Eighteen-year-old Ellen Chrystie Ferreira dos Santos lives in the city of Pirapora, population 56,229, in the central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. But neither the relatively small size of her city, nor its location, nor even the current COVID-19 pandemic, keep her from sharing the good news of Jesus with people.
Although she calls herself “shy,” dos Santos is today a leading online evangelist, conducting Bible studies with 100 people thanks to digital communications. Sitting at a table in her home, a printed Bible at her side, she can study with just about anyone who speaks her language of Portuguese. ASN, the news agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s South America Division, spoke recently with the young adult missionary.
How did the idea of studying the Bible with people on the internet come about?
In the month of March, our youth group, Generation 148, of Pirapora participated in the Mineira Norte Mission’s online contest. Among the challenges was for each of us to offer Bible studies online. I started to follow the studies, and soon I realized they already had 45 people who accepted.
What has this experience contributed to your spiritual life?
Months ago, I had surgery. During my recovery, I was a little sad and discouraged. Then the pandemic came, which worsened my physical and emotional state. However, through conducting online Bible studies, I have recovered physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Is there a specific day when you study with these people and how does it work?
Yes. I am always available, but I schedule the days and times according to their time and availability.
Step 1: I send the studies via WhatsApp with my email address, to receive the answers;
Step 2: The student enters the link and does one lesson at a time;
Step 3: For each answered study, the answers are sent to my email, and I grade the lessons.
Step 4: I continue to interact with the student through WhatsApp and we talk by video call to clarify doubts. It is very easy and practical.
Did you ever believe you’d study the Bible with 100 people via the internet?
I never imagined! Being shy, I had difficulties in offering personal Bible studies, but with social networks, the young adult’s main communications tool today, it is super peaceful and rewarding.
Would you recommend this to other young adults?
Yes for sure! Through this experience, I had a personal spiritual revival. Not only did I teach, but also I learned a lot from the Bible. And the main thing: I discovered my purpose, which is to help save people from sin and guide them in service.
Was there a particularly notable student in your group?
Yes, a young woman named Franciele. She was away from the church for months. Through this Bible study we started to interact, talk, and discuss spiritual topics.
She always showed interest and tried to find out more. Every time she had questions, she asked me and we talked on a video call so I could help with answers.
During the Bible studies, she invited her aunt and mother to join the studies as well. Today, these ladies are preparing for baptism.
What is your message for young people, so they can share the message of hope on social media?
We are in the middle of a pandemic, in which our hope is uncertain. There is chaos in health, education, even in life overall. We have two choices to make: either we cry over lost time and unfinished projects, or we stand up and make a difference. Let's live the Scripture that says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Youth ministry director Pastor Desudeth Filho praised dos Santos for her evangelism: “People buy products [on the Internet], study, research, and sell [things], so the preaching of the Gospel has to be adapted to reach them. In this period of the pandemic, this method proved to be unique and very efficient. God is using our young people to reach a highly connected audience.”