Dec 05, 2016

Chapeco, Brazil

Adventists share hope at Brazilian plane crash funeral

[photo credit: South American Division]

Seventh-day Adventists joined tens of thousands of people at Brazil’s Chapecoense stadium to mourn those killed in the crash of a soccer team’s airplane, and to share their hope in the resurrection at Jesus’ Second Coming.

A total of 71 people died when a plane carrying the Chapecoense soccer team crashed Nov. 28 near Medellin, Colombia. Six survived. The cause of the plane crash is still undetermined but a preliminary investigation points to electrical failure. 

Dozens of coffins arrived at the team’s home stadium in Chapeco, a city of 210,000 people in southern Brazil, following a possession through the streets on Saturday. 

Church members stood in the rain to distribute thousands of copies of the book “The Only Hope” by Adventist evangelist Alejandro Bullon, as well as custom-labeled bottles of water and cards bearing the promise of Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (NKJV). 

“It was raining, but thousands of local church members gave out books, water, and cards,” said Magdiel E. Pérez Schulz, assistant to the president of the Adventist world church, who has been in contact with local church members. “church members also prayed with those attending the funeral and offered hugs of hope.” 

Volunteers also placed a small red card inside each copy of “The Only Hope,” containing the soccer team’s logo, the Adventist Church’s logo, and the words, “The commotion will pass. What will be left is the silence of our longing and the hug of hope. ‘Yet I will not forget you’ (Isaiah 49:15).”

“The Only Hope,” a missionary book of the year for the church’s South American region, was recognized earlier this year as the 18th most-read book in Brazil. Church members have distributed more than 20 million free copies across South America since 2014.

In addition to Revelation 21:4, the water bottles and sharing cards passed out on Saturday carried the church’s logo and the inscription, “Adventist Youth.”

The city mayor and representatives of the Adventist and Roman Catholic churches were among those who spoke at the funeral service inside the stadium. 

Pérez said the most touching moment came when prominent Brazilian broadcaster Cid Moreira read 1 Corinthians 13 on behalf of the Adventist Church. The apostle Paul’s “Love Chapter” concludes with the words, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

“His reading of the chapter in his distinctive bass voice was the most commented part of the service,” Pérez said.

Pérez said he was moved at the outpouring of compassion displayed by local church members. 

“It is so touching to see what our church does when our members have mission as their goal,” he said. 

He was echoed by Seventh-day Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson. 

“This is a sad but powerful mission story,” he said. “What a wonderful church we have in Brazil to move so quickly in being part of mission and Total Member Involvement during a tragic situation.”

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