199-Movements Behind Bars in Brazil

Andrew Johnson, author of If I Give My Soul, tells the story of multiplying movements in Rio de Janeiro's prisons and favelas.

Visit Andrew’s facebook page to find out more.

 

Vision validated by action

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A report from Jeff and Angie Sundell on the work in Athens. In July the team spent 30 days in the harvest. Here are the outcomes:

  • 2,746 people across Athens, Greeks and refugees, were engaged in a spiritual conversation

  • 680 people received prayer

  • 1848 heard the Gospel

  • 744 red lights — they didn’t want to know more

  • 641 yellow lights — they want to find out more

  • 79 green lights — they want to follow Christ

  • 151 believers trained in how to share the Gospel

  • 32 baptisms

  • 358 are being followed up

30 days is a long time and follow up is hard work. It’s not easy to get to consistent discipleship and church formation. But it is possible.

The people who see multiplying disciples and churches do what Jeff and the team in Athens do. They don’t just talk mission. They have a vision, they act and they mobilise others.

Want to see how all this fits together? Listen to Jeff Sundell’s vision for NoPlaceLeft Europe.

Review by Stephen McAlpine

A review of The Rise and Fall of Movements by Stephen McAlpine

I first met Steve Addison a decade or so ago when a couple of friends and I were in the early stages of church planting.  What struck us most was Steve’s humility and his wise, generous advice to a bunch of rookies starting out. It was a breath of fresh air.

Ten years later, Steve’s latest book The Rise and Fall of Movements: A Roadmap for Leaders, reflects that fresh approach we first experienced.

The Rise and Fall of Movements takes the lifecycle we are  familiar with in church leadership – Birth through to Rebirth and overlays it onto missional movements, showing how and why they rise, and just as importantly, how and why they fall.

Steve Addison’s new book is a welcome follow up to his exploration of transformational movements

Steve’s conviction is that the centrifugal force of the gospel of Jesus compels the church to be a movement that, once it stops, solidifies and settles, is in constant danger of falling into the downward trajectory of the life cycle.  And it takes a work of God among the people of God to ensure that this is avoided.

Yet it’s no scold.  It begins with Steve’s own personal journey and his honest account of how even in his church planting successes decades ago, he came to the realisation how without God’s power this thing could go south pretty quickly! He points to the moment he asked himself if the risk of moving beyond what he was already doing was worth it:

“What do I have left? I have Jesus who died for me and rose from the dead.  I have the unconditional love of God for all eternity.” Then I thought, “Ok, if that’s the deal, I’ll take it.”

read the whole thing

Movements Behind Bars in Brazil (6)

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War Cry

This story will give you an insight into the world in which multiplying movements of disciples and churches are flourishing inside the prisons of Rio de Janeiro. It shows the vitality of the churches and how they have adapted to the gang-controlled culture of the prisons.

At exactly six o’clock the Comando Vermelho’s grito de guerra (war cry) rang out from the cells in Salgado’s south wing, started by the throaty shout from a single detainee. The lone voice was immediately answered by the four hundred inmates living in the gang-controlled cells, and everyone else throughout the facility stopped what they were doing and stood silent when the gang’s call-and-response ritual began. The war cry built to a crescendo, then ended with the repetition of the powerful final phrase five times:

“Comando … Vermelho, Comando … Vermelho, Comando … Vermelho, Comando … Vermelho, Comando … Vermelho.”

A somber hush fell over the building, and in the silence that followed I asked an inmate standing next to me what I had just heard. He responded, “It’s their war cry. They do this every day and always at six o’clock.” The daily ritual reminds both the inmates and the guards that Rio de Janeiro’s most powerful gang, the Comando Vermelho (Red Command), controls the south wing of the jail.

But that wasn’t the first grito de guerra I had heard that day. Fewer than thirty minutes earlier, on the other side of the facility, the members of the Heroes for Christ Prison Church performed a strikingly similar ritual. After the ninety-minute worship service, the pastor of Heroes for Christ, an inmate himself, yelled at the top of his lungs, “By what are we saved?” Then the thirty participants answered, “By the blood of Christ!”

The pastor continued, this time with more intensity, “If he is your shepherd?” The inmates responded, matching the pastor’s heightened passion: “Then we will lack nothing!” The inmate pastor continued leading the call and response, pacing through his incarcerated congregation to make his final, most dramatic declaration: “Church, together with all the inmates here, with tremendous faith, give us Lord Jesus …” and all of the men let loose with everything they had—“FREEDOM!!!”

In Rio de Janeiro, autonomous, inmate-led prison churches like the Heroes for Christ Prison Church are the heart of Pentecostal practice behind bars. “The church is ours. It belongs to those of us on the inside,” Cristiano, a Salgado inmate and the leader of the church’s war cry, told me.

Andrew Johnson, If I Give My Soul