Thank you for interceding with us for Dr. César Lopes in Brazil.
Over 210 million people live in Brazil, the largest and most populous country in Latin America. According to a 2010 census, 65% of Brazilians are Catholic, 22% Protestant, and 8% irreligious. Although Brazil has the strongest economy in Latin America and the ninth largest economy worldwide, unemployment has soared during the pandemic, and the wealth disparity has widened between the rich and the poor. Currently, Brazil has the second highest infection rate worldwide, after the US.
César earned his PhD in Education from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School In Illinois. His dissertation focused on resources within Latin American theology for theological education in Brazil. Currently, César serves as the Program Director for online education at the Faculdade de Teologia de São Paulo da Igreja Presbiteriana Independente (FATIPI) in São Paulo, Brazil. Check out his 2014 InSights Perspective: Theology from Below. César and his wife Amanda have two daughters, Giovana (17) and Luiza (16).
César shares the following message:
The challenges of the pandemic in Brazil are very similar to those in many Western countries. Apparently small differences in how officials and the population tackle the issue can have large consequences.
As a nation, Brazil has been fighting the pandemic and its effects in a very erratic way. In general, state governments have taken more careful measures, with some degree of opposition from the federal government, which has gone against the advice of two Health Ministers, who ended up getting discharged or resigning. Brazil has been without a Health Minister since May.
As a result, we are unfortunately the country with the second highest number of infections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic impact has yet to be fully felt. The current unemployment rate has increased to almost 14%.
The population’s response has been equally erratic, due to mixed messages from different elected officials. Adherence to precautionary measures only happens when there is strong enforcement by local officials.
1) Pray for smaller churches and their pastors. COVID-19 has stricken more strongly the poorer peripheral neighborhoods of larger metropolitan areas in Brazil. The infection and death rates, as well as employment rates, are disproportionately higher in these places. On top of that, Internet access is not reliable and smaller congregations lack the resources needed for digital outreach. Many pastors are struggling not only to be somehow present with their congregants, but also to get by amid huge losses of income.
2) Pray for smaller seminaries. The same reality is true for theological education. I am the director of an online pastoral formation program at the Faculdade de Teologia de São Paulo (FATIPI), and we were able to continue our program somewhat normally. We used the structure and know-how we already had in place to help our residential program to quickly migrate online. However, the Association of Evangelical Theological Seminaries reported that roughly a third of its member institutions have not been able to make such a digital transition.
3) Pray for the witness of the Brazilian Church in general. I fear the prosperity gospel has influenced our churches very strongly in the last few decades. Furthermore, an ideological alignment with certain agents, who have spent most of their time denying the pandemic’s impact and the importance of responding, has made the Evangelical Church in Brazil generally unable to lament with grieving people and to empathize with struggling people. May we be able to “mourn with those who mourn”!
4) We are thankful that my family has been healthy physically and emotionally so far. Our main prayer request is for my older daughter, Giovana, as she is finishing high school this December under the normal anxiety of this stage, mixed with the uncertainties of the pandemic.
5) Finally, for a couple of years now I have been occasionally collaborating with the Community for Interdisciplinary Theological Studies (CETI), a vibrant organization that offers Certificate and Masters hybrid programs (in-person and online) across Latin America. Since July, I have dedicated a few regular hours to the Masters program. I plan to equally split my time between FATIPI and CETI within a year. Please pray for my personal transition and for both schools.