During a Youth Prayer Week that ended with the celebration of Global Youth Day on March 19, 2022, Seventh-day Adventist churches in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus carried out several initiatives across the city with the goal of helping people often overlooked by society, as in the case of the homeless.
On March 16, 2022, Adventist young people from the Boas Novas church set up a structure at Praça dos Remédios, a central square in the historic center of the capital city of the State of Amazonas. The mobile facility included the option to shower for free. The homeless who accepted the offer also received toiletries, including soap bars, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a towel.
Andrei M., 25, has lived on the streets for a year since he lost his father to COVID-19. “After my father died I lost my sense of direction in life. Next thing I know, I was already living on the streets. But life isn’t easy here. Sometimes I pay to take a bath, but if I do, I am often without food, so it is not something that I can often do,” he said.
For local Adventist pastor Fábio Heverton, the initiative helps volunteers to reflect on their calling. “It is an action that makes us think [about] what we were called for,” Heverton said. “We need to get Jesus out of our churches and get to where people need Him,” he emphasized.
Even though it was a rainy day in Manaus, about 30 people took a shower at the mobile facility. Those who participated also received snacks, literature, and prayers from some of the volunteers involved.
Loving the Forgotten
Carlos M., 22, said he tried to live with his extended family after leaving a recovery clinic some time ago. “I thought they were going to accept me, but they didn’t,” Carlos said. “I had to go back to the streets, and this time with my wife and daughter. Life on the street is not easy; hunger hurts,” he said.
At his side is L. Vieira, 24, who also broke up with his family when he became involved with drugs in 2019. Vieira now sleeps in a pension in downtown Manaus. “There are days when we can’t get anything to feed my 4-year-old daughter,” Vieira shared. “We count on the kindness of the pension owner, but I am very afraid social services could soon take my daughter away,” he said.
According to Bruna Ximendes, leader of the young people at the Boas Novas congregation, it is not the first time the youth group has engaged in initiatives to support the local homeless. “At the peak of the pandemic last year, we came here to donate soup, clothes, masks, and sanitizer,” Ximendes said. “It was then when we realized the homeless need to have free access to showers. Other places are charging them,” she explained.
At the end of the initiative, youth leaders reported that they had provided the homeless with 400 snacks, 40 shower kits, and 200 sharing books.