RECIFE, BRAZIL (BNc)- This past weekend was my second visit to the Prazeres congregation in the greater Recife area of northeastern Brazil. My first impression was confirmed on my second visit.
In 2006 I taught “This We Believe,” a course on doctrines disputed among the churches today. This time I taught “Total Transformation,” a course to help people be changed into the image of the Creator through Christ.
Through these visits I was able to observe this church and, like Barnabas in Acts 11:23, rejoice at the grace of God evident in their midst.
Below, the Prazeres church’s building.
A Growing Church
One missionary remarked that the Prazeres church is growing faster than any of the 20 or so congregations in the area. There are a number of missionaries in the area, but none at Prazeres. In two years the church has doubled in size, almost entirely through evangelism, and now has a Sunday attendance of around 65.
When I asked during the seminar who was a new convert, I lost count of the hands that shot up.
A Responsible Church
This church is paying evangelist Luciano Campos a worthy salary. They receive no outside or foreign help. They pay their bills. They paid for my trip to teach the seminar this weekend, which cost about US$381, as well as my expenses while with them.
They understand that they should carry their own weight.
Below, editor Randal with Prazeres evangelist Luciano Campos and his wife Lene.
A Compassionate Church
After sitting and participating in the course for 11 hours last Saturday, five carloads of Prazeres Christians loaded up and at 11:30 p.m., took soup, bread, and water to the street people in the center of Recife. Many of them didn’t arrive back home until 3:30 a.m.
The widow in whose house I stayed is well known in the neighborhood for helping the homeless and down-and-out. Street people often come to her house asking for food, and she makes a point to feed them as often as she can. She knows many of them, such as the man who knocked Sunday evening while I was there. She said she often speaks to them of Christ, except for the drunks, whom she refuses to waste words with. But she still feeds them.
This is a church which has compassion for the less fortunate.
A Faithful Church
Recently, when the church stood up and disciplined two men for teaching false doctrine, they lost a handful of people, but stood firm, even in the face of criticism of other Christians in the area who listened to the side of those disciplined.
The Recife area has been beset with false teachers, but the Prazeres church refuses to turn aside and adopt progressive doctrines or be quiet to please those who want to preserve a false peace of silence.
The Growth God Wants
In the face of charges that churches of Christ are dying out, the Prazeres church is a wonderful example of saints who are stedfast in doctrine, responsible in work, benevolent toward all and zealous in evangelism.
May God multiply their tribe.