The Gospel Under the Southern Cross (7)

2 September 2011 by Wes Bredenhof

The harvest is great, but the labourers are few. Rev. Ken Wieske is one of our three CanRC missionaries in Brazil. The other two: Rev. J. Van Spronsen (currently on furlough) and Rev. A. De Graaf (working in Maceio).

There is a beautiful word in Greek to describe a special time:  kairos.  A kairos time is just the right moment, the moment of opportunity.  As I finish my time here in Brazil, this is the word that captures my thoughts.  When it comes to the gospel, when it comes to the Reformed faith, we are at a kairos time here.  The doors are obviously opening all over the place.  And as the economic circumstances of this country continue to improve, these doors will likely eventually close.  History shows that mammon has a way of hardening people’s hearts to spiritual things.

Let me give three examples of how this is obviously a kairos moment.

You can learn a lot about an area and its spiritual direction by just going to a plain vanilla Christian bookstore.  Last evening, Rev. Ken Wieske took me to just one such bookstore in downtown Recife.  Yes, there was a lot of junk, the usual crud by Joyce Meyer, Philip Yancey, Max Lucado, and so on.  But there was a whole wall of serious theological books.  Among them I discovered:  Thomas Watson, Francis Turretin, Cornelius Van Til, Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhof, and many other Reformed stalwarts.  The commentary section included John Calvin and William Hendriksen/Simon Kistemaker.  There were church history books by Frans Schalkwijk and Jean Crespin (one of the publishers of Guido de Bres).  This was unbelievable.  Try and find anything comparable in a similar bookstore in Canada.  I repeat that this was not a Reformed bookstore.  Moreover, the prices were outrageous.  And yet people are eating this stuff up.  This stuff is selling!  There is a huge interest, not just in Recife, but all over Brazil, in serious Christian thinking from the Reformed heritage.

Rev. Adriano Gama and me. Adriano is a pastor in the IRB, a front-line soldier of the cross, and a long-lost twin brother. He regularly lectures at the Reformed Reading Room.

This is reflected in my second example of what’s going on at the Reformed Reading Room.  Every Monday evening, lectures are given by local Reformed pastors.  I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker last Monday evening.  I also taught the first apologetics course at the Reading Room last week.  We had the opportunity to teach some 40 people.  Many of these folks are not currently in a confessionally Reformed or Presbyterian church.  But they are open to be taught.  They are hungry to be taught.

Madson Marinho was recently received as a new seminarian in the Reformed Churches. He has contacts all over Recife and brings in the crowds to the Reading Room.

My third example is what is taking place here at the John Calvin Institute, the new seminary of the Reformed Churches of Brazil.  This is the training school primarily for the Reformed Churches.  Four men are being trained to become pastors.  Another is scheduled to begin shortly.  Yet the school is open to receiving students from other churches, whether for the whole programs or just for single courses.  Again, there is a deep interest in what’s being done here.  My apologetics courses, for instance, saw a number of men join us from diverse backgrounds.  One was a Congregationalist, one was a Baptist, one was a Pentecostal, several were Presbyterians, and then we also had the seminarians.  They came from all over and most of them have indicated their intention to come back for the next course.  The John Calvin Institute has the potential to impact all of Brazil with its solid teaching and commitment to Reformed orthodoxy.

The apologetics class at the John Calvin Institute, along with me and my translator, Rev. Ken Wieske.

The missionaries here are pumped about the situation.  They want to take advantage of the time.  They have been placed here “for such a time as this.”  I was privileged to be able to come down and see it for myself and be involved in a small way.  I’ll be heading home in a few hours, but this work will continue, and it will continue to occupy my prayers.  I’ll be praying that our missionaries will have strength.  I’ll be praying that our gracious Father will give the means to seize the day.  Please join me in that prayer.  Why?  Because what is at stake here is not a little Reformed “empire,” but the glory of God.  Because of its faithful and biblical understanding of the gospel, only the Reformed faith can advance the glory of God in the most maximal way.