The picture above was taken last month, only a week or so ago, in Uberlandia, Brazil. My wife and kids were born there, and I lived there for almost three years. That’s a far cry from the “lifetime” of mission service I intended to put in. In any case, the man in the white shirt to the left hand side is Eric, a member of a church in Iowa that supports the mission in Uberlandia. The man in the grey shirt to the right hand side is Troy, the youth minister for the church in Iowa (he’s also the guy who baptized me, both times). They went to Uberlandia to make what we hope will be the first of many such visits from the primary supporting church. Marcelo, my brother-in-law, is the man who planted the church there. He desperately needs more financial support to keep going. He works as a teacher at a public high school, but limits his hours so he can work with the church. He has a terrible time keeping up with everything, and the members of the church are new converts and not equipped enough (yet) to carry on without him. He’s working on equipping them, but again, time and finances limit what he can do.
Troy commented in an e-mail after he returned to the States that he’d like to move there, get a job and learn the language to help Marcelo. Brazil is like that…wonderfully addictive. The reality is that it is very difficult for Brazilians to get work in Brazil, let alone foreigners. Dreams that somehow the fact you speak English will open doors are illusory. Portuguese is the primary language there (not Spanish), and English is of limited use. As an English teacher I had very highly skilled, well-educated students with Master’s degrees and multiple specializations that struggled to keep the jobs they had. The job market is intense and difficult. Opening a business in often a losing proposition as well. Brazil is not a business friendly country by its laws (although the multinationals seem to do well….) and most small businesses close within months of opening. If you have a job or a business, you have to work hard to keep going, and for someone trying to do bi-vocational ministry this is a major obstacle.
The only way I can see myself doing ministry in Brazil is either A) as a fully supported missionary with mission income entering from Stateside churches or B) being fully supported for a few years while I finish a degree in law in Brazil and then establish myself in that profession for support.
Of the two options, I’d go for either. I just want to go back to Brazil and get on with the work.