Falling in Love With – and in – Brazil When Ruth de Barros went to Brazil on a short-term mission placement, she was told: “You’re going to fall in love with Brazil, and Brazil is going to fall in love with you.” Now, having served for 25 years as a missionary, a community organiser, a faith-leader, a wife and mother, she reflects on those words in an interview with Amelia Brown. During her quarter-century in Brazil, she taught English, fell in love, ministered to prostitutes, got married, created community centres, started classes, ministered in the Amazon, and raised her son. Ruth’s story starts in her early 20s, in a jazz bar in England. Raised as a nominal Roman Catholic, Ruth’s faith had faded. She couldn’t see where people of faith impacted or understood the real world. This particular night, she found herself chatting with someone who she was shocked to learn was a Christian. After assuring her that it was perfectly normal to be a Christian, have a drink and listen to jazz, he went on to invite her to his Anglican parish church. “So I agreed to go to his church,” Ruth recalled. “It was so open and so welcoming that I thought ‘this is the family I want to be a part of.’ And that’s why I decided I wanted to do something more for the Church.” Faith rekindled, Ruth looked for ways to share it. “I decided to go to Brazil because I had recently come back to the Church after being away for a long time and I wanted to do something useful in mission. I didn’t want to just go to church on Sundays; I wanted to do something meaningful.” With that in mind, she signed up with the mission agency, USPG. In October 1992, Ruth found herself serving in Porto Alegre, in the Southern Diocese of the Episcopal Church of Brazil. She started out teaching English in the seminary. Quickly, Ruth’s colleagues realized that her heart longed to be outside, working in the community. She joined a ministry to prostitutes, providing health appointments and helping them apply for ID cards. “Basically, we supported them. These women suffer a lot of violence from the police and the public. It’s a lot of abuse...It’s the kind of job that’s never going to go out. It’s been with us for years, and these women need to be treated a little better, with a little more respect.” After nine months in Brazil, USPG and the Church in Brazil invited Ruth to extend her mission. Her immediate excitement made staying an obvious choice. So for another year, Ruth ministered in Porto Alegre, putting down deeper and deeper roots in Brazil, including marrying Saulo de Barros. Saulo met Ruth when she was teaching English, during her first weeks in Brazil. A few years later they would have their son, Thomas. 12 Ruth de Barros at St. Jose da Pedras Church Pratinha favela, Belém, Diocese of Amazon, Brazil. Photo Credit: Leah Gordon / USPG From the Anglican Communion News Service By Amelia Brown R E V I S I T A D O R E V I S I T A D O THE COMPASS ROSE SOCIETY VISITED TWO DIOCESES IN BRAZIL IN 2011 The Diocese of Rio de Janerio and the Diocese of the Amazon in Belém (see Compass Rose Communicator Summer 2011). Ruth de Barros did much of the hard work on the ground to make our visit successful. This article from the Anglican Communion News Service lets us know more about Ruth and what she’s been doing. It’s reprinted with the permission of the ACNS which now produces weekly news bulletins in French, Spanish and Portuguese. We kept the original British spelling in the article.