Tuesday, September 25, 2007

American and Native Christian Gaúchos

For your viewing pleasure, here's a picture of Cam and I in our native Gaúcho clothes after church on Sunday, in honor of Semana Farroupilha, the week when Gaúchos celebrate the war of independence from Brazil in the 1800's.

Here are some photos of some of the native Gaúcho worship services we attended last week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Month of Prayer for the Gaúcho People - Week 4

Welcome to PoA, capital city of the state of RS, home of the Brazilian cowboy and the economic hub for Southern South America. The International Mission Board’s TEAM GAUCHO is responsible for targeting the 4.5 million people living in the urban area in and around Porto Alegre, as well as the Northern Coastline of the state.

TEAM GAUCHO helps Brazilians to start new churches in simple, reproducible ways so that these new groups of believers can start new churches themselves.

For example, this new congregation in the satellite city of São Leopoldo started from evangelistic Bible studies in the homes of several different adult children of spiritist mediums. A number were saved, and met as separate house churches for some time. Now, the church has rented a facility and started large-scale public worship services.

This church was started by a couple who learned how to start new churches from a member of TEAM GAUCHO. They meet in a simple home in a slum, and are spreading their faith to others in their neighborhood.

TEAM GAUCHO also works to help establish and strengthen new church starts through the use of American volunteers. These volunteers come for a week or two and evangelize through personal evangelism and evangelistic impacts in conjunction with members of the local church which is being started. These new believers are trained in evangelism by the team, and those who are saved as a result of the work of the team are folded into the new churches.

We would like to introduce you to our IMB missionaries on Team Gaucho and let you know how you can pray for them.

Jeff and Cam Dunson have served as church planters, as well in the training and equipping of new church planters and in evangelistic support ministries to help new churches in PoA get off the ground. Jeff took over the position of Strategy Coordinator in 2007 and is responsible for developing strategies to encourage the rapid multiplication of new churches.

Bill and Cheryl Arbo are focusing on starting churches among the upper class in Porto Alegre. Professional Gauchos can be hard to reach, as their circles of friendships tend to be closed and they spend much of their lives behind well guarded walls and fences. However, the Arbos have a gift for building relationships in creative ways. Whether it is by forming friendships with the leaders of the local police force, reaching out to students in an English school, or ministering to sick neighbors, God is giving them access to the upper class.

Larry and Marla Green served in the Northern Brazilian state of Pará as church planters and evangelists. The Greens arrived in PoA in June of 2007 and will be working as church planters among the lower middle class.

Will you commit to pray for Team Gaucho?

1. Pray that God would show the members of TEAM GAUCHO the best way to find and train new church planters and start new churches.
2. Pray that new churches would be started and would quickly start new churches themselves.
3. Pray that God would protect the members of TEAM GAUCHO and give them a special anointing of His Holy Spirit to reach the people of MPoA for Jesus.
4. Pray that God would pour out His Holy Spirit and bring many Gauchos to Christ through the work of TEAM GAUCHO.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Month of Prayer for the Gaúcho People - Week 3

Welcome to Porto Alegre, or Port of Joy, the capital city of the Southern Brazilian state of RS. Almost 4.5 million Gauchos live in the Metropolitan Porto Alegre area, one of the most modern cities of any in Brazil. This bustling metropolis has one of the highest standards of living in all of Brazil, world-famous soccer teams, a strategic economic position in South America, and many cultural attractions. The city has a European flavor, with a mixture of immigrants from many nations lending to a multi-cultural atmosphere. However, the background of their traditional Gaucho roots binds the people together with a fierce pride in their culture.

Despite the relatively high level of development and standard of living, Porto Alegre has the highest suicide rate in all of Brazil, and many thousands of witchdoctors and spiritist mediums freely practice their ceremonies on the streets of the city. The people are bound by an empty mixture of cultural Catholicism and voodoo-like witchcraft that leaves them afraid of the power of evil spirits. Because of their proud nature and strong sense of heritage, Gauchos are frequently slow to accept help from outsiders.

Unfortunately, the good news of Jesus Christ has often been seen as an outside, foreign religion that is unrelated to the needs of the Gaucho people. As a result, Porto Alegre is one of the least evangelized major cities in all of South America. As few as 2% of the population of the city have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Currently, there are only 37 Baptist churches in the entire metropolitan area. There is a crying need for more churches to proclaim the saving, liberating power of Jesus Christ to this desperately lost people. The International Mission Board’s TEAM GAUCHO is working to help Brazilians start new churches in simple ways that do not require major financial commitment or outside support so that these new groups of believers can rapidly reproduce and start new churches themselves. Your missionaries need your help in partnering with them through prayer, giving and personal involvement to bring light to the 4.5 million people in Metro PoA who need to meet Jesus. Won’t you commit to help?

Will you commit to pray for the city of Porto Alegre?
1. Pray that God would raise up workers for the harvest in Metropolitan Porto Alegre.
2. Pray that God would open the eyes of the Gauchos, that they would understand the good news and be saved.
3. Pray for the church planting work of the International Mission Board’s TEAM GAUCHO and ask that God would bless and bring much fruit.
4. Pray about how God would have YOU to be involved in reaching the people of Metropolitan Porto Alegre for Christ.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Month of Prayer for the Gaúcho People - Week 2

Rio Grande do Sul is the Southernmost state in Brazil and is a land of stunning beauty. From soaring mountains to untouched beaches, majestic rivers, pristine forests and endless plains full of cattle, it is a land truly blessed by God.

RS is also a state full of small towns and cities, as well as a huge metropolis with more than 2 million people. However, RS’s greatness is not only in it’s natural beauty or its modern industrial cities, but also in its kind and hospitable people – the Gaúchos.

In the so-called interior portions of the state, or areas outside the capital city of Porto Alegre, more than 6 million people live in 400 counties – and all of them have something in common – they need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The people have a tremendous pride in being Gaúcho. They are a people who have a rich history and yet also have a desire to move on toward a better future.

The needs are great. There are people living in terrible poverty, tremendous spiritual confusion, people living under the power of addictions, and pursuing the things of this world, all without peace, without joy, and without hope.

The Gaúchos need Jesus. They need the salvation, joy, and victory that only He can bring. But how can they meet Jesus? Someone needs to take the message. We have the responsibility to speak with each Gaúcho about Jesus Christ.

There are less than 70 Baptist Churches in the interior and we have the privilege and responsibility to proclaim God’s Word, disciple new believers, and help churches to multiply and grow. How can we do this?

Team Interior RS (or Team IRS) is stepping into the gap by training churches in evangelism, promoting the study of the Word of God, training leaders and new teams for the work, and helping start new churches.

Imagine church members trained to better their churches, churches with a vision to reach all peoples, tribes, and communities with the Gospel, churches planting new churches in every corner of RS. Would you commit to being a part of this plan?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Month of Prayer for the Gaúcho People - Week 1

Welcome to Rio Grande do Sul, the Southernmost state in the country of Brazil. This is a land of tremendous God-given beauty, from sweeping mountains and deep canyons to hundreds of miles of pristine coastline.

The people of RS, called Gauchos, are the proud descendants of Portuguese, German, Italian, and native Indian peoples, who lived for years as free ranging cowboys and formed their own country during a lengthy war of independence against Brazil. It is a land where past and present do not clash, but mesh. Much of the population is actively involved in traditional cultural reenactment groups that keep the dances, history, and music of the past 150 years alive and fresh. Rio Grande do Sul is a land in touch with its rural roots, where traditional cowboys still herd cattle across the plains, and rural and city folk alike enjoy meat roasted Gaucho-style on spits in the ground and the famous Gaucho chimmarrão, or green tea drunk piping hot out of a gourd. However, the same gauchos that celebrate and glorify their history on the weekends hold high tech office jobs in modern factories and office buildings in numerous large cities spread throughout the state.

Rio Grande do Sul is also a state that is well-known for its strong ties with voodoo-like African witchcraft. These spiritist practices brought by slaves from Africa hundreds of years ago are mixed with a cultural Catholicism that is completely devoid of the life-changing power of the gospel. The state has the highest suicide rate in Brazil, and its people are living in fear and darkness. It is not at all uncommon to see animal sacrifices to false gods on busy street corners in the big city. Among the upper class, many of those who are not involved with witchcraft are agnostics who want nothing to do with God. It is estimated that only 2-3% of Gauchos have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

So many are living in darkness. Will you commit to pray for the people of Rio Grande do Sul and ask God to bring them His light?

1. Pray that God will open their eyes to the truth of the gospel and save them from the darkness of false religion and empty philosophy.
2. Pray that God will raise up workers, Brazilians, Gauchos and missionaries alike to start new churches and take the gospel to this desperately needy people?
3. Pray for the International Mission Board missionaries on TEAM GAUCHO and TEAM IRS, as they seek to reach Portuguese speaking Gauchos in different regions and people groups of RS. Ask for God to give wisdom, protection, and tremendous fruit in their church starting efforts.