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Reaching & Teaching, in partnership with Third Avenue Baptist Church, recently launched a pastoral training center in northeastern Brazil in the city of Juazeiro do Norte. Juazeiro is growing to be a commercial hub in that desert region of Brazil. The launching of the Reaching & Teaching training site in Juazeiro is strategic for training leaders throughout the entire region.

We had a fantastic turnout for the initial training. Here is a summary:

  • 42 total participants
  • 22 pastors
  • 9 missionaries or church planters
  • 19 churches represented
  • from 4 Brazilian states

God was clearly at work during the week, and I believe that the foundation was laid for Reaching & Teaching to have fruitful ministry in northeastern Brazil for years to come.

The Spirit Gives Life

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Throughout the week, the students soaked up our teaching on the Old Testament, the spiritual discipline of Scripture reading, and discerning the call to ministry. Our goal for the week was that each student would grasp and be able to reproduce the grand redemptive narrative of the Bible – how God progressively unveiled his plan throughout OT history, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Here is some of the feedback from the pastor-students who attended:

“The most encouraging teaching to me was the survey of the Old Testament. It helped me to better understand how God unveils his plan. I think every Christian needs to understand God’s big story.”

“It was encouraging to see how the Scriptures are unified, the connections between the books of the Bible, and how God’s covenants aim to redeem and restore his people.”

“The teaching on the Psalms and Isaiah gave me a Christocentric vision of the books and encouraged me to preach in this way.”

“I learned that our spiritual growth is based on our Bible intake and that we should not only have breadth, but also depth in our knowledge of God’s Word. I was challenged to love God, his Word, and his people more.”

What a blessing to see how the Spirit used his Word to encouraged these dear brothers! Please pray that the Lord would use the training to bear fruit in their lives and ministries.

Click here for a video of the group singing to Jesus before the day of training.

The Gospel Pierces the Darkness

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Juazeiro do Norte is known throughout Brazil and abroad for its veneration of Padre Cícero, a Roman Catholic priest who ministered there in the late 19th / early 20th century. Padre Cícero was beloved for his community leadership and became renowned for the purported miracles that supposedly happened during his ministry. For instance, one lady said that during the Mass, her wafer turned to wine.

Even though Cícero was excommunicated by the Catholic church for heresy, he has stood for a century as the patron saint of the city, with hundreds of thousands of Brazilians coming to worship him each year at a statue-shrine that overlooks the city.

It was heartbreaking to visit the shrine to Cícero. At best, his veneration is Roman Catholicism mixed with animism. In reality, it is demonic. The shrine was full of thousands upon thousands of wooden replications of body parts (see picture below), brought to the temple by those who believe that Cícero healed them of a malady. Cícero’s worshipers believe that if they fulfill a vow made to him, he will heal them of their diseases.

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When Pastor Washington, the field coordinator for our training, moved to Juazeiro do Norte thirty years ago, he himself venerated Cícero. Yet, the gospel of Jesus Christ set him free from that bondage! Now, Pastor Washinton gives his life to preaching that same gospel in Juazeiro, with a church of over three hundred members.

Indeed, the light of the gospel of Jesus pierces the deepest darkness. We are praying that the training of leaders in Brazil’s northeast might strengthen Christ’s church for further gospel advance.

Wars Are Won through Alliances

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At the end of the trip, our team flew to Rio de Janeiro to meet my Reaching & Teaching colleague, Jason Wright, who was also in Brazil that week. During our three days in Rio, we met with leadership of both Acts 29 Latin America and the Brazilian Baptist convention’s home mission board.

By God’s grace, we struck a partnership with the home mission board to launch a training center in Porto Alegre in southern Brazil within the next year. Praise God! Besides that blessing, Rio may be the most beautiful city you’ll ever see. Don’t miss a chance to see it!

Brazil is a country that many missions agencies have considered “reached” for some time, and they have diverted their resources and missionaries elsewhere. Granted, the gospel has taken root in much of Brazil, and there are many good things happening among evangelical Christians, especially in the southeast part of the country. Yet, there are many sections of Brazil that have few healthy evangelical churches. There are more regions still that offer precious little in the are of theological training and pastoral discipleship. Our prayer is that Reaching & Teaching would play in role in strengthening the church in Brazil, so that the gospel would continue to flourish and the kingdom advance across that nation and across the globe.

Jon Deedrick

Jon Deedrick serves as Director of Ministry Mobilization with Reaching & Teaching. He and his family live in Louisville, KY.

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