CHAPECO, BRAZIL - The Good Samaritan NGO is a branch of the SDARM's Welfare Department in Brazil and has satellite branches in the different Brazilian Unions. Every year the organization chooses two locations in which to host humanitarian missions, taking aid and meeting the basic needs of the region's people. Cities are chosen months in advance, and the plans for the project are made, as well as plans for someone to stay in the city to follow up with the contacts made during the mission. Selected for this year's first mission was Chapecó, Santa Catarina.
With a population of almost 210,000 people, Chapecó is currently the fifth largest city in Santa Catarina state. The town is organized and was built in the pattern of a chess board. It is also considered the Brazilian capital of agroindustry, meaning the socio-economic indicators and quality of life in the city are reasonably good.
On January 20, 2017, the Good Samaritan mission began, however, not publicly. At sunset, nearly 150 volunteers gathered from several parts of Brazil and some from other countries to welcome the Sabbath. On Sabbath, morning everyone gathered in the makeshift temple to study the Bible lessons, followed by a message of encouragement and on altruism by the South Brazilian Union's Welfare Department Director, Brother Oziel Fernandes.
On Sunday, January 22, 2017, the mission in Chapecó officially began at the Municipal School Fedelino Machado dos Santos.
One-hundred-and-fifty volunteers, including professionals in each area, assisted in 17 areas:
- naturopathic therapy
- massage therapy
- esthetics and hairdressing
- arts & crafts
- children and family
- literature and Bible study
It was a modest start compared to other missions. There were no long lines waiting for the gates to open. However, everyone came in with a big smile and, incredible as it may seem, left with an even bigger one.
On Monday, the contrast between the first and second day was obvious. Several people were already waiting for the volunteers to arrive. As the day went on it became clear that many more people had come than during the previous day. In fact, some who had come the first day returned on the second, but now, to work. Having been assisted with so much care and affection motivated them to do the same for their neighbors.
The third and last day was the busiest. Just like the day before, people were already waiting for the gates to open. Many had come on the other days, but now they returned with friends and/or relatives. Once the mission was mentioned on TV and local newspaper, the day became quite busy. At the end, a count of how many people were assisted by each department showed an average of 400 people assisted each day.
The mission officially ended on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, with the delivery of a certificate for each volunteer.
The mission was a great blessing in every possible area, but the true victory was the great acceptance of the Bible. Nearly 200 families asked for Bible study, breaking the record for families requesting Bible study in recent missions. That, after all, is the main reason for humanitarian missions, to not only provide health for the body, but for the mind, and spirit.
May God bless everyone involved in this mission, from the organizers to the families who were introduced to the Word of God.