Introduction The ministry that is focused in this paper is the outreach and church planting program of International Mission Board missionary, Eric Reese, and not just a single church body location. This activity is centered in the slums of Rio de Janeiro where people are languishing in poverty, there is increased crime rate as well as "police protection" which is provided by drug dealers who carry automatic weapons. This calls for an evangelical urgency not only because we do not know the day or hour of Christ's return, but also because the Spirit facilitates salvation. The urgency is exacerbated by these conditions of poverty, drug abuse and violence in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro. However, "Communicating the gospel with these folks cannot wait until tomorrow … You've got to share it with them today because you don't know what their tomorrow holds" 1. Recent Growth Pattern The outreach for the favelas' young adults began in 2003 when Ciro Montes established a Christian club for singles. As increasing numbers of young people "began to be receptive to the Gospel" 2, Montes requested for and received assistance from Reese in locating and borrowing "blood pressure cuffs, haircutting scissors and sound equipment" 3. The young adults who associated themselves with Montes' ministry usually used the supplies to reach others within the favela. "By offering free haircuts, blood pressure readings and other social services, the young people offered residents an evangelistic presentation" 4. Five years later, there were underway plans aimed at establishing a third church in the general area. Pastor Javier Ysuiza of the Central Baptist Church in Rio de Janeiro organized for the planting of that third church in 2008 in a location which he described as "the most dangerous in that area" 5.


The most obvious strength of this growth pattern is; it resulted in the placement of groups in the individuals' immediate local area. In such an area of high crime and control by armed drug dealers, those who call the favela as a home are known to those who have vested interest in keeping strangers outside it. This allows church members to evangelize in the streets and thus allowing them to move freely within the area unhindered by the armed combatants that would cause suspicion and threats to the outsiders. In human terms, the leading strength of this growth pattern can also be seen as a weakness because it is so difficult for the outsiders to gain acceptance and trust as well as gaining new insights from outside the favela. However, this is only a human weakness that does not consider God's involvement in both its growth and progress. Results of the work through the first half of 2009 can be seen in Figure 1 below. Figure1. Baptisms and Church Growth, 2001 – 2009


As depicted from the graph (during this period) there was a plantation of 252 churches with a total number of 948 baptisms. The transfer growth has also been consistent. This is a local movement which involves the people in the local area who have vested interest in continuing the trends and have actively worked toward that end. Current Reach The overriding goal of the evangelistic section of the Master Plan for the Urban Poor of Rio is to "Saturate our Target communities with various forms of communicating the Gospel." 6. There has been an increase in church-based activity in the areas surrounding the three churches that have been planted in the favela even though the focus still remains on the community outside these new organizations. The current reach is heterogeneous, focusing on


young adults and also including all groups within the local area. Toward this end, the ministry maintains five broad goals: • “Goal 1 : Research and choose effective methods of reaching the lost in

Target communities to be implemented by CPT. • Goal 2: Use impact methods to evangelize the masses in Target

communities for the purpose of starting new churches. • Goal 3: Lead our CPT in implementing various and effective evangelism

strategies for reaching target communities for Christ. • Goal 4: Instill, within new believers, the importance of sharing their

faith immediately. • Goal 5: Develop and implement a plan for saturating the target

communities with Scripture for the purpose of possible new church starts." 7.

Within each of these goals, there are several steps, numbering between three (Goals 1 and 5) and five (Goals 2 and 3). Some of these contain further divisions within them. There is no single group that the ministry cannot or has not reached. There is great physical need across the entire life span, and all ages coming to seek help from the ministry.

Training Events and Focus One of the tactics designated for Goal 5 is to "Develop a plan that is reproducible" 8. This incorporates the use of a three-month "rapid reproducing church planning movement that uses ordinary members as leaders of home participative Bible studies" 9. This aims at achieving the ultimate goal of planting and developing house churches in "every urban poor area of Jacarepaguá" 10. The Bible study grounds participants in the world even as the groups focus on development and reaching of others outside each individual Bible study group. 5

Leadership training is systematic to ensure that it is complete and is indeed reproducible. In each area, we seek for people who are interested in helping their own community. Such individuals are not only approved by the church leaders, but also by the drug dealers. Currently the drug dealers have a final right of refusal due to their degree of control they exert over life in the slums. Those chosen for leadership training come only from the local area. Not only are the local people most directly invested in helping their own neighborhoods, but the drug dealers are unlikely to accept any outsider. Drug dealers' trust is essential for securing freedom of movement and evangelism in the slums. We begin leadership development by first asking the new training candidate to develop a plan of what he believes should be priority actions in his specific neighborhood. The candidate then conducts a 100-person survey within the neighborhood to assess the match between the candidate's thoughts and the insights of the people within the slum. Following this exercise, the candidate seeks and speaks out not only with local business owners, but also with the drug dealers who are the functional gatekeepers in that neighborhood. Combined with other development activities, the training begins after the candidate has completed three weeks of focused research into the needs, attitudes and perceptions of those in his own neighborhood. Practical Issues The "each one reach one" 11 approach to individual’s testimony sharing is highly cost effective and preserves scarce financial resources for practical issues of meeting physical needs in the poor areas. The ministry develops marketing materials such as video and brochures for use in U.S. churches, and uses low-cost email in communicating with American supporters. In the local area, the ministry uses tent outreach, the Jesus film, tracts and door-to-door visits as their financial resource availability permits.


Evangelism The ministry uses an array of tools in evangelizing the local community. As discussed above, best success emerged in meeting physical needs without overt costs, using borrowed blood pressure cuffs and scissors for cutting hair. This established a pattern of one-to-one communication, gaining the attention of individuals in the form of providing a service for them and demonstrating true love and care not only in some high-level group-oriented form but also on an individual basis. The ministry thus has an organized and recognized plan for evangelizing target areas of Rio's favelas. The ministry's approach has been effective in the past largely because of the individual focus and the direct care that individuals experience in their interactions with members of the small groups active within their own target areas. The focus on individuals keeps evangelistic efforts "real," and focused more on practicalities rather than on the abstractions of theory. The lack of large buildings or enough indoor space requires that events and efforts be conducted outdoors. A tent outreach enhances visibility and approachability on the part of local residents. Open-air street meetings showing a Jesus film exposes people to the Gospel and assists in discovering those who are already receptive 12. One of the goals of the existing formal plan is to train and use at least five Brazilians in "how to impact strategic communities using open-air evangelism" 13. In-home Bible studies are highly effective but generally with only those who are literate. For those who do not read or do not read well, alternatives in the home Bible studies include the use of a "story and picture book method" 14. Some of the volunteers in the favelas usually go door-to-door, typically with tracts containing the Gospel of John. These tracts are also distributed at Jesus film showings and at the tent outreaches when resources support supply are needed. 7

National and Global Missions This specific ministry exists as a global mission effort affiliated with the International Mission Board. The mission in Rio benefits from its alliance with that organization and the several US-based churches. It also gets partial support from Lottie Moon missions’ donations.

The Prayer Pillar of the Master Plan for the Urban Poor of Rio outlines approaches of gathering prayer partners and prayer support in the US. 16 Pillar 7, Advocacy, prescribes contact with other prayer partners for the marketing purposes. Maintaining contact with the US financial base provides donors with a view of how the ministry uses the funds entrusted to it. Contextual Factors As stated above, the "regulations" are more dependent on local drug dealers than on any formal legal entity. However, this ministry has a positive reputation in the community. Hiller writes about Eric Reese's experience leaving one of the more dangerous areas of Rio.17 Leaving an evangelistic meeting in the evening, he turned on the light in the cab of his truck – not for his own direct benefit, but to prove to the approaching vigilante outside his truck that he posed no danger to them or to their operations hence make up a proper judgment. According to Hiller, "A man steps toward the open driver-side window and cocks an AK-47 … the drug dealer steps away from the window and waves him on"18 after he explains that he has just finished an evangelistic presentation and is leaving the area following the meeting. Having such a good – if tenuous - relationship with armed drug dealers can be seen as a dubious honor and is much to be preferred to having an antagonistic relationship with them. The strongly negative forces in the favelas in some ways offer protection rather than higher levels of danger. Favelas' armed guards have no objections to the evangelistic activity within the favelas, and they are these armed guards who oversee permissible activity within the favelas. 8

Strengths and Weaknesses Conditions within favelas can be seen as both strengths and weaknesses for the ministry; it can be inhibited by issues such as not being able to move freely about all favelas without the agreement of the drug dealers and others who are likely to be armed and have no hesitation in using their firearms. Their protection of the individual areas also inhibits the entry of other individuals more especially to those who are strangers to them and others who exist on the same or similar levels. There is also a strong sense of community as well which works both as a strength and as a weakness. 19 Strengths These strengths are quite very strong. As discussed throughout, those who control what occurs within specific favelas in many ways may not wholeheartedly support the work of the ministry, but neither do they oppose it. As the ministry's evangelistic efforts increase, it and its partners train increasing numbers of nationals who are even more accepted by those who could otherwise provide a crushing opposition if they chose to do so. The heart and will of those associated with the home churches, outreaches and home Bible studies collectively constitute the greatest single strength of the ministry. There are increasing numbers of nationals involved in direct evangelism, thereby bypassing any opportunity of mistrust for foreigners coming through with a Gospel message which may or may not in itself be foreign to many of the residents of Rio's various favelas. Weaknesses The very fact of "protection" by those involved in various crime activities carries with it a caution that could become a weakness with little or no notice. Currently the ministry has been conducting public outreaches and has planted three churches, but the long-term goal was aimed at initiating 500 new home churches within five years' time. Achieving this goal 9

necessarily would result in drastic changes in the behaviors and addictions that currently support prostitution and drug trafficking. At that point, the ministry would have chipped into the revenue sources and control abilities of the traficantes (drug dealers) and other crime marshals. When this occurs, the ministry can expect to lose much of the support and benign dismissal that it currently enjoys by those who benefit most from various crime operations. Critical Issues Developing future leaders. The growth that the ministry has already enjoyed has resulted in the development of leaders from the local population. Preserving and promoting the sense of community. There is little "us verses them" sentiment in most favelas and avoidance of its development can help to ensure the support of those who currently hold informal power. Securing sufficient financial support over the long term. Financial needs can increase as the ministry and its growing numbers of churches reach greater numbers of people. The people themselves are ill-prepared to make any significant contributions (most financial support needs to originate from outside the favelas. Keeping American churches engaged. Lottie Moon input provides significant funding, but the ministry depends more heavily on the financial engagement of the American churches. The ministry needs to preserve its relationship with those churches in order to maintain their financial foundation. Meeting the physical needs. Haircuts and blood pressure checks are beneficial although many of them need medical or dental attention. Others need help of feeding themselves since virtually everyone in a favela can benefit from such assistance within their living arrangements.


Conclusion It is necessary to review the overall strategy periodically in order to ensure that the overall trend continues to be a positive one. Quantitative measures – people served, decisions for Christ - will be useful, but likely qualitative measures will be more meaningful in assessing true progress.


Kristen Hiller, An Urgency for Brazil's poor (Brazil: Baptist Press, 2008)


Ibid Ibid Ibid Ibid Eric Reese and Ramona Reese, Master Plan for the Urban Poor of Rio. (Reese




6, 2010)

Ibid Ibid Ibid Ibid 11





Ibid Ibid Ibid Ibid Hiller, An Urgency for Brazil's poor Reese and Reese, Master Plan for the Urban Poor of Rio Hiller, An Urgency for Brazil's poor Ibid Implementation Guide for "Following In the Footsteps of Christ: A Pastoral Plan for









Evangelization." (Diocese of Bridgeport, 2010)

Bibliography Hiller, Kristen. An Urgency for Brazil's poor. Brazil: Baptist Press, 26 November 2008 retrieved on12 January 2010 from<>. Implementation Guide for "Following In the Footsteps of Christ: A Pastoral Plan for Evangelization." Diocese of Bridgeport retrieved on 12 January 2010 from <>. Reese, Eric & Ramona Reese. Master Plan for the Urban Poor of Rio. retrieved on 12 January 2010 from <>. Rio de Janeiro - Braving Bullets., 17 March 2008, retrieved on 12 January 2010 retrieved from <>.


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