A people with no memory is not able to build a good future. So it is fundamental to remember those who played a vital role in the formation of the anti-Marxist conscience of Brazilian evangelicals.
Even though many American missionaries had a significant influence in this formation, the most important impact came from American televangelists, who had a vastly higher reach of audiences, both evangelical and non-evangelical.
In 1978, Brazilian TV Tupi broadcast, from Monday to Friday, “The 700 Club,” hosted by charismatic televangelist Rev. Pat Robertson, a Baptist minister who was actively involved in anticommunist awareness efforts. His shows, which had room for the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, where Robertson received supernatural revelations about problems God wanted to solve in his TV viewers, were especially known by testimonies of people impacted and transformed by God’s move. There were testimonies of former sorcerers, former Nazis and former communists.
“The 700 Club” touched a generation of Brazilians with anticommunist warnings and, above all, with the transforming message of the living Gospel.
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Anticommunism had a major role in Robertson’s ministry. In “Pat Robertson: A Life and Legacy” (Eerdmans, 2010), author David Edwin Harrell Jr. says:
“In addition to his vehement opposition to anyone who would compromise Israel’s land claims, Robertson despised socialism anywhere in the world, including in Israel. During his campaign for the presidency, he told the National Press Club: “I told one of my very good Jewish friends in Washington that I did not think the United States taxpayers should underwrite socialist operations in Israel which were failing in many respects.”
In 1979 the weekly show of Pentecostal televangelist Jimmy Swaggart began to be broadcast in Brazil. Like Robertson, Swaggart, who was an Assemblies of God minister, had a decisive anti-Marxist impact on Brazilian audiences, always warning against the communist threat.
Notwithstanding that in the early 1980 Brazil was under military rule, which was supposed to be more conservative, Ronald Reagan, the conservative U.S. president, was not admired. Swaggart helped, among evangelicals, to dispel the negative image that the Brazilian media presented of Reagan, who was, in his generation, the greatest fighter against communism. No one in Brazil did more than Swaggart to present Reagan as a dedicated evangelical with a political calling against the red monster.
Besides, there was the Open Doors Mission, with its reports about Christians suffering in communist governments. There were the books by Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, a Jewish Lutheran minister who suffered under the communist dictatorship in Romania. And there were the books of Bethany House Publishers: “God’s Smuggler,” a testimony by Brother Andrew, showing that the biggest weapon against communism is the Bible. Another important Bethany book was “Ivan,” written by Myrna Grant, about a young Russian soldier who was tortured and martyred in the Soviet Union. Before his death, Ivan had several supernatural visions of Heaven and he received visits from angels. It was a powerful anticommunist encouragement for evangelicals in Brazil.
Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart on a large scale and U.S. missionaries on a smaller scale were used by God to form the anti-Marxist conscience of Brazilian evangelicals. No one in Brazil did more than them in this formation.
Brazil is eternally indebted to U.S. televangelists and missionaries for their unselfish dedication in the formation of the Brazilian evangelical conscience.
Portuguese version of this article: A consciência antimarxista do evangélico brasileiro
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