I believe that history about China in Brazil is changing. One denomination wrote several pages in their newspaper, circulation 300,000. Another large agency is doing a Latin Conference in Brazil about China. Praise the Lord indeed. An organization has asked me to coordinate a China Challenge conference in Brazil and lead 300 Brazilians to China in 2008.
David Botelho, President, Horizontes, Brazil, July 18, 2005
It all began with prayer.
David had already accepted the challenge to take 300 Brazilians to Beijing in 2008 for outreach during the Olympics. In fact, David had been burdened for China since the 1970s but always felt it was impossible to go. Now, after all those years, it seemed the dream might come true. However, he knew little about China ministry and needed a key China contact. So, in 2004 he began praying for God to connect him with whomever that contact was to be.
By then, Steve Miller had been praying for six months for God to raise up a key Latin missions leader to spearhead Latin American involvement in the Beijing Olympics.
In February, 2004, they "just happened" to attend the same missions conference in Seoul, Korea and "just happened" to be roommates there. Spirits were quickly knit together. The very next month, Steve and I were squashed in the back of a Fiat, criss-crossing Brazil for two weeks, speaking every day to churches and pastors about the challenge of China.
After one message, a dear young Brazilian couple wept with us. They were faithfully ministering to the deaf in Brazil but had felt a call to China for over ten years. Like David, they had always thought it was an impossible dream but now saw God was opening a way. There are twenty-one million deaf in China, and it so happens that a couple I helped place there seven years ago were just this year convinced that their life's work is to reach them.
Like China, Brazil has been experiencing explosive church growth in recent years. Six thousand Brazilians are coming to Christ every day! More than half of the TV networks are evangelical Christian networks. We spoke in a church that was only eight years old, had 10,000 as an average attendance and had already birthed numerous daughter churches. A mere fifteen years ago, identifying oneself as "evangelical" routinely meant being rejected for a jobbut no more.
Brazilian Christians share much in common with their Chinese brothers and sisters: wondrous zeal, evangelistic fervor, willingness to sacrifice, experience with discrimination and persecution, a growing awareness of their responsibility in world missions, lack of financial resources, millions of first-generation believers, limited materials in their own language, mixed experiences with Anglo missionaries, many unreached minorities in their midst and moral degeneration in their society. Could these common traits translate into significant advantages for Brazilian Christian service in China?
Another advantage is their lack of political baggage. Ask any Chinese about Brazil and absolutely nothing political comes upjust football! What a convenient tie-in to the Olympics. We found a wonderful video of many of Brazil's World Cup championship team members sharing their testimonies for Christ that had already been translated into Mandarin, but no avenues for distribution had been found.
Last November, David Botelho and a co-worker attended China Challenge in Atlanta. He briefly shared with the entire group the quandary of 900 Brazilian missionary candidates willing to go to the "10/40 Window" who simply cannot afford to go due to the limits of the Brazilian economy.
Some may remember hearing stories of the mass failures of Brazilian missionaries due to poor training. Horizontes has a mandatory five-year training period before missionaries are placed long-term. This training alternates schooling with apprenticeships in other Latin nations, England and in the "10/40 Window." Steve and I were much impressed with the quality of the workers at their training school in Monteverde. These workers included some back on scheduled furloughs from North Africa, north India, Nepal and other challenging assignmentsand all eager to return to the field.
Finally, just last February, David and twenty-seven Brazilian Christian leaders went to China with us for three weeks. The group included the head of a large Christian movement in Brazil, the missions director of a church of 80,000 with 300 daughter churches, the head of a Brazilian church denomination, the pastor of a church of 20,000, the leader of a Christian agency base, businessmen and so on. Most had never been out of Brazil before.
We went from the North Korea border in the far northeast to the minorities in the southwest. Loooong train rides! I will never forget one pastor's wife whose tears never ceased as she prayed for hours looking at Chinese villages out the train window. Next year she is coming back, bringing a team of twenty-five from just her own church. She wrote: "I buried my heart in this nation for God to use it to raise Christ there."
As I write this, the Intercessors for China prayer calendar is being translated into Portuguese in Brazil. A condensed Portuguese version of Operation China is planned. A football coach is preparing to go and hold football clinics. A team of Christian football players is being recruited to go for exhibition matches. A Chinese house church pastor has been invited to come to Brazil to speak at large youth conferences next month. The pastor of nine ethnic Asian churches in Sao Paulo is preparing to move to China as is a professor of water treatment science.
Anyone leading a team to China in 2008 is required to make two trips to China prior to that date; he or she must also be committed to ongoing China ministry afterwards. This is not hit-and-run Latin American guerrilla warfare. When the 1988 Olympics came to Seoul, there were less than one hundred Korean missionaries serving in foreign fields; today there are 12,000!
As the whole world goes to China, what might God use China to do in the whole world? May His glory, indeed, cover the whole earth!