SS eventh-day Adventists in the north of the Brazilian state of Bahia cheered June 27 when two churches reopened and four people were baptized in the pre-dawn hours of that Sabbath day.
But for others still at home, especially children in homes without internet access, it was still a lonely Sabbath, like the dozen or so before it thanks to the novel coronavirus and resulting quarantines.
In the village of Itatiaia, in Capim Grosso, Bahia, Edileusa de Jesus Nunes arrived at a gate of a house in a rural area of the city. Wearing a mask and carrying a bag, she carried in her hands a heart made of cardboard, with the phrase “Correio do Amor,” which translates to “Letters of Love” in English.
Boys and girls ran towards the cardboard. Each child received a letter talking about the longing to be together, as well as a guide with Bible verses to motivate them to study the Bible and the Sabbath School lesson.
The Correio do Amor was an action tailored to the context of the pandemic. Dressed in uniforms, community leaders from the Children's Ministry visited families to carry the letter with a message of affection and gifts to aid Bible study.
With isolated families in homes, many of them in distant regions, the action brought excitement, despite following all preventive measures against Covid-19, such as the use of masks, gloves, and the impossibility of hugging. By targeting families without internet access or even WhatsApp, the project offered a dose of affection capable of motivating Adventist families separated by the physical distance regime, through a visit even without allowing greater proximity.
“It was gratifying to meet the children again and hear them say they were homesick for the church, as well as to see the parents' retribution, saying they were homesick for the ministry and the teachers,” said Edileusa, who traveled on the back of a motorcycle to visit 54 children. On this one Sabbath alone, about 250 children were visited in the north of Bahia by the leaders of this ministry.
Children’s ministry director Rosana dos Santos Magalhães, from the district of Senhor do Bonfim, in Bahia, created the Correio do Amor project can become a network action, as stated by Marciley Melros, who is in charge of the chilren’s ministry at the headquarters of the Adventist Church for the northern region of Bahia.
Seeing the idea of Rosana, wife of a district pastor, of visiting children to deliver masks and a letter, Marciley decided to share the idea with youth ministry leaders in other cities, even offering online training. So far, 327 families have been visited. “I believe it will be a support network for children. We pose the challenge so that, when the child receives the letter, they return the action by writing another letter,” Marciley explained.
In addition to Correio do Amor, other actions mobilized Adventist communities on June 27th. Children’s ministry leaders held open-air meetings with the little ones, to study the lesson and make a special Sabbath after weeks of online studies. The meetings took place with protection measures against the coronavirus.