Nearly 35 years ago in Rio de Janeiro, record crowds filled Maracanã, the world’s largest stadium at the time, but it wasn’t for a world-class soccer event. Instead, 590,000 people gathered to hear Billy Graham preach the Gospel during a five-day Crusade. When he invited listeners to receive Christ, more than 30,000 responded. It was a landmark event for the church in Brazil, as well as one of Billy Graham’s largest western hemisphere meetings.
This November, God’s amazing work in Brazil continued–with an event so large that Maracanã could not contain it. Too vast for one venue, city or state, it stretched from the sparsely populated Amazon region to the high-rise apartment homes of São Paulo, the world’s fourth-largest city.
More than 840,000 people from some 53,000 churches trained to be “Matthews”–people who follow the Luke 5 example of Matthew (Levi), who invited people to his home to meet Jesus. On Nov. 6–8, the Matthews invited people to their homes to watch evangelistic broadcasts featuring the preaching of Billy Graham and Franklin Graham, or “A Vow to Cherish,” a film about how Christ can sustain a marriage. It was all part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s continuing ministry My Hope (World Evangelism Through Television).
Pastors from many denominations had sensed that the church in Brazil needed to build on its commitment to evangelism. They agreed that My Hope would help churches sharpen their evangelistic focus because, in a sense, each Matthew hosted a three-day Crusade, and tens of thousands of people came to Christ–one-by-one in living rooms, businesses and churches.
Last month Decision featured My Hope testimonies from the Amazon region. This month focuses on stories from Christians in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, where thousands decided to stand for Christ and make Him known in their corner of the world.
The sheer size of Brazil and the number of participating churches means that results are still being collected. Still, by press time, some 23 percent of homes already had reported more than 159,000 commitments to Christ.
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