Known for its wonderful coffee, chocolate, and steak, Brazil is a country like no other. It is just as large as the continental United States and is remarkably diverse in its people as well as its terrain. It is known for its long, beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and of course the Amazon River and its forests. The amazing Iguaçu Falls is also part of Brazil’s beauty. The people of Brazil are a mixture of European, African, and Asian descent. They are known for their loving, caring, fun spirit. Brazil has a young population with 37 percent under the age of 25.
Approximately 65 percent of Brazilians claim to be Catholic. Huge Catholic cathedrals are in each city. Spiritism is also quite common. Protestantism is growing, but most in this group would fall into the category of the health and prosperity gospel and charismatic churches. Many people have been hurt by these churches, making it harder for them to accept or embrace the true gospel when it is shared. Humanistic education, the internet, and materialism have also created a resistance to the gospel.
In 1935, Baptist Mid-Missions entered Brazil at two widely separated points: the city of Manaus in the Amazon valley and the city of Juazeiro do Norte in the state of Ceara in northeastern Brazil.
In the city of Manaus our missionaries immediately began a church-planting ministry. Shortly afterward, in 1941, they started an evening Bible institute. In 1947 this institute became the Amazonas Baptist Seminary.
In Juazeiro do Norte, churches and schools were also started. In 1946 missionaries founded the Cariri Baptist Seminary. In 1952 a language school for new missionaries and a MK school were developed in Fortaleza.
In 1951 Baptist Mid-Missions entered south Brazil, where its missionaries engaged in Jewish evangelism and a church-planting ministry in the city of São Paulo. Eventually the Brazil Field Council was divided into three regions: the North (Amazon) Region, the Northeast Region, and the South Region.
Current ministries in the Amazon Region include works in Rio Branco, Belem, Manaus, Itacoatiara, Boa Vista, and Santarem. Missionaries are involved in church planting, a seminary, an extension Bible institute, a bookstore, a Christian day school, Bible camps, ministries among the tribes, a state missions agency, and a state association of Regular Baptist churches.
Missionary outreaches in the Northeast Region are found in the states of Ceara, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Bahia, and Alagoas. The thrust of the ministry is evangelism leading to the establishment of local churches. Auxiliary and specialty ministries are camp, seminary, building, language school, school for MKs, radio, and aviation.
In the South Region opportunities for ministry exist in both fast-paced megacites as well as in more rural areas. Church planting is ongoing in the cities of São Paulo, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, Presidente Prudente, Diamantina, Jundiai, Londrina, and the greater Sorocaba area. Jewish evangelism takes place in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. We are thankful for our seminary in the city of Curitiba to help train our future pastors.
Brazil is in harvest phase, and the time is now to reach people while they are open. With a retiring missionary force and with the many churches BMM has planted since the 1930s, special attention must be given to training Brazilian pastors and missionaries. Brazil is facing a much more complex religious scenario than when it was predominately Roman Catholic, and that also brings a greater need to give good training for future Brazilian pastors.
We need missionaries with high academic degrees to train professors for our Bible colleges. Apart from a one-year master’s degree, we are not yet able to help our Brazilian Bible college professors get higher levels of training here in Brazil. They often go to schools of other denominations for further training. Once Brazilians can train their own professors for such institutions, they will be prepared to take care of every aspect of ministry themselves.