The time to put an end to this situation had come. Luísa, a public service teacher, and her husband, José Luís Toledo, a worker in an oil company, were no longer able to submit to the reality they lived in Venezuela. With the crisis that hit the country, there were difficulties at home.
The salaries they received weekly were enough to buy food for just two days. It was also necessary to reduce the number of daily meals to two. Any other need the family had could not be met. Concern for their son, Joissel, still a child, was also a factor that spurred them to act.
They decided to move to Brazil, but leaving Venezuela was no simple task. Therefore, for months, they made a small financial reserve to go to the border by bus. When the day came, they left behind the two houses they had and their car and took only a suitcase and two backpacks. It took them a week to leave the country, and they had to walk, as the ticket they bought was canceled, and there was no more money.
When they arrived at their destination in 2019, they did the necessary documentation and decided to settle in Manaus. Life started over in a small room. José leaves every morning to find support for his wife and child. Generally, his work was in coal mines, earning R$35 a day. Of this amount, R$10 was designated to pay the rent. With the rest, they bought food for the day and made a small reserve.
However, the whole situation was making Luísa ill; she stayed in the room with her son. She lost sleep and the desire to eat and found herself in depression. Her husband encouraged her to go out and look for something that would help her invest her time in studying a trade. And that's how she met the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), which, at that time, was offering a course in pharmacy and Portuguese for Venezuelans.
There, Luísa met other people, made friends, and began to volunteer. Gradually, she came to understand how ADRA serves those in vulnerable situations and saw it was a different environment. Over time, she wanted to know more about who maintained the agency's work and discovered it was the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Whether in periods of economic recession, wars, or tragedies, the Adventist Church has risen to be a help to the populations where it is inserted. This has a reason: to lead people to understand God has a plan that goes beyond life in a world marked by suffering.
The mission to herald Christ's soon return is what has driven people to care for people. This was the keynote of the opening of the Plenary Steering Committee of the South American Adventist headquarters, which began this Friday, May 13. The administrative meeting takes place annually and shows leaders and volunteer members the main results of the denomination's evangelistic and social work in eight countries in South America.
In addition, it is the moment when new projects for the coming years are presented and subjected to a vote; these have a direct impact on the lives of members and the activities of local congregations.
"We need to continue to act on behalf of people so that they understand that what we live here is not the end. The Adventist Church works tirelessly to be a light to those who see no way out. And we will continue to do that because Jesus must return," underlines Pastor Stanley Arco, president of the Adventist Church for South America.
The program featured stories resulting from initiatives such as 10 Days of Prayer, Impacto Esperança, and Easter Task Force, which are tools to help people find relief from their sufferings, whether physical or spiritual.
Luísa, for example, saw her suffering lessen when she visited an Adventist church; then she took her family, and they all chose to study the Bible. They understood God's plan of salvation and decided to be baptized. The ceremony was held this evening, in Brasília, where the Plenary Directive Commission takes place, which will continue until next Tuesday, May 17.
Today, the family history is different from that of the beginning of this text. In addition to the found hope, the couple is employed and now starting a new life.