“Perseverance is a key for Christian living, perseverance in spite of difficult struggles in life, perseverance in faith and perseverance in the promises of the Lord.”
Tania Mara Alves Pereira Mendes. She was born in São Paulo, Brazil. She has been married for 30 years but is thankful to God for what seems a short time because the marriage has been so good. Her husband, Wlademir, is an obstretician/gynecologist. Their son, Tiago Rafael, is another blessing from God. He’s a chemistry researcher and is married to an American girl, Danielle, who is an event manager and yet another blessing in their lives.
Tania has a graduate degrees in Theology and Journalism as well as a post-graduate degree in scientific journalism. She is planning to start work on a master’s degree program in communication soon. She has been working for Compassion Brazil for 10 years as a Program Communications Manager and says it has been a privilege to work for God using her professional skills. She has seen many children living below the poverty line who have a new perspective on life and can hope for a better future because they have been transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tania attends a Baptist church in Campinas, a large city an hour and a half from São Paulo, the state capital. Some of the subjects she has taught in Sunday School are New Testament, Proverbs and Biblical Geography. She has also given talks on communication between couples in other churches in other cities.
Tania, you recently returned to your country after a Haggai Seminar. Tell us how this Advanced Leadership Seminar impacted your personal and professional life. And what are your challenges now?
I came back from Chiang Mai, Thailand, in July 2014. I attended a 25-day intensive course on Advanced Leadership there. It was a blessing –a gift from God. Actually, I had waited for about 10 years to be able to attend this course. It was a long wait, but well worth it. I even had to postpone it 3 times because of conflicting schedules. However, I’m sure that God had His proper time and I had the opportunity to go two months ago. I was able to see God acting in my life and in the lives of the 55 women from 22 different countries who attended. This kind of gathering left me with a wonderful feeling, and I understood better how wonderful it will be in Heaven with God and His people from every nation and tribe. There are no words to describe this! It’s really amazing to see people who come from different countries and cultures but who have the same God, the same Savior and the same Holy Spirit! Only God can put all of us together and unite us in spite of our differences.
The Haggai Seminar made an impact on me personally, making me more sensitive and aware of the need to pray more. I need to pray more and Christians need to pray more. There’s a lot of work to be accomplished and we need God’s grace to fulfill the mission. We need His grace and favor to be able to go out and preach the Gospel with the power of the Holy Spirit –to preach a relevant, contextualized message without ever changing its essence.
With regard to my professional life, God reinforced my idea of doing everything with excellence because He is perfection. I know that I am not, but I can improve and can always count on Him to help me. He has given me gifts, so I need to use them and do my best to glorify Him and bring others to His feet. The key word is excellence. Than means doing everything with that in mind!
Lord willing, I’ll give a course for leaders in my church next year. My pastor supports this idea. I want to share with these people the importnce of being a leader who is committed to God and His mission of preaching the Gospel wherever they are and making a difference in their community. We’re preparing material for at least 10 meetings which will be scheduled on Saturdays or Sundays in March and May.
As a Christian journalist, perhaps one of those challenges is also “spreading the Gospel through media successfully.” Along that line of thought, what would you recommend to your collegues around the world so the message of the Gospel may be more effectively divulged through the media and the social networks?
First of all, it’s good to remember that the core values of the Gospel are not negotiable and that we’re committed to a Holy God who never changes. This idea needs to be very clear to every Christian, no matter what his or her profession is. I think people know that the media and social networks are powerful tools. So people who want to use these tools need to be good examples of Christianity by “living the extraordinary in an ordinary way.” This means being very connected to God and understanding and doing his will in a practical way daily. I truly believe that only God has the power of changing a person by giving him not only eternal life, but also a purposeful life on Earth. Heaven starts here when a person receives Jesus as Savior and Lord and begins to care about others and share the “good news” of salvation. People are definitely watching us as we make both big and small decisions, and many times our actions have the power to speak louder than our words.
The media and the social networks are good tools for spreading the Gospel, but we really need to use them wisely. We need to be faithful to the Word of God and be careful in the way we speak and live.
Tania, you have embraced the Christian faith for 36 years. You have probably experienced many “ups and downs” during all these years -many joyful moments, but also many distasteful and even heartbreaking ones. What has kept you faithful to Christianity? Is there true hope in this faith?
Thanks to God, I haven’t experienced “ups and downs” during these years. I certainly have experienced heartbreak. However, I’ve held one Bible verse very close to my heart. It’s Hebrews 12:2 and it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.” If you do that in spite of people or circumstances in life that can harm you, you can be sure there is hope, because Jesus will never disappoint you and He always fulfills His promises.
Romans 5:8 says that “God has shown us how much He loves us: it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” The Bible tells us that God is perfect and holy, and it also tells us that humans are sinners and selfish. We have hope because God is good and loves and forgives us, and He draws us close to Him through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
And now, your final message to anyone who might be reading this interview, especially to women who may be facing serious struggles and have lost all hope in life.
Dear readers -and especially dear women: Keep looking to Jesus. He loves you so much and has promised to be with you until the end. Also remember that our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121, and as the Apostle Paul says, take the armor of God and remain steadfast! (Ephesians 6:13) Remember that Romans 8:28-39 says that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are children of God and each one of us is very special to Him!
So to conclude, let me close with a personal testimony. I was almost 18 when I received Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I grew up in a Catholic church and I used to be very sincere in my faith, but I really didn’t understand that I needed to recognize Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord. It was not easy for me to deal with this reality, I fought it, but God had His plans.
I also had to deal with conflicts at home. My father even made me leave home four times after he found out I had made this decision of faith, because he couldn’t understand that I had received Jesus because I was a sinner and I needed to do that. For him, a sinner was only a person who stole or killed, a criminal. He refused to speak to me for 4 years. Those were very difficult times, but I prayed and asked God to help me.
God made it possible for me to stay at home until I got married, and now my father has started reading the Bible and attending church. Only God knows his heart. I praise the Lord because He has shown me His mercy as He says in His Word (Lamentations 3.23) and He has also strengthened me (Isaiah 40.31).
So perseverance is a key for Christian living, perseverance in spite of difficult struggles in life, perseverance in faith and perseverance in the promises of the Lord. And all you need is to learn His Holy Word and meditate on it daily!