General Conference

Volunteers advance on a mission even amid a pandemic

An official program of the Adventist Church has been active in South America for 13 years and makes volunteer opportunities available in various countries of the world.

Brasilia, Brazil | Carolyn Azo

The coronavirus altered the plans of many people, be it in academic, professional terms, or even volunteer programs. This situation, too, affected the work of Adventists who have a worldwide program of opportunities for those who want to serve others.

An example of this is the members of the Adventist Voluntary Service, known as SVA. Despite the pandemic that changed the world, members are still working to achieve their goal: the happiness that service without receiving anything in return offers.

Currently, there are 2,000 Adventist volunteers ages 18 to 79 around the world in 60 countries. Of these, 121 belong to the South American continent and 54 more are waiting for permission to begin their service journey.

Mission anywhere

One of those Adventist professionals waiting is Francisca Villegas, 23, a young Chilean nurse who enthusiastically recounted to the South American Adventist News Agency (ASN) her desire to travel to Togo, in west Africa, where she will serve in the Adventist hospital there for a year. Along with nursing service, Villegas also will help, along with two colleagues, with the local Pathfinders, and Adventurers clubs.

“While we are preparing to go out to our mission field together with my companions, with whom we are going to travel, we are already doing our mission. Although we are still at home, we are preparing material to be able to work with the Pathfinders and Adventurers club,” said the nurse, who is already in contact with her field of work and works online. “Also, we are preparing things to work each in their area. And that has served us because our mission has already begun. We are already on mission,” she added.

The pandemic forced many institutions to close their doors for fear of contagion. But what happened to Adventist volunteers who were on a mission in various institutions?

ASN also spoke with Suely Gio, 36, an English teacher at an Adventist school in Cairo, Egypt, who has been a volunteer there for 11 months. She and her colleagues devised creative ways to continue teaching their students. “What we have done since the month of March when all the schools closed, is to start virtual classes, where we send the children's regular curriculum by video and PDFs. Within this information, we also sent prayer audios for each family of the students,” she said.

Beware of volunteers

Those 121 South American Adventist volunteers on mission are well cared for. That is what Pastor Joni Oliveira, director of the Adventist Voluntary Service for eight countries in South America, expresses in his own words: “Our job is to accompany our volunteers, from the moment they leave to serve, while they are serving and until now of their return.”

Regarding the pandemic care, the leader added: “We quickly made a protocol so that the volunteers could stay safe. Another of the actions was to make psychologists available so that they can take care of the volunteers who most needed help. Also, for those whose time of service ended, but due to the border closure situation they were unable to return, we extended their insurance.”

Despite the current situation, the mission of the volunteers continues with the appropriate security measures against the coronavirus. ASN spoke with the world leader of the SVA, Pastor Elbert Kuhn, who said: “We are called for a purpose. And this purpose is to serve, to share hope and it is to allow us to be like a bridge connecting our message with people who do not know about hope, about the love of God.”

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site

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