The Beginnings of the LGW
I received from the Solidary Team of the Legion of Good Will of Europe a rare copy of the newspaper O Cristão [The Christian], dated January 31, 1950. It is a commemorative edition of the 58th anniversary of this official organ of the Union of the Congregational and Christian Evangelical Churches of Brazil. It brings an article entitled “The Value of Cooperation,” signed by Salustiano César, an evangelical minister, which documents the origin of the LGW, created by Alziro Zarur (1914-1979) on January 1, 1950. For the historical record here are some extracts:
“The Value of Cooperation
“We are God’s fellow workers. . .
(Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians, 3:9.)
“There are many things in Christian life that have still not been duly evidenced in terms of evangelical power. Cooperation is one of these things. When we have a better consolidated conceptual understanding of it, it will create new directions for notable achievements.
“We feel the need to talk about cooperation, but not as it is generally done, using elaborate word arrangements, with elegant writing. . . .
“The value of cooperation is undeniable in the existence of undertakings worthy of great renown. . . .
“In today’s society we find facts that constitute true challenges to Christians. On January 7 this year, especially invited as a Protestant minister, I took part in an extremely interesting and surprising meeting in the building of the Brazilian Press Association, where the collaborative spirit, in a completely providential manner, was characterized by a group of representatives from different beliefs and philosophical currents. Our word, based on Romans 12, was listened to with extraordinary applause, alongside speakers who were Jewish, Positivists, Esotericists, Spiritists, and Roman Catholics, (Free Thinkers). This solemn meeting was extremely impressive for its culminating objective of bringing together ‘people of Goodwill’ in favor of those who have been left on the margins of life. The ‘Legion of Good Will’ was organized with this objective; to serve ‘without prejudice’ all those who suffer on their beds of pain, in their homes or behind hospital walls.
“What a lesson this is that comes from God! . . .
“Let us act in the spirit of the Word of God that says:
“‘Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
“‘Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
“‘Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.'”
Recalling the ABI
In fact, the 1st issue of Boa Vontade magazine, of July 1956, page 5, also highlights the person of Pastor Salustiano. And here I pay a just tribute to the late Alziro Zarur. Through his courage, he fostered in his ecumenical preaching a feeling of religious solidarity in people. On January 7, 1950, in the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) in Rio de Janeiro, Zarur presided over the first official meeting of the LGW, the Crusade of Brotherly Religions, in which he first proclaimed the inter-religious relationship. This all happened after successive preparatory meetings that were held in the same place in October, November, and December of 1949, in the boardroom of that prestigious Association. Let us turn to the historic text of the Boa Vontade magazine: “The Crusade of Brotherly Religions started on January 7, 1950, in the boardroom of the Brazilian Press Association (ABI), when seven speakers addressed those present: Teles da Cruz, Catholic; Murilo Botelho, Esoteric; Leopoldo Machado, Spiritist; Eugênio Figueiredo, free-thinker; Reverend Salustiano César, Protestant; Samuel Linderman, Jew; and Ascânio de Farias, Positivist. The memorable session was chaired by Alziro Zarur, President of the Legion of Good Will.”
While on the subject, on April 7, the century-old Brazilian Press Association (ABI) completes yet another year of heroic work in this country. Congratulations ABI! Greetings to the noble Dr. Maurício Azêdo, President of the Casa do Jornalista.
To Christ, with decision.
In closing today’s column I dedicate to my patient readers verses I dared to write in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the San Martín Square, in 1996, at a time of great challenge:
Life passes/ And pain, without asking/ Wounds the heart./ But Faith comforts / The Soul that suffers/ And the path it shows / Towards Redemption./ And the Spirit strives/ For in the Savior / It trusts/ And with strength it marches/ With devotion it advances/ Reaching Christ/ With decision!