Brazilians Embrace the Joy of Christ

By Ron Nickel and Logan Ryan   •   June 12, 2022

girls taking selfie
On June 11, more than 68,000 people descended upon Copacabana Beach—not for sunbathing, surfing or volleyball, but to focus on Jesus Christ. The one-day event, called Esperança Rio, featured a message from Franklin Graham, music from six artists, and an invitation to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.
Franklin Graham at podium
The weather was a topic of conversation and concern all day long, as rain spattered on typically sunny Rio de Janeiro. “Whether the sun shines or the rain falls, we’re going to preach the Gospel,” Franklin Graham encouraged the local team beforehand.
people walking down street
Despite an almost constant drizzle, Brazilians made their way to Rio de Janeiro’s coast armed with umbrellas, ponchos and excitement for what God would do. “We’ve never had an event like this in our town,” said two young women, 20 and 17 years old, who traveled nearly two hours to get there.
Franklin Graham at podium
While Franklin Graham has preached in other Brazilian cities, this trip was his first in Rio. He spoke to the largely Portuguese-speaking crowd through an interpreter.
dancers in colorful outfits
The event began with a colorful group who sang, danced and performed a skit that explained the Gospel in a way children could understand.
young people with raised hands
A worship band from São Paulo, Dunamis Band, traveled up the Brazilian coastline to lead the crowd in praising God. Their most popular song encouraged those singing along to turn their eyes to Jesus.
Theo Rubia
“God is calling you to be faithful for the rest of your life,” said Brazilian singer Theo Rubia. “Raise your hands if you’re going to be faithful until the end.”
Dennis Agajanian on guitar
The Brazilian crowd cheered loudly for Franklin Graham’s friend Dennis Agajanian, who sang a portion of his country classics in Portuguese.
Will Graham at Esperanca Rio
Then, people took a break from dancing and clapping as Will Graham, through an interpreter, introduced his dad as the man responsible for introducing him to Jesus Christ.
Esperanca Rio crowd
Franklin Graham talked to the tens of thousands listening about the meaning and value of their souls: “Let’s say you owned all the property here along Copacabana Beach,” he said. “Your soul is worth more than all of this. … Your soul has been lost to sin, but Jesus redeemed it with His blood.”
kid in poncho
Even those who stayed home could be encouraged through the online livestream. People watched from other parts of the city, as well as across the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal. “We got to praise him in the storm!” one woman commented.
men hugging
After hearing how they could receive the free gift of salvation, many prayed to repent of their sins and start a new life with Christ.
Franklin Graham at podium
“We’ve got a lot to celebrate,” Franklin Graham said after leading that prayer. "I hope to come back some time when it’s not raining and enjoy the sunshine.”
KB jumping
The celebration began immediately with American rapper KB getting the crowd back on their feet. He prayed from stage, “Lord, do powerful things in this country for your glory.”
Jesus flag
A man weaved through the packed crowd carrying this huge flag in Brazilian colors.
Aline Barros
One of the biggest singers in the country is Rio’s very own, Aline Barros. She sang a blessing over thousands of her fellow Brazilians, to which they responded “Amen.”
book in Portugese
Local believers and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) staff work together to make sure every person who responded to the Gospel Saturday has resources to grow closer to Christ. These devotional booklets were handed out to children who accepted Christ.
After hours of music and messages, a beloved Brazilian worship leader, Fernandinho, sent the crowd off with lyrics about God’s character echoing in their minds.
kids on adults' shoulder
Would you pray for the people of Rio de Janeiro? Please pray for the local churches as they welcome new believers, and for this next generation of Christ followers to boldly rely on Him.