In just over ten years, our church in Monte Mor has undergone several transformations and positive growth on the part of the Lord. The story of our congregation begins long before its official founding in 2013; in fact, it backdates to John Walker and his family, who moved to Brazil to serve as missionaries in 1964. Years later, in 2003, after settling in Brazil and developing a Christian literature ministry, one of his sons (Harold Walker) started a Bible School located in the rural area of Monte Mor, São Paulo. In 2010, under the leadership of Angelo Bazzo, we realised the need to not only have a place for teaching the Word but also a place where we could apply all those teachings, the church. In 2013 we moved to the urban area and planted the church right in the city of Monte Mor. Since then, we have seen the Lord bless us greatly.
With a strong emphasis on the study of the Word, constant prayer for the church and a longing for a genuine revival in Brazil, the Lord has continued to bring more and more people to join us on this journey. Today, in addition to the congregation in Monte Mor, there is another congregation planted in Campinas, and we have been working in two more cities in the region (Indaiatuba and Piracicaba).
2020 was a challenging year for everyone around the world. All areas of society were affected, including the church. In Brazil, it was no different: prohibitions on gatherings, loss of income, and tension in the air. However, to our surprise, our growth was the biggest in years! Even in the areas where we had just started working, the growth was remarkable.
“… to our surprise, our growth was the biggest in years! Even in the places where we were just starting to work, the growth was remarkable.”
Despite our inability to go out on the streets and do door-to-door evangelism, the desire that the Word of the Lord would continue to spread fast remained in our hearts, so the strategy that the Lord gave us at this time was to spread His Word through social media. We started broadcasting Sunday services and studies during the week. With many locked up at home and afraid the COVID virus was some ‘plague’ of the last days, many people rushed to online church looking for spiritual food and refuge. With this, our reach on social media tripled!
Several people who had contact with the Word through social media simply started to pack, leave their jobs and move to Monte Mor to meet with us, both singles and whole families. Over the past 12-months, we have added at least 100 people to our community! Taking into account that our community is still relatively small, with only 240 members in the congregation in Monte Mor, an increase of 100 people in one year is very significant. The arrival of all these people caused a new spirit to take hold of the church, making it even more energetic in moments of worship, prayer and service to the Lord and neighbours. We believe that it was the Lord who brought them here, and because of the arrival of so many new brothers and sisters, our meeting space became too small, and we needed to start a second service, one on Sunday mornings and the other on Sunday evenings.
“Jesus is encouraging us to build a place for His presence to dwell.”
The Lord closed large-scale meetings to encourage His people to build authentic, close relationships from house to house. Thanks to that, this past year, we have opened four home groups with new leaders, and our Bible Schools are also going from strength to strength, serving more than 50 students in person (face to face) and more than 2500 in our online schools. We also took advantage of this time when He locked us in our homes to sit at Jesus’ feet and review what our true calling as a community was. Doing this during the pandemic sparked a real explosion of purpose and joy throughout the community. Jesus is encouraging us to build a place for His presence to dwell.
“The growth of the church amid a pandemic shows us that in all things, we must be guided by the absolute sovereignty of God and not guided by fear.”
What Can We Learn From All This?
The growth of the church amid a pandemic shows us that in all things, we must be guided by the absolute sovereignty of God and not guided by fear. “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1: 7 (NKJV)
He is much more present than most people think, and His control of history is much more absolute than many realise. We believe that in this season we need to learn to trust His wisdom even when it gets in the way of our plans; and when we cannot see clearly where He is going or what He is doing. Once again, we need absolute confidence in His leadership, even when He baffles us. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
May we continue to do what we do – build our local families well, disciple those the Lord puts in front of us and ask the Lord for His wisdom to keep us connected as a family of love, with or without a pandemic.
Catch up with what God has been doing within Four12 and our partnering churches under News.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Victor serves as one of the church leaders in Convergencia Church and is one of the directors of the Local Prayer Room and the Forerunner School. He is married to Larissa and father to Stephen. Victor also served as a missionary for four years in Mozambique.