I’m Fernando Borges, a volunteer missionary for the Amazon Lifesavers Ministry (ALM) in Brazil. I’ve been doing this for years, and I love it!

ALM missionaries minister to the needs of the people living along the Amazon River. We introduce them to Jesus and start groups of believers where there’s no Adventist presence.

If our ministry sounds familiar to you, it may be because you’ve heard of the Adventist missionaries Leo and Jessie Halliwell who started this work in the 1930s. They traveled all over the Amazon in their legendary launch called the Luzeiro, or Light Bearer. We’re doing our best to continue their legacy, sharing the light of Christ’s love to one heart at a time.

Here’s a glimpse into my world.

Being a missionary is amazing, but sometimes I miss my family and friends. Whenever I feel discouraged, I spend time with the local children. Their joy is contagious.
Paulina, a five-year-old girl, is happy to have her hands on lunch. This is a matrinxã fish, a favorite among the river people.
In some communities, if you really make an effort, it’s possible to find a phone signal. Note the ladder built by the villagers!
This woman lives in a solitary home on a small piece of land with her mentally challenged daughter. Living in this area can be rough for the elderly and even more so for those who have no one to help them. She works hard to care for her daughter.
The men and women in the villages along the Amazon River love to play soccer. I join them when I can—it’s not only fun, it’s a great way to make friends and share Jesus. Soccer seems to be in the DNA of every Brazilian citizen.
When groups of students, friends, and families come for a short-term mission trip, we take them on a boat that becomes their home for 10 days. They love the experience of sleeping in a hammock, bathing in the river, and sharing Jesus with those who have never heard His name.
One of the first things you ask yourself when you arrive in the Amazon is, “Aren’t these kids afraid of piranhas?” While the adults play soccer, the kids play in the river. They spend hours swimming as if there was nothing to threaten their safety.
Three siblings play in the river in the community of Nova Jerusalém (New Jerusalem), where the Amazon Lifesavers Health Post is located. We’ve been able to plant a church here, and almost everyone in the village has become a Seventh-day Adventist.
Raimunda, left, studied the Bible with us and decided to become a Seventh-day Adventist.
Men in this region don’t have beards, so the children aren’t used to seeing them. I have a beard, and sometimes the babies cry when they see me for the first time. Apparently this child got a little scared and hid behind his mom.
There are many children in the riverside communities, and they are kind and welcoming to guests who come from far away.
It’s such a privilege to serve God in the Amazon! Sometimes I travel by canoe to another village to give Bible studies or to visit a sick person and pray with them. When I’m paddling down the river, it feels so good to know that I’m exactly where God wants me to be.

If someone told me a few years ago that I’d be in a place like this, I would have thought they were crazy. I used to think that being a missionary was only for those who have a lot of Bible knowledge or who are doctors and nurses, but I was wrong. We can all be missionaries, lighting up a corner of the world for Jesus. Being a missionary through Adventist Volunteer Service changed my life. Could God be calling you to be a volunteer too?

If you’re interested in being a volunteer, please visit

Fernando Borges
Before Fernando Borges became a missionary in the Amazon, he worked as a photojournalist in São Paulo. He attended School of Missions, which trains missionaries to live and serve in communities along the Amazon River. He now promotes Amazon Lifesavers Ministry.