In chapter 1 of Brazilian Evangelical Missions in the Arab World, I attempt to sketch out the backdrop of Brazilian evangelicalism and missions:
[My] purpose . . . is to historically locate the work of Brazilian evangelical missionaries in the Arab-Muslim world by exploring the narrative of how Brazil went from being a mission field—a country that has historically received missionaries—to a nation that also sends missionaries to the rest of the world . . . Following a very brief survey of the Portuguese conquest and subsequent Roman Catholic missions in the sixteenth century, I will narrate the rise of evangelical missions in the country beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, a movement led primarily by mainline denominations from North America. The history of this first wave of evangelical work will be followed by a discussion of the emergence of Pentecostal missions beginning in the early twentieth century. Assessing the history, methods, strategies, and values of the pioneer evangelical missionaries in Brazil will have a number of helpful outcomes. First, it will become evident that this movement was probably a consequence of evangelical awakenings, particularly those in North America and most likely the Second Great Awakening. Second, it will help to clarify Brazil’s evangelical identity—one that is much more inclusive than its North American or European counterparts.
A portion of this chapter was published in 2010 in the South African journal Verbum et Ecclesia as "The Impact of Evangelical Revivals on Global Mission: The Case of North American Evangelicals in Brazil in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries."
Finally, you might enjoy Luis Bush's 1994 article from Mission Frontiers, "Brazil, A Sleeping Giant Awakens."
In a previous post, I shared that my new book Brazilian Evangelical Missions in the Arab World had been released. In the first of a few posts about the book, let me share some of my personal motivation for doing this . Below is an excerpt from p. 4:
For me, this study began very personally over fifteen years ago in a North African souk (market). At the time, I was serving as a transcultural worker in the region and I was hosting Julio (not his real name), who was in the process of moving his family from Latin America to join our work in North Africa. While visiting the souk one day to buy gifts for his family, I was struck by how the shop owner largely ignored me (even though I was
translating for Julio) and wanted to communicate directly with him. It was only after a half hour that he could be convinced that Julio was not North African. Standing there in the souk that day, I first became curious about the Latin-Arab connection, including the implications it might have for mission. Since that time, I have observed and admired the work of many Latin American and Brazilian evangelical [workers] serving in the Arab world. At times, I even found myself jealous of these friends whose “look” allowed them to blend in so well and who seemed to have far fewer barriers adapting to Arab culture than I did as a North American.
While part of my appreciation for Brazilian transcultural workers is due to differences between my [North American] culture and theirs and how those differences impact ministry in the Arab context, I also feel a sense of commonality with them. First . . . I would also identify myself as an evangelical . . . [and second] . . . after ten years living among and ministering to Arabs, I can intimately relate to the process of language acquisition, cultural adaptation, ministering in another culture, and generally living and functioning in the Arab world.
I am delighted to share that this new book, which I started working on in 2008, has been published by Pickwick Publications (Wipf and Stock). I am grateful to the fine editorial team and their willingness to help us tell the story of missions sending from the majority world, especially that of Brazilian evangelicals.
While I will make a few more posts about the book in the weeks to come, for now, have a look at the back page summary and some endorsements from Brazilian and global mission leaders. Of course, if you'd like to buy a copy, you can do so HERE.
"From a mission field to a missions sender." These words capture the story of the Brazilian evangelical church, which has gone from receiving missionaries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to becoming a movement that presently sends out more global laborers than the churches of England or Canada do. After narrating Brazil's missional shift, in this volume Smither addresses one fascinating element of the story—Brazilian evangelical efforts in the Arab world. How have Brazilians adapted culturally among Arabs, how have they approached ministry, and how have they cultivated a theology of mission in the process? Brazilian Evangelical Missions in the Arab World gives the reader insights from one emerging missions movement with an eye toward a more comprehensive view of the global church.
"Once a mission field, Brazil has become a mission force. Once a mission force, the Arab world has become a mission field. In this book, Smither narrates this compelling story of Brazilian missions in the Arab world based on well-documented facts, extensive research, and first-hand experience."
—Luis Bush, International Facilitator of Transform World Connections
"I do not know of any other work which has simultaneously portrayed the Brazilian ecclesiastical and missional context so well, emphasizing our positive and negative points. If one wants to understand what the Brazilian mission movement is all about, one should read this book."
—Silas Tostes, Director of Missão Antioquia
"The present study is of immense importance to missionary work among Arab Muslims. Its unique contribution derives from the fact that it is original, up-to-date, and thorough in its analysis of historical data and field research. The result of Smither's work should be carefully understood and applied by mission leaders—both from Brazil and from other parts of the world—as strategies to impact the Arab-Muslim world."
—Robson Ramos, Brazilian missiologist
"Smither is distinctly qualified to address the issue of Brazilian missionaries working in the Arab world. In addition to having worked for fourteen years among Arabs, he is a gifted and accomplished missiologist and researcher with a passion for Brazil . . . [This] is required reading for anyone who is concerned about seeing the name of Christ declared among all nations."
—João Mordomo, Director of CCI-Brasil
"This book has surprised me for its historical accuracy and its well-done research among Brazilians in the Arab context. This book comes at a time when Brazilians are becoming a key part of the evangelization of the world, in particular the Arab world."
—Odijon Ribeiro, former Brazilian missionary in the Arab world