News from Your Relatives in Brazil

April 15, 2015

Sacha Alexandre Mendes

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Sacha Alexandre Mendes

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A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the third of a multipart BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on International Biblical Counseling. Today’s post is by Pastor Sacha Alexandre Mendes on News from Your Relatives in Brazil.  You can read Part One by Kyle Johnston at Biblical Counselling in South Africa. And you can read Part Two by Steve Midgley entitled 5 Concerns and Responses about Biblical Counselling in the UK.

Gospel Community

Since Pentecost, the gospel has reached a multitude of individuals from different peoples. The gospel has created an international community from a variety of ethnic groups. This gospel community reflects and proclaims the same Savior wherever you are in the globe. It is unity in the midst of diversity.

Hearing the doings of God in the lives of our global community has a refreshing effect upon our hearts. It reminds us that we are not alone and God is alive! It shows the extent of our family in Christ and how rich is the grace of God (Colossians 1:3-8).

What you are about to read is a simple digest version of how the gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading in Brazil through the advancement of biblical counseling. It is a simple story of how the biblical counseling movement is growing in a context different from yours. It reminds that the growth of the Church goes back to the core of the Gospel, not to political or geographical boundaries. This is news from your brothers and sisters in Christ that happen to live in Brazil.

The Same Origin

The modern biblical counseling movement has its origins in names such as Dr. Jay Adams. The history behind this man and his generation are familiar inside the biblical counseling movement. His books have served many biblical counselors. His ministry is a starting point to much of the current practices in biblical counseling and soul care ministries—a great legacy.

However, what is not familiar to many in the biblical counseling movement is that the first generation of modern biblical counselors has a legacy that reaches beyond the United States of America. Translated books into Portuguese had a tremendous impact upon leaders in Brazil at the 1980s. Many pastors have made drastic ministry decisions because of “Competent to Counsel” and similar writings. I am currently serving under a pastor who had a significant ministry impact through the application of some of Adams’ writings.

Writing was not the only form of legacy. In 1988, Pr. Bill Goode and Dr. Bob Smith came to Brazil to train pastors and missionaries with the same material that Faith Church (Lafayette, IN) uses in its biblical counseling training conferences. Biblical counseling training content reached Brazilian pastors and lay leaders back at that day.

The impact of the first writings in modern counseling and different training is difficult to measure. Conference after conference, gathering after gathering, I meet pastors and leaders who have their initial contact with biblical counseling through these means.

It Started Small

The exposure to writings and some training created an intense desire to minister God’s sufficient Word. Isolated from each other because of ministry circumstances, pastors used what they had to shepherd God’s flock. They were men under the conviction of the sufficiency of the Word of God. Some created a counseling culture among their churches, rescuing soul care from the secular arena to the gospel family.

Others created counseling ministries, focused on providing biblical counseling, training people, and publishing resources. Igreja Batista da Fé (Pr. Flávio Ezaledo), Igreja Batista Adonai (Pr. Fernando Sousa), and Igreja Batista Maranata (Pr. Edison Naves) are examples of the former. Igreja Batista Pedras Vivas (Pr. Jayro Cáceres) is an example of the later. They all have been doing and/or promoting biblical counseling in different ways and moments in time.

As a significant part of this story, there is Pr. Bill Moore. “Bill” has served Brazil for many years as a missionary. In 1987, he had an initial desire to organize an association of Brazilian biblical counselors patterned after ACBC (formerly known as NANC). The desire had to wait until native pastors were ready enough to engage in such a project. The group founded the “Brazilian Association of Biblical Counselors” (a.k.a. ABCB) in 2000. Since then, ABCB has worked to train people in biblical counseling and has been working to certify people (work in progress).

Although this is a brief summary of biblical counseling, let me emphasize that I do not have the ability to summarize all that took place in Brazil for the last 40 years in regards to biblical counseling. The sufficiency of Scriptures has permeated different churches and affected several individuals. There is a stream of biblical counseling in different denominations right now. Seminaries have considered using biblical counseling as the way to train pastors, even though some might define biblical counseling a little bit different from each other.

At the end of the day, biblical counseling is now a common term and concept in the midst of several ministries. Yes, we have a long journey ahead of us, but God is working down here! As the gospel advances, the Church in Brazil has matured to recognize the depth and width of the applications of the gospel in shepherding the Church: biblical counseling!

It Grew and It Is Growing

ABCB has developed a productive partnership with Faith Church in 2009 to offer biblical counseling training. Since then, ABCB has offered an annual training conference in Águas de Lindóia, 2 hours away from the city of Sao Paulo. The conference started with a little more than 100 attendees in 2009. Today, we are hosting more than 600 pastors and lay leaders, training them in 4 different tracks.

In 2010, the training reached another region of the country through the instrumentality of the missionaries Allen Yoder and Daniel Stowell. ABCB developed another partnership with a local seminary in Fortaleza, Ceará: SIBIMA. ABCB is now offering the same training 1,500 miles away from Sao Paulo, reaching more than 200 local pastors and leaders annually. The demand for more in different parts of the country is constant and urgent. We lack workers to supply the need!

How can you help? You can pray…you can come! You can pray for ABCB as the association is working to reach the next step: a robust certification process and the finances for a full time employee. You can pray for more leaders in the biblical counseling movement in Brazil. You can pray for native writers. You can pray that the Gospel advances in Brazil in its depth and width, transforming our people into the image of Jesus Christ. Biblical counseling can contribute to this mission (Colossians 1:28).

Join the Conversation

Have you heard anything else happening in Brazil or any other place in the world concerning the advancement of biblical counseling? Share and bless us!