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.

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