June 18, 2011, was a historic day for the Brazilian Assemblies of God. It marked the 100 years of the establishment of the first AG church in the country, located in the city of Belem in the northern state of Pará.
In 1909 two Swedish immigrants, Gunnar Vingren and Daniel Berg, who had arrived in the United States several years earlier, met at a revival meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Shortly after Vingren was baptized in the Holy Spirit, God called the two men to leave for Brazil to preach the gospel.
Without any missions support the two single men boarded the steamboat Clement in New York City on November 5, 1910. They arrived in Brazil 14 days later, in Belem, a city on the banks of the Amazon estuary.
Since Vingren was from a Baptist background he and Berg started attending First Baptist Church in Belem. But, within a few months, the Pentecostal message started stirring hearts in the congregation and the two newly-arrived missionaries were dismissed from the church along with 19 other brothers and sisters.
START OF ASSEMBLIES OF GOD IN BRAZIL
On June 18, 1911, in the home of Celina de Albuquerque (the first Brazilian to be filled with the Holy Spirit), the first Brazilian Assemblies of God church was founded.
Without any missionary support Berg, who had been a steel worker in the United States, got a job at the docks in Belem, while Vingren attended to the newly-founded work.
The Bible teaches us to never despise the days of humble beginnings. The small seed planted by these two missionaries grew into the largest Pentecostal church in the world with several million members and adherents.
Today, the mother church in Belem, as it is referred to by the Brazilians, is pastored by Samuel Camara. His wife, Rebekah, is an AGWM MK who grew up in Brazil. She and Samuel met at the AG Bible school her parents directed.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CELEBRATION
The three days of the Centennial Celebration were marked by several events. Among them was the inauguration of the following landmarks by the City of Belem:
Daniel Berg Viaduct
Gunnar Vingren Viaduct
Gunnar Vingren Ecological Park
Assemblies of God Centennial Avenue
The Belem church within the last 12 months built the:
Centennial Convention Center with capacity for 20,000 people
Assemblies of God Museum and Historical Society
Replica of the First AG church built in Brazil
Restoration of the home where Celina de Albuquerque lived and the church was founded.
This is the spiritual and social impact by the mother church in the city of Belem during the previous 12 months:
17,013 decisions for Christ
8,205 baptisms in water
4,919 baptisms in the Holy Spirit
93 new churches built in the metro area of Belem
2,038 home cell groups
1.5 million pounds of food given to poverty-stricken people in the greater Belem area.
CELEBRATION ENDS WITH 90,000 IN ATTENDANCE
During the three days of celebration thousands of people attended from Brazil and around the world. Among them were José Wellington, general superintendent of the Brazilian AG; Manoel Ferreira, general superintendent of the Madureira AG (a sister A/G fellowship in Brazil ), the Catholic archbishop of Belem, the son and grandson of Gunnar Vingren and more than 20 other descendants of Berg and Vingren, plus many senators, congressmen and thousands of AG pastors.
The highlight was the closing service at the Olympic Stadium with 90,000 people present, the largest crowd in the history of the stadium. Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke preached the closing rally, interpreted by AGWM missionary Mark Lemos. More than 2,000 people accepted Christ.
The Assemblies of God in Brazil turns the page of its first 100 years, gearing up for the challenges that this new century brings. Although our world seems to sink deeper in sin there is a bright outlook for the Brazilian AG church as it continues to fan the flames of Pentecost in this nation. See more photos on AGWM Facebook www.facebook.com/AGWorldMissions
View the inauguration ceremony at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGuE64TTnjk&feature=related
By Mark Lemos, missionary to Brazil