Assemblies of God SearchSite GuideStoreContact Us

Daily Boost

  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




A Century of Growth

A hundred years ago, no one imagined the impact two Swedish immigrants would have on an entire nation. Though the Assemblies of God began in the U.S. in 1914, the Pentecostal movement in Brazil was birthed four years earlier when Gunnar Vingren and Daniel Berg arrived in November 1910. Their story is still unfolding today.

To commemorate the Brazil Assemblies of God’s centennial anniversary, thousands of believers from Brazil and around the world gathered in the city of Belem, northern Brazil, on June 18, 2011. At Olympic Stadium, at least 90,000 people — the largest crowd in the stadium’s history — gathered for the closing service. More than 2,000 people accepted Christ.

A second celebration was held in São Paulo, November 15, 2011, with more than 23,000 people in attendance at Pacaembu Municipal Stadium. Both events marked an exciting past, present and future.

Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Director Dick Nicholson and Assemblies of God World Missions Communications Director Randy Hurst discuss the phenomenal growth of the Brazil AG and its ?impact on the nation.

Dick: I like to describe Brazil as an 800-pound canary in a cage. Everything associated with it is big. Its 203 million people make it the fifth-largest country in the world. Full of diversity, it is home to jungle tribes along the Amazon River, several of the world’s largest cities and multitudes of barrios, which are very poor city neighborhoods. In the midst of such diversity, huge evangelistic efforts are taking place, and churches are being planted at an incredible rate.

Randy: Why do you believe the church in Brazil has flourished?

DN: Brazilians are passionate in personal evangelism and are solidly committed to the local church. As a result, they are energetic, vigorous church planters. They are willing to travel up and down the Amazon basin and its tributaries to reach every little village along a complicated network of inroads. They are highly respected, and politicians are very aware of them. An Assemblies of God believer running for office has a good chance of getting elected.

The evangelical presence in Brazil has grown from about 5 ?percent to about 25 percent of the population during the last 20 years. While the evangelical church has grown dramatically, the number of Catholics has dropped from 95 percent of the population to 75 percent. As the Assemblies of God and the evangelical community continue to grow stronger, it becomes increasingly possible that, within just a few years, half of the country will be evangelical.

RH: Talk about the uniqueness of Brazil’s church structure.

DN: Brazil’s church structure is quite elaborate, but it is conducive to the kind of growth it is experiencing. There are levels of leadership within the local church that extend into larger ministries. A pastor of a large church usually has several hundred smaller churches under his supervision. Churches proliferate and integrate smaller churches into their ministry.

RH: What is the general approach to church planting ?in Brazil?

DN: Church planting takes place primarily on a local church level. In fact, all outreaches basically begin at the grass roots. Because a strong leadership structure exists among churches, local churches are empowered to grow and multiply.

RH: I’ve heard it said that in the early days of the Brazil AG every believer was supposed to be an evangelist. Isn’t evangelism part of the Fellowship’s DNA?

DN: That is absolutely true. This principle has been in place from the beginning. Every person is expected to “win someone.” After visiting Brazil recently, I left thinking, These people are committed to bringing believers into the local church and not just getting them saved. Since Brazilian believers are very committed to the local church, involving new believers is one of their strengths. They teach people not only to love Jesus, but also to love their local church.

RH: What is the next step for the Brazil Fellowship?

DN: Although Pentecost, including the establishment of the Assemblies of God, has been in Brazil for 100 years, much work remains to be done. Believers sense this, and we’re seeing some real momentum building taking place. One exciting development is a growing awareness of the need to send missionaries around the world. Churches are committed to reaching the dozens of unreached people groups in their own country, and they are also expanding their worldwide ?vision. I believe we will see many churches rise up as believers realize they can help reach the world with the gospel. Tremendous days are ahead!

To read more about Brazil's Pentecostal history, visit world.ag.org.

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.