The bags were ready. In the truck were the family's belongings. More than 2,700 kilometers separated Lilian Silva Aranha, age 14, from her new life. Sao Paulo was left behind. João Pessoa, Paraíba, was her new home. “My mother wanted to be closer to my grandmother, so our family moved to another state,” says Lilian.
Although the family was united, the teenager noticed an emptiness in her heart, which increased every day. Loneliness began to accompany her, and it took a while for her to adapt. Previously, she attended a Christian church, but in the new capital, she could not find any churches of her denomination close to home. “I started to attend other religions because I always believed that God is one and that church signs don't matter,” she says. The emptiness continued to be a nuisance to her.
In 2020, the death of Lilian's grandmother deeply grieved the family. The young woman went into crisis, and after several days without being able to feed herself, she was admitted to a hospital, where she started to depend on medicine to support her grief. “I looked for support, but I felt very alone and had no one to turn to,” Lilian says.
After learning to live with grief, Lilian began to look for Christian content on the internet in order to receive some kind of comfort. “I searched for Christian series, and the results showed Fora de Série, a production by Feliz7Play. I devoured the content. One of the episodes was about the Sabbath. This caught my attention. Then another was talking about being a 'Pathfinder for a day.' I was curious about it and started researching the Pathfinders.”
The teenager adds that she still felt an emptiness in her heart, which grew because of the pandemic. “I had my friends from school, but the isolation made me feel even lonelier.”
While following content on the Feliz7Play platform, Lilian knew her family's plans, after her grandmother's death, were aimed at returning to São Paulo after she finished high school. Until that moment arrived, she continued researching Pathfinders. In her search, she found the movie A Melhor Aventura, also from Feliz7Play, and was moved by the whole story.
“One of the characters in the film was unable to go to the camp. I saw the union of that group in favor of the boy. The guys were always willing to help. Another character had a moment of sadness at the river, and friends were there for her. I thought it was really beautiful,” she says.
Lilian reveals she was always fascinated by the scout life she saw in American films, and that's why she dreamed of camping. A Christian since childhood, attending church was another passion. “A church that has a club that camps, hikes, and joins was all I wanted to experience. So I downloaded a Pathfinder app and researched if there was a club close to the neighborhood where I would live again in São Paulo. To my surprise, I found the Clube Águia de Haia, from the Adventist times of Polvilho, in Cajamar,” she explains.
Lilian then looked for the club on Instagram and sent a message. Eager to get a quick response, she contacted one of the girls who was tagged in the club's photos. “In December 2020, I sent a message to Thainá. Today, we are best friends. She brokered the club director's contact with me. We arranged a visit to the club, and shortly after I returned to São Paulo, I went for the first time to a meeting of the Clube de Desbravadores. I was so well received that I felt embraced,” emphasizes Lilian.
For Thainá Delfino, 17, Lilian's message came as a surprise. “I had no idea who she was, where she lived; I only knew her through Instagram. It was something surprising. Because of the pandemic, the club was not receiving so many visitors. She sent the message on a Saturday afternoon and asked about the club. That day, we met at church, so it was easier for her to find us. I was there when all of a sudden, I look back, and she appears. I was so happy! As soon as she arrived, she told us that she had 'marathoned' Fora de Série. What a miracle! We have a fruit of Feliz7Play in our club,” highlights Thainá.
The teenager adds that the leaders started to involve Lilian, not only in club meetings, but also in church events, including the Caleb Mission, which Lilian says was an amazing experience. “She insisted on being a missionary,” expresses Thainá.
According to Volemberg da Silva, director of the Clube Águia de Haia, Lilian's visit was timely. “We were already wrapping up the activities for the year, and she managed to attend the closing/investment ceremony. She followed everything. We exchanged contact with other club members to maintain communication, and in the following year, she started to attend meetings. She immediately showed an interest in studying the Bible and the doctrines of the Adventist Church, since she comes from another denomination.”
Lilian attended the Bible class promoted by the club, and though she was already baptized in another denomination, she decided to undergo a new baptism in the Adventist Church. After a year at the club, she was baptized by Pastor Henrique Silva in the same church she started to attend.
Currently, Lilian is a unit captain. She participates in constant training because she feels like leading a Pathfinder club someday. The young woman dreams of taking her mother, stepfather, and sisters to the Adventist Church. In fact, she has already introduced the Adventurers Club to her seven-year-old niece, who started attending it at the end of last year.
“Today, the Pathfinder Club means everything to me. I found a family, a network of friends that filled all the emptiness I felt in my heart. I can see Jesus in everything they do, and I feel motivated to continue this life journey until He comes back for us. Today, I feel happy, complete, and willing to help other people fill this void that has haunted me for so long,” she exclaims.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see the reach, dissemination, and engagement potential of social networks and virtual resources. We understand that the club needs to be virtually active and prepared to welcome people who find us in this way. Thus, we do our part and fulfill our objective: to save from sin and guide in service,” notes Volemberg.