During an evangelistic visit to one of the favelas in Brazil, one of my friends pointed ahead and said, “Do you remember the young girl who was shot in front of a school some years ago? It happened right there.” I had maybe 10 seconds to try to wrap my mind around it.
If you desire to minister to people in Brazil, you are now in a new territory. Many things about Brazil are very different from most of the Western cultures you may be coming from, and it will require adaptation. Culture, language, violence, churches, and many other factors need to be considered when thinking about serving in this beautiful context.
English is Not the Language You Need to Know
I know that in many places you can just communicate in English and have good interactions, however, that is not the norm here. Unless you are in big cities or working with people who had the privilege of language learning, you will need to learn the language of the country.
According to research done by the British Council, only 5% of the population in Brazil has some knowledge of English. Don’t be scared, one of the good things about our culture is that we are very open to receiving people and supporting them through their language-learning process.
Only 5% of the population in Brazil has some knowledge of English.
If you arrive with some expressions and words to survive, we will take the time to teach you our language. By showing a desire to learn how to communicate in Portuguese, many doors will open to evangelistic conversations. Study the most you can, but don’t be frightened if you do not speak the language fluently yet.
There Are Still Many Unreached People Groups in Brazil
Even though Brazil is a well-known country for its expressions of Christianity, there are still many unreached people groups within our borders. Especially in places that are hard to reach, numerous people groups still await the spread of the gospel and a Christian presence of some kind. According to New Tribes in Brazil, there are more than 160 unique people groups that are unreached by the gospel in my country.
If you want to be involved with unreached people groups, Brazil is one of the mission fields to consider. Unfortunately, many Brazilians don’t even realize the opportunity that exists in their own country.
Be Aware of Religious Syncretism
Don’t presume that someone has an understanding of the gospel because they go to church.
When doing missions in Brazil, you will find many people saying they are evangelicals. However, they will have little to no understanding of the true gospel. Others will say that they are Catholics but with a heavy influence from African religions. So, don’t presume that someone has an understanding of the gospel because they go to church, or that you understand someone’s beliefs by their religious affiliation. In different parts of Latin America, syncretism is strong and needs to be addressed. Be prepared to invest time to hear each person before coming to conclusions about their faith.
We Need Missionaries to Stay for the Long-Term
If you come to Brazil with a servant’s heart and a humble attitude to learn and teach, then we will welcome you with open arms.
While Brazil is easily accessible, it’s not the best place to go if you want to develop short-term mission programs, for the reasons cited above. However, we need missionaries who will commit to long-term discipleship. We need to continually remind our people of the good news of the gospel and invite them to live out the implications of the gospel in local churches.
This is a task that takes time. More and more, we need missionaries who will commit to long-term work and work alongside the different churches and organizations already operating in the country.
If you come to Brazil with a servant’s heart and humble attitude to learn and teach, then we will welcome you with open arms, praying the Lord would use you to make his name known in our country.