Missionary District of the West: a frontier to be strongly supported!
My visit to the Missionary District of West was a magnificent experience. It was my first contact with this part of Brazil. And my first visit as Provincial Secretary to this jurisdiction under provincial responsibilities. The state of Rondônia - part that I visited - has all the proper contradictions of our rich country. Natural beauties, with its surrounded rivers and igarapés of a equatorial forest threatened to each day for the voracious deforestation.
A contradictory society built to generate few people rich and exploring the environment. And in the opposite side the majority does not have access to basic public services, such as education and health.
A region where the violence against children and teenagers is raising to an unexpected level. Years and years of pure control by egoistic elites generate an enormous will of transformation from the excluded population.
Voices to defend the dispossessed ones are few. Between these voices we have the Church. Our Church in Rondônia and in Mato Grosso is quite small but it has conquered a great respect. Two Parishes and two Missions with simple people but strong in faith in witch they had found in the reason to fight for a worthy life. Some are laborers not specialized. Others are landless people. Others still survive as mine excavators and others still are small producers of subsistence agriculture.
But I saw in all faces a deep sense of solidarity. And much joy. I had the chance to visit the houses of some parishioners and I feel authentic simplicity.
At the same time I felt in all of them the lack of the necessary minimum for a worthy life.
The pastoral leadership of the area faces, however some enormous difficulties. The first one of it is of the geographical distances. The distance from Ariquemes to Campo Verde, between the two parishes is 1.330 km.
Another enormous challenge is the need of ministers. In spite of the zealous effort of the Bishop, D. Almir Santos and of two priests Revdos. Hugo Sanches and Paulo Tamaki, the District needs more pastoral leadership.
In the area that I visited it has a lay-minister and a woman is preparing to became a new lay-minister next october. Both desire to be ordained to the diaconate. But they face the difficulty of theological formation. The seminaries of our Province Church (Recife and Porto Alegre) is so far to them (thousands kilometers) and in spite the possibility of providing long-distance courses the costs are so high in an area where the salaries of workers are commonly about 200 USD.
Is an authentic miracle to see a Church that in spite of all challenges is a living Church.
The Church grows and gains visibility against the whole society. The work with the landless people and the children education is two fronts is recognized as a clear witness.
The anglican presence in the region represents for many people the certainty of a Church compromised to Justice and the Environment. Two sufficiently absent values in a dominated land years by years for the patronage in the past and actually for unscrupulous wood explorers and agribusiness companies. Explore the forest and contaminate waters are the great threat for this region as the whole Amazon region in Brazil. It is necessary to give hope to a people who are strongly determinate in living the Gospel’s marks.
It is in our hands the responsibility to contribute for strengthen these values in that part of our Anglican Church. There, I saw people truly aware of their baptismal convenant. And, for instance we can not leave they feel alone!