PACKED STADIUM: A view from a drone of nearly 40,000 people praising God at the Vivaldo Lima Amazonian Arena in Manaus, Brazil, on Sabbath, Aug. 16, 2014. Photo credit: South American Division

Adventist News

40,000 Turn Brazilian Stadium Into a Place to Praise God

Adventists pack a World Cup stadium to celebrate the end of an initiative to share Jesus after the soccer matches.

, executive secretary of the South American Division

A sports stadium that had recently echoed with the cries of soccer fans turned into a house of worship filled with prayer and song as about 40,000 people celebrated the end of a campaign to share Jesus following the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament in the Brazilian city of Manaus.

The mainly Adventist crowd packed the 41,000-seat Vivaldo Lima Amazonian Arena to near-capacity on Sabbath, Aug. 16, the first major public event held in the city of 2 million after the conclusion of the World Cup on July 13. Manaus was one of 12 cities to host World Cup games.

"This moment in the arena was the great coronation of the Hope Manaus project, which provided greater visibility of the scope of the work developed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to society," said Gilmar Zahn, president of the church’s Northwest Brazil Union.

The gathering, attended by senior local officials, crowned a week of social outreach efforts dubbed “Hope Manaus” that, among other things, saw volunteers distribute thousands of copies of the missionary sharing book “The Great Hope.”

“There are thousands of people in search of hope, and we need to finish the work that our pioneers began in announcing the good news of the gospel," Erton Kölher, president of the South American Division, which includes the Northwest Brazil Union, told the crowd as he thanked participating local churches.

“Hope Manaus” is part of the world church’s “Mission to the Cities” initiative that aims to share Jesus in the world’s biggest cities.

<strong>SONG TO SING:</strong> Musicians playing at the stadium event. Photo credit: South Amercian Division

Manaus Mayor Arthur Virgilio Neto expressed his admiration for the work of the Adventist Church.

"Through the development of projects like this, it is possible to grasp the seriousness of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s concern for others," he said.

In a symbolic act, the mayor received the keys to the new local headquarters of ADRA, the church’s relief agency from the director of the organization’s Northwestern Brazil branch, Hebert Kalbermatter.

A drone buzzed overhead during the gathering, capturing stunning pictures of the packed arena far below.

The Northwest Brazil Union occupies a unique place in the Adventist Church as the only territory in South America and, division leaders believe, in the world that has an Adventist presence in every county. In addition, Manaus, which is the capital of the Amazon state, is the only regional capital in South America that has an Adventist presence in every suburb.

The stadium event also commemorated the first anniversary of the start of TV Novo Tempo (Hope Channel Portuguese)’s broadcast over city airwaves. Its programming began being transmitted on Channel 16 on July 27, 2013, in Manaus, capital of the Amazon state. Novo Tempo presenters and singers spoke and sang at the stadium.

Ten people were baptized at the end of the meeting, a token of the 350 who were baptized throughout the week.

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