According to the 2014 census, the Brazilian population now stands at a staggering 204 million souls. Roman Catholicism still dominates the religious landscape of the fifth largest country on earth, with an estimated following of 65% of the population.
So called “evangelicals” have made tremendous strides in recent years, and while it is a broad term, 22% of the population, or 42 million, now use this name to describe their religion. The tragic reality is that what is being preached to the masses is not the “Gospel of Christ,” but rather “another gospel” of dead works, large payments, and empty rituals. For many religious leaders, the term “gospel” is the shop front of their successful business enterprise rather than a message that warns sinners of their imminent danger and tells them of God´s most gracious offer and of the Savior´s priceless worth.
While the primary focus of our work is always the public declaration of divine truth, both to believers and unbelievers, we have become increasingly burdened about how to reach the masses who don´t come to our meetings, but may be interested in reading some Bible-based literature. The evangelization of the evangelicals is a pressing need, as there are thousands who study the Bible but have been led astray by false doctrines and damnable heresies. With so much unreliable literature readily available, we feel our responsibility to guide believers to wholesome reading material in the hope that they will be preserved from error.
For many years, brother Samuel Davidson and his wife, living in the state of Pará, have seen the potential of literature in their bookstore in the center of the city of Santarém.
In the state of São Paulo, brother Ronnie Watterson and his son Bill have made a huge impact with far-reaching effects through the translation and publication of reliable, assembly-based literature. In Rio Grande do Sul, brother Lindsay Carswell has produced many thousands of gospel tracts and is responsible for a magazine for believers which circulates widely throughout the country. It was brother Harry Wilson who introduced us to this aspect of the work and showed us the importance of making Bible-based literature available for believers.
In the last five years, we have been able to translate and publish about 20 titles in Portuguese, including: The Tabernacle in the Wilderness by John Ritchie; Key Bible Concepts and TheDefinition of Christianity by David Gooding; This Daniel and This Ruth by Harold Paisley; Creation’s Story and Tell Me More About the Gospel by Bert Cargill; and Gathering Unto His Name by Norman Crawford. A number of other titles have been translated by professional translators and await further attention as time permits.
Over 100,000 books have been distributed widely throughout Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, and the Portuguese-speaking world. Many thousands of gospel tracts are constantly being sent out all over Brazil, and many go to the northeast of the country where there is little assembly activity. We have provided literature, free of charge, to many universities and theological seminaries in the hope that influential and intelligent people will read the truth of God and pass on what they learn to others.
Gospel calendar production and distribution increases steadily year by year, and we are thankful that increasing numbers of believers are seeing the value of using these products as a means of evangelism. I was in a large government hospital this week and saw one of our calendars in a very prominent location. I have no idea how it got there!
We will never know, on this side of heaven, all the results of this work, but we have been encouraged recently from contact with a group of believers in the city of Salvador, Bahia in the northeast of Brazil. We have been in contact with them for quite a while and, as a result of the study of the Scriptures along with Gathering Unto His Name by Norman Crawford, they have severed all links with the denominations and want to gather in simplicity, owning no other name but that which is above every name. We spent a very profitable time with them at the end of January and, while there are a few issues that need to be resolved, we trust they will continue to bow to the authority of Holy Scripture.
Beyond the borders of Brazil we have been happy to be a channel for literature to Angola. Many years of civil war there have left the country devastated, and recovery is slow. The spiritual needs of the people are vast, and while there are many assemblies, the workers are few.
We have been working with Brian Howden and the Angolan Literature Fund to source Bibles and books in Brazil and ship them to this vast land where such resources are not available. A couple of years ago we sent a container of 23,000 Bibles, and there is presently another consignment of 6500 Bibles on its way. The logistics and bureaucracy are a nightmare, to say the least, but if the powerful Word of the living God is being spread and promoted as a result, it is well worth the effort.
We value prayer for the spread of the truth in the Portuguese-speaking world. We have confidence in the power of the gospel, and our desire is that, through the printed page, Christ, Who has won our hearts, would be honored and glorified through many coming “unto the knowledge of the truth.”