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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pray for Every Nation: Brazil

This series is based on the Radical Experiment by David Platt. You can find more information about my decision to join here. If you would like to participate, please let me know with a comment or email and feel free to grab the button on my sidebar. I hope this journey will enrich your prayer life as much as it does mine!

My brother-in-law, Andrew Comings, has agreed to post about today's country from his unique perspective. He and his family are missionaries to Brazil, so I know for sure he has more authority on this topic than I do! Enjoy!

Brazil: Mis-Understood Giant

“Ever been on the Amazon?”
“They have a great soccer team!”
“I hear there are a lot of beautiful women down there,”
“Do you speak Spanish?”

The preceding quotes represent the most common responses I received after informing random Americans that I live and work in Brazil. Before we go further, my responses were as follows:

“Yes, they do.”
“Indeed, I married one.”
“No, because in Brazil we speak Portuguese. Weren’t you paying attention in school?”

The questions, however, reveal the common misconception of Brazil on the part of Americans. To many of my compatriots, Brazil is indeed a vast jungle inhabited by phenomenal soccer players and nubile women--all of them hablando espanol and participating in a sort of perpetual carnaval.

The truth is surprising to many. Brazil is a vast country (larger than continental United States) with a surprisingly diverse population. Besides the dominant mix of indigenous, African, and Portuguese stock, there are large communities of German, Italian, Arab, and Oriental peoples. The largest Japanese community outside of Japan lives in Brazil.

Far from a primitive nation, Brazil has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Petrobras is one of the planet’s largest oil concerns, the Vale company has become an international mining giant, and chances are you have flown on an Embraer jet--made in Brazil.

And Brazilians play other sports than soccer. Indeed, they dominate world volleyball (beach and traditional), have produced NBA players, and top-seeded tennis competitors. And in the world of racing, names like Ayerton Senna, Emerson Fitipaldi, and Helio Castroneves are almost as sacred to Brazilians as that of Pelé.

While the above-mentioned misconceptions about Brazil are annoying, to say the least, there is another mis-conception, prevalent in American churches, that is nothing short of tragic: the false idea that Brazil is already evangelized.

While it is true that much progress has been made for the Gospel in Brazil over the last five decades, the unmistakable truth is that there is still much to do. Consider the following statistics:

Seventy-four percent of Brazilians still consider themselves Roman Catholics.

That comes out to roughly 160,600,000 people who are still bound to a system of works which is completely foreign to the Gospel of Grace.

Syncretistic Afro-Brazilian religions like Candomblé and Umbanda represent the fastest-growing belief systems in Brazil. These mixtures of African tribalism with Catholicism are nothing other than demon worship. Popular Brazilian media is doing all it can to promote this cancer on society.

Over seven million of the roughly fifteen percent of Brazilians who consider themselves “evangelical” are members of churches that do not preach the Gospel.
These range from semi-cults like the Seventh-day Adventists to “health-and-wealth” churches like the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. The latter are particularly dangerous, replacing the Gospel with a “get-rich-quick-by-giving-us-money” scheme.

In light of the above facts, and because of the love God has put in our heart for the Brazilian people, my wife Itacyara and I have dedicated our lives to bringing the true Gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ to this amazing land. We live and work in the city of São Luís, which is the capital of the state of Maranhão. Our ministry includes, evangelism, children’s work and community outreach--all with the purpose of planting a strong, reproducing church in the city.

So the next time you find yourself on an Embraer jet, or watching the Brazilian soccer team work their magic on the field, please remember to pray for the work God has given us in that country. Here are some prayer requests to start you off:

* Pray that religious liberty in Brazil would continue.
* Pray that Brazil’s government and economy would remain stable.
* Pray that Brazil’s believers would use their newfound prosperity for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
* Pray for the strength and multiplication of Gospel-preaching churches in Brazil.
* Pray of the city of São Luís.
* Pray for the safety (physical and spiritual) of the Comings family.
* Finally, pray that God would raise up a multitude of workers to reach that great, beautiful, misunderstood giant called Brazil.

Andrew Comings is a Baptist Mid-Missions missionary in Maranhão, Brazil. He and his wife, Itacyara (aka The Brazilian Bombshell), have two sons: Michael and Nathanael. In his spare time Andrew blogs in English at www.comingstobrazil.com and in Portuguese at cadernoteologico.wordpress.com. Despite his field of service, Andrew does not drink coffee in any of its manifold forms.


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