Spirit-Led Revival Movement Sweeps Brazil
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- New figures released recently show Christianity is increasing in Brazil.
If the trend continues, it is predicted that more than half of all Brazilians (109 million Christians out of 209 million citizens) will be evangelical Christians by 2020.
So many Brazilians have already been born-again that they've influenced all areas of life, even helped lower the divorce and alcoholism rates.
Land of Revival
Brazil is a land in revival -- a land where tens of thousands flock to a single church on Sundays -- a place where millions gather in the streets at massive worship events.
It's a place where belief in miracles and healings are high.
Randy Clark's Global Awakening organization has made Brazil a particular target for what they do -- training average Americans who want to move in the miraculous.
This is the cutting edge of Christianity. Dozens of Christians pay thousands of dollars to come thousands of miles just to pray for healing for the people of a foreign land.
Ian Patterson of Montara, Calif., saw instant healing for a lady who had lived with constant pain in her joints for years.
"She had these shooting pains down her legs and extreme joint pain all over," Patterson said. "So she just began to do toe touches and began to jump and dance around and shout. She was just pogo-ing, dancing up and down."
"It was obvious that God had done something for her and she was weeping this whole time, because she'd been in such pain and the pain was completely gone," he explained.
Wendy Anderson of Bellevue, Wash., wouldn't quit praying for a woman who had been deaf since birth and the woman began to slowly hear during the prayer.
"And she started to hear even more sound a lot more clearly," Anderson said. "So I asked her about what percent. And she said about 80 percent. I asked her if she wanted it to be 100 percent healed. And she said yes yes! So we prayed again and asked the Lord to come with more power and she was healed -- miraculously, 100 percent healing."
"When people who know they're sick become well, they want to know the source," said Pastor Michael Shea, who works with Global Awakening in Brazil. "And when they find out that Jesus does those things, they want Jesus."
In a world where it seemed Communism and humanism might sweep away religion in the 20th century, the swelling numbers indicate the biggest movement of the 21st century is Spirit-led Christianity.
"How can being Spirit-led trump a cold religion or trump humanism or trump atheism?" Shea asked. "It's because of the demonstration of Spirit and power.
"It shows the compassion of God. It attracts people like flies, and people who've been healed won't shut up about Jesus," said Richard Kinney of Conyers, Ga.
Also, the people of the cities were anxious to show their gratitude to God.
When the popular worship team Diante do Trono came to Brasilia, a city of 1.5 million, 1.2 million people showed up to worship with them.
In Sao Paulo, two million people showed up in the streets to help them tape a worship video.
The transformed believers have learned to use their vote as well as their witness.
Surveys show the neo-Pentecostals and charismatics tend to be more politically active and have more unshakeable convictions on many issues than their secular counterparts.
Spirit-led voting along with Christians dedicating their lives to God and worshipping Him, have led to many changes in some Brazilian cities.
"The crime rates go down," Shea said. "You can see political changes happen. The Lord touches a city government and decisions are made that are beneficial for the people of the city."
'The Manger of the Revival'
Belo Horizonte is a city of some three million located in Brazil's interior. Many people say they first felt the revival fire that's now sweeping across Brazil. That's why they call their city "The Manger of the Revival."
"In 1998 there were more or less 5,000 members," said Pastor Marcio Valadao of Lagoinha Baptist. "Today we have surpassed 35,000."
Lagoinha Baptist itself sees some 150 people won to Christ every Sunday at its seven jam-packed, joy-filled, colorful services.
Valadao's daughter, Ana Paula, leads worship at the church.
"This is something only the Holy Spirit can do," Paula said.
Yet, it's what the church and its members are doing outside church walls that reveals why the revival could come to affect an entire culture.
Christian TV Network
Four years ago, Lagoinha Baptist bought a local cable TV station and has now turned it into a 24-hour broadcasting powerhouse to the entire nation -- featuring some 40 programs aimed at reaching every kind of possible audience.
"We try to take the message of the Gospel to every single person," Valadao said.
The network's manager, who doesn't accept a salary, said as soon as any money comes in, the network uses it to create another new show.
"We have childrens' shows and music shows. We have preaching and Bible studies. We have shows for women where we have even cooking," Paula said.
Even the Christian Broadcasting Network is involved with its own staff of Brazilians producing their own version of "The 700 Club."
"The church today is understanding that they must go beyond the four walls of the church," said Christian pop singer Aline Barros.
"The place for the salt is not inside the salt-shaker, in other words the church needs to be in every area of society," Valadao said.
In Brazil, the people dedicated to the Kingdom of God have begun to shape the world around them.