In this video, Augustus Nicodemus Lopes explains the biggest obstacle to ministry in Brazil.
I think that the media has made a false representation of what an evangelical is in Brazil. There are a lot of evangelicals in Brazil. Some people say that we are close now to 35 to 40 percent in Brazil. But most of these evangelicals are from neo-Pentecostal churches, churches that are driven by a prosperity gospel, a health-and-wealth theology. The media—the world in general—thinks that to be an evangelical is to ask for money, is to offer health in exchange for giving and in exchange for any other spiritual sacrifices. This is how they look at us, even historical churches, like the Presbyterians. This is very difficult. When I start preaching and tell someone, “You need to repent and become a Christian,” this person immediately gets the idea that I am after his money as some churches do.
I think this is a big obstacle that we have to overcome. First, we have to just do basic groundwork and tell that person, “Listen, there is a difference between those churches that ask for money on TV and historical Christian biblical churches.” We have to start like that.
Then another obstacle would be within the churches themselves. The church in Brazil is still young. We’re not even two hundred years old. We are still trying to find our way of how to be a church. We do follow the model of the missionaries that brought the gospel to Brazil. But in the long run, it has become clear that we have to adapt and make changes. Sometimes this is not easy. People don’t want to change. They say, “We have done this for fifty years now, sixty years now.” But then times have changed and the culture is going ahead. The church should be relevant and speak a way that our culture and we understand.
It’s hard to get people to change and to understand that we are not compromising the gospel. The central truths of the gospel are there. They’re untouchable. We’re not going to touch that. But then, the way you present them, it can be changed. It can be adapted to the new times that we are now having in Brazil. I think those two are the two great obstacles that we have to face to see the gospel, especially the Reformed faith, go on and progress in Brazil.