, was one of those people who ramped up the use of digital applications to keep her social life active. One day at the beginning of the lockdown, one of Ribeiro's second cousins sent her a link to a sermon broadcast on Seventh-day Adventist TV channel Novo Tempo. That sermon by Adventist evangelist Luis Gonçalves was part of the special program prepared for Easter Week.
Ribeiro watched the sermon and accepted the pastor’s appeal. She then sent a message to the station’s WhatsApp number. Soon she was contacted and connected to Porto Alegre Central Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Family members introduced me to Jesus as the only friend capable of providing unconditional love,” Ribeiro said. “I fell in love with the simple notion of having communion with Jesus.”
Richard Silva, a volunteer at Porto Alegre Central Adventist Church, contacted her. In March 2020, Márcia began studying the Bible with some friends through Zoom. Instructors Ronaldo Hausen and Giovanni Pedruzzi had hosted the Bible study class in person for years. They had switched to an online format as soon as lockdown rules had been implemented.
“The Bible transforms. It helps us to find Jesus Christ, our Creator, Lord, and Savior,” Pedruzzi said. “It brings faith, peace, and changes to every aspect of a person’s life. And through this process, we as instructors are the first to benefit, as we end up learning more than our students,” he added.
At the end of the Bible class series, Ribeiro asked to be baptized. The ceremony took place on November 14, 2020. On the day of her baptism, Ribeiro met one of her Bible teachers in person for the first time.
“Márcia is my first student receiving Bible studies entirely in a virtual setting,” Hausen said. “It was an immense satisfaction to finally meet her in person on the day of her baptism!”
Ribeiro is already volunteering at the local church’s women ministries department and as a deaconess. She said she is happy with what she has learned this year.
“Knowing about Jesus as my God and accepting that He is in control of the whole universe has brought peace into my life. The hope of His coming and His promise to put an end to evil has made me happier,” she said.