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Building the E-Church in Rural Brazil

11.04.20
by Crossworld
in Brazil, Church, Disciple-making, Historical ministry, Tribal ministry, Mission work, Story
How a 92-year-old is using WhatsApp to make disciples.
U.S. AND BRAZIL — Crossworld worker Earl picked up his cell phone in New Mexico to find a WhatsApp message from Akadji, a believer from the Kayapó tribe in Brazil. He clicked the button to listen to the recorded message.

"Be, nhym apỹnh mỳjja kute gwaj," Akadji’s voice came through the phone.

Earl smiled as he listened to Akadji quote Romans 8:28-29 in the Kayapó language. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren."

Akadji wasn’t on Earl’s list of the most impressive Kayapó believers. Unhealthy, illiterate, and disinterested. But lately Akadji has found a footing in God’s Word.

Earl and his wife, Ivy, worked among the Kayapó in Brazil for 42 years. Now at age 92 and living in New Mexico, Earl continues his ministry to the children and grandchildren of his disciples over WhatsApp — or Zappy, as the Kayapó call it. Long before COVID-19, Earl was using technology to spread the gospel.

Every week, he teaches a Bible lesson in an audio message and sends it to WhatsApp groups of Kayapó believers. Earl also sends the Bible text so they can follow along and learn to read Scripture for themselves.

Not every Kayapó village has internet access. Many of the believers can only get Earl’s WhatsApp messages when they travel to the city. But when they can connect, they listen and respond. Just like Akadji.

Akadji has listened to 42 of Earl’s audio messages in the last three months and has learned to memorize Scripture. He memorized 30 verses to earn his own copy of God’s Word … even though he can’t read it. And he recently asked Earl to record teaching on baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

So far, more than 350 Kayapó like Akadji are engaging — listening and asking questions about God’s Word over WhatsApp. They aren’t a church in a physical building, but they are the church. God’s church of rural Brazil.

Here’s how you can pray for this ministry.

  • Pray for Akadji and many other believers to learn to read God’s Word for themselves.
  • Pray for God to raise up indigenous leaders for the local Kayapó church.
  • Pray for Earl and his wife, Ivy, as they continue to serve the Lord in their "retirement" years.

The people in this story are real, but some names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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