I’m writing from Sao Paulo, Brazil. It’s my third trip down here, and I am told repeatedly that the White Horse Inn and Modern Reformation have had a healthy impact. Ten of my books have been translated into Portuguese.
This invitation came from the Presbyterian Church—specifically, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Mackenzie Presbyterian University) founded in 1870 by an American Presbyterian missionary. I’ve known the circle of brothers who invited me for a while, since they were involved with one of the earlier trips. In fact, Augustus Nicodemus Lopez was my interpreter for a conference. Today, he’s the chancellor of Mackenzie, a 45,000-student university in the heart of an urban area roughly the size of New York City.
Although the missionaries that Calvin sent from Geneva to Rio (the first Protestant missionaries in the New World) were killed by Frenchmen who returned to the Roman Catholic Church, today Reformed theology is making a huge comeback. Lots of people—especially younger generations—are embracing the doctrines of grace.
The Presbyterian Church of Brazil is a confessional denomination: with over 700,000 members. That’s A LOT more members than all of the conservative Reformed and Presbyterian denominations in the US. There is a new Reformation spreading down here. In fact, the Presbyterian Church of Mexico, a sister church of Brazil’s, has 1.5 million members and growing. There is also something afoot in Africa (there more confessional Reformed Christians in Nigeria than North America), and Asia (especially South Korea). Many Pentecostals in these countries are becoming attracted to the Reformation.
Here in Brazil, I’m speaking at a pastors’ conference this week at the University, with about 700 people in attendance. The response could not be more encouraging. It is a privilege to be a part of the ministry of such courageous, generous, and clear-minded reformers. We have a lot to learn from our sister churches abroad!
In addition to Reformed and Presbyterian efforts, the doctrines of grace are spreading down here through groups like FIEL. I had the privilege of speaking at one of the early FIEL conferences and today they have over 1,000 in attendance regularly. It draws a lot of brothers and sisters from Baptist and other evangelical denominations. Since Angola and Mozambique are Portuguese-speaking, these groups and churches are having a huge impact on Africa as well.
Information about the conference I am speaking at is available online (see our previous blog entry for more information). We hope to work more closely with similar groups down here and make our resources available to Portuguese-speakers around the world.