BGEA Bringing Hope of Christ to Brazil
My Hope project aims to reach farthest corners of nation
October 1, 2008 - Joana D'arc approached the platform constructed in the middle of the immense football field of Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro—at that time the largest football stadium in the world.
by Geremias Couto
The year was 1974. Billy Graham had concluded his message, and hundreds of people were pouring from the seats and bleachers in response to the invitation to receive Christ. The 200,000 people in attendance helped make that Crusade one of the largest Billy Graham had ever held.
Joana had been invited by one of her friends. As she walked forward, she thought about her life and the message she had heard. Then, along with hundreds of others on the field, she prayed and put her faith in Jesus Christ.
The decision she made that day radically changed her life. Her Crusade counselor lived in another city, but for two years she took it upon herself to disciple Joana through weekly letters until Joana’s faith was solid.
Since that day in the football stadium, 34 years have passed, and Joana continues to serve the Lord. Today, as director of the Department of Life and Mission for the Methodist Church of Brazil, she is overseeing her denomination’s participation in the My Hope World Evangelism Through Television project Nov. 6-8.
In addition to the Methodist Church, dozens of other denominations and independent churches are involved in the project, in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
More than 53,000 churches, representing every region of the country, have signed up to participate. The goal is to reach the entire nation—which has the world’s fifth largest population—with the message of hope in Christ. Pastors in participating churches are training members in the Matthew and Friends strategy, in which they invite friends, family members and neighbors into their homes to watch evangelistic broadcasts featuring messages from Billy and Franklin Graham.
This strategy is a key element of the project. When Christ's disciple Matthew was converted, he held a banquet and invited friends to his house to hear the message of Christ. The Matthews of the My Hope project will be doing the same during the November broadcasts.
The use of homes as an evangelism tool was common in the early church, said Jabes Alencar, president of the Interdenominational Council of Pastors of Brazil. Many Brazilian churches had also used this approach in the past but had abandoned it over time, Alencar said.
The My Hope national office was opened in São Paulo in August, 2007. More than 1,000 coordinators and trainers have been raised up, including a national coordinator for each denomination and regional coordinators for non-denominational churches.
Between March and May of this year, hundreds of meetings were held all over Brazil to show pastors what My Hope is all about. Additional meetings between June and August trained the pastors in how to carry out the project. Now pastors are training hundreds of thousands of their church members to be like Matthew.
Pastor Orlando Silva, president of the Brazil for Christ denomination, called My Hope one of the most efficient tools he has seen for church growth. The broadcasts, to be aired during prime time and without commercial breaks, will reach the farthest corners of Brazil, thanks to a structure that has been set up solely for this purpose. The programs will air Nov. 6-8 via the Bandeirantes television network.
As Christians have learned about My Hope, many have come to believe that the project is God's answer to the prayers of the Brazilian church for revival.
"One of the main characteristics of My Hope is that it eliminates denominational barriers and allows everyone to work together in the conquest of thousands of souls for the Kingdom of God," said Pastor José Wellington Bezerra da Costa, president of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in Brazil.
And because of the scope of the project, the potential for results is breathtaking. It is possible that more than 500,000 homes will be opened and that more than 5 million unsaved people will be invited to watch the broadcasts.
Just as God changed the heart of Joana D’arc in Maracanã 34 years ago, believers are trusting that He will change many more hearts during the three days of broadcasts. Sócrates de Oliveira, executive secretary of the Brazilian Baptist Convention, said, "We will have the greatest harvest in the history of our country."