Monday, December 29, 2014

Lectures in Brazil

Recently I was had the privilege of visiting Brazil. I gave a series of four lectures on "Science and Christianity", hosted by the John Calvin Institute, the seminary of the Igrejas Reformadas do Brasil (IRB = Reformed Churches of Brazil), held at the Northern Presbyterian Seminary in Recife on Oct.23-25, 2014. The IRB was originated through mission work by the Canadian Reformed Church, which still supports it by sending missionaries and mission aid workers.
About 60-80 people attended these lectures. These included students from the John Calvin Institute, as well as interested people from various Reformed and Presbyterian churches. An account of this can be found at the site of Mission Brazil (here).

Audience at first lecture in Recife

On Saturday afternoon I traveled to Sao Jose and Maragogi, two small coastal towns a few hours south. I stayed for two nights at the home of Shaun Raap, who is working for Mission Aid Brazil. On Sunday I attended worship services at the Reformed Churches of Sao Jose in the morning, and Maragogi in the evening. 

 The IRB Church at Sao Jose

On Monday evening, back in Recife, I lectured on "God, Chance, and Evil" in the Reformed Reading Room. Finally, two more lectures, on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, were given at the John Calvin Institute, to the seminary students.  

Recife has an interesting history. From 1630 to 1654 the Dutch controlled a large portion of northern Brazil. It was called "Nieuwe Holland", and its capital was Recife, which was then called Mauritsstad, after the governor Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen. Today Recife still has a number of forts, churches, and other remains from that era.

Pastor Julius van Spronsen and myself then flew to Brasilia. There, from Oct.30 to Nov.1, I repeated the first four lectures. They were attended by about 30-40 people, mostly from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPB). On Oct.31 I spoke on ""Did Science Kill God?" to about 300 students at the Mackenzie Christian High School in Brasilia.

 It was good to see first-hand the mission work in Brazil.  God has certainly blessed the Reformed churches in Brazil. Yet, it seemed to me that much work remains to be done in supporting the IRB. The IRB has a pressing need for more Brazilian pastors--particularly for eventually taking over the complete operation of the John Calvin Institute--and for training elders and deacons. In that regard, our (Canadian Reformed) missionaries and mission aid workers, are doing valuable work. 

Further, it was good to see that in other denominations, such as the IPB, there are still some faithful pastors and elders that strive to promote sound Biblical theology and practice. In that regard, the IRB, through its contacts with other denominations, can have be strong Reformed influence in Brazil.

 Aguazu Falls - Argentina side

After the lectures I traveled to the spectacular Aguazu Falls, where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet. Then, by bus and boat, on to Uruguay. On Sunday I attended a small Presbyterian mission church in Montevideo, pastored by the OPC missionaries Mark Richline and Ray Call.  This seems to be the only Reformed church in Uruguay, which is the most secular country in South America.

May the Lord bless the preaching of His word throughout the world, also in South America.

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