The forecast was for rain when more than 150,000 young people packed out three stadiums in Brazil last Saturday to commit their lives to Jesus and send out missionaries to the world.
However, the day dawned bright and cloudless in Sao Paulo, where 50,000-plus people crowded into Allianz Parque Stadium and the Morumbi Stadium was filled to capacity of 66,000.
Another 30,000 showed up Brasilia Nacional Stadium in the nation’s capital, Brasilia, despite pouring rain. About 1.7 million watched the 12-hour event on the Portuguese livestream and more than 560,000 on the English one.
Co-organiser Teo Hayashi, who attended all three stadiums in a “crazy” day, said the average age of the audience was 24 – “so we’re talking about the future of the Brazilian church.”
Hayashi, founder of university ministry the Dunamis Movement and pastor of Zion Church in Sao Paulo, said that alongside a commitment to evangelism there was also a strong emphasis on social justice – including support for the adoption of vulnerable children and teenagers – which struck a chord with the nation.
“We are yet to see a movement of God that includes social transformation where the social mission goes beyond the four walls of the church and you start to see society transformed – peace, justice and a joy in the Holy Ghost in society, politics and so forth.
“I believe our generation is craving for that – the Millennials aren’t too impressed with megachurches; they’re impressed with an authentic faith that actually transforms their neighbourhoods, their schools, the social injustices that they’re in touch with – that’s what they’re looking for; and I believe that’s God’s heart and we as kingdom ambassadors should be doing that and The Send is all about saying yes to that Great Commission.”
Planning for The Send Brazil began a year ago in Orlando, Florida, at The Send Conference, a collaboration among several American ministries including YWAM (Youth with a Mission), Lifestyle Christianity, and Lou Engle Ministries.
Speaking to Eternity from Sao Paulo, Hayashi said the vision was not for just another Christian stadium event but to achieve measurable outcomes in terms of global mission and social transformation.
“We developed an app. The app was the main connector between the message and the people and so as we went through the day, we would refer the young people to go to their phones and to commit to the outcomes,” he said.
“On February 8, we had 11,000 young adults saying ‘yes’ to start something, a ministry on the university campuses, 7000 high schoolers committed to start something in their high school; we had 18,500 young people in Brazil say they want to be trained to be sent to the nations as missionaries. We have 50,000 Brazilian young people committed to a daily Bible reading plan; we have 44,000 young Brazilians say ‘yes’ to the Jesus fast, which is a 40-day fast from March 1 and ends on Easter Sunday. We had 7900 get saved or reconciled during The Send and we had 3526 young adults committed to adopting an orphan.”
Australian evangelist Christine Caine, who spoke at the conference, tweeted: “I’m utterly astounded by what God is doing in Brazil. This is Morumbi stadium packed out with a generation hungry for God. The thing is, I’m now on my way to speak at another packed out stadium in the SAME CITY.”
Another Australian, Steve Chong, founder of the RICE Movement, who was in the two Sao Paulo stadiums along with 22 Australian RICE colleagues, said “it was like being in the womb of revival – it was like being born. When you’re in revival, it’s effortless. People were getting out of wheelchairs. People were getting healed all around us. It was beautiful.”
Chong said that when God pours his Spirit out in revival “it doesn’t just contain itself to the church, it actually affects every sphere of society.”
Hayashi, who was born and raised in Brazil but spent his twenties in the US, said the thousands of commitments at the weekend events were just the beginning.
“Our goal is by the end of this year we would get one million Brazilians in the YouVersion plan – as of now we have 50,000, so we have some work cut out for us,” he said.
But with more than 2.3 million views of the day’s events on YouTube, it’s hoped that viewers will click into the app and start the Bible reading plan.
The vision for sending missionaries to the nations is also highly ambitious.
“We believe that today Brazil has around 80 million new, born-again believers. If we could give 1 per cent of all the believers to the nations, to the Muslim world, to the Hindu world, to the Buddhist world, we are talking about 800,000 Brazilian missionaries in the nations, so that was one of our projected outcomes,” Hayashi said.
Chong commented that there are just 400,000 or so missionaries in the world at the moment and that Brazil is already the second largest missionary sending nation.
“Brazil has just recently passed South Korea and is behind America,” Hayashi confirmed.
“Missions is not something that we are talking about enough in the Brazilian church, so we wanted to make that centre stage. If each Brazilian church – I’m not talking about every Brazilian family – if each Brazilian church would adopt one child, Brazil would have no orphans or street kids. So we have within our reach ways to deal with the social injustices in our land. We need awareness and we need to say yes to the challenge, and so that’s what this was about.”
Hayashi said what impressed him most, beside the hunger and the passionate worship of the young adults, was their eagerness to say “no” to safe Christianity and to live sacrificially for God’s priorities.
“There was a very sobering feel to the day; there was not a hype that was made by entertainment,” he said.
“People were understanding ‘I am committing to lay down my life for the gospel. If I have to move to an Arab nation and be persecuted I will.’
“It was a historic day. Brazilians are known to be passionate, but it was not just a cultural passion – there was something sobering about the spirit there. People were saying ‘I’m going to take up my cross and I’m going to live the life of the Apostles, how they lived.’ And so that is what was so remarkable about the day.”
While he doesn’t know why God has brought revival to Brazil, Hayashi said there was a true hunger in his nation for a move of God.
“There were certain things that were happening in our nation in terms of corruption, social justice, that just made us look to God and we said, ‘Lord, if you do not intervene, we do not have much of a hope.’
“But the church has pressed through in prayer and the fact that we’ve had 40-plus years of spiritual fathers and mothers of the church leading solemn assemblies, night meetings, prayer vigils around the country, has shown much fruitfulness. We are reaping things that previous generations have planted with tears and in prayer.”
Hayashi, who is excited to be coming to Australia to speak at the RICE rally in August, believes revival is possible here too.
“I believe that God has a heart for Australia, he has a heart for Japan, where my roots trace back to, he has a heart for America, for Europe, for Africa, for Brazil, for Argentina. I believe that we will come to see a day where we will not just see revival that is limited to Toronto or Los Angeles or Argentina or to wherever, I believe it’s going to grow to a day where we will see revival in the nations.
“There are definitely some hot spots, but I don’t believe that’s the end goal – that’s just the beginning and, as we know, revivals spread out to other nations. That’s what we’re believing for, that God will spread this movement, God will move the spirit to the nations.”
Although not formally invited, the country’s controversial President, Jair Bolsonaro, showed up at the stadium in Brasilia because he wanted to witness the historic event, which local media called “the largest Christian simultaneous event in Brazil’s history.”
Speaking briefly to the crowd, Bolsonaro called himself “a full-on Christian” and left the stage in tears, according to Hayashi.
Hayashi said the Brazilian evangelical church as a whole supports Bolsonaro, a conservative who is pro-life and pro-family and came to power a year ago on a platform of rooting out rampant corruption and cracking down on crime.
“I honestly thought that we would have a backlash, but we didn’t. Actually, even the secular press treated the event very neutrally, so I felt that was very positive,” said Hayashi.
“The church as a whole was very grateful that he showed up. The Christian church here is actually very grateful that he is the president. I’m not sure what the Australian press covers about him, but he is controversial in some of the things he says. but I would say 90 per cent of the things that he is standing for, the Christian church is behind him.”
Brazilians have enjoyed a steady rise in Christian growth over the years, as they witness more and more youths profess their faith in Christ and express their willingness to go out into the field and win souls for the kingdom of God.