As you read this post, these persons—Buddy and Emily Kirk, Cynthia Colvin, Billy Thomas, and Mac and Jeanne Fuqua, from our association are in Brazil on a mission trip. They are being led by Dr. Cecil Taylor, professor of Religion at the University of Mobile. Did you know that our mission heritage in Brazil dates back 126 years, very near the beginning of Baptist work there?
The story goes like this. Following the loss of the South in the Civil War several planters and their families moved to Brazil to continue their plantation lifestyle. Some were Baptists and wanted missionaries to come to Brazil and establish work. (Many of them located in the southern part of the country near San Paulo.)
At first, beginning in 1871, Southern Baptists worked with these immigrants by establishing English speaking congregations. Among the early preachers was a Jewish convert, Solomon Ginsberg. He evangelized in several of the South American countries. His biography is titled The Wandering Jew. Presbyterian and Methodist English speaking churches were formed during this time. And soon American Protestant missionaries were being sent to Brazil.
Brazil was a colony of Portugal and consequently Roman Catholicism was the dominant form of Christianity there. Protestantism was often persecuted. As in most of the world, religious freedom was not accepted by the government. The conflict began as missionaries began to seek to win converts from among the natives and from Portuguese speaking persons of European heritage. Since Vatican II in the early 1960s persecution has largely subsided. Since then Pentecostalism has experienced great success in Latin America. Our Baptist work has grown and the Brazil Baptist Convention is a strong one. Yet there is still much to be done. Truly, the fields there are proving to be “white unto harvest.”
Continue reading Our Mission Heritage V—Brazil