A recent resolution by the Brazilian government is expected to boost Adventist volunteer initiatives across that South American nation, the region, and beyond. According to an official release of Brazil’s Ministry of Education, students may now include their volunteer service hours as part of their official academic transcripts.
The Ministry of Education resolution, which was ratified by Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, in late August 2018, will allow students from colleges and universities across the nation to report their volunteer service hours as part of their regular studies. The Ministry’s website says, “Extracurricular activities linked to the volunteer may be added to the minimum workload, at the initiative of the educational institution, and be further counted in the student's academic record. In Basic Education, however, the workload of volunteering should be performed in addition to the minimum hourly load.”
Joni Oliveira, Adventist Volunteer Services (SVA) director for the South American Division (SAD), said the move by Brazil’s Ministry of Education is excellent news. “The [department’s] resolution is a great incentive for thousands of Seventh-day Adventist young people to enjoy the experience of volunteer service,” he said. “I have no doubt God has opened doors and sent a clear message, telling us it is time to speed up the preaching of the gospel.”
According to Oliveira, the latest developments show God is not only providing financial means but also human resources to spread His message across Brazil and beyond. “Ultimately, people are still the best and most effective method of God [to preach the gospel],” he said.
Potential for Growth
SVA statistics show that in 2018, 263 short-term volunteers were already serving in 49 countries around the world. Between January and August of this year, another 198 volunteers were sent to countries outside the SAD territory. Additionally, 160 young volunteers have taken part or are currently serving across the eight nations comprising the SAD church region.
Currently, 1,206 volunteers are involved in the Um Ano em Missão [“One Year in Mission”] outreach initiative, 585 of whom are also part of SVA. “The [department’s] resolution will allow us to link the requirements of a course program to our volunteer initiatives,” Oliveira said. “It is something that no doubt will contribute to the advancement of [the church’s mission].”
Looking to the near future, Oliveira believes that he sees potential in kindling the interest of college students to, among other things, post short video messages explaining the existence and implications of the new resolution. “We also intend to encourage course coordinators to encourage their students to use this opportunity guaranteed by law, joining the useful to the pleasant,” he said.