Wednesday, October 5, 2016

GPTS Alumni Addressing Spiritual Needs in Corrupt Brazil

As the eyes of the world were focused on Brazil during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the nation continued a long fall into political, spiritual, moral and economic crises, with widespread corruption plaguing all of the nation's social structures. Shortly after the Olympics, Marxist President Dilma Rousseff was removed from office by impeachment, an effort which was backed by many evangelicals in the country.

In the background, the largely Roman Catholic country's evangelical and charismatic churches are experiencing new growth, and Greenville Seminary graduates there are laboring in a mix of true spiritual growth, religious chaos and cultural corruption.

As reported last month in World news magazine, "The growth of both churches is part of a Protestant wave sweeping across the most populous — and still predominantly Catholic — nation in South America. Beyond numerical increases, Brazil’s Protestants — including evangelicals — are experiencing success on another front as well: They’re wielding considerable influence on Brazil’s unwieldy political process."

Breno and Roberta Macedo and their twins
Among the Protestant leaders cited in World's report is Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary graduate Breno Macedo, now adjunct professor of homiletics at GPTS. Pastor Macedo is one of four GPTS alumni serving in the well-established Presbyterian Church of Brazil. Rev. Macedo is associate pastor of a small Presbyterian Church in the capital city Brasilia. He also serves as coordinator of historical theology at the Theological Seminary of Nordeste.

"Here [in Macedo's church], you won’t find flashing lights, and you won’t hear about exorcisms or promises of financial prosperity in exchange for donations," World reported.

"Most Sundays at the small church include a simple service of hymns, prayers, preaching, and sacraments. It’s a stark contrast to the far more charismatic model in many other congregations, but Breno Macedo says steady church growth has come from Brazilians eager to hear sound teaching rooted in biblical doctrine."

Here is a further excerpt from World's article:
As politicians wait to see where such investigations take them, Christians across the spectrum are pondering their place in politics: What do Brazil’s minority of non-Pentecostal Protestants think about the church and politics, and how do Christians with major theological differences work together? 
BRENO MACEDO, the Presbyterian pastor in Brasília, is helping his flock engage politics by educating them. A graduate of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in South Carolina, Macedo says he’s led studies of works such as Wayne Grudem’s writings on a biblical view of politics. 
While some church members still think Christians should stay quiet about political matters, Macedo says it’s critical to teach biblical principles in a culture still saturated with Marxist ideas. 
“We teach our young people that you can’t wear your Christian hat on the Lord’s Day and your secular hat at the university,” he says. “We’re trying to teach them how to think biblically.” 
What about some of the evangelical legislators pressing conservative ideas in government but promoting problematic theology in church? Macedo says he can separate the two. He doesn’t agree with pastors using religious leverage to obtain a political position, he says: “But it’s exactly those guys that are a stone in the shoe of the Marxists.” ...
The ongoing exposé of Brazilian government corruption suggests at least a temporary victory on the political front. But like some of the Olympic contests in Rio, these battles in politics and church call for long-term endurance. It’s the kind of work, says Breno Macedo, that could last a lifetime: “Either we need to see a revival, or it will take a hundred years.”
When he graduated from GPTS in 2011, Mr. Macedo noted, "Studying at Greenville Seminary was a privilege and a great honor. It is a school where theology meets piety, where theory meets practice, where communicating the word of God through preaching is the chief end of our studies."

Mr. Macedo holds a Th.M. Systematic Theology/Historical Theology from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, 2012; M.Div., Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 2011; B.A. Engineering-Telecommunications, University of Pernambuco (Brazil), and studied at Agnes Erskine Presbyterian College (Brazil).

Other GPTS alumni serving churches in Brazil include Paulo Brasil e Sousa, organizing pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Recife and teacher at the Presbyterian seminary there; Rodrigo Brotto, First Presbyterian Church in Recife; and Emilio Garofalo Neto in Brasilia. GPTS currently has a new student from Brazil, Felipe Cortial from Salvador, Bahia, where he and his wife Daniele were members of Memorial Presbyterian Church. GPTS maintains close ties with these and other ministries in Brazil, including frequent ministry visits by President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.

"Christ Reigns Supreme" — Sermon by Breno Macedo