Women Gather for Training in Spreading the Gospel Woman to Woman
Neither the distance nor lack of funds prove to be obstacles for nearly 800 women attending a conference in São Paulo.
South American Division (SAD)
[Brazil] It took a 12-hour trip to go from Teodoro Sampaio to Águas de Lindóia, in São Paulo state. The group of 15 women came in a van to participate in a retreat along with 782 other women. Zeneide Colatto lives in Euclides da Cunha and left her house at midnight to arrive in Águas de Lindóia at 2:30 p.m. along with her friends. She says that it was worth the effort: “We are delighted with this event. I was a bit worried about leaving my husband and children alone, but everything is going fine.”
In Ribeirão Preto the challenge was not the length of the trip but gathering the money they needed to participate in the retreat. For the last seven years, Marta Inácio has been holding fundraising bazaars. “Our church is located in a very poor neighborhood so the bazaar was very important for us so that we were able to bring many women to this event,” says Inácio.
Just like the women of Teodoro Sampaio and Ribeirão Preto, many women from the west and south regions of São Paulo state participated in the retreat in Águas de Lindóia. The event lasted three days and included many lectures with public authorities (Damaris Moura), psychologists (Talita Castelão and Eneida Torres), family counselor (Daise Reis), pastors (Assad Bechara and Odailson Fonseca) and the leaders of Women’s Ministries from South American Division (Marli Peyerl) and from Central Brazil Union (Telma Brenha). Also participating at the event was vocalist Iveline Apolinário.
According to a 2019 United Nations estimate, there are 101.7 men for every 100 women in the world. Women may not be the majority in the world but in the Seventh-day Adventist Church of the West São Paulo Conference, the reality is different. Women represent 58% of the members in this region. That is why women’s retreats and conventions are held annually. The lectures focused on their needs: “These events focus on developing women both spiritually and socially. They leave here excited to work in the church and their community,” says Tania Alves, leader of Women’s Ministries for the West São Paulo Conference.
According to the leader of Women’s Ministries for the South São Paulo Conference, Maria Tereza Araújo, it is very important that women participate in these events and feel valued: “We want them to understand that they can make a difference in church and in their community.”
The theme of the retreat was “Be like Maria in a world of Marthas.” For one of the speakers, Daise Reis, modern women have so many activities that many times they feel overwhelmed. It is important for them to find a time to be like Maria who made the spiritual aspect of her life top priority.
Reported by Marli Peyerl, director of Women's Ministries in South American Division
Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2020 Q1&2, Spring issue