There is more to be excited about than just the Olympics happening in Brazil this month. This past weekend, the Baptist churches in two states in Brazil—Piaui and Maranhao—celebrated the 70th anniversary of WorldVenture in the country. Brazil was one of WorldVenture’s first locations for initial mission work 70 years ago, with missionaries going to these northeastern regions to plant new churches, as well as train local Brazilians to lead others closer to Christ. Thanks in part to WorldVenture’s involvement in the region, the church association now boasts 182 churches and 233 church plants.
During the Baptist church convention this past weekend in Bacabal, WorldVenture’s Vice President of International Ministries Marty Shaw represented the organization and presented the church association with a plaque. Shaw and Jim Thorp, International Ministries Director (IMD), both spoke at the conference, where the theme was “Transformed by the power of the kingdom of God.”
“Throughout these years, WorldVenture workers have maintained a great relationship with the Brazilian leadership that allowed the mission to continue to turn over leadership to the local pastors,” said Jim. “The fact that the Brazilian leadership has done such a great job of carrying on the ministry even with a reduced missionary force (we currently have two people in that region) is a testament to the foundational work done over these 70 years.”
Marilee Morden, a long-time WorldVenture missionary in this region of Brazil, was present at the event, saying she recalls more than 70 WorldVenture missionaries who have been a part of that region.
“This event is very significant, as we remember what God has done these 70 years through the missionaries who served here and touched the lives of so many,” said Marilee. “We look forward to the future and what He wants to continue doing through His church and our partnership with the church association.”
IMD Corrine Thorp also attended the conference. She and Jim have started two churches in the fourth and fifth generation of church plants, with one of those churches recently starting another plant. “It is incredible to see how the church has spread through church planting from one church to another so that we can often find five generations of church plants,” she said. “WorldVenture missionaries helped get this going and planted a lot of the early churches but the Brazilians have continued the work.”
WorldVenture has previously written about one WorldVenture couple appointed to Brazil in 1960, taking their four children to Brazil on a freight ship. Margaret and Al Palfenier helped the Brazil field in many capacities, one of which was to serve the leprosy colony in the local area.