SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Tributes are flowing in for a Brazilian evangelist and his wife who died trying to save their young teen son from drowning at the beach.
After the death of Pastor Felisberto Sampaio, 43, and his wife, Inalda Sampaio, 42, the Convention of Ministers of the Evangelical Church Assembly of God in Campina Grande/Paraiba State (COMEAD-CGPB) published a statement expressing its condolences.
"The couple had served the Lord for about 17 years and were loved by the entire church. We express our sincere condolences and ask for the prayers of the church for the entire bereaved family, so that the Holy Spirit may comfort their hearts at this time," the Assembly of God convention shared on Instagram.
The pastor and his wife were trying to save their 13-year-old son, Ian Sampaio, who was struggling in the water of Camaçari beach, in Lucena, in the Metropolitan Region of João Pessoa, in the state of Paraíba, on Jan. 10. The parents died before reaching their son, but their child Ian was rescued by a fisherman and another family member, according to Brazilian news outlet Universo Online.
According to COMEAD-CGPB, the evangelist was a leader in the Quixaba congregation for 12 years and was at the time the coordinator and professor of the EBD (Sunday Biblical School), treasurer, and secretary of the Assembly of God Church in Quixaba. His wife, Inalda Ribeiro Sampaio, was the second coordinator of the field and women's group leader.
The General Convention of the Assemblies of God in Brazil (CGADB) also published a message of condolence:
"In this moment of pain and separation, the Board of Directors of CGADB sympathizes with family and friends, asking the Holy Spirit of God to console, comfort and strengthen them. 'Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalms 116.15'".
In social media posts, church members and friends expressed sadness and offered sympathy for the family.
On Instagram, user isaias885345, who describes the evangelist as a big friend, expressed, "May the God of consolation console all family and friends[.] [S]peechless friend".
And user m.a.t.e.u.s.23 writes: "I cannot describe the size of the shock that I had[.] [M]y feelings to the friend[']s brothers from all over the field of Catolé de Boa Vist[.] Sister lnalda and brother Beto left their legacy as Christians, a model example of Christian[.] I have no words to express such grief and anguish that I feel at this moment, the entire church of Quixaba is in mourning."
On the COMEAD-CGPB Instagram page, user jocelitodantas commented that the evangelist and his wife are examples of men and women of God.
"An example of a man of God, a devoted father, and an exemplary husband[.] [S]ister Inalda, a holy woman of God[.] [M]ay the Lord Jesus Christ console all her family and friends. [I] had the honor of shepherding this family for 3 years[.] [R]est in peace, Ev. Beto and sister Inalda.”
The president of the Assembly of God Madureira–Campo Feira de Santana, Pastor Enivaldo Moreira, wrote, "May the good God console all family, church and friends."
Some commenters brought up the beach policy banning swimming on busy beaches that may have contributed to the couple's tragic deaths, with user dariovianaa saying, "I'm sorry for my sincerity, but it's not the fault of the parents or the teenager[.] [I]t's the system that prohibits bathing on very busy beaches[.] [T]hen the system says look for deserted places[.] [T]he result is no lifeguards, no people around to help. [R]evolting. God help this teenager."
Others commented to honor the parents' attitude in trying to save their son. Instagram user josefaernestorego wrote, "A great proof of love. [T]hey are in glory with their father."
The devoted parents are survived by their two sons, Ian and his older brother Issac.