Friday, March 23, 2007

The Big Survey

Well, we're finally almost done with the big survey. Two weeks ago, we trained our team of brazilian researchers, and last weekend, we hit the streets to interview 450 residents of Porto Alegre in thirty different randomly selected census sectors to determine if they have a relationship with Jesus Christ or not.

For years, we have made "guesstimates" about the number of believers in Brazil. The numbers from the Brazilian Census bureau are grossly over-inflated and include Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and small children in homes with a Christian parent. The best "guesstimate" for Porto Alegre after cleaning up the census data has been that the city is 3% evangelical.

Once the data from our scientific survey is analyzed, we will finally have an accurate picture of the immensity of the church planting and evangelistic task that we face.

So what have we learned so far? That no matter what the final numbers may show, the darkness in PoA is absolutely astounding. We have had people identify themselves as evangelicals and spiritists, refuse to answer the question about whether they will reincarnate because they might already have done so (thereby showing a lack of knowledge about their own belief system), tell us they have received Christ, but communicate with the dead, and a host of other incredibly confused and sad commentaries of spiritually confused, blinded people. We had people began to weep when we asked them spiritual questions, people ask us to return to visit (we weren't presenting ourselves as an evangelical group, but as a generic religious survey company, so that we would not influence the results), and tell us absolutely horrendous stories about their lives.

Many of our interviewers were deeply moved and shocked by what they discovered. As I have shared with them, now that we have seen the sobering reality, they have a much greater spiritual responsiblity for their city - as do I.

What else did we learn? That PoA is not as wealthy as many want to make it appear, that rabid dogs still roam the streets (that made for a few tense minutes in one of the slums my team was in), that many of our Christian brothers don't know and probably don't want to know the spiritual reality of their own city, and most of all, that there is A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE to reach PoA for Christ.

But - in the midst of the darkness, God has already started to shine some light. As I walked two desperately poor neighborhoods last Sunday, I desired to see new churches planted in those communities. I was in a meeting on Thursday, and met a pastor who is planting churches in those same two communities. We talked, and it seems like God is opening the door for us to bring a volunteer team in to give an evangelistic boost to their work. God is good - He is starting to bring light to the darkness, and giving us the privilege of being a part of it! But...we can't do it alone. We need your help through your prayers and your personal involvement in the work. Won't you join us?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about "indiferença cristã" and you are right when you wrote "many of our christian brothers don't know and probably don't want to know the spiritual reality of own city". One week ago I was in Caxias-Ma with Pr. Marcelo, Pr. Michael, Lilia e Silene (Clínica de evangelismo).
We spent 2 and a half days there and few people came to join with us. It's not easy but I feel that we have two missions now:
#To help our church to understand we have a big responsability and we need to wake up;
#To live Christ in our live, preaching the good news about Him.
I have learned a lot in each mission trip and God has helped me how and what to do.
God is faithful.