The work in the extreme south of Brazil continues to make progress under the good hand of God. While we are ever conscious of the great need of holding the ground that has been gained, and thus building up both by evangelical and pastoral work, the assemblies which have been formed, there has been a penetration of new areas with the gospel in recent years.
Some years ago, Sr. Jos Matos moved to the town of Passo de Torres, just over the border between the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. After some time a small assembly, which still continues, was formed in this town. Our brother moved further with the gospel and has done considerable work in a town called Sombrio. In this work he has at times been joined by brother Tommie Wright. Some definite tokens of encouragement have been granted.
Over thirty years ago work commenced in the town of So Gabriel, in the western part of Rio Grande do Sul. The late Wilfred Glenn lived and labored there until his home call in 1987. His widow continued there for a further nine years. The work was marked by slow progress and many difficulties. In recent years, however, greater progress has been made and there are now about thirty in fellowship. The local brethren have an interest in the spread of the gospel and keep busy with gospel meetings as the Lord enables. Just before the close of 2002, Crawford and Heather Brown moved there to serve the Lord, having been in the country for sufficient time to become proficient in the Portuguese language. As well as working with the local brethren in the extension of gospel work in So Gabriel, Crawford has moved out to surrounding towns and districts. A district called Laranjeiras was visited in January-February of 2004, and good interest was shown. Ten weeks of gospel meetings were carried on in another part called Cambai. The town of Vila Nova has also been visited with a series of meetings, and interest was seen. A regular Friday night meeting is now being carried on in Vila Nova, and some from both Laranjeiras and Cambai willingly accept a lift to that meeting. It is hoped that, as contact is maintained with these newcomers, fruit will be seen.
Around the city of Novo Hamburgo, where the writer lives, there has also been some penetration of new areas. James Armstrong, helped by other brethren from time to time, has brought the gospel to a small town called Araric, some 40 minutes drive from Novo Hamburgo. At least two series of meetings have been held there, and there has been frequent visitation among the people. In the most recent series, in which James was joined by Lindsay Carswell, a lady professed to be saved. Her husband, who was quite favorable up until this happened, has now changed his attitude, and makes it somewhat difficult for his wife to attend the meetings. Regular meetings have been carried on for some years in Sapiranga, quite near to Araric, and, although there is no assembly there, the lady who professed, and others who show an interest, can attend the meetings in Sapiranga without very much difficulty.
In 2001 a young man of 17 years professed to be saved near Novo Hamburgo. He had attended the Sunday school there since childhood and had never been known to miss, not even once. Much of the credit for this is due to his mother who, although depending on public transport and living at quite a distance, brought her two younger children to the Remembrance meeting and Sunday school every Lords day. This family lives in a town called Dois Irmos, and the young man, whose name is Leandro, often inquired when the gospel would go to his town. In the early part of 2004 a suitable place was found for meetings and these were carried on for four weeks. Leandro did much to get work colleagues and friends to attend, and in this he had some success. Since then a monthly tract distribution has been done in that part.
Since 1998 Gregg and Elizabeth Buchanan have lived in Trs Passos, in the northwest corner of the state. An assembly has been formed there, and calls have come from areas around for the gospel. Recently (July 2004) twelve weeks of meetings were held in a town called Itapiranga. In this work Gregg was joined by Sr. Roberto Ploia. This was very encouraging for the first series in the town, and we trust that a time of blessing may not be far distant.
Some two years ago, Sr. Carlos da Silva moved with his wife and daughter to a town called Camaqua. This is some distance south of Porto Alegre, the state capital. Our brother has engaged in tract distribution and has tried meetings in various parts of the town. Numbers attending are very small and up to the moment there has been little to encourage.
At the end of 2002 Noel and Heather Fleck moved to the town of Candelria with a view to gospel work. Having been in the country since 1999, they were sufficiently advanced in the language to undertake this task. There is a small assembly in this town, but, sadly, in recent times it has decreased instead of grown. Thus the task before our brother is not easy, but good attendance at both Sunday school and gospel meetings gives hope for blessing in the future. In recent weeks two people have professed to be saved.
For some years, John McCann has worked in a town called Restinga Seca, some miles from his home in Santa Maria. A father and son have been saved there, and they make the journey to Santa Maria to fellowship with the saints there. Others have been saved and the work goes on.
In this state there are areas where the gospel has been kept going for many years, yet without seeing much progress or an assembly formed. One such case is a village called Granja Getlio Vargas. Henry Wilson has maintained a very practical interest in that area over a long period. He has had many series of meetings there, and a little reaping has been done, but up to the moment, although there is a small hall there, it has not been possible to form an assembly.
The continued intercession of the people of God is of vital importance for the growth and preservation of the work and is much appreciated by all who serve the Lord here.