ISSUE 236 â€“ July-September 2012 â€“ Year 64
Bible Society of Brazil
A Light that Shines for 50 Years Light in Amazonia: five decades providing medical and spiritual assistance to riverside dwellers. 1
The Bible in Brazil
SBB Digital First Steps with Jesus Bible on the App Store Featuring a very friendly interface, the "First Steps with Jesus Bible" app includes 20 biblical stories about God, His love and His promises. Children can explore the virtual setting of each biblical story through 50 touch sensitive animations in 20 pages, with narration, soundtrack and sound effects. Children can also listen to the stories and, at the same time, interact with the setting by playing the trumpets of the walls of Jericho, making the animals in Noah's Ark jump, moving Lazarus' tomb, or browsing the index and choosing a favorite story. The app is available for iPad on Apple's App Store for US$3.99.
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Children visiting an itinerant Bible exhibit organized by the Dutch Bible Society in November 2011.
Reestablishing the relevance of the Holy Bible in the Netherlands Overcoming the indifference towards the Word has been the challenge faced by the Dutch Bible Society. Making the Dutch people close again to the Word of God and ending the indifference towards the Holy Bible. This is the great challenge faced by the Dutch Bible Society (DBS), whose objective is to reestablish the relevance of the values and teachings contained in the Holy Book, in a country considered one of the most secularized in Europe. Over the past decades, 40% of the country's population–of about 16 million people–has been declaring themselves not religious. Thanks to the hard work carried out by the organization, especially with children and teenagers, the Bible Cause has been drawing more attention in the last few years. In order to popularize God's Word among the Dutch, the organization joined two years ago The Passion project, which consists in staging Jesus Christ's death and resurrection during Holy Thursday. In 2012, the event took place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands' second largest city. This modern version of Christ's Passion, starring Dutch artists, was broadcast live on TV and the Internet. “It was one of the ways we found to make the Dutch closer to the Word by helping to explain the importance and the meaning of Easter. The results have been very positive, since the performance was seen by more than two million people,” said Cees Jan Visser, Dutch Bible Society's General Director. Another project developed by the organization is The Bible in Plain Dutch, a translation of the Holy Scriptures
into an easy-to-understand language. “The objective is to bring the Word of God to those who speak Dutch as a second language or have difficulty to read in our language,” said Visser. This translation of the Holy Bible will be released in 2014 during the celebrations of the Dutch Bible Society's bicentennial. Fostering biblical values among future generations is another concern of the organization. Therefore, the Kids Express project was developed targeting children up to 11 years old. The activity, developed in partnership with the Dutch Protestant Church, consisted in organizing caravans that visit the entire country. Each one focuses in one specific biblical story and value by creating questions and answers games, thus encouraging children to learn the teachings from the Bible. The Internet, an important means of evangelization, is also used as a tool to promote the Bible Cause in the Netherlands. The Dutch Bible Society's Web Portal contains translations of the Bible into Dutch and other languages. And the organization is developing an electronic illustrated Bible for children. “Th is website will have information for adults, as well as games and other materials for children. We also use other means to spread the Word, such as Facebook and Twitter,” said Cees Jan Visser. ■
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Photos: SBB File
Honoris Causa Degree Awarded to Bible Society of Brazil's Executive Director Rudi Zimmer, Bible Society of Brazil's Executive Director, has been awarded, on May 18, the honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) degree by Concordia Seminary, located in Saint Louis, Missouri (USA), conferred by the institution where he obtained his Doctor of Theology (Th.D., 1980) degree. Zimmer was awarded the degree of “Doctor of Letters” in recognition of his work at Bible Society of Brazil (SBB) and the United Bible Societies (UBS)–whose Global Board he chairs–“as exemplified by his leadership in translating, publishing and distributing the Word of God around the world, as well as for his rigorous and profound academic work” (as expressed in the diploma). The following people were honored as well: Laurence Lumpe, Concordia Historical Institute's Executive Director, with the Christus Vivit Award; Paul Zimmerman, former president of three Concordia University schools, with the
Distinto Alumnus Award; and Héctor Hoppe, senior editor at Concordia Publishing House, with the honorary Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) degree. Zimmer joined Bible Society of Brazil 20 years ago, initially as the Coordinator of the Translation Committee, then as the person in charge of implementing the Translation & Publications Department, in 1995. Later he took up the position of Secretary in this area. And, since 2005, he is the organization's Executive Director. Zimmer, for over two decades, was a professor of Theology, firstly at Concórdia Seminary, in Porto Alegre (State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), and then at Concórdia Institute's School of Theology in São Paulo (Brazil), where he was also General Director for eight years. He also holds an MBA degree in Corporate Management from Fundação Instituto de Administração (FIA).
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Photo: SBB File
Colporteurs on Wheels Couple has the mission of spreading the Word of God throughout Brazil. Love, an adventurous spirit, and the will to do God's work. These feelings move the couple Jairo and Inês Beatriz Vieira da Costa through roads in several Brazilian states. They are the Colporteurs on Wheels. Their objective is to bring the Word to Christians who live in small and medium towns that often do not have bookstores because they are far from large urban centers. Since 2009, when they could finally realize the dream of having a car suitable for this work, they travel in a van loaded with Bibles and other Christian publications. They focus mainly on the states of Goiás, Tocantins, Rondônia and Acre. But they also cover parts of the states of Maranhão and Minas Gerais. The inspiration for the work came when Jairo was just 15 years old and considered it very difficult to own a Bible. “I was walking down a crowded street in São Paulo and saw a sign: Bibles for Sale. I went in and bought one. I was stunned by how easy it was to do that. That's how I had the idea of selling Bibles. I wanted to show other people how easy it was,” he recalls. At first, he used to resell Bibles just to his neighbors and friends, in addition to people he met in the streets of São Paulo. Then, he started to visit churches bringing models of Bibles so people could choose. Jairo–already married to Inês Beatriz–worked at a food processing plant, but decided to focus on the work as a colporteur. “Traveling alone and leaving my family behind was very 5
hard, but I felt part of God's plan and selling Bibles was my job,” says Jairo Costa. Then the couple started to travel in a small car, and had to unload the books in each town in order to sell them. In 2009, a friend helped them to buy a van. “It was wonderful,” says Jairo with emotion. The new vehicle improved the work conditions, and allowed them to stay more time on the road, since now they can carry more products, in addition to providing visibility to the couple through stories on the press. By the end of 2012 they intend to refurbish the internal area and additional shelves to display products on the doors. “The idea is to have more room to carry things and more organization when displaying the books,” explains the colporteur. The couple have two main itineraries that they follow for about three months trying to visit more towns every time. They just stop during the first months of the year and in July, when they visit their 20-year-old son who lives in São Paulo. In average, they sell approximately ten thousand Holy Bibles per year. “In 2009, we received a sales certificate from Bible Society of Brazil for reaching the milestone of distributing more than 12 thousand copies during the year,” celebrates Jairo Costa. Although they are happy with what they have already accomplished, the Colporteurs on Wheels want to expand their area of operation. “Brazil is a beautiful country, and, one day, we'll be able to say that we were everywhere bringing the Word that saves lives,” concludes Jairo Costa. ■
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Photo: Joaquim Manoel Brandão
The handwritten Holy Book was compiled in seven volumes and is on display at the State's Public Records Ofﬁce building.
Handwritten Bible Arrives in Mato Grosso The state is the first to receive the copy handwritten by more than 9,000 people and compiled in seven volumes. Being the first state to complete the copy of the Holy Scriptures, Mato Grosso received the edition of the Handwritten Bible on April 12, during as special session held at State Legislature in Cuiabá. Conceived by Bible Society of Brazil (SBB), the Handwritten Bible project reminds that the Holy Book was preserved, before the invention of the printing press, and transmitted through handwritten copies, thus ensuring that the Word of God was kept alive until today. Mato Grosso's Handwritten Bible–with 3,368 pages copied by hand by 9,361 people–was compiled in seven volumes and is in display at the State's Public Records Office building. The copies were received during the event by César Zilio, the State's Secretary of Administration, representing Governor Sinval Barbosa. “As a Christian, it's wonderful to see the Lord work through His Word,” said Zilio. The project was coordinated in the state by Edvaldo José Gonzaga, President of SBB's local Chapter. Gonzaga pointed out that, without integration, the state would not have been the first to complete the task. “Without the support from the government, NGOs a churches of several denominations we would not have completed the copy of the Bible in such a short period of time,” complemented Gonzaga. According to Erní Seibert, SBB's Communications & Social Outreach Secretary, the project achieved the goal of drawing attention to the Bible Cause. "The initiative was conceived to make God's Word closer to the people, an 6
objective in sync with SBB's mission, which is to bring the Holy Bible to everyone, in a language they understand and for a price they can afford," said Seibert. Eude Martins, General Coordinator of the Handwritten Bible project and SBB's Special Projects Adviser, showed satisfaction with the results achieved and explained that the project does not end with the delivery of the Handwritten Bible to the respective states. “The purpose of revisiting the Word of God continues alive, since the editions are available for consultation on the Internet. The copyists, properly identified in a list divided by state, will be able to relive that moment by printing the page that he/she copied or showing it to friends and family members,” said Martins. In addition to Mato Grosso, two other states that joined the project have already received the handwritten editions: Rio Grande do Norte, on May 21; and Espírito Santo, on June 4. In 2012, the copies of Rio Grande do Sul, Sergipe, Alagoas, Rio de Janeiro and Rondônia will be delivered. The Handwritten Bibles of Mato Grosso, Sergipe, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondônia, Alagoas, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro can be seen on the website www.bibliamanuscrita.org.br. There are states finishing the copy of the Holy Book. The editions from São Paulo, Pará, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Piauí, Roraima, Amapá, Acre and Ceará will be concluded during the second half of 2012. However, they will only be available on the project's website in 2013. ■
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With an estimated population of 24,000 people, the Terenas are settled in Mato Grosso do Sul.
Effective Social Outreach Terenas celebrate 100 years of Christian evangelization showing the transforming effects of God's Word. From June 13 to 15, in the town of Anastácio (Mato Grosso do Sul), the Terenas celebrated the centenary of Christian evangelization. Organized by the United Churches of Anastácio and led by Jader Jorge de Oliveira, a pastor from the Terena people, the event intends to show the evangelization among indigenous peoples as an effective social outreach activity. “We want to make our faith public by showing how the Word of God changed our lives,” said Jader de Oliveira. During three days, the event was attended by more than two thousand people celebrating the Hanaiti Ituko’oviti (Great God). The Terenas wanted to show how evangelization contributed to the preservation of their language and culture. “It was a great opportunity to show that, after 100 years of Christian evangelization, the Terenas maintained their culture. The mysticism and occultism, which always characterized indigenous peoples, are present in the Terena culture as well. And those who want to adopt them are free to do so. But that's not what guides us,” explained the pastor. Originally from the Chaco region in Paraguay, the Terenas settled in the area that today corresponds to the State of Mato Grosso do Sul after being expelled from their territory because of the Paraguayan War (1864-1870). With an estimated population of 24 thousand people, according to FUNASA (Brazilian National Health Foundation), the agency in charge of caring for the health of indigenous peoples, the Terenas were evangelized by the Scottish missionaries Henrique Whittington and John Hay beginning in 1912. 7
The centenary celebrations are considered an act for the religious freedom of this people. “Like other Brazilians, we want to be free to declare our faith in Jesus Christ. Unlike isolated indigenous peoples that require assistance and guidance from FUNAI (Brazilian National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples), the Terenas have an active voice and can defend their culture, especially because they are integrated to the Brazilian society,” says Pastor Oliveira. The preservation of the Terena language was also possible thanks to the missionaries. As with other Brazilian minority languages, this language was oral, so it had no graphic record. This work was carried out by linguist Elizabeth Ekdahl, who lived for more than 50 years among the Terenas. One of the fruits of this work was the translation of the New Testament into the language, launched in 1994. According to Pastor Jader Oliveira, now children can learn to read and write both in Portuguese and in the language of their people. “The missionaries helped us ensure the survival of our language,” he concludes. ■
Through the SBB's Affinity Bible project, ALEM (Evangelical Missionary Linguistics Association) and CONPLEI (National Council of Evangelical Indigenous Pastors and Leaders) missions–that, in 2012, celebrate their 20th and 30th anniversary, respectively–launched a Bible to celebrate the 100 years of evangelization of the Terenas.
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Photo: Mauro Frason
Realization of a Dream Missionary work carried out by doctors contributes to the expansion of the Light in Brazil program. When she was a recently graduated cardiologist, Chiu Yun Braga had a dream: do missionary work that would combine medical assistance with evangelization in destitute communities. Together with her husband, she developed and put into practice a project that since 2008 is part of Bible Society of Brazil's Light in Brazil program. The idea came up in the late 1990s, when the doctor participated in trips of the Assistance on Wings mission, an initiative that used airplanes and boats to provide medical assistance and spread God's Word to riverside and indigenous populations in Brazil's Middle West region. “As I'm from Curitiba, I realized that in my home state, Paraná, this work could be developed with a bus. It was a desire to do a more comprehensive work for God by helping those needing medical assistance and God's message,” she tells. When she got married to the general practitioner Darci Martins Braga, she shared this dream, and they worked together to make it come true. In 2007, in a moment of revolt against the terrible standard of the health care provided to many people, Darci Braga heard a calling from God. “I felt God was encouraging me to do something to improve life in destitute communities, instead of just complaining. We decided to act at that moment,” he tells. With their own resources, the couple bought and refurbished a bus in order to, at last, start the operation of the Assistance on Wheels project. 8
For over one year they traveled around the State of Paraná providing assistance to the most destitute communities through partnerships with local pastors. Light in Southern Brazil In 2008, when he was invited to participate in an event organized by Bible Society of Brazil (SBB), Darci Braga learned about the Light in Amazonia project, which was very similar to the Assistance on Wheels. “I decided to tell people from SBB about our work and they were very enthusiastic about it. They were looking exactly for a practice like ours to expand the Light in Brazil program to the South of Brazil,” says the doctor. “That's how our project became the Light in Southern Brazil, of which today we're volunteers. With the participation of SBB, the initiative now has a better structure and more volunteers. We expanded and improved the project,” stresses Chiu Braga. For SBB, the Assistance on Wheels bus appeared as an ideal option to provide aid, mainly, to towns in the Ribeira Valley region (State of Paraná) using the same strategy of the Light in Amazonia program. “The objective is to provide assistance by combining health care, education, citizenship and biblical message. The inspiring work developed by this couple is being boosted through partnerships with local networks of assistance, combining public
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Photos: Gilson Abreu
Chiu and Darci Braga working during one of the trips of the Light in Southern Brazil project to the Ribeira Valley region.
services and NGOs, which follow up on the services provided by the bus. Therefore, the effect is more lasting because it draws attention and commitment from agents within the region,” says Emilene Araújo, SBB's Social Outreach Manager. Between 2008 and 2011, 37 trips were made with the Assistance on Wheels bus, where Light in Southern Brazil volunteers carried out more than 20,000 procedures. In addition to the expansion of the structure and the increase in the number of volunteers, SBB by adopting the project allowed to focus more on assisting children, through activities like reading, painting and theater, in order to teach them biblical values. An Exemplary Case The Light in Southern Brazil project's most important results are the lives being touched through the assistance. “We have an exemplary case of this transformation.
One day, we were working in a small town when a man approached us and he was very suspicious of why we were doing everything for free. He even asked if the books were for sale. We explained that everything was free and that we were doing it in the name of God. He watched us work all day long, and, by the end of the day, he understood that we were there just moved by faith. He'd been away from the church for over 20 years, and, because of our work, he went back. When we returned to that town, he worked as a volunteer and helped us a lot. He noticed that the most important value is Jesus,” tells the doctor. According to her, the reward is that her dream grew and now is important to more people. “It's very gratifying to see that dream, which God showed us so many years ago, today is a reality that is saving lives through medicine and evangelization, Now, we must keep working to increase the reach of the Light in Southern Brazil project by giving more space to volunteers. Th is work changes them as well,” she says. In the next few years the couple wants to work to provide more services by offering dental, ophthalmologic and gynecological assistance. They are already making plans to seek partnerships with equipment manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and clinical tests laboratories. “The dream keeps growing,” says the doctor. “We'll keep working and trying to obtain resources to expand,” she concludes. ■
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Photo: Joaquim Manoel Brandão
Young Evangelist Movement is created to form a network to spread the Gospel. Encourage evangelization actions targeting young people. This is the great mission of the Young Evangelist Movement, a program created by Bible Society of Brazil (SBB) in order to connect the Brazilian youth to the Word of God. Inspired by the successful Partner in Evangelism program, the Young Evangelist Movement was introduced to hundreds of young people from different denominations during the Training in Evangelization with Literature events held in Cuiabá (State of Mato Grosso) (photo 1), João Pessoa (State of Paraíba) (photo 2), Vitória (State of Espírito Santo) (photo 3) and Boa Vista (State of Mato Grosso) (photo 4). With this movement SBB wants to include evangelistic activities in the schedule of churches and youth groups. “The program was created for young people who know the Gospel and would like to share it with other young people, but without having a clear strategy on how to do so,” explained Mário Rost, SBB's Institutional Development Manager and coordinator of the program. Therefore, SBB developed biblical literature with language and appearance suitable for this segment of the population. “Those materials will create opportunities for the Word of God to be sown in the hearts of the Brazilian youth,” he complemented. The details of the program and biblical literature available were presented during the meetings. Humberto 10
Sobrinho, president of the New Alliance Assembly of God youth group in Cuiabá (State of Mato Grosso), said that the Young Evangelist Movement fits perfectly into the evangelistic work developed by the church. “This program is in sync with our desire to evangelize by overcoming a deficiency that had been detected in our work: the lack of customized materials for evangelizing young people,” he said. One of the materials that drew the most attention was the Bible Reading Plan, with contents extracted and adapted from the book “My First Year with Jesus,” by Davi Lago and Lúcio Barreto Junior, which encourages young people to read 40 chapters that summarize the entire message of the Bible. This proposal for evangelization fits perfectly into the project developed by the Peace Baptist Church of Vargem Grande in Cuiabá (State of Mato Grosso). The student Jennifer Figueiredo, leader of the Youth Impact group, linked to this denomination, said that the Young Evangelist Movement came at the right time. “This program will be fundamental for the implementation of our project, because it offers a reading plan that will help young people to evangelize other young people,” she said. Davi Lago, one of the authors of the book that inspired the Bible Reading Plan, emphasized the importance of
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Photo: SBB File
Sowing the Word of God in the Heart of the Brazilian Youth 2
Evangelization for the evangelization of young people. SBB also offers special biblical literature to young people, such as Study Bibles, Bibles with Notes for Young People, and Bible editions with a modern and bold design. All Bibles feature the biblical text of the New Translation in Today's Language (NTLH), a translation that is easy to understand. And there are Bible Portions and pamphlets focused on this audience too. The materials can be acquired by joining the Young Evangelist Movement. Another way of being part of the Young Evangelist Movement is by "liking" the Movement's page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jovemevangelizador); by promoting the Movement's page among your group; and by committing to regularly pray, read the Bible and sow its message among the youth. The Young Evangelist Movement page on Facebook always features news about the Movement, available materials, evangelization and mobilization activities, and information on meetings to exchange experiences. The page is also a communication channel for the members of the Young Evangelist Movement, allowing them to share testimonies, in addition, of course, of being a place to talk about Jesus Christ and his message. ■
Photo: Regina Silva
Photo: Evaristo Jorge Manzi
SBB leading a program that encourages young people to have a good biblical background in order to evangelize other young people. “It's during the youth that one's character is formed. By encouraging young people to read the Bible, SBB accomplishes its mission of spreading the Word of God, thus ensuring the future of Christianity,” he said. According to Mário Rost, coordinator of the program, the evangelization begins within the church itself by empowering young Christians. Another mission of the Young Evangelist Movement is to expand its scope by reaching young people distant from God's Word. The source of inspiration to achieve this objective is the text from Jeremiah 1:7, used as the basis for the program: “But the LORD said to me, Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to, and tell them everything I command you to say." (GNT) Considering this evangelism action, SBB makes specific materials available in partnership with AMME
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A Light that Shines for 50 Years A series of special events will mark the 50th anniversary of the Light in Amazonia program, the precursor of other projects developed by SBB (Bible Society of Brazil) to offer medical and spiritual assistance to destitute communities. -"What can Bible Society of Brazil do to help churches distribute the Bible in the Amazonian region?" "We really need a Bible Boat here.” Th is dialog between Reverend Luiz Antonio Giraldi, former SBB's Executive Director, and Christian leaders gathered in Manaus (State of Amazonas) in 1962 was inspiring. The Light in Amazonia program was created that same year in order to provide medical, social and spiritual assistance to riverside communities. Today, after 50 years, this outreach initiative is part of life in the region. In the last 10 years alone, 118,000 people living in conditions of extreme need were benefited on the banks of the Amazon River.
“The importance of the outreach work carried out by the Light in Amazonia program has been recognized not only by the volunteers and the population assisted by the boat, but also by governments,” says Giraldi. He points out that, in 1999, the State of Pará awarded the Public Interest Certificate to SBB. A similar recognition was granted by the city of Belém in 2001. The activities of the program currently are carried out with the support of the "Luz na Amazônia III" clinic-boat and "Luz na Amazônia II Bible Boat", both designed to navigate the Amazonian Basin in periodic trips with predetermined itineraries. The clinicboat is equipped with infi rmary, medical and dental consultation rooms, pharmacy and a clinical laboratory, which enables emergency treatments and small surgeries to be performed. The inaugural trip of the Light in Amazonia program took place on December 8, 1962, with a modest wooden freight boat acquired with the help from the Scottish Bible Society. Th is vessel served the lower Amazonian region population until 1990, when it was replaced by December 8, 1962: Bible Society of Brazil launches the Light in Amazonia program to bring the guidance and hope of God's Word to Amazonian riverside communities
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Photos: SBB File | Jaime Souzza | Maurice Harvey | Pinto | Silvestre Silva
“Luz na Amazônia II”, an iron clinic-boat specially designed to navigate that region acquired with resources provided by the Canadian Bible Society. In 1997, “Luz na Amazônia III,” a new boat made of steel and suitable for 20day trips, was put into service. Th is vessel provided a decisive momentum to achieve the program's objectives: improve the quality of life of riverside dwellers; promote their social transformation; promote their spiritual and cultural development; strengthen family ties; and increase the visibility of the region's social reality.
“Light in Amazonia, perhaps more than any other of our programs, combines all those aspects in its activities for riverside communities. Its characteristics inspired the development of other similar programs in other regions of Brazil, besides being used as model by other Bible Societies worldwide. In addition to fulfi lling its role in the North of Brazil, the initiative has an inspiring role that goes beyond its immediate geographical location,” explains Rudi Zimmer, SBB's Executive Director. Acyr de Gerone Junior, SBB's Regional Secretary in Belém, says that the reach of the Light in Amazonia program can only be fully understood and analyzed by taking into account the local geographical and social context. “The Amazonian region is full of contrasts, including being an area rich in resources with a poor population in its majority,” he says. The extreme needs of Amazonian The Amazonian region is full of contrasts. A rich biodiversity on one hand, and population facing poor conditions on the other. It's one of the regions with the lowest Human Development Index and per capita income of Brazil.
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communities can be seen, for example, in the low Human Development Index (HDI), the high child mortality rates and low life expectancy of the region. According to Gerone Junior, the region also faces severe environmental and agrarian issues, exclusion, isolation, illiteracy, child and slave labor, violence, sexual exploitation, diseases, famine, and human trafficking. Complementary Activities The two vessels that currently operate in the program are used for distinct, yet complementary, purposes in the States of Pará, Amazonas and Amapá. “The main goal of
The main sources of subsistence of riverside dwellers are açai ﬁshing, hunting, and cassava growing.
the 'Luz na Amazônia II' Bible Boat–considered a true floating bookstore–is to offer Scriptures for affordable prices, thus making it easier for people, who otherwise would not have access to other bookstores, to acquire them,” explains Erní Seibert, SBB's Communications & Social Outreach Secretary. Th is year the Bible Boat was completely refurbished to include a larger and more modern bookstore, focused on the public, in addition to a cultural area called Bible Museum. The "Luz na Amazônia III" visits small communities on the banks of the region's rivers and streams. They consist of riverside populations that have their own socioeconomic characteristics. Those communities, which are far from urban centers, are very isolated. The only "roads" are the rivers, and the most common means of transport are called “casquinhos”–small rowing boats. And most communities do not have health care facilities or schools. “In 2011, the program benefited 26,437 people through 63,056 procedures in 32 communities reached in 64 trips,” tells Erní Seibert. The investments during the year totaled R$2,128,110.62. In December, considered a critical period–inter-harvest period of açai, shortage of fish, and low income–, the Light in Amazonia program develops the harvesting, “Riverside Christmas” campaign. SBB is
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Exclusion, isolation, illiteracy, child and slave labor, violence, sexual exploitation, diseases, famine, and human trafﬁcking. Those are some of the problems faced by riverside populations.
assisted by partners and volunteers to carry out special activities in order to bring a little material and spiritual comfort to the population benefited by the program in the State of Pará. In 2011, they distributed 3,450 biblical publications, 1,154 kits for schools, 2,594 toys, 13,000 items of clothing, 1,300 items of footwear, and 2,459 snacks to 22 riverside communities. Comprehensive Action At fi rst, the Light in Amazonia program's task was to improve and expand the distribution of Bibles in the Amazonian region. The initial project of supplying Scriptures and colportage (offering religious books doorto-door) was soon expanded, becoming also a project of philanthropy, medical, dental and pharmaceutical assistance, and donation of clothing and food. Over time, the "Luz na Amazônia" colportage boat became a hospital-boat. Placídia Rodrigues da Rosa, a Clinical Pathology technician and volunteer since 1984, tells that she started contributing in the pioneering wooden vessel. She worked ate Federal University of Pará's Medicine School when the partnership agreement with SBB was signed. “Back then, many islands didn't have electric power,” she recalls. In August, Placídia will turn 68 years old, and she assures that she still has the strength 15
to keep working in the project, which only brings back good memories. The volunteer says she gets happy seeing that people are diagnosed and treated. “Once a woman kissed the boat, said that she had dreamed about it, that it was sent by God, and we all were very moved.” During the fi rst two decades, the Light in Amazonia program distributed Scriptures and offered spiritual and outreach assistance through donations. In 1980, the program started to provide medical assistance, and, in the 1990s, it started to offer dental and clinical lab assistance as well. In 2003, a new work methodology was implemented focused on prevention in the areas of outreach assistance, health care and culture through activities and projects with higher potential to change social reality. In order to accomplish that, SBB signed
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Dozens of rivers and streams ﬂow through the Amazonian region and are home for 33,000 riverside communities.
the fi rst partnership agreement with Federal University of Pará (UFPA). Over the past ten years, the Light in Amazonia program made 410 trips, benefiting 117,981 people, from 23,039 families, in 258,363 procedures. More than 1,700 volunteers have been involved in this work. “The experience with Light in Amazonia shows us the dimension of God's Word transforming power. In addition to providing medical and outreach assistance that is so important for the region, the distribution of Scriptures is received with a lot of joy because it brings hope, a very valuable sentiment for residents of such communities,” explains Erní Seibert, SBB's Communications & Social Outreach Secretary. Agricultural worker Lourenço da Silva Oliveira, from Genipaúba (town of Acará), is an example of a riverside dweller whose life has been changed by the program. “To us, Light in Amazonia means a light of truth. My fi rst contact with the Bible and the fi rst time I received medical assistance was through the program. The Bible is everything in the life of any human being. It teaches people to lead a new life. Today I consider myself a more civilized person.” Roselene de Oliveira Conceição, also from Genipaúba, reads the Bible she received every day. “Today, I have God in my heart. I’ll never forget that Light in Amazonia saved my son’s life. He was treated and received medicine, and I learned to take better care 16
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of him on a daily basis. I raise my hands to the sky and thank God for that day,” she tells. Maria Eunice de Moraes Ramos, resident in Vila de Arapiranga (town of Barbacena) and also benefited by the program, praises the initiative. “Light in Amazonia is very important to us, because it brings both spiritual remedy and material remedy. When we need assistance, we have to travel hours by boat, and, many occasions, there's no enough time. I thank God for your work.” José do Carmo e Silva, from Combu Island (city of Belém), works harvesting açai and planting cocoa. “There are times in life that only God can help us, and reading the Bible is like a balm that relieves the pain. Light in Amazonia is very necessary. Here we need a lot of help. But we know that there are people in the Amazonian region who need it more than us.” Commemorative Program The celebrations of Light in Amazonia 50th anniversary are taking place in Belém (State of Pará), the city where the boats "Luz da Amazônia II" and "Luz da Amazônia III" remain docked between trips. The fi rst event was an itinerant exhibit of photos and testimonies on display at Estação das Docas from May 7 to 19. “The collection of images, compiled over the years, was enriched with the statements from volunteers and people benefited by the program. We had another opportunity to draw everyone's attention to the reality and the needs of this region,” says Seibert. 17
In most of the homes there is no electric power, sewerage system, or piped water. The water used for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing comes from the river. The main means of transport are called "casquinhos" (small rowing boats), and the "roads" are the rivers.
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A special activity was organized on July 27 for volunteers, partners, churches, Christian leaderships and customers from several regions of Brazil. It was a commemorative trip to Ilha Grande, a community that has been assisted by the Light in Amazonia program for a long time. The literary contest “Light among Children” is being prepared for children. Children up to 12 years old– enrolled at schools in riverside communities assisted by Light in Amazonia–will be able to participate by writing a composition about the theme. The celebrations will be closed on September 15 with an event held at the First Baptist Church of Pará. Light in Brazil The positive impacts generated by the Light in Amazonia program motivated SBB to expand its scope
by replicating the successful experience to other regions of the country with the establishment of the Light in Brazil program in 2008. Currently, the initiative includes three other important projects: Light in Southern Brazil and Light in Southeastern Brazil, each having its own clinic-bus; and Light in Northeastern Brazil, which uses a clinic-truck to travel through the region. SBB launched other programs, according to Rudi Zimmer, the organization's Executive Director, due to a combination of aspects. There was a need to share the Word of God with people from the communities assisted, not only by delivering a Bible, a New Testament or a booklet, but also through storytelling and other performances. The example of volunteers made a great difference too. “Many times, delivering a Bible is relatively easy, but living its message in situations like those found in the communities assisted is a powerful testimony. Furthermore, the Light in Amazonia program taught us how to work with other partners, whose goal is to assist those who really need help as well. The results achieved are clearly highly positive and blessed,” concludes Zimmer. ■
The Bible in Brazil
Cover The Meaning of Light in Amazonia Partners, volunteers, people benefited and former employees talk about the transforming effects of the program on life and riverside communities. Abimael Pereira, volunteer for almost 20 years: “I'm part of a project that saves lives. And I have the opportunity to see people changing and transforming their reality, conditions of living, and health. Light in Amazonia opened my mind to the truth of Christianity. I learned to listen to people and be sensitive to their needs. Light in Amazonia has taught me that everyone, regardless of social standing, ethnicity, status, group, is a human being needing to feel loved. And that's living the love of Christ.” Lia Parente, retired nurse, volunteer for 13 years: “If it weren't for Light in Amazonia... Spiritual transformation is essential. The Word of God can change everything. We start by showing that everything in the Bible one can find in nature. It seems that they open their closed eyes. It fits very well, and then life flows smoothly. It's a great privilege to work in Light in Amazonia; it's a school where I'll never stop learning and graduate.” Marli de Melo, Assistant Professor from Federal University of do Pará, partner in Light in Amazonia for eight years: “It's a unique opportunity for the university. Maintaining a boat is very hard. And the students can leave the confines of universities and use their knowledge to help the communities. The university remained closed just to students and professors for many years. It's an opportunity to get acquainted with our people. Medicine students didn't know the reality faced by riverside dwellers.”
Domingas do Carmo Pereira Monteiro, Aura community:
“Light in Amazonia encourages people to improve; it doesn't just deliver ready solutions. Light in Amazonia works with prevention and spreads the Word of God. The rate of child prostitution was very high before. But, today, we no longer see it in the community.” Wilson Ferrreira Duarte, Captain of the "Luz na Amazônia" boat for 41 years: “I'm 72 years old, and have a lot of respect for the Word of God. It encourages me to face the 'storms.' I've learned that the best thing in life is the friendship of riverside dwellers. I have worked with love and joy, and planted a seed. My replacement is my son. Bringing the Word of God to riverside dwellers is very important.” Mário Araújo, açaí harvester and leader of Espírito Santo community: “Light in Amazonia brings something very interesting, the Word of God, because it changes our communities, our lives. A new light appears at the end of the tunnel when we know that Light in Amazonia is coming.” Maria José, teacher and leader of Ilha Grande community: “This project helped me after I reached rock bottom. I like to think SBB came to the island to assist me. I was in the desert. I had lost my brother and my husband. And my daughter was in a serious accident. They pulled me out of rock bottom by conveying care, love, and security.”
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A great experience. That's how I can describe the first time the Light in Amazonia boat visited my community, Barcarena. Until then, we suffered with the chaos of the public health care system. As we live in a very distant community, which is hard to access, medical assistance is almost nonexistent. Such isolation turns diseases that could be easily treated into epidemics. Every year children suffer from a fever caused by sudden changes of temperatureâ€“from cold to hot. That's precisely the problem that made us ask for help. As the boat did not come to our community, we decided to bring a few sick people to where it was anchored. And we were received with open arms. Everyone received medical assistance, but not just that. We were welcomed by the volunteers. They paid attention to our complaints, really trying to find a solution for each case. We were treated like human beings, like people who have the right to decent medical assistance. The deplorable situation of our community made Bible Society of Brazil (SBB) include us in the boat's itinerary. It was a blessing. Everyone celebrated when it arrived for the first time at our community. Men, women and children wore their best clothes. Everybody had an opportunity to
Photo: Jaime Souzza
Word that brings relief to the body and the spirit
receive quality medical assistance, thanking the moment Light in Amazonia entered our lives. More than bringing relief to our bodies, the program also brought a little peace to our spirits. The beautiful words said by the volunteers encouraged us to look for God's things. We formed Bible study groups, and organized devotional meetings. The Word of God changed numerous families, including mine. I had no interest in the Bible. When I had a serious problem, I realized that, instead of crying, I could seek comfort in the Word of God. Ana Maria Pereira Gomes, 40 years old, resident of Olaria community (town of Barcarena, State of ParĂĄ), benefited by the Light in Amazonia program.
The Bible in Brazil
Photo: Eduardo Cesar
Bible in Action
Ten Years of the Bible in Braille in Portuguese Date is celebrated with a special event and a literary contest for the visually impaired. A decade ago, Bible Society of Brazil (SBB) launched the first edition of the Bible in Braille in Portuguese. An unprecedented initiative that has been providing access to the Holy Book to the visually impaired and promoting social inclusion and cultural development through God's Word, in addition to offering spiritual support. In order to celebrate this milestone, SBB prepared a series of activities, including the fourth edition of the literary contest for the visually handicapped with the theme "Bible in Braille in my Life: 10 Years of History." “We've decided to celebrate this date in a different way. We'll hold a literary contest exclusively for blind people because we want to know how the Bible in Braille impacted their lives,” said Emilene Araújo, SBB's Social Outreach Manager. The winners of the contest will be announced on September 22. A special edition of the Meeting of Visually Handicapped People will be held on this date, at the Bible Museum in Barueri (State of São Paulo), to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bible in Braille launch. Almost 60 Years of History The mission of bringing the Bible to the visually impaired began in 1954. But before the implementation of
the Braille Press, at the Bible Printing Press, SBB imported Bible Portions in Braille from other countries. It also offered texts in large print to partially sighted people. Another resource was the Bible in Audio, still used today by this audience. Back then, excerpts of the Holy Book were recorded on vinyl records, and today, with the technological evolution, the full Bible is offered on CD. Erní Seibert, SBB's Communications & Social Outreach Secretary, says it is possible to observe the changes made by the Holy Scriptures in Braille in the lives of the visually impaired. “Regarding the cultural aspect, for example, many of the people benefited could not read Braille and learned because of the Bible. Concerning the spiritual aspect, the biblical message brought hope and the strength to overcome obstacles to them. And it also enabled inclusion and autonomy in the social aspect,” he observed. Consisting of 38 volumes, the full Bible in Braille features the biblical text of the New Translation in Today's Language (NTLH), which adopts a grammar and language structure closer to the one spoken by Brazilians. SBB has been making a huge effort to offer the Holy Scriptures in Braille to this audience due to the high cost of the publication. The full Bible in Braille costs R$1,260.00 (about US$600) in spiral binding or R$2,660.00 (about R$1,300) in hardcover.
The Bible in Brazil
It's Kickoff Time Fair Play Brazil–a movement that intends to put the Word of God in evidence during major sporting events–launched in São Paulo. Create a giant mobilization of Christian athletes, churches and organizations to spread the biblical message and principles during the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games both events will be held in Brazil. This is the objective of Fair Play Brazil, a movement coordinated by Bible Society of Brazil (SBB) launched nationally on April 24 at the Presbyterian Cultural Center in São Paulo. “Our great challenge is to convey the biblical message in the language of sports,” explained Rudi Zimmer, SBB's Executive Director, to the 250 people who attended the event. Eude Martins, the event's master of ceremonies and general coordinator of Fair Play Brazil, started by explaining the initiative. “This event is focused on the Holy Bible, and we're here because we love the Word of God,” he said. Roberto Morales, intercession and chaplaincy pastor from the First Baptist Church of Santo André, said the evening's prayer. Pastor Ricardo Ximenes, Christian Athletes Association's Executive Director, read 1 Corinthians 9:22-27. “We, as Christians, must put everything into context in order to reach more people,” he pointed out, mentioning the example of Apostle Paul who in Corinth, at the time of the Isthmian Games, wrote in a way people could understand the message of Christ. Marcos Grava, Athletes in Christ Association's VicePresident, when introducing the Fair Game video, revealed that the work was done to awaken hearts. “It summarizes, in a few images, what the country expects of each of us,” he said. Rudi Zimmer opened his message by exalting the “memorable moment,” and said that the practice of sports 22
has elements applicable to the Christian faith and life, but pointing out that the prize is a laurel wreath that lasts forever. He also stressed that the movement must be seen as a challenge for a race where all Christians are role models. “The greatest of all runners is Jesus Christ. He didn't let the cross make him give up,” emphasized Zimmer. Kickoff Members of the movement's Steering Committee– formed by SBB, AMME Evangelization, Christian Athletes Association, Brazilian Coalition for Sports and National Evangelical Social Outreach Network (RENAS)–introduced themselves to the audience. Pastor José Bernardo, founder and president of AMME, talked about the joy of participating in the movement. “We've already devised strategies, carried out training sessions, and now it's kickoff time,” he said. Fair Play Brazil, according to José Bernardo, will contribute to help Christian churches reach 100 million people, supported by a Web Portal. “The objective is to train thousands of teenagers and young adults, and to contribute to the involvement of 20 thousand churches until the World Cup,” he announced. Paulo Sérgio, Christian Athletes Association's president, remembered, when he played soccer professionally, seeing kids refusing to play saying it was against their religious principles. “Today, I'm happy to see churches dedicated to the purpose of spreading Christ's message in the language of sports,” said the former Brazilian Team player, adding that
The Bible in Brazil
Movement it is necessary to focus on the education of young people in order to prevent violence in stadiums. Fernando Camargo, another former athlete and vice-president of the Brazilian Coalition for Sports, is a missionary since 1986 and believes the timing is perfect for an initiative like Fair Play Brazil. “Where was the Brazilian church during the 1950 World Cup? Now we have an opportunity to leave a legacy behind,” he said. Débora Fahur, member of RENAS' Coordination Group, showed a video against the sexual exploitation of children, created to raise awareness of the issue throughout Brazil, starting with the 12 host cities of the World Cup. “A goal for the rights of children and teenagers” is the slogan of the campaign prepared by the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism, and adopted by RENAS. Playing with Ethics Erní Seibert, SBB's Communications & Social Outreach Secretary, presented the objectives of the movement and the steps to be accomplished until the world sporting events, as “a unique opportunity to sow the Word of God.” And he exhorted the participants of the event: “Let's encourage young people to participate in Christian games, and motivate the volunteers who will work during the World Cup. Christ has already given us unity, so let's turn this game around.” In addition to the Steering Committee, there will be a Reference Committee, whose members will receive the certificate 'I Play for this Team,' confirming their commitment to participate in the movement. SBB will develop activities to promote Fair Play Brazil and motivate About 250 people, from different Christian organizations, attended the event.
participants through the movement's official website: www.jogalimpobrasil.org.br. Fair Play Brazil activities will be promoted during three distinct moments: FIFA Confederations Cup, from June 15 to 30, 2013, which will serve as laboratory for subsequent activities; FIFA World Cup, from June 12 to July 13, 2014; and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from August 5 to 21, 2016, and from September 7 to 18, 2016, respectively. In his closing arguments, Alex Dias Ribeiro, one of the founders of the Christian Athletes Association, emphasized: “We're entering an age of opportunities. God is inviting us to join him in this undertaking.” Just One Team An attentive and participating audience welcomed the Fair Play Brazil movement. According to Osmar Sanchez, the Salvation Army Commissioner, this is an opportunity to join efforts. “We believe in SBB's integrity, and, if we can work together, we'll do it with pleasure to praise God,” he said. Eudes de Araújo, Executive Secretary of Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), predicts that the initiative will be implemented in all the organization's facilities. “YMCA has two wonderful characteristics: it's Christian and it works with sports. We need actions, values that make children and teenagers think about playing a fair game.” Valdirlei Martinghi, member of the International Council of Pastors, Bishops and Apostles, tells that they were already discussing chaplaincy work for those large events when they heard about the project. “This alliance will make it easier for us to reach this objective: instead o missions going abroad, we'll be able to evangelize those who come to Brazil.” Another supporter of the initiative is Pastor Sérgio Paulo Martins Nascimento, Director of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil's Presbyterian Transcultural Missions Agency. “It's a unique opportunity for us to work together to evangelize. And if SBB can centralize Christian churches and missionary movements in Brazil, that's a blessing.” ■
Photo: Eduardo Cesar
Christian athletes, churches and organizations that join Fair Play Brazil will be free to work as they please. The movement will support every single person or entity that wish to bring the Word of God to sporting events. 23
The Bible in Brazil
Photo: Jaime Souzza
Turning Obstacles into Incentives
Operating for 52 years, SBB's Belém Regional Office faces huge challenges to spread the Word. Large distances, difficult transportation, multiplicity of cultures, and social issues. For 52 years, Bible Society of Brazil's Belém Regional Office has been turning those obstacles into incentives in its mission to spread the Word of God. Its area of operation corresponds to 44% of the Brazilian territory, including the States of Pará, Amazonas, Roraima, Maranhão, Amapá and Piauí. The Light in Amazonia program (read the cover story on this issue), established in 1962, reduces distances and distribution problems by using the vast network of rivers of the Amazonian region as the main tool for the evangelization work. The local cultural wealth, represented mainly by the indigenous peoples, motivated Bible Society of Brazil's investments to support groups of translators, thus turning the publication of the biblical text in several native languages into reality. The Regional Office also stands out for the numerous social investments it has been making, which contribute to improving the quality of life for riverside populations, with support from volunteers and partners. “Bible Society of Brazil's Belém Regional Office develops an important missionary and outreach work in its area of influence through the Light in Amazonia program. Furthermore, it has been able to overcome obstacles and secure major victories when it comes to providing quality services to churches, bookstores, colporteurs, communities, partner 24
organizations and volunteers within the region, thus spreading the Word that transforms lives. Therefore, the work developed by this Regional Office can be characterized as missionary, challenging and gratifying,” says Marcos Gladstone, Bible Society of Brazil's Coordination of Regional Offices Secretary. According to him, the implementation of the Manaus Regional Unit last year strengthened the Regional Office's structure, and will expand its share in SBB's total distribution of Bibles in Brazil to around 11.5%. “We expect to contribute more and more to the growth of churches within the region, not only by increasing the number of members, but also by solidifying the biblical knowledge,” he adds. In addition to the headquarters in Belém and the unit in Manaus, Belém Regional Office's structure includes the two "Luz na Amazônia" boats (the Bible Boat and the hospitalboat) and a harbor in Belém. “Our strategy is based on strengthening relationships with several organizations so that we can expand our presence in the huge region that we cover. We do it by paying constant visits to bookstores and churches. Over the last few years we have invested in promoting events for different audiences as well, which has been contributing to strengthen relationships,” tells Acyr de Gerone Junior, Belém Regional Office's Secretary since November 2008. During meetings with representatives from bookstores, the Regional Office team can introduce Bible Society of
The Bible in Brazil
Photo: Jaime Souzza
Photo: SBB File
3 Photo 1 – Belém Regional Ofﬁce / Photo 2 – Outreach Activity at Ilha das Onças community / Photo 3 – Training in Evangelization with Literature in São Luís - State of Maranhão.
Brazil by highlighting its mission, the outreach programs it develops and the diversified line of products offered. The relationship with churches is maintained through preachings and institutional presentations during services or church events. Another important factor for the Regional Office is the organization of major events, like Biblical Sciences Seminars, Training in Evangelization with Literature, and Partners in Prayer Meetings.
In the social area, the Regional Office holds frequent meetings with volunteers and partners in order to reflect on accomplishments and find ways to improve the work with the Word of God. “Our work in this area is widely recognized. Evidence of it is that government agencies and NGOs come to us in order to improve their outreach programs. Such is the case of Belém's Municipal Social Assistance Council and State of Pará's Department of Prisons,” exemplifies Gerone Junior. Donors are another very important segment for the Regional Office's mission. Integrated to the Partner in Evangelism program, they are people from the most different Christian denominations who contact Bible Society of Brazil in order to make donations and acquire evangelization materials. Acyr de Gerone Junior has been developing relationships with the academic sector through partnership agreements with universities in the region, including the Federal University of Pará, Federal Rural University of Amazonia, Pará State University, and Equatorial Baptist Theological College. In 2012, Belém Regional Office will realize the investments made last year, such as the implementation of Manaus Regional Unit and the refurbishment of the Bible Boat. “We can say that the unit in Manaus is a milestone in terms of making Bible Society of Brazil closer to churches within the Amazonian region. Now the distribution of Scriptures is easier, which favors evangelism, strengthens the churches, and greatly expands the scope of the Biblebased outreach programs that we develop in partnerships with churches, NGOs, government agencies and volunteers,” points out Gerone Junior. ■
Belém Regional Office
Belém Regional Office serves six Brazilian states: Pará, Amazonas, Roraima, Maranhão, Amapá, and Piauí. Together, they represent 44% of the country's territory. The idea of establishing Belém Regional Office first came up in 1953 as part of Bible Society of Brazil's expansion plan. However, it was implemented only in 1960. Currently, it has 30 employees who work in collaboration with 325 partner organizations and more than 450 volunteers, providing services to 420 churches, 430 booksellers, and 2,600 colporteurs. Address & Phones: Av. Assis de Vasconcelos, 356 – CEP 66010-010 – Campina – Belém – PA – Brazil. Phone: (+55-91) 3202-1350 – Fax: (+55-91) 3202-1363. 25
The Bible in Brazil
Published on Aug 6, 2012