Belo '97

January 27-30, 1997
Belo Horizonte, Brazil

The Brazil Missions Movement: Alive and Well in 1997
A Special Report from Belo '97

In the same way that the evangelical church in Brazil has been growing rapidly (twice the rate of the population), so too the Brazil missions movement has been experiencing a period of rapid growth. Today some 1200 Brazilian missionaries are serving in some 71 different countries around the world with another 500 working cross-culturally within Brazil (primarily Indian tribes). Add to that the 115 who are on furlough and the 600 are working in support capacities in mission headquarters within Brazil and the total missions "machine" totals some 2400. (Back in 1989 that total was 968!)

Of the 1700 who are currently on the field, 28% are serving within Brazil (primarily with tribes) and 72% are serving outside Brazil. Of those outside Brazil, the distribution by continents is: Latin America (38%), Europe (23%), Africa (20%), Asia (7%), North America (5%), Caribbean (3%), Middle East (2%), Central Asia (1%).

When categorized by civil status, 71% of Brazil's missionaries are married, 22% are single women and 7% are single men. When divided by theological position of the sending agencies, 15% are sent out by Pentecostal agencies, 36% by interdenominational agencies, and 49% by traditional agencies or denominational boards.

Since 1989 we've been able to do yearly surveys of the Brazil missions movement. After a couple of years those single snap shots start turning into moving pictures. If you trace the growth of the Brazil missions movements through the past years, a couple of trends stand out:

Trend #1: Increasing numbers (and percentages) of Brazilians are serving in the 10-40 Window. Back in 1989 the percentage of Brazilian missionaries serving within the 10-40 Window was only 5%. Today more than 13% serve within the 10-40 Window.

Trend #2: The missions infrastructure is growing. More attention is being given to the sending base and supporting the field missionaries. In the past, many Brazilian sending structures were minimally staffed and precariously resourced. On the one hand they could contentedly announce that ALL of their missionaries' support was getting to them on the field, but on the other hand there was little budget for buying paper and paying the light bill in the headquarters office. Today that picture is changing some, both in terms of a growing acceptance of retaining a small percentage for administrative costs, but also in terms more adequately staffing that office. Today for every four missionaries on the field, there is one in the home office's administration or support team. Back in 1989, that would have been one support worker for every 10 field missionaries.

Trend #3: Brazil's own unreached peoples are being somewhat neglected. While increasing numbers are serving OUTSIDE of Brazil, the number of Brazilians working among Brazil's own Indian tribes has not grown at all! Of Brazil's 237 tribes, more than half are without any Scripture translated into their language or missionary presence. Back in 1989 there were some 500 Brazilians serving among the Indian tribes, while some 400 missionaries were serving outside of Brazil. Today there are some 1200 Brazilians serving outside of Brazil --and still only 500 are working with the Indians. In other words, the number of Brazilians serving on a field outside of Brazil has TRIPLED, while the number of Brazilians working to reach Brazil's own unreached peoples has stayed the same.

Of course, there are other needy areas which need to be addressed. Missionary training is still in it's infancy. Faithful supporting churches who don't suddenly forget their missionary while he's on the field are still fairly rare. But without a doubt, missions is alive and well these days in Brazil.

Belo Horizonte, Jan 29, 1997
by Ted Limpic, OC International, Brazil

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