“Hello, good morning / good afternoon. I’m calling from the Catarinense Association. How are you?"
This phrase has been said about 20,838 times in the past few months by the secretaries of the administrative headquarters of the Adventist Church in south-central Santa Catarina, the Catarinense Association (AC). In an initiative unprecedented in Brazil, the office called all of its members during the COVID-19 quarantine. The goal was to find out how each Adventist was faring during social isolation, offering social as well as spiritual attention. It was a joint effort by the secretariat and the treasury, led by Herbert Gruber.
The callers asked how members were dealing with the situation, whether they needed any social assistance or knew someone who needed it, and updated their registration with the secretariat system and encouraged the registration in the 7me system.
“Many of our basic food baskets were given away as a result of these phone calls, distributed to Adventists with almost nothing to eat,” explains Pastor Paulo Lopes, executive secretary of Associação Catarinense. “We have also helped people who have no direct relationship with the church, but who were mentioned during the calls. There are plenty of anguished people who needed help. In addition, we detail how the members came to the church in order to have a better diagnosis of the state of the church in this region.”
Each call was personal, seeking to assist each member in their need.
“We talked to people in no hurry, in an effort to make them feel good,” says Bianca Spindola, secretary. “We asked if they needed anything; for the elderly or people at risk, we asked if they had someone to buy food or if they needed any spiritual advice.”
At the end of each call, a prayer was also offered. “Some thanked us for the concern and attention; others congratulated this action of calling and caring for them,” Spindola adds.
According to Telma Salibi, some calls ended in tears. “Some people wept, thanking us for our attention and care. People who were alone at home were thrilled to talk to someone,” she shares.
Care even from a distance
One of the coordinators of the initiative still regrets the unsuccessful contacts.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to speak to everyone,” laments Lopes. “Some phones were out of range, others were numbers that had not been updated. That is why it is important for church members to keep their registration with the secretariat updated.”
Lopes encourages all church members to get in touch with their church secretary or install the 7ME application on their cell phone to keep their data up to date.
The testimonies were diverse, as another secretary involved in the calls comments.
“There was a member who was away from the church and was surprised by the connection,” Andréa Lopes recalls. “Another said, 'The church cares about me, even though I have left. I can’t believe it.’ Some of them voluntarily expressed the desire to attend church again after the pandemic.”
“I want to congratulate the attitude of the AC team for their work,” says Marcos Antônio de Souza, who lives in the city of Lages. “I got a call from the secretary to see how we were doing, and I praise God for the attitude of care. This made a difference in my life and I believe in the lives of many other people.”
For Pastor Apolo Abrascio, president of the Catarinense Association, it is important to show concern for people.
“We are a church, and Christ's method is this: to help with a word of love and to share the gospel,” he points out. “Thank you, secretaries, who went to great lengths to make one call after another.”