Belo Horizonte, a Portuguese name meaning “beautiful horizon,” is ready for harvest, according to church leaders in the bustling Brazilian city. The capital of the state of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte will host the Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham, May 27-29.
“The experience during My Hope confirmed to pastors that harvest time has arrived in Belo Horizonte,” says Galo Vasquez, the Director of Ministries for BGEA in Latin America. “Now with the Festival, it has given them a sense of optimism. They say, ‘This is the Hour of Belo Horizonte,’ because they are sensing that God is going to do something unique.”
Belo Horizonte was founded in 1897 and is Brazil’s third largest city with a population of some 2.5 million inhabitants and over 5.1 million inhabitants in metropolitan area. The city is also a leading cultural center, with more than three universities, a historical museum, numerous libraries, and sports stadiums.
In terms of its spiritual climate, Belo Horizonte tends toward syncretism. “Brazil was influenced from its very beginning by African culture and was conquered by the Portuguese,” says Vasquez. “It mixes elements of the Christian faith with elements of animus and spiritism and witchcraft, so you find syncretism in the atmosphere.
“Yet, in the last few years, we’ve seen a trend of people changing their worldview,” Vasquez adds. “They seem to be shifting from one religion to another religion. In a way, that prepares the environment for our purposes because people are in transition as far as their beliefs are concerned.”
Vasquez acknowledges that the current climate presents an open door for the Gospel. “It allows us to come in and present the truth of the Gospel, to make them aware that they are in the right place when they are searching.
“People are searching for something to believe in. It’s a great opportunity to convey the message that it is not something that they should believe in, but in someone–and that someone is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Belo Horizonte Videos
Building on Hope
In 2008, when the BGEA brought My Hope to Brazil, Christian churches across the nation worked together in a whole new way. Church leaders, not only from Belo Horizonte and the state of Minas Gerais, but people from the whole country came together under one umbrella. “They had one single vision of making Christ known to the whole nation,” says Vasquez.
Belo Horizonte was forever changed. “For the very first time,” Vasquez adds, “pastors and leaders of the Christian evangelical churches in Belo Horizonte experienced the significance of working together to make an impact in the city.”
The churches had never done something of this nature, he says, “and this is true not only in Brazil but throughout the whole continent. There had never been an attempt to do such an incredible major mobilization and spread of the Gospel nationwide. For Brazil, this was unique. And it happened!”
A Festival is Born
The success of the My Hope project captured the imagination of pastors and generated excitement. They saw new bridges and open doors, and began to think about what would happen next. So they considered different kinds of events and approached the BGEA.
“Several cities sent letters of invitations to us, and we went and explored different possibilities,” explains Vasquez. “We came to the conclusion that Belo Horizonte should be one of the first cities to start as a follow up and a continuation of gathering the harvest in Brazil.”
For over a century, the Gospel has spread throughout Brazil but there had never been a major breakthrough in Belo Horizonte. “It has been a very difficult place for the Gospel,” says Vasquez.
“Yet, in the most recent years, all of a sudden, the churches have begun to experience an unexpected growth. People are shifting; they are thinking in new ways and they are searching.”
It is in that context that the Festival is arriving. “We are looking forward to a great harvest as a result of the prayers of God’s people, as a result of the hard work of the churches, and their conviction that this is the time for them,” Vasquez adds.
Vasquez shared several prayer requests on behalf of the Festival team:
- For logistics and operations, that the team can overcome challenges.
- For finances. The local churches make a commitment to raise a percentage of the funds toward the budget. That has been difficult because of economic conditions and the recession that has made an impact around the world.
- For the proclamation of the Gospel in May. Pray for the unsaved, that God will prepare their hearts so that when they hear the Gospel, they will respond to it.