This week, please intercede with us for Dr. César Lopes in Brazil.
The most biodiverse country on earth, Brazil comprises rich and varied ecosystems, including Amazon rainforest, Guiana highlands, and tropical savannah. Nearly four million animal and plant species live in Brazil, from jaguars and toucans to armadillos and piranhas to Brazilwood trees and carnivorous sun pitcher plants. Brazil is also the largest and most populous Latin American nation, with over 210 million residents (65% Catholic, 22% Protestant, 8% irreligious). Recently, thousands of Brazilians protested a series of bills with environmental implications related to commercial mining on indigenous lands, pesticide regulation, and Amazon deforestation.
César is President of CETI (Community for Interdisciplinary Theological Studies) Continental, which promotes theological formation and transformational leadership across Latin America. He also serves as Program Director for Online Education at the Faculdade de Teologia de São Paulo da Igreja Presbiteriana Independente (FATIPI) in São Paulo, Brazil. ScholarLeaders supported César for his PhD in Education from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Check out his 2014 Global InSights: Theology from Below. César and his wife Amanda have two daughters, Giovana (18) and Luiza (17).
César shares the following message:
The Brazilian Context
Evangelical Christianity in Latin America has been growing exponentially in the last few decades. However, the majority of Evangelical Christians in Latin America are captive to a shallow gospel, believing that Jesus is only interested in their souls. This leads them to act in ways that are contrary to Christ’s teaching. For instance, we see that domestic abuse, political corruption, and unethical business practices are all just as prevalent among Evangelicals as they are among the rest of the population in Latin American countries.
Unfortunately, these problems are aggravated and even caused by long histories of political, economic, and theological dependency on North America and Europe. The importation of individualistic and consumerist-driven theology, exploitative economic practices, and non-indigenous forms of leadership have certainly contributed to (if not caused) Latin America’s captivity to the “Prosperity Gospel,” personality cults, inequality, and corruption.
With these underlying conditions embedded in Latin American realities, it is extremely difficult to inspire and undertake forms of community life, Church service, and neighbor love that reflect the whole Gospel in contextually appropriate and generative ways.
Last year was intense and full of challenges for me personally. I continue to work at a local seminary here in São Paulo, Brazil. Since July 2021 I transitioned to dedicate most of my time as President of CETI Continental. CETI is the Spanish acronym for “Community for Interdisciplinary Theological Studies.” CETI originated as the initiative of a group of Evangelicals in Argentina in the 1980s. Since then, CETI has extended its reach to literally thousands of participants from across Latin America.
From its foundation, CETI has developed an exciting and creative educational approach that is now channeled into two major lines of work. With the Vida & Misión (Life & Mission) program, CETI focuses on the theological formation of lay people at the grassroots level. The goal is to help them encounter the truth that the Gospel is about transforming their entire lives, so they can serve as agents of Christ’s kingdom here on earth.
The second major program offered by CETI is a new Master’s degree in Transformational Leadership. It encourages creative and dialogic participation in theological work from and for life, and thus contributes to a comprehensive experience of the Gospel amid Latin American realities.
(1) Join me in prayer for my transition into this new role. Leading an organization with the continental reach of CETI and its rich trajectory is a great opportunity and responsibility, and I pray for wisdom and effectiveness.
(2) Join me in prayer and thanksgiving for my family, as my wife Amanda, our daughters Giovana and Luiza, and I have all been blessed with physical and mental health throughout the pandemic.
(3) Join me in prayer for Latin America. After years of relative progress and reduction of inequalities, many countries in Latin America have somehow regressed to late 20th-century indexes of poverty and hunger. My home country of Brazil is an example. In 2014 we celebrated leaving the UN’s Hunger Map, and in 2020 we lamented the fact that an estimated 55% of our population was facing food insecurity.
(4) Join me in prayer for CETI as we slowly resume conversations with our local partners in several Latin American countries. As we restart face-to-face classes in the Vida & Misión program and build our new Master’s program, we are constantly seeking financial support for our ongoing endeavors, as well as for new initiatives that can strengthen our programs and address current needs.