BRAZIL, LAND OF OUR CALLING
Phillip R. Allen
The FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC of BRAZIL,
is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. It is a country of
extreme contrasts. Its some 170 million population, with about 70% under the age
of 30, makes up a “Young Brazil” under amazing development, quickly becoming a
first world country.
It has been my privilege to travel extensively throughout Brazil’s vast area of almost 3,286,000 square miles of land. (Actually 1/12 larger than the continental USA). Believe it or not, in 1973 while visiting two tribes of indians in the state of Acre, I even found an area where no one knew what a Coca Cola was! What is even more interresting is the fact that an indian lady had a foot pedal Singer sewing machine & she was actually using it, I have the pictures to prove it. It is politically subdivided into 27 states, plus the federal district. The national capital is the interior city of Brasilia. The largest city is Sao Paulo with some 13 million souls. The metropolitan area would include some 23 million population. Some say by 2010 it will be the largest city in the world.
Arriving in Sao Paulo from Miami by Brazilian Airlines “VARIG”, for the first time in our lives, in the wonderful country of Brazil, on Sunday morning, October 17, 1971. Veteran missionaries Bob Brennan, Clif New, Jim Rose & others, met our family, and quickly helped us get settled into a rented home, buy furniture, vehicle, & of course enrolled into the "Portuguese" language school, the very next day. We stayed in the Brennan's home those first few days.
Language study consisted of 4 hours per day, 5 days a week, during 9 months of classroom study. Our lovely & efficient Brazilian instructors very patiently drilled us into memorizing Portuguese frases like “Eu não falo Português” (I don’t speak Portuguese). And “Eu sou Americano” (I am an American). And we had to learn when to end a word with “o” or “a”, depending if it referred to a male or female. Needless to say, this was one of the most difficult times of our missionary experience. (Deputation was nothing compared to learning another language. And most missionaries know the statistics of “drop outs” that never finish deputation. A few don’t even finish language study). One wonders if God really called them, or if they ever read I Corinthians 10:13 or Matthew 28:20 & other encouraging promises from Gods Word.
But, in spite of the very “trying times”, we came out speaking “their language” & using many gestures with our hands, which is a typical Brazilian practice. Some gestures we use in the USA, we learned we could not use in communicating to Brazilians. The meaning would be quite the contrary & offensive.
My dear wife, Charlotte, tells of her experience after language school. “What a joy it was when, after explaining the plan of salvation to a young Brazilian, in her language, she prayed & trusted Jesus to save her soul”. All of a sudden, our difficulties, trials & tribulations seem to have no more meaning. When some precious soul for whom Jesus died, understands the “Gospel” and comes to Him, and receives The Lord as their own personal Savior, there is joy unspeakable & full of glory!
We were still in language school when a fellow missionary (Dr. Jim Rose) needed to go home. He would leave his work without a pastor, because of the urgency of his need to travel. I took my family out to say good bye and also to see some of the interior of the state. While there, a young Brazilian (José Adilson de Oliveira, age 19 at the time) asked me “What are you doing?” I responded “Studying Portuguese in São Paulo.” He then asked ”Why don’t you come be our pastor, we are loosing our missionary?” I then looked at the veteran missionary who had founded the work and asked him “What do you think?” He replied “That’s up to you.” Without even thinking about all that my answer would involve, I said “O.K., I will.” I felt such joy and peace in my heart. I was now a “pastor” in a national work.
The difficult part is that it was 6 hours away, one way, on a long dangerous two-lane highway (today much of it is 4 lane). And truck drivers then, were altogether unfamiliar with any of the common courtesy driving habits. We lost count of the times we were literally forced off the highway to make room for one or two trucks passing each other. I also discovered that I would be preaching live, for 30 minutes every Sunday AM before Sunday School, on a local radio station.
We rented the house where the departing missionary had lived & bought most of the furniture he had not stored for his return. This meant “Two Rents” & two of everything. Our expenses almost doubled. As I thought about it, it was frightening. But oh the joy of seeing the Lord provide in so many wonderful and unexpected ways. He is faithful, just as He promised. We just need to trust Him & take Him at His Word, by faith. God honors faith. Faith removes the fear & fright! Praise the Lord!
During the week I had my language school teachers help me with the translation & pronunciation of my sermons. I also paid two of them to translate & type up a shoebox of sermons the departing missionary (Dr. Jim Rose) had given me. (I’ve often commented publicly, that if I have had any measure of success, it’s because of that missionaries’ good sermons). We would leave for the interior, 6 hours away, on Friday afternoon after language study classes. Have visitation & a youth meeting on Saturday. Sunday morning, radio program. Then I had the adult Sunday School class. Preached the AM & PM services. (I literally “read” my lessons & sermons. By the way, this “trial” helped my Portuguese greatly). Most Sunday afternoons were spent in open air services out on nearby farms. The joy was when souls were saved at the invitation, and I was able to baptize them. Sunday night we drove the 6 hours back to São Paulo. Then back in language school at 8:00 AM Monday morning.
This lasted the remaining 3 months we had in language school. When we finally relocated to the interior, I collapsed from exhaustion & dehydration and was literally “taken” to the local hospital, having been "cramed" into a VW "Bug". There I was treated with special care, but there were not enough blankets & I was so cold I left & went back home. Later when I returned to pay my bill, I had opportunity to witness to several doctors & office personnel. What a joy it was to be able to witness in the language of the people!
My precious wife Charlotte & children have always been a great asset to our missionary work. Sure, there is a real sacrifice on all sides, both the missionary as well as the ones who stay behind (parents not only wave goodbye to children, but also to grandchildren they won't get to see grow up). But the joy comes when we reach that golden shore & go through the portals of glory. That’s when we will all realize the benefits of having made any sacrifice by giving to missions or gone as a missionary.
One Sunday afternoon, our four children (Andrew was to be born two years later in another work) were playing in the yard near the wall on the street side. We lived on a hill and our house was on the corner near the bottom. A large truck was parked at the top of the hill and there was an unattended child in the cab playing. The brakes were accidentally released and down came the truck into our wall & yard, crashing into our garage & throwing bricks & mortar onto our vehicle. The wall fell exactly where our children were playing. It just so happens that only one minute before, we had called the children in to get ready to go to a farm for an open-air meeting where I was to preach. Once again the Lord showed Himself faithful & protected our children and us. Oh the unspeakable joy we experience as we serve the living God! I can’t help but add here that one of those children is now a missionary to Brazil & working with us in the ministry of church planting. Another is married to a lay preacher & soul winner. Amen!
Over the next few years we were able to turn several churches over to national pastors (this of course, with the help of other co-workers). This is always with mixed emotions, leaving & going to another area. But the joy of seeing the work become an “indigenous” church makes your labors worth it all. After all, the missionary is to work himself out of a job, so to speak. The ultimate goal is to leave the work with national leadership & self-supporting.
October 24, 1985 the Lord led us to the interior city of São Sebastião do Paraíso - Minas Gerais. The next day would be their 164th anniversary. All these years without a Baptist Church. Only God knows the number of lost souls who died & went to hell before a missionary arrived in this typical Brazilian City. Just within an hour’s drive of this city, we can get to 11 more towns, also with no Baptist Churches. We set our goal for the region. Reach all 12 of these cities with the gospel of Christ, and plant an Independent Baptist Church, leaving a Brazilian pastor in each one.
Oh the joy we have experienced as the Lord has worked through our labors. Souls saved, men called to preach, several now are pastors. Couples surrendered to mission work. One of our Paradise Bible Institute graduates is pastor of the First Baptist Church in one of the 12 cities we mentioned in our area. One couple is in Portugal, another going to Nigeria, Africa and one couple back in Brazil as missionaries. Plus our own son James, as “fruit” of our labors, met his wife in this city & together they answered God’s call to missions. James & Soraia did some Bible School in Brazil & finished at Gwinnett Hall Baptist College in Lawrenceville, Ga. They are now finishing their 2nd term in Brazil working with us through Macedonia World Baptist Missions. Yes, there were many obstacles to overcome. But the joy of the Lord gives us strength to keep on pressing on.
Joy is a small word that expresses what Charlotte & I feel as we look backward to what God has done with & through us. We also look forward to going back to the field January 16, 2003 and to what the Lord has for us to do over the next few years, until Jesus comes. Our three ministries, Church Planting, Paradise Bible Institute & Camp Hallelujah as well as the congregation in Jacuí are now under the capable leadership of trained Brazilians.
Much is yet to be done in reaching the other cities & towns of our region. We trust other graduates from our Bible Institute will help start new churches in these areas. Please pray for the many other regions of Brazil that do not have a missionary. We desperately need reinforcements. There are unlimited opportunities to serve the Lord in Brazil. What a joy it is for me to present this field to you who have come across this message. May the Lord of the harvest speak to the hearts of many couples who will make application to our fine mission board which is an arm of the local church, Macedonia World Baptist Missions, as candidates for the field of Brazil. The address is: P. O. Box 519 Braselton, GA 30517-0519 Phone: 706/654-2818
Pray with us as we (our son James
and I and our families) make plans & prepare to move further south to the
city of Joinville, Santa Catarina during the year 2003. More will be said about
this in later publications. You may also be kept up to date through our prayer
letters also placed on this web site monthly.
Yours for a harvest of precious souls in Brazil
Missionary, Dr. Phillip R. Allen
September 15, 1999 (Revised October 29, 2002)