Mar 17: Brazil

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Federative Republic of Brazil

Latin America

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Area: 8,511,965 sq km

One-half of the land surface and population of South America. The world’s fifth largest country in both area and population.

Population: 195,423,252    Annual Growth: 0.99%

Capital: Brasilia

Urbanites: 86.5%

HDI Rank: 75 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)


Peoples: 315 (18% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: Portuguese    Languages: 193 All languages


Largest Religion: Christian

Religion               Pop %Ann Gr


Challenges for Prayer

The indigenous Amerindians have endured centuries of prejudice, oppression, massacre and exploitation, which continue to this day by encroaching woodcutters, gold prospectors and ranchers. Their unique cultures are disintegrating through despair, disease, substance abuse and suicide. Six million indigenous people in AD 1500 now number a mere 700,000, with many reduced to small bands in inaccessible areas. The large majority of these tribal groups now number less than 1,000 people. Fully 70% of Brazil’s unevangelized peoples live in the Amazon basin. Pray for:

a) A change in attitude of Brazilians to see these peoples as national treasures rather than as nuisances who slow the rapid but shortsighted development in the Amazon and Pantanal. Government laws and policies are in place to prevent the exploitation of people and land, but they have not been effectively implemented.

b) A balanced approach to protection that actually helps the Amerindians. Their isolation has yielded their immune systems highly vulnerable to outside diseases. But occasionally, those (self-)appointed to “protect” them instead perpetuate their misery by enforcing their isolation and preventing them from choosing their own appropriate development and integration into the wider world.

c) The growth of Christian networks among these peoples. CONPLEI (National Council of Evangelical Indigenous Pastors and Leaders) is a rapidly expanding indigenous, evangelical movement for tribal groups. CONPLEI gatherings host over 1,000 Amerindian evangelical leaders from around 50 tribal groups.

d) Christian agencies ministering to them, in 25 agencies with over 1,000 workers. The large majority are now Brazilian, with greater freedom and access for outreach. Pray for the work of NTM, with 500 staff and missionaries working in 36 tribes (and hoping to reach another 9), SIL in over 30 languages, WEC (Projeto Amanajé) in 13 groups, UFM in 7 groups, YWAM, CMS and many Brazilian agencies. Pray that the gospel might be shared in ways that honour and preserve the culture while elevating Christ. There are 103 tribal groups with no missionary presence.

e) Bible translation and Scripture use – SIL and ALEM (from Brazil) are pouring effort, time and personnel into this ministry which includes literacy, intercultural education and the preservation of oral traditions. There are projects in 45 languages, but a further 10 languages need Scripture translation, and many language groups need Scripture-use projects.

f) Urbanized and detribalized Amerindians are a new missiological challenge. Increasingly, many groups migrate into cities, where they experience great cultural disorientation and exploitation. Without necessary labour or language abilities, they gravitate toward menial labour, destitute slums and, too often, crime.

g) The Yanomami (12,000 pop in Brazil) straddle the Brazil-Venezuela border. Their land has been invaded, despoiled and poisoned by over 1,000 illegal gold miners. Over 2,000 Yanomami have been killed in clashes with settlers. Disease, deforestation and further mining seriously threaten the existence of this shamanistic people. NTM, UFM and YWAM work with them.

h) The Guarani – on the Paraguay border, numbering 34,000 – have been so thoroughly robbed of their ancestral lands that they are rapidly dying out through a wave of suicides, diseases and malnutrition/infant mortality. Many missionary groups from several denominations work among them.

i) The Kaiwa on the Paraguay border number more than 35,000 and struggle with similar issues as the Guarani. An oral evangelism approach is being taken to reach them.

The younger generation is fairly large (26.8% of the population) and very much in need. There is a serious shortfall of ministry directed toward children and young people; churches are only now tailoring ministry to their unique evangelistic and discipleship needs. If these are not met, all the gains of this generation could be lost in the next. Pray for:

a) Children at risk. Remember before the Lord:

     i The 8 million children at risk. Pray for the many churches and agencies with orphanages, homes of refuge and ministries of rehabilitation and training (YWAM, UFM, WH, WEC, AM, CEF and APEC, a Brazilian group).

     ii The many threats to such children’s lives: drug abuse, prostitution and particularly murder, either in gang violence or by police death squads (2,000 murders every year).

     iii The 7 million child labourers.

     iv The 600,000 girls involved in prostitution.

     v The need for Christians not only to minister to the needy but also to tackle the causes of these issues.

b) University students face many pressures, from educational to moral to financial. There are nearly 2 million tertiary students in Brazil. Pray for more workers to minister to them. There are many dynamic Brazilian-originated ministries for students and youth. Most are connected with specific churches or denominations, but others, such as Tribal Generation, work across all such boundaries. US-originated ministries such as ABUB(IFES), CCCI and Navigators are also active in helping students come to the Lord, building them up in the Word and encouraging missionary vision. ABUB has a significant publishing organization.

     For an additional 10 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

More Information

The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Brazil.