I heard a rumor earlier in the week that a herd of capybara spend their mornings sunbathing at the pond across the street from my hotel. So on Sabbath morning a newfound GAiN friend and I trekked around the pond, enjoying the numerous birds and flowering trees along the path. And then, sure enough: on the opposite bank there was the little family enjoying the early morning sunshine. Arguably one of the most relaxed creatures on earth, they seemed unperturbed by my enthusiasm at their presence.
Capybara sunbathing by a pond. (Photo by Alisa Williams.)
Alas, after snapping a few photos, we had to make our way back to the hotel lest we be left behind by the bus, as almost happened last night. But that’s a story for another time.
The UNASP campus church was absolutely packed for the Sabbath morning service when we arrived. First service (mostly full of students and locals) was late getting done and our crowd of 850+ GAiN (Global Adventist Internet Network) attendees were left waiting outside until they wrapped up. Fortunately, winter in Brazil is quite pleasant and there are definitely worse things than being stuck outdoors in the sun, surrounded by palm trees and tropical plants.
Second service was standing room only, as it had been for Friday night vespers. It began with Williams Costa, GC communication director, bringing the 13 division communication directors on stage to introduce them to the crowd and thank them for their service to the Church. Costa then presented the GC’s Youth Ministries Department with an award for their efforts in creating a successful Global Youth Day. Pako Mokgwane, associate youth director, accepted the award on behalf of the team.
The sermon was given by GC Vice President Guillermo Biaggi and was entitled, “Love that Drives Me to Serve.” Biaggi covered a variety of topics. One of his emphases was the need to reach young people and the role technology plays in that. This has been a recurring theme at GAiN.
After another cafeteria lunch, the audience watched the film “Rest.” An initiative of the Hope Channel, the film was coordinated by several Hope Channel teams across the world. In the hour-long documentary, film crews follow 13 different individuals/families in their Sabbath routines. Starting Friday night, we see the way Sabbath is celebrated by people from 13 countries: Germany, South Africa, the Phillipines, South Korea, Mexico, China, Ukraine, Indonesia, Spain, the United States, India, Brazil, and Uruguay.
The film seeks to show how Adventists are “united through our faith,” showcasing the similarities and differences in our Sabbath traditions.
We were given a three-hour break between the film and supper time that we could spend wandering campus or napping on the buses. I decided to take a stroll down to the UNASP farm, about a 15-minute walk down a winding gravel path in the midst of an orange grove. The farm features a variety of animals including miniature horses, cows, parrots and various other birds, sheep, and even a deer. Located next to a large lake, the farm was the perfect respite for a Sabbath afternoon.
A lamb nursing at the UNASP campus farm. (Photo by Alisa Williams.)
The lake at the edge of the UNASP campus farm. (Photo by Alisa Williams.)
While on my walk back, headed toward yet another cafeteria meal, I was lured off-campus with promises of pizza by a GC official and an NAD official who will remain unnamed. If you haven’t ever eaten Brazilian pizza, I highly recommend you do so as soon as possible. The hole-in-the wall pizzeria had the friendliest waitress I’ve ever met in my life and in addition to a couple of regular pizzas, our little group also polished off a chocolate dessert pizza.
Don’t worry, we made it back to campus in time to experience the evening concert, “Heroi da Fe” (Hero of Faith) which featured dozens of singers, actors, a film interwoven throughout, and an impressive light show. The production was a modern day retelling of Paul, and encourages viewers to become heroes of faith in Christ as Paul was. The show has been performed at several venues across Sao Paulo, to audiences of thousands.
Saturday evening’s performance received a standing ovation from the standing room only crowd, and some were moved to tears. In talking with GAiN attendees afterward, many expressed their appreciation and excitement over the creativity, talent, and message of the production.
Just as with the tours of Nova Tempo and the publishing house earlier in the week, this grand production provided another example of how the Church can utilize multi-media and the artistic talent of its members to move its mission forward. After a week in Brazil, it’s not hard to see why Adventism has had such a strong impact here. At every turn, the talents of each individual – especially young people – are being utilized in full, and the result is a cohesive focus on faith, mission, and the gospel.
I will be reporting on each day’s events for Spectrum. You can also follow live updates on our Twitter feed at @spectrummag. The official hashtag for the conference is #GAiN17
Alisa Williams is managing editor for SpectrumMagazine.org.
Main image Credit: gain.adventist.org
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