You may have heard that popular saying: “Money doesn't grow on a tree.” However, Adventists from Fortaleza, Brazil, have proven that it is possible for a tree to give books. For a day, the “fruits” of the trees at Praça do Ferreira, in the city center, were replaced by copies of the book A Maior Esperança (The Greatest Hope).
The campaign, called Tree of Hope, aimed to share with the community content that presents guidelines on how to live with inner peace amid struggles and is part of the Impacto Esperança (Impact Hope) project, which has been taking place in eight South American countries for more than ten years. In addition, the idea respected health security measures by the World Health Organization (WHO) against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michele Aparecida always passes by this particular spot on her way to work and was surprised to see the trees filled with books.
“I thought this attitude was beautiful and wanted to know more,” she says. “I also found it interesting because the tree is a symbol of life, of hope… and that is what they are doing, helping others, talking about the Bible and that even in the midst of adversity, we can have hope. I am very happy to participate. I got a book and I'm going to read it.”
The campaign used signs expressing phrases of emotional support to catch people’s attention, and when they investigated out of curiosity, they were able to remove literary works directly from the trees. Some took the opportunity to read on the benches around the square.
“This year, the project's proposal is for everyone to do their own thing. This is a simple, creative, and impactful activity that we are using to bring hope,” says Pastor Otávio Barreto, head of the Adventist Church in Ceará. “We want to make a difference in the lives of many people, while also sharing the message that it is possible to carry out missionary work even in a time of pandemic.”
COVID-19 has caused increased emotional disorders in the Brazilian population; according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), factors such as mourning, social isolation, loss of income, and fear are triggering mental health problems or intensifying existing ones. Issues such as alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety contribute to worsen the situation.
The Greater Hope presents ways to take care of mental health in the face of situations such as pandemics, global catastrophes, fake news, polarization, new technologies, and exploration of faith.